As a mom, I often want encourage more creative play for my kids. When the colder months roll around it can be easy to find yourself dealing with extra screen time and extra bored or whiny kiddos. At least that is how it works in my house. Yet I also notice that when I’m helping my kids be creative in their play, the screen time, boredom, and whining lessens. It can be intimidating to know how to effectively encourage creativity in my kids. Where do I start? How much effort will this take on my end? What do I do? Is it even worth it?
I do think it is worth it. A few months back we did a 2-week break from all screen time for my kids, a decision I made on a whim but decided to stay firm on. Even though it was a change, I did see so many benefits in my kid’s attitudes towards me, towards each other, and in how they played. We didn’t make the screen time break a permanent thing in our house (although I know some families that have), instead I really saw that time as a great learning experience for me and my kids.
I know what they are capable of if I am willing to gently push them towards their creative sides a little more. I’ve seen it! It is possible!
I’m not claiming to be an expert, but I am hoping to share some creative play principles to put into practice in your home to help inspire more creative play for the kiddos in your home.
Keep it simple
Maybe you see all these grand and complicated projects on Pinterest and think, no way! But you don’t need to start off with these types of projects. Simple is really best for both you and your kids. There are countless creative play activities and projects you can do today with simple items you already have on hand.
Sure, having some specific craft supplies at the ready may be helpful, but they aren’t necessary for getting started. Look in your pantry, craft supply drawer, recycling bin, or even use toys you already have in a unique or different way. Remember the goal, to spark creativity for your kids. That can be done with a marker and cardboard box. Keep it simple and feel free to get as fancy as you want along the way.
Keep your child in mind
You know your child, so as you are putting these principles into practice remember that. Some types of activities will be better suited to your child and some won’t. Maybe you have a friend who suggests you try a messy sensory bin like they did. But you know your child can’t stand certain textures or isn’t fan of messes. Keep your child in mind. If you have multiple kids, you may also notice that some types of activities work better for one child and not for another. Each kid is different, and that’s okay!
Keep it accessible
One of the best ways to help encourage your kids to engage in creative play is to keep items or activities accessible. I’m of course not recommending your keep sharp scissors or permanent markers at arms reach for your 18 month old. But keeping age appropriate activities available during the day or at certain times in your day will be helpful to help your child grow in independence in this area. This could start by you setting up some kind of activity on the kitchen table before snack time. Or it could be you both picking a certain drawer to store supplies you trust them to use. Start with something small and expand on it as you see what works for you.
Keep it practical
As I said above about keeping it simple, also make sure you are keeping things practical. Don’t have lofty expectations right away. If you are juggling multiple-aged kids, keep that in mind and adapt to that. If you have limited time on the day you planned a longer activity, adapt to that and reschedule. Remember that, like most things in parenting, you are going to make mistakes and need to learn, too. So stay practical in your expectations and don’t overthink this.
There are so many ways that we can help our kids engage in more creative play. Kids have great imaginations and creativity, but often times we stifle it or get in the way because we’re worried about the effort or the mess. Don’t be afraid to tap into your inner child and remember the fun of being creative. It may take some extra work on your part, but believe me, it’s worth it to see your kids’ confidence and creativity flourish.