Raising A Creative Family – Tips from Jean Van’t Hul author of The Artful Year

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Are you familiar with the incredibly inspiring and completely creative blog The Artful Parent? The mother, writer, and artist behind it all is Jean Van’t Hul.  I am lucky enough to call Jean my friend and am so pleased to share some of her thoughts on how to raise a creative family all year long.  In her new book The Artful Year: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes–Over 175 Family- Friendly Activities Jean shares how you can celebrate the seasons and holidays as a family with creativity. The book is filled with all sorts of creative ideas for families from cooking to crafts with the common goal of connecting as a family and celebrating traditions. This is a wonderfully written and simply beautiful book that you can’t help but feel completely inspired as you turn it’s pages.

I received a free copy of the book for review but no matter what I only share things I think my readers can benefit from.


Tips for Raising A Creative Family

An Interview with Author Jean Van’t Hul


How do you balance old family traditions and new ones with your family? What should parents do if their children reject family traditions they feel deeply attached to?

When introducing new activities, keep an open mind and stay flexible. How does the new activity affect the family and how does it affect your favorite established traditions? If it passes the trial period with flying colors, you can consider adding it to your flight of traditions. We don’t get that formal about it in our family, though, and often don’t even think about an activity in terms of tradition until we realize we’ve done it many times and feel attached to it. I don’t have much experience with children rejecting family traditions but my best advice would be to talk with your kids about why you value your traditions and the role they play in your family. And to really listen to their viewpoint as well. You can also talk about how they may choose their own traditions as they get older but that this family tradition is important to you and that you’d like them to respect it, just as they want you to respect certain things about them.


What role has being creative with your daughters played in connecting with them? How do you hope to continue this as they enter adolescence?

Many of my creative activities with my daughters have been focused on helping them to think outside of the proverbial box as much as connecting with them through a shared activity. For us, that activity has often been art. Open-ended art activities, including art games and drawing challenges, are some of the ways we explore the world and ourselves in a way that inspires creativity. For other parents, that touch point of interest, connection, and creativity might be something else. Every parent connects with their kids around the things they love, right?, whether it’s sports, gardening, camping, cooking, playing games, science, music, or whatever. I think the key is to keep an open mind as you invite your children to join you in the activity and to ask open-ended questions of yourself, your kids, and the activity. If there’s one thing I’ve learned as a parent is the importance of remaining flexible. I hope to continue this approach with my girls in some way as they enter adolescence but know that I’ll have to remain open to change as I engage creatively with my children in whatever way seems to be work for all of us at the time.


What role can cooking play in raising a creative family? What tips do you have for parents who want to cook with their children but have little time?

I think most activities can play a role in raising a creative family if you approach them with an attitude of open-ended exploration. Cooking can be very creative. But the real reason I cook with my kids is that cooking is fun for both me (I especially enjoy baking) and for them. Cooking is also one of the best and most natural ways to give kids the sensory experiences they crave and need (besides playing outside in nature). Think of the five senses—seeing, smelling, tasting, touching, hearing. Cooking has it all. And even if you don’t take an especially experimental approach, cooking is part of living period. Everyone needs to eat. Cooking is a skill that I want to pass on to my children and food plays such a big role in family and cultural traditions. I think it’s important to invite your children to help you in the kitchen at least some of the time. Most kids I know like to chop, mix, dump, knead, whisk, crack eggs, wash potatoes, peel carrots, etc…If you have time for this only on the weekends, or once a week, that’s okay. If you don’t know your way around a kitchen, get a kids’ cookbook and learn together (we especially like Mollie Katzen’s cookbooks such as Pretend Soup). Whatever you do, even if it’s simply boiling spaghetti and heating up pasta sauce, make it a special side-by-side experience with your children. It’s as much (or more) about connection—sharing life skills and doing things together—as it is about the creative aspect. You can do this with any aspect of life. If I were into taking apart motors and fixing cars, I would find ways to do that with my children. But I like to cook and see tremendous benefits in including kids.


Pick up Jean’s new book at your local bookstore or here –>  The Artful Year: Celebrating the Seasons and Holidays with Crafts and Recipes–Over 175 Family- Friendly Activities . Thank you Jean for sharing these insights and your wonderful book .  You can follow Jean’s daily dose of creativity on her blog The Artful Parent.




Parenting Book Club Summer Pick!

I asked my facebook readers which book they would like to see us read next  and then I read through what seemed like endless amazon reviews but kept coming back to this one. Cinderella Ate My Daughter: Dispatches from the Front Lines of the New Girlie-Girl Culture I am part way through the book and I want to find the author and thank her for such a wonderful , thought provoking book. My husband probably doesn’t as he he constantly woken from sleep by me so I can excitedly tell him a new revelation that the book as sparked. Apparently 1am is not a cool time to talk about parenting. I think it’s only fair since both our kids woke me often to nurse at 1am . I finally just told him to download the book to his Kindle because it’s such a great read.

We will have a live Facebook chat August 27th to discuss. This gives us lots of time to read and reflect. Don’t worry of you can’t make the live chat because the questions will be posted along with the discussion for all those who can’t be there “live”.

Parenting Book Club – May Pick!

I hope everyone who read Playful Parenting enjoyed the book and more importantly found some new strategies for their family, I know I did.  May’s book is Raising Happiness: 10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents by Christine Carter. This book was recommended to me ages ago by a friend when my son was starting to display a very scary turn towards perfectionism. I waited forever to get it from our library, and by then his perfectionist phase was back to a manageable level but the book was awesome. I will be re reading it and in 4 weeks I will post discussion questions on our Facebook to open it up to all of you are joining in this month to share your thoughts.

Book Club Discussion!

Did you read Playful Parenting ?  What did you think?  Tonight starting at 5pm PST  I will be Posting discussion questions live on our Facebook and Twitter.  Please come join the discussion by adding your thoughts and opinions on this parenting book and it’s techniques.

I will also be announcing which parenting book will be our next selection.

Edited – Discussion Questions and link to Facebook

Question #1 – General impressions- did you like the author’s approach to parenting through play? Do you relate to it or is this concept a harder one for you to latch on to?
Question #2 Have you used any of the suggestions the author writes about in you own family?
Question #3 Were there any suggestions that were hard to accept? His approach to discipline through play and limits instead traditional punishment was eye opening as well as a “duh! of course!” section for me.
Question #4 How has reading this book changed how you parent? Or has it solidified your decisions to parent in a opposing way?

Next Month’s Book :

Raising Happiness by Christine Carter PhD

Introducing our Parenting Book Club

I am so excited about this. I often ask on my Faceboook page what books my readers are reading and decided that we needed some book discussion for books without pictures here on No Time For Flash Cards. The community feeling that has been developing around here is awesome and I want to keep it going!

I am not working with publishers or planning a review of these books. This is a chance for us to read together and share our thoughts after.  I have no real agenda as far as picking books every month other than being a book about parenting,  hoping they spark discussion and are easy to find  for anyone wanting to join.

April’s Book

Playful Parenting by Lawrence J. Cohen

More about the book on the author’s website

How do you join?

Easy ! Read the book, 4 weeks later I will post some discussion questions to spark chat . Told you it was easy.