Got IDEAS? Got Kids with IDEAS?

Do you have an awesome idea? A little seed just waiting to grow and sprout and bloom this season or next? Here at Blissdom Conference, Author Jon Acuff spoke about harnessing our creative powers with “The 3 Stages of Every Awesome Idea”:
  1. Imagine
  2. Capture
  3. Execute

I know the session was meant to help us with our own ideas for business, for blogging, for writing, for life, but instead, it really spoke to me as a parent. I see how those steps are playing out in my life, and there were no big revelations there. I am fortunate to have LOTS of creative ideas that I have imagined for my business and life. I have a vision. Some of it has come to me in the shower, during “rest-times” or quiet walks (down-time is when our brain has time to make all of those creative connections). Some of it has come to me as I’ve been on the floor teaching children, as I’ve been inspired at events like this, or just by own everyday experiences with my kids. I have tried to “capture” these ideas on my computer, in a journal, on random little post-its and scraps of paper around the house, in my purse, as they come to me. As for step 3, I’m working on it. On finding the time to organize and prioritize the ideas to execute my vision, and it’s happening in baby steps. I met one blogger here who just spent 2 months in solitude working and meditating at a beach condo. You guessed it…she does not have kids. But I’ll get it done in spurts. What’s the point of having all these great ideas for helping other parents if I can’t share them?

But my big revelation came as I considered the 3 steps regarding the “great ideas” of my children. My kids are incredibly creative, especially MJ (almost 6). Some of that is innate to him, but with all natural gifts in children, they can only be discovered and grown given time and care. Creativity is something all children have. He has gotten to express and expand it because of my intentional choices to allow my children plenty of down-time (unstructured, unguided play), freedom for exploration, limited screen-time, and open-ended objects and toys.

Now I’m done tooting my own horn. Because while I might feel good about the parenting choices I’ve made that lead to a gold star for step 1, imagination, I haven’t been so great at encouraging or allowing steps 2 and 3.  These steps, “capturing” and “executing” really struck me with a sense of challenging guilt. In my house, I often hear the words “Hey Mommy, I’ve got a great idea!”,  and I must admit that my internal reaction is one of resistance and frustration. I try not to show it, but inside, I am saying, “Please, Lord, not another great idea! I don’t have the time or energy for a big, sticky, messy idea right now!”. (These ideas usually involve making a mess in the kitchen using spices, flour, eggs, glue, paint, duct tape, cardboard, or all of the above.)

I have allowed him to follow through with many of the plans (lemonade stands and driveway carnivals), but guilt hits as I think of all the “great ideas” that I’ve stopped before they ever get to step 3….like the time he wanted to start a children’s library with his books. I went into his room after rest-time, and discovered him in the middle of the floor surrounded by a sea of books, shelves empty. His enthusiasm for sharing his idea stopped me short of sighing loudly in exasperation, or worse. I did go along with the next step of his plan. I helped him sort by categories of his choosing and write the labels: animals, space, dinosaurs, Dr. Seuss, Jack and Annie (Magic Tree House  series), music, etc. But we never followed through with the library visitors part. Just like we’ve never followed through with the “Dinosaur Camp” that he wants to help me with. Or his trip to Mars. Okay, so not all ideas can make it to step 3, but find some that can, with your help. (Watch MJ fly to space in a cardboard box! )

…Stay tuned for tomorrow’s post on the many developmental benefits of following through!

I did let him wear his home-made duct-tape shirt to school!