One of my homeschool parenting aha moments came when I realized we had the freedom (and responsibility) to fully embrace that we are a creative family. Prior to that moment I had always felt that I needed to structure life and homeschooling responsibilities in such a way as to allow time to be creative as much as we could fit it in. Instead I realized that above all else we are a creative family and the rest of life needed to be structured around that fact.
It might not sound like a big deal, but the shift in my mind was significant. In a family of three very creative people, creativity is what we do. It is who we are. It’s not a nice add-on after we fulfill the demands and expectations of others. While someone might have a creative hobby they do after work to unwind, our creativity is central to how we were created. God made each of us to be highly creative people in a variety of ways and so using that creativity should be our focus.
Once I realized this, I felt a new level of freedom as I thought about our homeschooling, our time, our energy, and our schedule. I’ve always been willing to think differently about how to structure our homeschool day which eventually evolved into becoming unschooler-ish. This freedom allowed us to take it to another level when I fully embraced some fundamental truths about creativity and what it means to be a creative family.
Creativity Requires Time
Creativity requires time and lots of it. Yes, you will hear about people who write a great novel while on the subway commuting to work. But creative expression generally does not happen in twenty minute or even sixty minute increments. Oftentimes, creativity is just starting at that point.
If being creative people is our calling, then I realized we did not need to feel badly about carving out huge amounts of time to be creative. Nor did we need to feel obligated to do things that took away from the time we needed to be creative. We have long been focused on living simply, but we are constantly tweaking how that looks as life changes from year to year. Lately simplifying has been a means to an end in terms of freeing us up for extended creative time.
Creativity Requires Space
Making physical space for creativity has always been a priority in our home, even before Caroline was born. Over the past few months I’ve done even more to make sure that we have the space we need.
One of the major things we did this spring was moving this large desk into Caroline’s room. Prior to this she had a small desk that left her no room to be creative. I had a large long desk we had made out of an eight foot countertop for my office in our previous home. It was in the basement and not really being used. I suggested to Caroline that we move her bedroom around a bit and put the desk along her long wall.
She loves it! She has tons of room to keep her computer, projects and supplies out. Storage drawers full of crafting materials fit neatly underneath. When I used it, I had curtains that hung across the front and sides, but she wanted it left open. So most of the crafting supplies that were once in the learning room are now in her room where she prefers them. I love that I could provide her with space to be creative.
Creativity Requires Investment
I have spent virtually no money on homeschool curriculum or supplies for this year. The money I have spent has been for two co-op classes (history through literature and gym) and an online art class through DIY. When we do our limited academic work, Caroline prefers workbooks and worksheets. (Go figure.) She doesn’t like open-ended work, but wants to sit down and just do the page and be done with it. So I have some workbooks we’ll use for math. We’ll do handwriting. Both required minimal investments.
I have, however, become accustomed to purchasing markers that cost $3-4 EACH. We are long past the cheap stock-up during back-to-school Crayola markers phase. Above all else, Caroline loves to draw and markers are her medium. And so we print off the Hobby Lobby coupons and buy the markers a couple at a time because they are currently her number one art thing. That’s where I’m investing my money.
Being a Creative Family
I love that all three of us are highly creative individuals. Now that Caroline is old enough to self-direct a lot of her creative endeavors, it frees me up to embrace my creativity at a greater rate again. I feel like I’ve received part of my life back as Caroline has become more independent in this way.
I also love that because we are all creative, we can spend a lot of time doing our individual thing and the others understand it. We now have long stretches during the day when we are each engrossed in our projects. Because we’ve made the commitment to embrace our creativity and make the most of it, we’re all much happier and more content with the flow of daily living.
And that’s an amazing blessing.