It is official, the first term school holidays are over and we are back into the swing of things. Well, not sure that we are exactly back into the swing of things, but we have gotten to school on time for the first week and without any hiccups ! Yay for Mum!
Without sounding too miserable, it has been one tiresome break. We were all sick for the entire school holidays, barr my husband Mark who had the flu shot early enough to escape the wrath. I even got my flu shot this year, but it seemed it was too late and unfortunately it got a strong hold of me. Mark was a saviour though, looking after all of us and doing what he could to keep us all comfortable.
Anyway, I felt pretty sorry for myself and constantly needed to use my toolbox of self help strategies to stay remotely sane. They definitely helped me to move through those feelings in a more compassionate way.
Of course, as we all do when we have a long planned break, I had some big creative and productive plans that unfortunately were not even started, let alone accomplished. I began to feel even more behind and that overwhelmed feeling started to creep in with the list of looming housework, creative projects and errands unfinished.
The last Friday of the school holidays however, after drawing with crayons on the floor with my six year old and eighteen month old, I was reminded of one of the simplest tools that we can all connect with to bring us back to a place of joy and creative flow; childlike wonder!
I believe that this is one of the most important tools in bringing us back to a place of joy and creative expression, if not the most important!
Creativity has always been such a big part of my life since I was a little girl, but it doesn’t always come easily and getting ‘in the flow’ isn’t a simple process for me, even more so now that I am a parent!
Now that everyone was feeling on the mend, watching these two playing together so freely and naturally throughout the day made me realise that I needed to stop with the frustration……….. that I was actually being offered an opportunity, a chance to learn a whole lot more from them, a lesson on life.
After this profound reminder, I have put together a short list of 11 ideas you might like to explore to connect with your inner child and re-discover your childlike wonder and creative self once more. These don’t need to be done with children ( but this is always super fun too) and it probably isn’t any new information that you haven’t heard before, but sometimes we block or resist the chance to have a bit of fun and get in a place of alignment. I know I sure do! So go get curious and creative!
1. Look through the eyes of a child
We can all benefit from being more playful in our interactions and have a much more light hearted approach to life. Kids love discovering new things ALL. THE. TIME! Touching, smelling, putting things in their mouths (not saying you have to do this, although if it’s a delicious piece of chocolate, go right ahead!) Children are constanty learning every single moment and they do it with so much enthusiasm and energy.
My son can see so much potential in a simple cushion; it becomes a cubby, a mountain landscape or the perfect tool for a pillow fight. If we can just alter our perspective slightly, we can really see the world with curious eyes and inspiration can be found at every turn. Let’s not take life too seriously, have fun, forgive and let go of judgement.
2. Get out the lego
Have you ever just sat and built a lego castle or your dream lego garden landscape? Probably not, am I right? Particularly not since you were ten at least, but what better way to unblock those creative ideas, encourage problem solving, imagination or even just to get present and focus on an activity with no other purpose than to have fun and live in the moment.
When I am feeling really irritated and my son Elijah asks me to sit down and play with him, my first response can sometimes be one of ‘I don’t have time’ or ‘I have to do the housework’, but then I sit and watch him play and follow his lead and instantly I feel like this completely makes sense. He understands what life is all about!
3. Be completely present
Children tend to do this naturally because they are so deeply focussed on their activity. They live in and for this moment and they seem to acheive flow with such ease. There is no pressure of time and worrying about what someone else might think of what they are doing.
As adults, we too can achieve this through simple meditation; breathing exercises, focussing on a repetative sound or noticing the sensation of the warm water from a shower. Eckhart Tolle, author of ‘The Power of Now’ writes a lot about this in his book and offers some fantastic opportunities in daily activities like washing the dishes and doing the laundry, even walking up and down the stairs. Be completely focussed on the task at hand and you will start to find yourself becoming less frustrated doing them because you are no longer noticing how long it’s taking and hurrying to the end.
4. Get outside
Get out in nature. Pick some flowers. Roll around in some leaves and feel the crunch under your feet. Play with some twigs. There is so much potential in a simple stick. Build a bee hotel. Make mud pies. Get your hands dirty.
Get moving. Go for a walk. Go to the playground. Jump on the trampoline. Not only is exercise good for your psychological and physical health, it really gives you such a natural high! Spiritual author Gabrielle Bernstein and life strategist Tony Robbins both use a mini trampoline to get energy flowing. I love to get up on our boys big 14ft trampoline and have a bounce. Nothing beats the feeling!
5. Lose the perfection
Give things a go and stop being so hard on yourself! I too, need to constantly take my own advice. This blog and my business is a perfect example of this. Marie Forleo, host of Marie TV, entrepreneur and philanthropist says “progress over perfection”. Don’t hold back from creating something because of your fear of failure and idea of perfection. If you don’t at least try, you will never know for sure and you can always put it down to experience. Ask yourself this. “What have I learnt or gained from this experience?” Even if it isn’t exactly what you set out to achieve in the beginning.
6. Draw anything
Elijah is so great at getting out the pencils and just getting in the flow. Sometimes he will have a clear idea of what he wants to draw and other times he just free draws and then turns it into something as he goes. He constantly inspires me to just create.
In our foundation year studying Visual Arts, we completed ’10 Steps’ a mapping type activity, where we had to take ten steps in our surroundings and record the interpretation of what we saw at each step. We were asked to use charcoals, no colour and we had to think creatively in the way we utilised shapes, lines and shading to complete the project. Why not give something like this a go and have some fun. Don’t think too hard, just get drawing!
7. Make up a game
When my brothers and I were younger, we used to make up games all the time! I remember one game we used to play outside was a version of chasy. We would find whatever transportation we could; bikes, skateboards etc. The ground was burning lava and we had to catch each other without our feet touching the ground. We could use other household items like brooms or rakes to walk on the ground too. What a strange, but interesting game to come up with, but it provided us with hours of entertainment.
8. Read a childrens story
There is so much inspiration to be found in children’s books and of course they are usually written by adults who seem to know how to connect with their childlike essence. Perfect inspiration! Maybe you could even give writing or illustrating your own children’s book a go, or do this activity with your kids. You could even create a comic book or a short story.
Sometimes I find when I watch an animated movie because Elijah wants to watch it, I end up watching the whole film to the end and he has already gone to play with something else. These films often have deeper messages and meaning than you may think. Go watch Kungfu Panda and you will see what I mean.
9. Build a cubby
Elijah loves to build a cubby out of cushions between the coffee table and the lounge. I bet you remember how much fun it was to build a fort out of sheets when you were little! Get involved with your kids next time they are building their little hideaway, that’s if they let you in on the fun!
10. Play a sport indoors
Obviously this needs to be done with a bit more thought and safety than playing outside, but it is actually super easy and fun!
Most nights my boys start a game of indoor something or another. At the moment, it is indoor hockey, golf and soccer. My eighteen month old Oliver is obsessed with ball sports right now and and Elijah never wants to miss out on a super energising game, so is always happy to join in too!
You don’t have to be limited by your equipment or by the weather either. A kitchen utensil is great as a kid size golf club. Use whatever you have on hand!
11. Treat every day as NEW!
Have you noticed how children seem to have a fight with their sibling and then they become best friends again the next day. Every day is new to them and every day holds the possibility of something magnificant. Most haven’t yet been tainted by life and the crazy drama yet to come, but what have we got to lose if we just pretend, even just for a small moment, that we are a child once again; or maybe if we just connect with our sense of wonder every so often!