Mother's Work · Motherhood · Parenting · Self-Care · Toddlers

Shaking up rituals with creativity and unpredictability

I simply love how inspiration just pops up, in the most unexpected moments. Or maybe the moment was perfectly expected, in the totally appropriate place to find inspiration – but it coincided with a moment in which my heart and mind were open to receive it.

I came across a Facebook post by a dear friend in which he proudly reported how his 3-year old daughter recognized a Monet painting while they were waiting their turn at the doctor’s office. What a great moment, and an awesome experience to have as a parent. But beyond that, it got me thinking. Where has Monet been in our life lately?

As our Midwest winter drags on and seems to not want to end, our three kids and I are finding ourselves stuck in a rut. Due to weather and savings goals we have been sticking to local attractions for which we already have memberships, nearby parks, and family dinners at home. But the mantra “we’re just gonna hang out today” that I began trying on a few months ago is getting worn out. Our kids get restless and antagonistic, and I get irritable and impatient. The ritual that usually provides comfort starts rearing its ugly head. All efforts to smooth transitions and manage arguments feel rigid.

Reading my friend’s post made this question rise up in me like a burp: What the hell am I doing??? Or better yet: Look at what the hell I’m NOT doing!!! I have completely lost sight of curiosity, creativity, and unpredictability. I’m holding on so tightly to the belief that if I maintain and “manage” this daily ritual, we’ll get through the day unscathed. That’s not our goal! To get through the day unscathed! I mean, some days it feels like that. But how could I – a mother whose life revolved around art and creativity and music – lose sight of all of the creativity that is available to me? Memories emerged of how as a little girl, I would sit in front of our massive bookshelves and browse through all of the gorgeous art books we had. Or how I devoured my mother’s record collection and would stand alongside the record player and pretend to sing with an invisible microphone.

Notice how I wrote that my life “revolved” around art – past tense? This shake-up not only challenges me as a mother, but as a human being. After spending four years establishing rituals and routines and figuring this mother thing out, it’s time to let loose again. I would argue that I could have let loose all along, but that’s water under the bridge. The more important question is: What can I do right now, and moving forward? How can I invite creativity and curiosity back into my life and with that into my children’s lives?

I’m still kind of reeling from this inspirational burp and figuring out what it means, and what to do next. My first instinct was to introduce my kids to at least one new thing every day. It can be small – like tearing pictures out of magazines and making collages – or bigger – like taking them to the local Native American history museum. Then there’s all of the music I can share with them. Or play the piano; wow, it’s been so long since I’ve played the piano. And the art books we can pull off the bookshelves to explore. And as the weather gets nicer – and it will! – we can venture out. Just venture.

And guess what? I can even pick places that I would like. This reminds me of another shift in perspective that I’ve been working on lately: Serve myself first. At every opportunity I want to ask myself how my choice is serving me. How is it enriching me? If it enriches me, then my kids win doubly. They will enjoy a happy, passionate, and resourced mother, AND they will learn something exciting and new in the process.

I’m so excited to start playing around. Let surprise, randomness, art, creativity, and unpredictability reign! (Sometimes.) 😉

3 thoughts on “Shaking up rituals with creativity and unpredictability

  1. I agree, no one can thrive when seemingly stuck in a rut. It’s difficult, because it seems like routines are so important for very small children (toddlers). I can’t imagine putting our daughter to bed without our well worn routines. However, you are right- as children get older, routines need to give way to spontaneity and creativity. Older kids need fun!

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