GETTING CREATIVE WITH KIDS
I’m so incredibly excited to be interviewing today one of the coolest chicks on the internet Mrs Oh Creative Day aka Shannon. I instantly fell in love with Shannon’s candid and hilarious voice and her bright, vibrant and playful ideas on how to get creative with your kids. Oh Creative Day is such a happy place on the internet and I always look forward to reading her ‘mom truths’ on each new post, so naturally I had to invite her for a chat for Petit Stories to learn a bit more about this rock star mom! If you don’t laugh out loud reading this interview there’s something wrong with you…or you simply have a totally different sense of humour than me and that’s ok I still like you. So without further adieu let’s get chatting!
Hi Shannon, can you tell us a bit about yourself.
I’m Shannon. Mum of 3. Wife to 1. Daughter. Older sister. Teacher. Blogger.
Enthusiastic dancer (in my lounge room. In my pyjamas. Beyoncé you have a lot to answer for.) Former tour guide (you really want me on your Trivia team.) Enthusiastic user of parentheses.
I am a walking contradiction. I am a homebody with a chronic case of wanderlust. I am a social introvert who loves connecting with people but finds social situations quite exhausting. I am ambitious but like letting things unfold at their own pace. I am an organised procrastinator. I am a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. With three kids under 5, I am mostly just tired.
I am not into fear-mongering or meanness. There is enough for everybody. Life isn’t a competition and your worth is not determined by standardised test results, your possessions, the achievements of your children or how many followers you have on social media. (That being said, I spend way too much time on Instagram.)
I am a Jack of All Trades, Master of None. With three kids under 5, I am mostly just tired.
I want to raise children with kind, considerate and creative hearts who have the social skills to connect with others. I want my children to have the time to enjoy their childhood. I want to see my ideas in picture books one day.
I do not want Game of Thrones to end. Ever.
I believe in kindness, connection and collaboration. I believe that everything in Life will work out, as it should. I believe that reading is as important as breathing.
I do not believe in skipping dessert.
I’m a lover of messy buns and topknot headbands. 90s grunge and hip-hop. The ocean.
A non-lover of runny egg yolks. Glitter. Packing the dishwasher.
On most days, I’m a sweaty mess trying my best to embrace the sweet chaos that is my life. It’s a pleasure to meet you and I hope we can be friends.
What inspired your account and website @ohcreativeday ?
An equal dose of boredom and ambition.
I’m always interested to hear about the epiphanies that mothers have after becoming mums. My Maternity Leave Epiphany with my first-born was that I really loved picture books. I had always loved reading and writing, and I realised that I wanted to write picture books. Something that I kept hearing was that if you wanted any chance of ever being published, you needed an “online presence.” Oh Creative Day was my attempt at an “online presence.” Ironically, I now spend more time tending to my blog baby than I do to my manuscript writing.
Oh Creative Day is MY space on the Internet, free from grubby hands and demands for more milk. It’s where I celebrate our perfectly imperfect attempts at living a creative life. AKA trying to remain sane whilst raising 3 kids under 5 and holding unrealistic life expectations thanks to Pinterest.
I’m in complete awe of everything you do! Can you talk us through what an average day looks like for you?
I’m not sure there is such a thing as an average day for us! An “ideal” day would involve me waking up before my kids, tending to my needs, consuming my coffee in silence and getting all zen before the sweet chaos of the household awakening. This has happened twice in my entire parenting career.
On weekdays, my husband gets up to get ready for work and serves the kids breakfast. I try and grab the last precious minutes of sleep before he has to depart. Once he has left, we generally potter around the house. Much of our daily life is centred around our dining table- it is literally at the centre of our living space and also doubles as our art studio / play dough lab/ dining space. Our days usually start with some colouring or cutting or making at the table as I try to unload the dishwasher / drink coffee / get the day underway.
Much of our daily life is centred around our dining table- it is literally at the centre of our living space and also doubles as our art studio / play dough lab/ dining space.
Our lives are still divided in accordance with kiddy naps. The youngest still has 2 naps. So after her morning nap we usually head out to playgroup or the park. Home by 12.30 so all 3 can go down for naps (Hallelujah for naps!) If all the stars align and all 3 kiddies nap at the same time, this is the time when I try to get my online hustle going/ run a household / drink more coffee.
The afternoons are usually a haze of books, living room dance parties, trying to get the laundry off the line and more arts and crafts. And attempting to get dinner on.
I am always alarmed when people congratulate me for “all that I do.” Let me assure you that I DO NOT do it ALL. I don’t exercise anywhere near enough. My house could definitely be cleaner. I could make an effort to eat healthier. I do value trying to get creative with my kids on the daily- and that’s the glossy, colourful stuff you see online.
What does creativity mean to you? And what advice do you have for parents who don’t think they’re creative?
Creativity is doing that thing that makes your brain giddy and your heart beat faster. That “thing” may be tinkering with cars. Testing new recipes in the kitchen. Sewing clothes for your kids.
