The beauty and simplicity of creative projects
Most of us can remember starting preschool and learning that with our bare hands and some tempera paints, we can create a piece of art. It’s likely that you’ve witnessed your children being creative and using their imaginations during play, but are you nurturing your own creativity? A Solo Mom has a lot on her to-do list, and playing around with paints and crayons isn’t always one of them. I totally get it. But I’m here to simplify how, point out the benefits of, and offer you easy and fun ways to get creating with your babes.
1. Creativity reduces stress. Creativity has endless benefits, especially for Solo Moms and our children. According to results published in Art Therapy: Journal of the American Art Therapy Association in an article titled “Reduction of Cortisol Levels and Participants’ Responses Following Art Making,” 45 minutes of creative activity significantly lessens stress in the body, regardless of artistic experience or talent. So for just a little less than an hour, you can breathe, relax, and have fun making stuff. Attachment to the outcome is null and void; the point is to allow the act of creating melt some tension and ease an overstimulated brain full of activity. Am I alone in thinking we could all use this regularly?
2. Creative projects allow for easy-peasy bonding time with your kids. When my kids were four and six, I spent many Friday nights cultivating with them what is now popularly known in our house as “art and wine night.” I’d gather up pieces of old cardboard and cheap craft paints, and sit on the floor with them. I’d play a little jazz, fix them a snack and a juice box, and pour myself a glass of wine. We’d sit for an hour or two, giggling, making jokes, getting inspired by one another’s color choices, and just enjoying family time.
After a while, I’d look up and realize two things: 1) this activity was extremely relaxing, not only for them but also for me, and 2) we were bonding! Being able to enjoy this time with them without their usual sibling rivalry felt really good to me. And isn’t bonding with our kids one of those things we always feel we don’t get to do enough of and thereby often feel guilty about? The obligation to take our kids to the park, read books to them, or spend quality time with them can be overwhelming with all the things we juggle. Why not make it easy on yourself?
3. It’s extremely affordable. Making creative projects doesn’t have to cost much. It does, however, involve your being willing to step outside the box. As I mentioned above, I used cardboard cutouts from boxes I had around the house. But it’s the same with blank sheets of paper, old clothing, repurposing book pages, etc. There are endless ways to make a fun craft night.
Creativity as a practice is literally taking nothing and making something out of it—that’s the incredible part! By focusing our energies here as parents, we are instilling in our kids an inherent value that says money doesn’t have to be involved in order for them to feel good. Take cues from the fun things kids make at school. Usually these projects involve paper plates, Styrofoam cups, uncooked pasta, and old socks. Puppet show, anyone?
4. It’s a learning experience. You could learn a thing or two from the kids by how they push paint around with ease and joy. Imagination rules in the brain of a child. Unlike us, they are not overly preoccupied with appearances or being perfect—they just want to have fun. They don’t have a need to critique their work, nor do they need to know how to do something—they just go with the flow!
Most of us lose that sense of freedom as adults. We tend to lean toward having a finished outcome or allow negative thoughts, such as I can’t or I’m not good at this or I’m not creative, to seep in. And the truth is we are all born with an innate sense of creativity.
5. Ideas are easy to come by—just check out the Internet! These days, learning how to do almost anything is accessible with the help of Google. Social media boards such as Pinterest can help us find simple projects we can do, complete with instructions and pictures. There are infinite sources of inspiration everywhere for DIY crafts with kids. There are also websites, such as Happiness is Homemade and The Artful Parent, that have done the work to make the experience simpler and rewarding. Any resource for a Solo Mom to bond with her babies while getting benefits for herself is a win-win. The point is just to keep it simple, make time, and enjoy it!
Raising and nurturing our children is always at the top of a Solo Mom’s priority list. And even when our own emotional wells dry up, we continue striving to give our kids the best life experiences and memories we can. Adding some play and imagination into our days can be just as nurturing and replenishing for us, too. I’d even take it a step further and invite you to create a gallery wall in your home exclusively for you and your children’s art. Happy art making!
Former Solo Mom VersAnnette Blackman-Bosia, ESME’s Resource Guide for Domestic Violence, is a painter, published poet, speaker, and facilitator. Through her business, Soul Revival Healing Arts, she offers original paintings and products, and teaches workshops. Her first poetry collection, Butterfly Spirit, was published in 2015. VersAnnette is passionate about empowering women, eating great food, and traveling the world. She and her family currently reside near Chicago.
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