this post was created in partnership with Walmart.
play tent. floor pillow. jewelry kit.
A few weeks ago, while traveling back to Utah with my girls I looked around the airport, and do you know what I saw? Every single person waiting for their flight was staring at a screen. Computer, phone, iPad; it didn’t matter if they were 4 or 34, or 84. All eyes on their screens. And I get it, airports aren’t fun, they’re stuffy and crowded and boring. But I also realized, that for most people, gone are the days of people watching, marveling at the planes taking off, exploring with a restless toddler, finding shapes in the clouds or just sitting in stillness and contemplation while waiting…
And I get that screens have made our lives wildly more convenient, but I also think they’re stealing something really magical from our kids. Something, I and probably you benefitted from as a kid: the open-ended creative play that emerges primarily from unstructured time when kids are aloud the space to be bored and then, create their own magic.
That’s what I want to talk about today: making space for creativity this summer. How to do it, and why it isn’t as hard or scary as you might think. In fact, it’s probably going to make your life easier as a parent, and your kid’s childhood more magical and in the long run productive.
If we want our kids to have the patience, ingenuity and creativity to be able to solve real problems effectively as adults, we’ve got to make the space for them to learn how to use their brains in that way as children. Here are my tips for doing so.
Ava’s romper. t-shirt. sandals.
A little over a year ago I wrote an entire post on the benefits of boredom for your kids. Why it’s good for them and how it helps them develop, and I definitely recommend popping over and giving it a read.
Today I want to share practical tips for making space for your kids to get creative this summer.
Don’t overbook your time.
Part of fostering creativity and creative play in your kids is avoiding the impulse to overbook your time. Kids need hours and hours of unstructured time EVERY SINGLE DAY. That time is crucial in helping them develop patience, and learning to think creatively. If you feel the need to plan or fill every moment of their time in order to be a "good, involved, or engaged parent" consider this your permission to not do that.
I know that doesn’t feel natural in today’s day. The American trend of parenting for the last 20 years has been much more to over-parent, over-schedule and over-entertain your kids, but honestly, if you can resist the urge to do that, your kid’s are going to benefit from the space. When we don’t over schedule our kids we give them the time and space to learn how to self-entertain and self-entertainment is at the root of creativity.
Don’t resort to screens.
For heaven’s sake, please do everything you can to limit your kids’ screen time. I’ve shared before here, my kids don’t have social media, they haven’t had phones (Hannah is the exception now that she drives), we don’t watch TV (and never have) and we only watch a movie once a week on Fridays as a family. I’m here to tell you, four kids and almost 17 years in, it is possible. It’s even more than that. It’s joyful! You want to raise creative problem solvers? Turn the screens off. You want your kids to love to read? Turn the screens off. You want to raise engaged and empathetic adults? You guessed it, keep the screens off.
Growing up with limited screen time, will not, I repeat, will not limit your kids, or make you go crazy. In fact, it’s going to do the opposite. Because screens are so readily available we have this constant ability to jump outside of ourselves. Anytime we’re bored we pull out our phone or turn on our screen, but what we and what our kids especially need is to learn how to be comfortable hanging out in their own head. It is crucial for learning how to create. All the magic and creative ideas of childhood come after the boredom, after kids learn to exist in their own head. Keep the screens dark this summer; watch the creativity bloom.
Prepare your spaces for open-ended creative play.
My kids know full well that my job is not to entertain them. But even from the time they were little I tried to make sure our space and life was prepared for open-ended creative play. The expectations for limited screen use are set, but also, there are spaces and places to run around and make believe outside and in their rooms. We have always been stocked with creative craft supplies and things they can use to build and create. And I am a big believer in making spaces that foster creativity. Nothing in our home is so precious that it can’t be used to create an epic blanket fort, or be taken over for the day with a massive lego construction.
Preparing your spaces and having the expectations set in advance, sets you and your kids up for success and will make your life wildly easier this summer and beyond.
If you are looking to stock your house with supplies to help support your kids creativity this summer, Walmart just launched a brand new smarts and crafts line and what I love about it, is that it’s built all around the idea of the kind of open-ended unstructured play that ignites the imagination and fosters real creativity. I love that all of the items are at affordable, accessible price points, and the are made in colors and patterns that your kids are going to love.
Not only is there a full line of craft kits for every age group, there are also fun pieces for your kids spaces, like this great little play tent we picked up for Ava. She’s taken to bringing it out in the back yard to play in and then hauling up to her room to sleep in at night. They have a full line of bedding, decor and floor pillows as well. It’s all colorful, fun, and super affordable.
I hope these ideas help support you as you you make space for more creativity with your kids this summer! Make sure and share some of your go-to tips for encouraging creativity and creative play in your kids!
More favorites from the Smarts and Crafts line: