I have been in a creative slump the last few months, which may not be a surprise considering the recent season of withering. Lack of vision, clarity, or inspiration in one area of life often begets the same in other parts, too. During these last few months, I mostly neglected my camera, felt a bit bored with social media, stared at blank screens toggling between letters and the delete button. I lacked the typical enthusiasm for this joyful work, and it showed. And it showed in our home, too.
Where this might be a natural point to talk about a new photo project or writing prompt, I sensed there was something larger that has needed tending first––a vital shift within our home atmosphere, a fresh connection with one another and the space we inhabit. The creative culture of our home needed nurturing. For those of you needing a little bit of the same, below are seven habits we’re paying closer attention to in the new year, to refresh and tend to the creative atmosphere of our home.
SEVEN WAYS TO NURTURE THE CREATIVE SPIRIT IN YOUR HOME
Make Your Bed / What? I know. That’s what my children say. The ideas feel disconnected, but making our beds each morning does two things: it turns our attention to details and begins our day with a sense of accomplishment and clarity. Most creative endeavors are really a summation of small processes, one part building on another. Beginning with a small and clear task, helps us begin to notice the small, approachable tasks in other areas of life, too. At the very least, there will be a neat spot to take a photo, enjoy a nap, or read a book later in the day.
Add Fresh Flowers + Indoor Plants / I love a good excuse for indoor blooms, especially in the Winter when the world feels dull and grey. Whether a few clipped evergreens from a walk or a small bundle of Wild Chamomile found at the grocery store, the effort always pays noticeable dividends in our home. And there’s increasing amounts of research on their mental benefits, too. According to this study, indoor plants can even boost creativity up to 45%. So if you were ever looking for an excuse to have more plants around, you have it.
Make Time and Honor It / Many of us have days filled with ordinary things pertaining to home and work or school. It can be easy to view a block of time set apart just to work on a craft as a luxurious expendable. If you are wanting to shift your home/personal culture, this part is indispensable. Find a part of your day that works best for you or your children. The early morning is still my favorite time to work personally, so getting up early before the rest of the house feels necessary to my creative process and worthwhile. For my children, I find the afternoon, after their more focused studies are finished, when their bodies feel particularly antsy is a great time for handwork. We have also added a more defined space in the morning alongside read-aloud.
Keep Supplies Stocked and Prepared / Making sure our house is stocked with art materials is the second most important practical part, especially during our school day. Although there are bits that are used more often than others, I try to keep paper, paints, colored pencils, scissors, charcoal pencils, string, glue, sewing needles, carving knives, and clay accessible, stocked, and in the same place so they’re easy to find. At the onset of each week, I have the kids sharpen pencils and colored pencils so they’re fresh for the work ahead. We make sure all the right things are in their correct place to have on hand when whim appears.
Bring a Camera/ Photography teaches me both to slow down and to see the world around me differently, but I barely picked it up in the Autumn of last year. I feel my lack of creativity during that period is intrinsically connected. And so I am myself bringing a camera with me again. I’m also including my children in the process, letting them observe when I edit or letting them frame a shot.
Practice Fluid Movement / We all know it’s better to move our body than not. After all, sitting is considered the new smoking. And for those of us who practice creative arts that require stillness, movement is necessary. According to this study from Stanford University, certain types of fluid movement stimulate the same fluidity of creativity. Think: hula hooping, tai chi, or yoga. This article even adds belly dancing to the list. Wink.
Sleep at Least 8 Hours / Every parent shouts for joy! Our bodies need sleep for so many important reasons, but one of them being creative thought and memory retention. Right now, I tend to naturally wake early, and I’ve found it’s often the best part of my day for entering creative flow in this stage of life. Maybe it’s the quiet and dark. Maybe it’s the freshly slept brain. I’m not sure, but after watching this brief video from a Neuroscientist at UC Berkeley about the affects of sleep deprivation on the brain, I knew I needed to get in bed earlier. I’m doing the same with my kids, too, especially the older ones who think “they’re not tired.” This article goes into more depth on the different things happening in our brain while we sleep, especially the way the REM cycle may impact the way we create.
I always have every craft supply i can think of on hand incase the inspiration strikes.
That is the second time today that I’m reading sitting is the new smoking. Gladly my littlest one hardly lets me sit and I don’t smoke at all. 😉 I love how the list really just features simple practices for the everyday because it makes them so much more attainable. I currently pay particular attention to making time and honouring it as I chose time for my word of the year. It’s the crucial element for all our endeavours and aspirations, isn’t it. And the one I struggle most with. I have actually sat down at the beginning of the year and made a schedule like I used to have in school, haha, and noted down all our pre-planned activities. Then I filled in time for chores and other necessities and then I filled in the hours for things we would like to do. I payed close attention to timing and anticipated energy levels too, when filling it in. Now, it might seem awfully restrictive to live by a tight schedule but I treat it more like a guideline to our daily rhythms. Keeping in mind that I’m the master of this schedule not its slave and can adapt it anytime I want. January so far has felt great because of it, despite not all having flowed like planned.
I had started to watch the video on sleep deprivation and then got depressed and turned it off half-way through. With three kids under three, I never ever ever sleep enough…
Jessica, there are seasons in motherhood where sleep deprivation is inevitable, so don’t be discouraged. It will change. Just know when it does, you’ll want to prioritize healthy sleep habits again for your well-being. xx
Fab tips Bethany! From one creative soul to another, it’s lovely to hear that we all have peaks and troughs.
Thank you for sharing.
I really appreciate this piece, Bethany, it resonates with me. The camera thing especially. One of my goals is to get back into using my DSLR more frequently. It is more satisfying on every level than my phone although it requires more patience. I’ve felt in a creative no man’s land recently and this was timely.
Agreed on all points. Getting older teens to bed at a reasonable time has been a feat that I have failed to achieve. They tell me that they are not able to fall asleep until later. I am glad that homeschooling affords flexibility and our days don’t start before 8:30. I also relish some quiet time in the morning. However, I do think that they could use more sleep. It is odd that most of my children now go to bed after me. I only have one to read, snuggle, and tuck in. I didn’t think that I’d miss those days, but I do.
Making the bed! You’re right. It makes a difference and it’s embarrassing how hard it is that make myself do it. Thanks for all these wise words.
I always love reading your words! I think one of the biggest keys to more creativity in my life has been being very thorough about forgiveness, holding no grudges. This fall was extremely intense for us with our move to a fixer upper, but creatively it was a better year than ever, and I believe it has to do with staying free of feeling trespassed against.
Thank you, Jennifer, and such a good point, too! Holding grudges and offenses toward others also impedes creativity, as well as other life-giving parts of us, like joy, gratitude, and healthy relationships. Thank you for sharing! x
Your words echo a very similar dynamic Ive been experiencing in my home and creative energies as well! Thank you for causing me to pause and think through our situation. And for helping me feel I’m not alone in this season. And for inspiration!
I’ve been trying extra hard to make my bed every morning, even (and especially) during the crazy Sunday morning rush to get to church. And I also try to keep it dusted and tidy all day long. It really makes the whole day go better no matter what is on the schedule! Our bedroom is visible from the kitchen and school room and so I see it all day. If it’s a wreck then I feel like a looser. If I shut the door so I can’t see the wreck then every time I see the shut door I know why it’s shut and I still feel like a looser. It really only takes a few minutes to tidy it up! I don’t drink coffee but I liken cleaning my room every morning to drinking morning coffee.
I had miss you post.
I love your words, thanks for the inspiration.