Living Creatively with Children


Summertime is ripe for creativity. When I think of summer, I think of adventure and exploration, of trying new things, lazy mornings, books by the pool, and popsicles at all hours of the day.

Summer is for creating. It’s for stepping away from the every day mundane that dictated your life, and stepping into something new and exciting – even if only for a time.

I try to offer my children a long creative rope in the summer. If I’m honest, there are times when I wish we lived at the edge of the Wisconsin woods, but those times are only in the summer months when the Florida sun is merciless, and the flat terrain leaves little to the imagination. But then we have evenings like the one we had Friday night, where we swim as a family in the great, big ocean, and I decide Florida’s not so bad after all.

But I do long to see my kids explore. I wish I could send them into the trees with a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, a roll of toilet paper, and firm instructions to stay outside and enjoy this beautiful day.

I may not be able to shoo them outside for an entire day, but I can offer them plenty of places to escape. Exploration isn’t limited to the forest. It can happen right here inside the walls of our home. Here are a few tips for widening your children’s creative scope this summer.


1.) Build Forts

Basically, when summertime rolls around, I take a deep breath and remind myself that it’s okay for the house to be messy. I like order. I really, REALLY like order.

But I have four children, so order is a laughable concept. Instead of sweating out the ever chaotic house, I choose to embrace it in the summer. And there is nothing more chaotic to me than a bedroom transformed into a fort – blankets strewn this way and that, kitchen chairs pulled into the room to hold up the “walls” of the fort.

It’s enough to give me an eye twitch.

But they love it. Reading books is boring…unless it’s done so lying back on a pile of pillows under the canopy of a bedroom fort.

If I’m willing to embrace the chaos, a bedroom fort is a heckuva way to celebrate summer.


2.) Keep Painting Materials Handy

Like fort building, watercolor painting makes my heart race, and not in a good way. The paint brushes that need to be cleaned. The drips of paint that find their way to my countertops and floor, the gigantic “masterpieces” that I must find a way to display – it’s all stressful to this orderly Mama.


The other day, my concrete, typically unimaginative second born pulled out the paints and tore off a giant piece of art paper, and she began to create. With her tongue stuck between her lips in quiet concentration, she dove into her painting, and when she was finished she held up her paper proudly.

It was gorgeous.

There’s something very calming and magical about putting a brush against the page. When the kids are arguing, painting is one of the first activities I suggest because is requires a deep breath…and minimal talking.



3.) Read Good Books

I don’t have readers. I wish that I did, but I simply do not. My children don’t like to read books. So I do what any good mother would do.

I bribe them.

Yes, I pay my children to read in the summer, but really I like to think I’m training them to enjoy the gift of words. There is nothing I love more than seeing my kids light up over a good story. And so we spend time in the library during the summer where they’re given the freedom to choose their own adventure.

This discipline of reading is two-fold, as I must also make myself slow down and read with them. I want to show them the beauty of getting lost in story, so I read as much as I can in the summer.

As much as I love reading, slowing down myself to do so is harder than it seems it should be, because usually when they’re still and quiet, my first response is to start cleaning up some of the messes.


That is my summertime mantra.


Summertime can be stressful with everyone home at once, all the live-long day. This is where our Summertime Agenda of Awesome comes in handy, as well as a willingness to let go of my need for order and control.

A little bit of chaos has the potential to produce some magical days. I’m looking for the magic this year.

Are you?

As Summer Comes to a Close


I could label it unpreparedness, or perhaps the scattered brain of a creative. I could call myself unorganized, or better yet – unfocused. I could blame it on pregnancy (I get to use that excuse for two more months), or I could simply call it confusion (kids kill brain cells? Can I say that? Is that even a scientifically verifiable fact?)

What it all boils down to is this: Most of the time, I don’t have things together. I’m betting you don’t, either.

From the outside looking in, it may seem I’ve got life in order. For the most part, my children are somewhat put together. My house isn’t a pit of horrors (not today, anyway), and 90% of the time we get to where we need to be on time.

And by “on time,” we all understand that I mean within 10 minutes of when we were supposed to be there.

But I’m not going to lie: I often feeling like I’m barely keeping my head above water. I’m treading fast, kicking against a current that wants to pull me down, and while I suck in deep breaths, forcing oxygen to my brain, I remind myself over and over to enjoy this. Enjoy the heck out of this life, cause it’s the only one you get.

It’s the whole “Seize the Day” mentality. I’m seizing.

I’ve got the flippin’ day by the tail, my friends. Tally-Ho!

But I get tired, and my metaphors start blending together, and I fall short. I snap at my kids, and I throw my hands in the air with exasperation over silly little things. I fight the urge to hole up in a corner with my phone and lose myself to the false reality of Instagram and Facebook, because I know that most of the pretty photos on those sites are filtered to make life look like sunshine and bunnies all the time.

Summer is coming to a close, and a part of me is so sad. 88% of the time I really do love having my kids around. They’re fun, and they make me laugh. They’re a lot of work, but as hectic as the days get, I wouldn’t want it any other way.

Part of me is doing back flips, though. It’s the subconscious part of me that’s not 52 months pregnant.

I’m overwhelmed with all the small people that filter through my house on a constant basis. They’re tired of one another, and they, too, end up exasperated over silly little things. The constant go-go-go of our days has me exhausted, but there’s no time to nap. No rest for this weary Mom.

So the scheduled days of school will be welcomed with both reluctance and jubilee…by everyone in our house.

Such is life, right?

There are pro’s and con’s to every season. Each phase leaves us excited and exhausted, ready to move forward and longing to stay where we are. Sometimes we even wish we could revisit the past, just for a few precious moments in time.

AgendaofAwesome2For those of you winding down your summer and preparing to step into the future with your kids, I share your pangs of sorrow and your whoops of joy. If your summer was anything like ours, it was packed full of fun, of time together, and of a hearty dose of relaxation. It truly was a summertime with an agenda packed full of awesome.

I raise my proverbial glass in a toast to you parents now. Let us tip back our drinks in celebration. Let us commiserate the passage of time. Here’s to another fabulous school year.

And also?

I’m having a baby in 7 weeks!

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