I do value trying to get creative with my kids on the daily
It breaks my heart when I hear people declare that they are not “creative.” WE ARE ALL CREATIVE BEINGS (Say it with me!) We all have the ability to create, think creatively and problem solve. It’s just that my form of creativity will be completely different to yours. And that’s the brilliance of it! My advice would be to embrace your “thing.” And if you’re still not convinced, then read “big Magic” by Elizabeth Gilbert. #fangirl
I love how you promote the idea that creating is about the process not the product, can you explain what you mean by this?
“Process not product” is something I silently chant to myself when I start projecting my expectations onto my kids’ arts and crafts projects. As adults, we have a lot of ideas about what we think an arts or crafts project “should” look like. When we stand back, bite our tongues and let kids just enjoy the creative process, and not worry about the end product, so much is happening. Self-expression. Risk-taking. Experimenting with materials. Development of fine motor skills.
If you find it hard to let go of your idea of the ideal finished product, may I suggest you sit down beside your child and create according to what is in your mind? Then you are in control of your process, and not theirs. I also truly believe in “busy hands, loose lips.” The conversations that emerge when little ones are busy creating are just priceless.
You’re a teacher and book lover can you tell us how do you inspire a love for reading in your children and why this is important to you…I’m assuming this is the case lol?
I think my strategy is pretty simple- I make sure that books are scattered all over our house. I make sure that my children are exposed to a wide variety of books. I model extreme reverence and wonder for books. I place value in reading time and make sure we read multiple books across the day. Coming from a multicultural family, I’m also passionate about exposing my children to diverse books that depict a world that reflects their reality.
Reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give. It exposes them to new vocabulary, different perspectives, new places. It allows them to explore tricky concepts and feelings. Books help children make sense of the world, whilst enabling them to be transported out of this world.
If you want to take things to the next level, book-based play will do just that. I KNOW that Teri is a fierve advocate for bookish play! I have a free printable that outlines how I set up book-based play at my place.
What is your current favourite read aloud book?
This is such a hard question! My favourite read aloud book frequently changes but it generally needs to contain fun vocabulary and have a great pace to it. My favourite books also involve a clever interplay between words and illustrations.
I adore Under the Love Umbrella by Davina Bell and Alison Colpoys
Sunday Chutney by Aaron Blabey
Bob the Artist by Marion Deuchars
Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando
And anything by Oliver Jeffers.
You have your hands full with 3 children, what advice do you have for parents who are reading with children of different age groups?
I have two pieces of advice. Firstly, don’t ever feel restricted by the recommended age groups attached to books. As I mentioned earlier, it’s important for children to be exposed to a wide variety of books. So I have board books scattered around for my 15-month-old that my eldest, who is almost 5, still loves reading. The eldest also loves thumbing through chapter books. Some of the content can be a bit too mature for her, so I have to either see it as a teachable moment and talk her through it, or alter the story a bit.
Reading to your children is one of the greatest gifts you can give.
My 3-year-old is a voracious consumer of books and often requests that I read books to him throughout the day. So my second piece of advice would be to seize the little pockets of time throughout the day to read as requested. I’ll often sit down to read a book that interests him and then the girls will wander over and join in if they’re interested. If they’re not interested at least they’re seeing the read aloud process being modelled and embraced.
Can you tell us a bit about your parenting style?
To have a parenting style would suggest that I actually know what I’m doing in this crazy gig of raising little people. My style could be described as “trying my best and knowing that I’m a Work in Progress.”
A central belief that my husband and I subscribe to is that it is our role to fiercely protect our kids’ childhoods. Our job is to give them plenty of time to be bored. Our job is to not to fall prey to the societal pressures of over-scheduling their time and signing them up for a gazillion extra-curricular activities. Our job is to let them be little and play and question.
Your website is full of wonderful advice for parents. What is the biggest lesson motherhood has taught you?
I often joke that motherhood has taught me a lot about construction vehicles. And dinosaurs. And animals. Jokes aside, motherhood has taught me to be constantly curious and to see the world as a source of immense and never-ending wonder.
Being a teacher before becoming a parent taught me one important lesson: Kids are like parrots. Or mirrors. They will parrot things back to you that you’ve said to them and they’ll reflect your behaviour back to you. This is both awe-inspiring and plain scary.
What are your top tips for getting creative with kids?
- Be prepared
- Rethink location
- Process not product
- Let go of expectations
If the idea of painting with kids makes you feel cold and sweaty, here are my tips.
If you’re after some mess-free art ideas, here you go!
If you’re after ideas and inspiration, you can follow me on Instagram or Facebook. I also run the Get Creative With account on Instagram which is filled with amazing ideas organised according to theme.
Do you have any projects coming up you’d like to talk about?
It’s been on my To-Do list for ages to come up with an eBook filled with ways to have creative days with little ones. I’m slowly working away at it- if you come over to my site and subscribe to my newsletter, you’ll be the first to find out about it and get a sneak peek!
We’d love to hear your thoughts on getting creative with your kids. Do you enjoy the process? If so, what does it look like in your home? If you’re a bit apprehensive about getting started, Shannon has so many amazing ideas over on her website so be sure to head over there to check it out.
If you have any questions of comments for Shannon please feel free to leave them below or jump over to my Instagram page and chat with us over there!
Teri and Shannon xo