TWO MYTHS ABOUT CREATIVITY
Posted by Cara Martens
Creativity is a hot topic these days, but the idea is sometimes misunderstood. Here are two myths that could actually squelch creativity if believed.
Myth #1 – You are born creative or you’re not.
Creativity is not a gene that’s passed on like red hair. It can be developed. We are all born natural problem solvers. And problems require us to get creative. We might create a new solution or even express how we feel about the problem as a way to process it.
I’m pretty confident that you as a parent are creative—a lot. It’s the nature of the job! Your child doesn’t want to eat dinner, so you pass out kid chopsticks or set up a picnic in the middle of the floor to change things up. Your teen doesn’t seem to want to hang out or talk anymore—so you plan a day full of his favorite or new things and surprise him by inviting close friends. We’re all creative—we’re just aren’t necessarily seeing or naming all that we do as using our “creativity”.
The next time there’s a problem, try inviting your kids or teens into the action. Say “I wonder what we should do…” and trail off. Their amazing minds will start to fill in the blank automatically. You can build on or bounce off their ideas.
Myth #2 – Creativity happens in an instant—out of nowhere.
Actually, creativity is rarely making something from nothing—that’s God’s job. Instead, creativity is more like making new connections or combining things in a different way.
One of my favorite movie examples of this was in Apollo 13 when something on the shuttle broke way out in space. An engineer walks into a crowded conference room and dumps a bag of stuff in the middle of the table and basically says, “This is what they’ve got up there—so we’ve got to find a way to fix the problem using just this—oh and they’re running out of air!”
Creativity is a process and it actually thrives on challenge, so constraints—like using only certain materials or having a time limit—are actually helpful.
Here are some quick tips to try to develop creativity in your kids (and yourself):
Create challenge scenarios by providing a few simple resources. Here’s a few ideas to start:
Embrace Real Challenges. More than anything, creativity is an attitude. We’ve got to positively model it—which basically means talking through the process out loud instead of just mentally brainstorming and solving things all by ourselves. This way our kids and teens can see it’s a natural and normal part of everyday life.
Try reframing negative problems or frustrations into an exciting challenge whenever possible—rub your hands together as you start to wonder about all the different things you could try– “What if…?” and “How about…?” Be loud and proud that your family is the type of people that like and thrive on challenges.
What other myths did I miss that prevent us from raising creative kids? What other things would you add to this list to develop more creativity in our kids? I’d love to continue the conversation, so add your comments below.
About the Author:
Cara Martens loves to write, research, and develop creative ideas. She and her husband, Kevin, have two kids and live in Texas. Read more from Cara on Twitter, @CaraMartens.
3 SIMPLE TIME HACKS FOR PARENTS
Posted by Carey Nieuwhof
So you probably think you would be a much better parent if you had more hours in the day, don’t you?
Bummer that life doesn’t work that way. When you have another child, it’s not like someone shows up and magically hands you another 4 hours a day. Nope, now you have to manage 100% more kids (or 50% or 25% more kids) with exactly zero extra time. No wonder parenting feels hard.
To complicate things, time feels like it’s speeding up as your kids get older. Although some days feel like an eternity, as Sandra Stanley has often said, the days are long but the years are short. The kids will be in college or the workplace before you know it.
So what do you do? How do you handle the time pressures of parenting and life in the stage you’re in?
I’ve discovered a few things that really help me. I hope they can help you.
1. ABANDON BALANCE
If you’re like most people, you’re hoping for some kind of balance in your life. A better balance of work and home, of time for yourself and time with your family or even a few hobbies.
But you ever notice this? Greatness and balance never seem go together.
In fact, most truly great people aren’t balanced people. They’re passionate people.
Passion gets you further than balance. Imagine approaching everything you did in life with passion.
Throwing your heart into all you do can really make a difference. Even when you rest…rest well. When you’re home, be home. Passionately pursue your top priorities.
I think passion creates a far more compelling story than balance does.
As John Wesley famously said, “Light yourself on fire with passion, and people will come from miles around to watch you burn.”
2. DECIDE AHEAD OF TIME HOW YOU’LL SPEND YOUR TIME
So you want to have a date night with your spouse, but life keeps crowding it out. Ditto with family night. Family night way too often becomes homework night or clean-up-dinner-because-we’re-running-late night. Same with your devotion time. etc etc etc.
A simple fix is this: Decide ahead of time how you will spend your week. I did this years ago when I moved to a fixed calendar. Leadership puts a lot of demands on my time, and I realized I could easily work non-stop and miss the most important things in life.
So I started booking appointments with myself, my family, and my priorities. Every Friday night became date night. Every Saturday was family day. Every Sunday afternoon was family time to rest and relax. Every Monday was a writing day—with zero meetings. Etc etc.
