Creativity Experiment 2018: how it went & what we learned

I can’t believe it’s done, but summer officially is over. Yesterday, the busses came and all three of my backpack-laden creative people got on and left. 

For the first time, I wasn’t ready. 

Oh, I had all the school supplies collected and labeled, but I still had more stuff I wanted to do with them. I usually feel like a kid who got out of school for the summer but not this time.

There were more adventures to have and more things to create. I’m sure it would’ve included more drama and sibling rivalry and whining, but it’s August and summer’s not done. I just don’t want to haul out the school pressures just yet.

Ironically, it was this very experiment that made me feel this way.  This summer wasn’t a marathon test of mom-endurance but an adventure with a smidge of routine attached.

For info on my original thoughts, check out this post!

How it went…

Tuesday, all of us woke up with high anticipation! We got the necessary things (like breakfast and getting dressed) out of the way and couldn’t wait to start our Create Day.

My artist got a few of her friends and their sketchbooks to come over and create with pencils. My chef decided to create Chocolate Chip Cookies, for the first time. (I didn’t help him.) My engineer decided to create with Legos. I grabbed my trusty MacBook and headed to the sun porch (which incidentally has a door to completely block out all sound) and began to flesh out a character for my novel. It was glorious.

I allowed the creative mess to happen and we worked together afterward to clean up.

All in all, it was a fantastic morning!

What we learned…

I felt like someone had allowed us to take a deep breath and do the things we love. I was amazed at what choosing to create does for us, the created – as long as we don’t place our value or worship on it. It’s holy work to reflect Him.

The chocolate chips turned out very chocolaty due to a misread measurement, but learning and understanding happened better than if I’d been there to explain and protect him from making a mistake.

Each week of the summer tended to be just a bit different with activities and plans. Sometimes the days had to be switched around or cancelled altogether, but without fail, someone would ask me if we could make sure to have a Create Day again this week. This was a huge victory, I felt. I wasn’t designing a plan and yanking them all with me. They were excited and saw the purpose and even, dare-I-say-it, the benefits.

Some of our adventures:

One Thursday, we set out for Orange Leaf Froyo and took along our current read-aloud: On the Edge of The Dark Sea of Darkness by Andrew Peterson. Head over to their amazing website! We got our $3 treats and sat together while I read. My 13 year old got over her “Ugh, my mom is reading aloud in public” and enjoyed herself. 🙂

Other Thursdays involved ortho appointments so we grabbed our book and simply read aloud in the van. The story is so engaging that it honestly doesn’t matter where we are or what we’re doing, they can’t wait to continue!

One Friday, we set out for Hackley Public Library – a unique castle-like building with gorgeous old wood floors. Our plan was to visit the Muskegon Art Museum next door where the kids would get in free, but time got away from us. Definitely coming back for another adventure!

I feel as though a disclaimer is necessary here. Not every day was filled with happy children willing to complete their chores and brimming over with kindness toward their siblings. This was simply a framework to give shape to the nebulous summer days and weeks that turn into a constant whine of “we’re bored” and “we want to ____________”.

How we did it…

Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 12.28.01 PM

Here’s a screenshot of our charts for this summer. I chose the words across the top to help give the kids a direction each day – trying to avoid time wasting and purposelessness.

Mondays are the days we work and tidy and generally exert ourselves on the bigger chores with the bigger picture of the week in mind.

Tuesdays, we create!!

Wednesdays, play is the focus. During the past school year, I heard especially from my girl that she didn’t get to play like she wanted – the feeling of busy and rushed too common. So hopefully some of these habits she will want to scale down into smaller bites to still have that feeling of play and freedom even during school.

Thursdays might find us at the library getting a new supply of books to read or hunting for an unusual place to read (like the empty bathtub) or just sitting outside while we read aloud.

Fridays – that’s our GO! day. We find someplace new to explore: the beach, a different library, a museum, a different town… so many places and options – lots of them free!


Screen Shot 2018-06-16 at 12.28.18 PM

The afternoon words were chosen to balance the morning words. It is very easy to overdose on the activity and go, go, go until we’re all over it.

Monday: work is balanced with quiet – with friends or without depending on the child.

Tuesday: create is balanced with kind. Creating can make us feel exposed so we are learning kindness toward the creation and creator.

Wednesday: play is balanced with patient. I think this one is self-explanatory. 🙂

Thursday: read is balanced with sweet – of any kind (fruit is my favorite!). As a pre-teacher, I went to a conference where a presenter drizzled honey on a book – a powerful picture. Reading is sweet, good for us and something to be craved.

Friday: GO is balanced with enjoy. With my fierce thinkers and decision makers, there are lots of feelings attached to plans. Changes can be a stumbling block to enjoying the actual thing we set out to do.

Here’s a free printable for you to make your own! Summer Creative Margin – Free Printable

Conclusion…

I tend to be an all-or-nothing type of person. If I can’t check all the boxes in a project, I will likely just set it aside and find something else to do – a fancy way of saying that I give up easily.

This time, the boxes weren’t all checked. Sometimes last week’s chart was up until the next Friday, but we kept on. We picked up where we were and enjoyed it. No pressure. No guilt. Such freedom!

Creativity Experiment 2019 is already in the works. The words and themes may be different but the idea is the same. Reflect Him. Be intentionally creative and do it with joy.  Let me know if you would like to join the journey! 🙂

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