For the month of September Im doing an E-Lab with Mama Scout. Its hard to define it absolutely, but it is about creatively connecting with your family and yourself. Im really enjoying it (though wish I had more time to immerse myself in it) and it is definitely inspiring some change in my thinking, and in our house. I feel more positively connected to my son, and Ive re-created his play space. I have lots of new ideas for activities and for day to day life at home including recipes, special family evenings, and things to do outside. Generally Im feeling very grounded and inspired right now. I highly recommend trying out Mama Scout’s E-Lab; she has another one running in October and you can find all the info here.
Today, I wanted to share a few ways that I am ‘creatively connecting’ with my family. (Note: by creative, I dont just mean ‘arts and crafts’; but creative thinking, new ways of doing, etc)
Sit and draw
Whether its at a blackboard, on paper, in a notebook, even chalking on the ground; taking some time to draw and doodle with your kids can be a great way to connect. Its a simple activity that you can both [all] engage in, each expressing yourself, your interests, your creativity. Use the time to talk about what you are each drawing and why; what colours are you using? what are your favourite colours? how does it feel? are you calm? do your kids seem calm or excited?
Dance, dance, dance
Put on some music, anything you like. If your children are still small enough pick them up, if not hold their hands, or just be close to them. And just dance, dance, dance! It doesn’t matter what you look like, I can almost guarantee your kids will be giggling and smiling. My little boy absolutely loves it when I pick him up, spin him, jiggle him around and generally dance like an idiot!! (Im sure he’ll hate it when he’s 14 and Ill be a totally embarrassing Mum, but for now its all good!) Its good to be physically close, to be silly and a great way to burn off stress and excess energy (equally good for boosting energy at that mid afternoon lull that most at home Mums seem to get).
Go for a walk…
It doesn’t matter where, just along your street, around your garden or off the beaten track somewhere… just get outside (even if its raining – its more exciting!) and walk together. Breathe in the fresh air, talk about stuff; what you can see, the weather, what you want for dinner, an issue thats been causing problems, whatever! Enjoy being with your children, take an interest in anything they discover, collect things together…
Re-organising your home can seem like a daunting task, but if you take the stress out of it, remove time constraints and do it with your kids (rather than against them!) it can be a great way to connect with them. Put all toys/books/other items in a big pile and go through them together; have a bin or bag for stuff that can be thrown out, and then set out some big boxes or baskets for each child or room and go through the pile! Talk about things you find, where they should belong, who bought the item into the house, was it a gift? who from? Laugh about little memories that the item conjures up, let your children play with old toys they have re-discovered. You might find it interesting to see what the toy or book means to your child or where they think an item should live. Its a good way of turning a tedious task into a meaningful activity, and who knows how a child-led space could turn out…
Tell a story
This can be as formal or as silly as you like. My son is almost 3, very imaginative and has a good grasp of language but a fairly short attention span, so we make up quick involved stories and just say them out loud. But how you do it really depends on you and your children. You could all sit quietly with notebooks and each write your own stories, you could all write together at a blackboard, you could cut up on an old book, put bits in a jar, and pull them out at random to make a new (probably silly) story, you could sit round a campfire in the dark and tell stories to each other…. endless possibilities… who knows what your children might come up with? They may express a painful or joyous experience through story telling, you could tell them tales of your childhood… or you could simply read a book together. This is also a great way to connect if you are sick, [tired], or for older relatives.
Cook and eat!
Preparing and eating food can be a great way to connect with your family. You are all focused on the same goal and all stationed in one place. Food can be the source of great enjoyment as well as sustaining health and energy. Getting your kids involved in preparing and cooking food can help avoid picky eaters, promotes healthy habits, and teaches about growth, food groups, nutrition and lots more. Plus if you children are helping you cook, you might avoid the pre-dinner meltdowns that often occur, and its got to be better than sticking the TV on.
There’s lots of other things you can do to connect with your family. I have no doubt that the Mama Scout Lab will give me [and you?] many more ideas.
Follow your children’s interests, and your own.
Talk. Sing. Move. Run around. Plant seeds. Listen, to each other, and to Music. Cuddle, lots. Take naps together. Watch. Draw in wet sand. Paint. Make stuff…
But if you do nothing else, just enjoy being. Being a family, being with your children, being the centre of their universe, being together.
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