I am a creative person and also a mother of two boys. From the moment I decided to have children I kept dreaming of the day I would teach my children how to be creative just like their mum. Just picture my surprise when it happened the other way round.
My eldest one, Leo, is always playing. At the moment, the most important thing in his life is PLAYING. He is pretty good at it. Sometimes he plays on his own, immersed in his own little stories ; but he also needs us to play and interact with him.
Even though I’d like to spend more time with my kids, I can’t always play with my 3 year-old boy because I’ve got so many things to do just like any working mum.
Every night when I’m busy cooking, Leo is often playing on the floor, by my side.
My son is very chatty, he almost never plays without talking.
He always explains what he and his toys are doing. He spills out everything that is going on his mind. He makes it sound so natural “Mommy, the plaine said it is going to school, but it can’t… it’s night-time and it’s dark outside”.
It’s so funny because when he doesn’t get a reaction right away he just keeps repeating himself again and again until someone answers “yes, baby, you are right, the school is closed at night”.
Leo needs us to talk to him while he plays. Silence is never an option.
Even though these conversations don’t seem very interesting, I get to witness my son’s inner and outer world and imagination everyday.
What I like most when he plays is how he is able to invent brand new functions for random objects. Nothing is wasted. Every empty package can become important in Leo’s world.
He loves when his father gets home from the supermarket. He jumps over the products and says “May I have that?”, “Why do you want a tea box?”, “That’s my car’s garage! It’s raining outside, it must seek shelter”.
He has a collection of price tags he gets from new clothes. He uses it to make little cabins, or plates or even as beds. He has this incredible ability to picture so many original things whereas, we, adults, just see a piece of paper, a price tag.
His mind makes connections by shape “price tag = rectangle, bed = rectangle, so price tag = bed”. So simple, so obvious.
He can also create new shapes with objects we could never think of. He can make a house, a bird or a plane just using clothespins tied on the other. He looks at objects and probably thinks “What can I do with this or that thing ?”
That makes me wonder when and why we stopped making these simple connections.
Our brain is always too busy with so many informations with lots of rules attached. Why can’t we allow ourselves to take a step back, clear our minds and make newer and simpler connections?
For instance, boxes of crayons have the same shape as matchboxes. So, why not put some crayons inside a matchbox? The world is full of objects that share the same shape. You can make countless connections, just like Leo.
Creating new ideas from sharing shapes is amazing, but it’s not the only way we can make connections. Different objects can also share functions, textures, matter, temperature, and I could go on and on.
If you consider all these options, you can make infinite connections. There are no limits for your imagination.
My son’s creativity and innocent look helped me find a new perspective. My illustrations gained new compositions and fresh ideas. My eyes are now trained to see opportunities everywhere.
All children are creative. I took what my son taught me and I figured how to apply it to my work. Your child can also teach you another lesson. You must dig for novelty and also figure how to use it for yourself.
In 2017, Gabriela Roa, in a TED talk, explained how her child’s mess helped her rediscover her creativity. Rather than panicking about the messy house, she decided to understand her child’s perspective. She made photographs of his mess and created short tales inspired by these pictures.
She says her “Happy Explorer Project” helped her find her true self and she also connected more with her son.
Children can really surprise us. They are fearless in terms of trying new things.
Dropbox wrote in 2018 : “Children are divergent thinkers, capable of producing a range of ideas — freely, generously, and without an inner critic taking notes.” They also suggested playing more like a kid to unblock your creativity.
If you are blessed to have a child at home, take time to play with him or, at least, be sure to keep your eyes always open when he plays. Talk to him, ask questions and listen, do listen to what he has to say. You will surely find amazing things that will inspire you.