The value in plotting this out ahead of time is simple: When someone asks you what you’re doing Saturday, you look at your calendar and tell them as much as you’d love to join them, you already have a commitment. You don’t need to tell them it’s with your family.
3. STOP SAYING YOU DON’T HAVE THE TIME
Your best friend asks you when you’re going to get that bathroom finished, and you instinctively reply “I just haven’t had the time for that yet.”
Your boss wants you to take an another project at work and you say, “I really don’t have the time for that.”
Well, that’s actually not true. You have exactly the same amount of time as every other person on planet earth. You have the same amount of time today as someone running a multi-million dollar company, as the President of the United States and as a researcher who just won the Nobel Prize. We all get 24 hours a day.
A few years ago, I made myself stop saying I didn’t have the time. Because the truth is, I did. Instead, I started saying (to myself) “I’m not going to make the time.”
That’s a massive shift in mindset, and you have to be careful not to say it out loud or you’ll lose all your friends. But when you admit to yourself that you’re not going to make the time for date night, that you’re not going to make the time to read a story to your five-year-old, or that you’re not going to make the time to exercise . . . it changes things.
So stop saying you don’t have the time. Start admitting to yourself that you’re just not making the time. Things will change.
These three time hacks—abandoning balance, deciding ahead of time how I’ll spend my time, and refusing to say I don’t have the time—have helped me spend my time far better than I used to.
Imagine spending the time God gives on the things you really should do. Now, you’re a little closer to knowing how.
About the Author:
Carey Nieuwhof is the lead pastor of Connexus Church and author of several books, including Parenting Beyond Your Capacity (with Reggie Joiner) and his latest book, "Lasting Impact: 7 Powerful Conversations That Will Help Your Church Grow." Carey speaks to church leaders around the world about leadership and parenting. He writes one of the most widely read church leadership blogs at www.CareyNieuwhof.com and hosts the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast where he interviews top leaders each week.
MEANINGFUL VS. MANIC BEDTIME ROUTINES
Posted by Melissa Thorson
There are a few things I could learn from my husband:
It’s not that I don’t love those sweet bedtime stories and final snuggles with my kids that I see are numbered in a child’s life—it’s just that I allow my preoccupation with what awaits me after the bedtime circus to stress me out—the sink full of dishes, the lunches to pack, or the alluring uninterrupted time to chat with my husband, or watch a non-animated show.
My tone and my word choice follow a predictable pattern many nights, despite the fact that I dislike the tone that my hurriedness creates in our home. “Alright, it’s 7:24. We have 6 minutes until lights out.” “If you’re not in your bed by the time I count to 10, no books tonight!” Meanwhile, frantic children with one foot in their PJ’s and toothpaste foam dripping down their chins are taking frantic leaps from floor to bed as the timekeeper barks through the halls.
My husband, however, takes a different (and, arguably, a better) approach when he’s leading the bedtime routine. He often is so immersed in the pre-bed chase/tickling/wrestling that the pulse of the room is only fun (with no room for frantic). Once bedtime is imminent (or even past time), his calm connection with the boys carries over into the nighttime setting. Books are read expressively—with no skipped pages for the sake of hurry. Questions are asked and thoroughly answered. Prayers are said with meaning and intention. Snuggles are savored and stretched out even though the clock (and antsy mommy who clings to routine) say things are running behind.
But I’ve seen, more times than I can count, the fruit of lengthy bedtime conversations with the boys and their dad. Fruit that offers more lasting benefit than an extra restful night’s sleep. If I had been left to my own punctuality-obsessed devices, the following moments between dad and sons could have been missed:
These quiet moments, when left untainted by rushing and preoccupation, serve as reminders that home is the safe place—to ask harmless questions about how the world works and a place to cry out for help and comfort. A place to feel loved and heard no matter what.
Don’t get me wrong—I am still a firm believer that good sleep is important and that sleep deprivation can create a vicious change in kids that can carry over for days. I will always be a firm supporter of bedtime routine and predictability—but I’m learning that amidst routine, there needs to be space for spontaneity. Practically speaking, I’m seeing that if we plan for dinner and bath time to happen earlier, then the bedtime “rush” can become more leisurely. Or, if we divide and conquer putting the baby to sleep while beginning bedtime with the big kid, we can both end the night together in the room with the big kid who is old enough to want to chat with us at night.
What have you found works best for savoring the quiet moments during tucking-in? (Even though you know there are dishes, bills, or even your first 5 minutes of personal time waiting on the other side).
About the Author:
Melissa is a former high school English teacher turned stay-at-home mom who traded in the essay grading for diaper changing . . . both of which offer their fair share of crap. She has always loved teenagers and feared little kids until she had her own. 90% of the joy in her life comes from her husband, Steve; her sons, Crosby and Miller; and her amazing extended family and friends. The rest comes from cooking and taking online personality assessments.