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 its 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.