Parenting Your Creative Child Within

I’m a parent, a business owner and a wife. That’s how I would characterize myself if I was pressed to identify who I am in relation to that which places demands on me every day. But occasionally I’m also a singer, director, actor, theater teacher, dancer, party planner and, if I really thought about it, I could probably come up with a bunch of other things to add to that list. This second collection of nouns refers to things that I am capable of doing and enjoy doing in the spaces between the times when I am a parent, business owner and wife. For me, it represents my creative child within. It’s the stuff that, if I won a million dollars, I would do for free — after I hired someone else to take care of the business and after I take my family on a much deserved trip to Hawaii, of course. (Well, in this economy, I would probably have to win at least five million to make that happen…anyway….)

Most adults wake up in the morning with their day pre-arranged. And, I dare say, most of the items on our daily punch list have to do with everyone else in our lives. In other words, parental responsibilities, work obligations and spouse expectations receive the greatest chunk of our time every day while the creative child within us — the part of us that wants to play music for joy or write a play for the love of it — gets put off until the last part of the day when the kids are in bed and the spouse is watching “Dancing With the Stars.” But, at that point, you are so darn tired from the daily rat race that, really, how much fun is it going to be to try and sing, write, play a song or paint something? When you’re tired, everything you do feels like a chore, and the creative child within us becomes yet another child who is demanding our careworn attention.

We have so many adult students who write to us about their frustrations finding a balance between work and play. My heart goes out to them as I empathize whole heatedly with their predicament. Though I am by no means a specialist in the field of self-help or “life coaching,” I recently came to some conclusions about the balance between work and play that have helped me to justify giving more consistent, regular time and attention to my creative child within.

Take playing the piano. If you’re someone who has fallen into the trap of postponing regular practicing until everyone else has had their needs met, then will you EVER practice? Let’s say that you are finding time to practice but you wish it was more time with fewer interruptions. If you’re a parent, then you know the reality — your kids will NEVER stop needing you. There are no term clauses to the parent contract. Once you sign, you’re on the hook — indefinitely.

Or are you waiting for things to slow down so that you don’t have to put in so much overtime at work? When will that realistically happen? I associate “slow down” at work with potential layoffs. Certainly if that happens (and I hope that it doesn’t), you’ll have a LOT of free time to practice but (if you’re like me) concerns about money or your feelings of despondency about being downsized will become your new excuse to avoid a relationship with your creative child within.

Spouse. This is a tricky one. Marriage is a partnership. But, I’ve learned that the only way that partnership will flourish is if the two of you are committed to supporting one another as you grow into becoming the very best version of yourself that you are capable of becoming. It’s not easy work but, guess what, success stories are better stories when there’s a triumph after a good deal of passion and hard work.

There will never be a shortage of excuses.

One of my parenting goals is to teach my kids that they can be whatever they want to be — whatever’s in their heart and wherever they set their mind to. I want them to have the fullest and most abundant life possible and I want them to become the best versions of themselves that they can possibly be. Well, my telling them this and wishing this for them isn’t necessarily going to make it so. They might listen to my directive and hearing this might make them feel confident, secure and loved, but in teaching by example, we can actually show our kids that, “Not only do I WANT you to have the fullest, most abundant life possible, I will SHOW you that it’s possible to have a full and abundant life by actually choosing to have a full and abundant life myself. A life that allows me to have at least 20 minutes per day to practice playing piano, sing, paint, draw or write simply because it brings me joy.” We are all teachers by example. What we do is so much more important than what we say.

Try just 20 minutes (uninterrupted) once per day for at least 5 days per week. Do the thing that you want to do that you’ve been avoiding. Do the thing that you used to do regularly but had to stop doing for whatever reason made sense at the time. It’s never too late to dust off an old gem or to start something new just for the sheer joy of it. And if it doesn’t work out, I’m sure you’ll find an excuse to sink back into the doldrums.

Don’t stop buying the occasional lottery ticket, but don’t wait until you win a million dollars (or 5 million) to give more attention to that creative child within. She’s been waiting so very patiently. She doesn’t ask for much. Don’t blame yourself, don’t judge yourself for neglecting her. She’ll be so glad to see you again that she won’t even remember that you were gone! Your creative child within has no concept of time. She knows, like only a child knows, that it’s never too late to have a full, abundant life. Now is the time. What are you waiting for?

