We’ve become a world of such passive consumers that the thought of trying to create together as a family sometimes seems daunting. Or unrealistic. Or even strange.
I mean, why can’t we all just sit on the couch and watch a movie? What’s wrong with scrolling through our phones after an exhausting day? Tuning in to the movie (or conversation) when necessary and then shutting off our brains the rest of the time?
Nothing. Some days, that’s just fine.
But when those “some days” turn into “every days,” we’ve got a problem. How terrible would it be to wake up one morning and realize that you’ve spent the majority of your “family time” staring at a screen?
Let’s make sure that doesn’t happen.
We need to start creating things together as families. Let’s do stuff. Make stuff. Build stuff. Awesome stuff. Stuff that celebrates the unique qualities every member brings to your family dynamic.
Creativity is often celebrated as a personal, individual activity. But collectively, as people, we’re creative. We create solutions to problems, design parks and hiking trails, sketch plans for new construction, paint rooms, plan our daily meals, organize our workouts, write journals, even budgeting takes some creativity.
We can learn so much about life and about ourselves when we create. Creating requires us to invest our time and energy and imaginative capacities into some sort of project. We become concerned about the project’s outcome; we care about how things will turn out.
When we create together, we encounter that excitement of the unknown together. We share in each other’s creative gifts and celebrate the unique set of skills each one of us brings to the family.
And we make some amazing memories in the process.
So whether you’re a family of eight or a family of two, here are 7 awesome ways to create together as a family. Try a few out this week! And let me know how it goes!
Make Meals Together:
We all know how important it is to gather around the dinner table and eat together. But why not create that meal together too? Cram everyone together into that tiny kitchen of yours and designate roles for each other. Talk about your days while sneaking bites of this or that in between conversations. Let your kids help you. Let them learn how to measure and mix and, yes, even make mistakes. Because it’s just a meal, after all.
Your kitchen will become chaotic and loud and crowded. There will be spills and stains and noise. You might even feel anxious and frustrated and perhaps even more exhausted than you would if you just did it yourself.
But there will also be learning and maybe even laughter and an eagerness for the meal amid the messes and conversation and chaos. Bring some life back into your kitchen and make your meals together.
One of the best ways to confront life’s messes is to actually get your hands dirty. With actual dirt. And then watch the beautiful things that can grow in the midst of it. Maintaining a garden reminds us of that.
Try gardening together. Grow flowers you care for as a family. Make salads or salsa from the vegetables growing in your backyard (also, see #1 above).
Gardening takes patience, perseverance, mindfulness, and gentleness, which sound like four great qualities that I hope to instill within my kids. The garden is one of the best metaphors for life: there’s birth, death, beauty, vulnerability, trust, and achievement. And, if you’re like me, lots of failure. But you keep gardening nevertheless.
Teach your kids and grandkids all about the surprising beauty that can come from life’s dirt and garden together. Invest in the life of these little plants and see what kind of family you become.
Do Art Together:
If you can recognize the beauty in a sunset, then you have an eye to create art. No matter what you’ve been telling yourself all these years.
Encourage imagination within your family by doing art together. Any kind of art: watercolor, sculpture, sketching, finger paint. Play with color and form. Have your kids draw your family portrait. Fill a wall in your home with art made by each member of the family. Or (even more awesome) one piece of artwork done by everyone.
Spending one night a week (or even one night a month) celebrating the vibrant colors and shapes of this world is a great way to foster creativity, an attentiveness to detail, and express emotion. Exploring these ideas together not only highlights our different artistic capacities but also reveals how awesome it can be when those differences are shared.
Sometimes creating together could mean designing a way to accomplish a particular goal. Maybe you need to paint or furnish a room in your home. Design it together. Pool together the family’s likes and dislikes and work together to create a room that you each can uniquely enjoy.
Design paper airplanes and have a contest at the park. Build something together: a birdhouse, a bench, a robot that will clean your kitchen. Sew a pattern or knit a big blanket for the living room.
Creating doesn’t have to be unstructured. Find a design and create it. Maybe even modify it. But do it together.
We often think of creating “things” together—physical objects that we can hold in our hands or hang on the wall and say, “Look! We created that!”
But creating together doesn’t need to always result in a physical object. Volunteering at a local charity, group home, or non-profit organization is one way of creating particular environments for other people that might be even more important than the artwork hanging on your playroom walls.
Create environments for others that are safe, loving, and hopeful. Bring your family to Feed My Starving Children and bag meals for others around the globe. Find a need in your community and meet that need together, whether it be organizing a yard sale to help a charity, supporting your local schools, or serving a meal once or twice a week.
You might discover that creating a healthy and loving environment for another also creates a different kind of environment among your own family—one of thankfulness, humility, and love.
At the start of every year, Darrin and I go out for dinner (or prepare a fun meal at home) and we write down the goals that we have for the upcoming year. Family goals, finance goals, individual goals. They can be anything. But we write them down. Together. And create a list of goals we hope achieve together.
Writing together is one way of uniting and celebrating the different dynamics each person brings to your family. Have everyone write their favorite memory from a recent trip and save each story in your photo album. Or, write about the entire trip, each member picking up where the other left off, just to see what aspects of the vacation stood out for each person.
Share your goals for the year, your hopes for the next ten years, or get imaginative with your kids and help them write their own mystery or adventure series.
Writing is often seen as an individual, highly personal activity. But sometimes a family’s story needs to be written down, voiced, and shared just as much as an individual’s story. So write your own family story. And do it together.
Darrin wanted to title this last idea “Have Family Dance Parties, DUH,” but I thought “Move Together” was a bit more appropriate. 😉 We play music constantly throughout our day—from classical piano to 90s R&B—and some of my favorite family moments have come from spontaneous dance parties while we were cooking in the kitchen.
Moving makes us feel good. So move together as a family. If spontaneous dance parties aren’t really you’re idea of a good time, get outside. Hike together through your community’s local trails and parks. Olivia has decided that 9 months was as good a time as any to start walking, so we’ve been making memories on our long walks around the neighborhood or at the park. Maybe your family would rather run or bike a 5k (while wearing matching family tee shirts, of course).
Whatever you decide, make an effort to get out of the house and move together. Exercise. Dance. Landscape (see #2). Create some family memories of your movements in this world.
Garden, write, volunteer, move, cook, design…these are just a few ways to create together as a family. What’s so amazing about our creative capabilities is that we’re each so uniquely creative. We each have a particular perspective on this world that is solely our own.
Celebrate the different perspectives within your own family by bringing them together and creating something unique to your home.
And then send me an email telling me all about it!