Discussion18 Comments

  • Ken Larson Jul 20, 2012 

    Hi Valerie,
    Your message is extraordinary. Thank you.
    Ken

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      You’re welcome, Ken. Glad you liked it!

      Reply
  • Rose Jul 20, 2012 

    Yes, great idea, 20 minute blocks of time. The idea of doing something for 20 minutes is way more manageable and less overwhelming than thinking about the whole picture of where you want to go with what you are doing or where you THINK you should already be or the notion that you need to have three hours set aside in order to accomplish anything. I think “greasing the groove,” so to speak, by doing something regularly trains the neuropathways through repetition and habit and eventually whatever you are doing gets way easier and better. Keep the momentum going. Say yes to 20 minutes!

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      Greasing the groove….I like that. Thanks for your enthusiasm, Rose!

      Val

      Reply
  • Sharon Kearney Jul 20, 2012 

    This is exactly what I need to hear.thanks for taking the time to write it

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      My pleasure, Sharon! It’s as much advice to myself as to everyone else!

      Val

      Reply
  • Christine Daniels Jul 21, 2012 

    Thank you for this advice. I have struggled with this same problem for so long. I think constantly about learning new material on the piano and upgrade my skills but leave it to the last minute and then its to late at night and I am tired..I then feel disappointed and feel like I have accomplished nothing. I intend to do what you have suggested. Thanks again for your article.

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      Glad it helped, Christine! 20 min-5 days per week. Do something for yourself. You’ll be glad you did!

      Val

      Reply
  • Mike Marble Jul 21, 2012 

    Great article, Val!!

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      Thanks, Mike!

      Val

      Reply
  • Dwight Jul 21, 2012 

    Thanks Valerie for these encouraging words of wisdom. I have definitely put off 2 things that are dear to me just to accomodate the obligations of playing the piano in our church and trying to organize the music for the band plus, helping my wife out with her bookstore by creating an e-commerce site for her. Nonetheless, I fully support the child that is yearning and yes patiently waiting for me to set aside at least 20 or 30 minutes a day on a continuous basis. And, like you mentioned, the economy does not help one bit. But I have hope and I am not going to ever give up. Thanks to wonderful real life examples like yourself and your husband Willie, the passion you guys put forth each day should be enough testimony to get anyone off their feet towards their goals in life. Thanks again for these wonderful words of wisdom and knowledge.

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      Thanks, Dwight, for your remarks. I’m glad you liked the article. Willie and I definitely know what it feels like to struggle and even though things are good now, we are keenly aware of how life makes no guarantees. Good now isn’t a promise of what’s down the road. But we only get one chance to be the best we can be (no matter what happens to be in our wallet.) It’s taken a few permanent life lessons for me to see that and it takes a daily commitment moving forward. Please keep us posted on how the 20 min, 5 days per week is working for you!!!

      Val

      Reply
  • Gered Brown Jul 23, 2012 

    Thanks for this encouraging word, Valerie! After reading this I was inspired to hit the gym after a week of denial. Oftentimes once you FORCE yourself to start something, it’s well worth it once you’re done.

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 23, 2012 

      I know what you mean. I HATE exercising but I like having exercised. I feel better and stronger once I’ve done it and I find that I eat better if I’m exercising because my body craves more healthy food when I’m living healthy. It’s only when I’m sick or not taking care of myself that I reach for the junk food. Keep up the good work! You can do it!

      Val

      Reply
  • Steve Mabson Jul 24, 2012 

    Thank you for such inspiring words. I agree with every word,and I’m gonna do my best to start with 20 mins a day. God be with you and your family!

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 26, 2012 

      Good for you, Steve. Glad the article helped get you going. Keep us posted on your progress. God bless you!

      Best wishes,

      Valerie

      Reply
  • Allan Kalcov Jul 26, 2012 

    Just what I needed to read and remind myself of right now. Thank you

    Reply
    • Valerie Jul 26, 2012 

      My pleasure, Allan. Check in with us again in a couple of weeks and let us know how it’s working out!

      Best wishes,

      Valerie

      Reply

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