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Creativity for Kids Image via Schoolhouse Electric

Were you Encouraged to be Creative as a Kid (and where did it lead you)?

I got to thinking the other day about what led me to become a writer turned blogger turned interior stylist. 

I mean, surely people don’t just wake up one day with creativity and decide to turn it into a career. It wasn’t that way for me, anyhow.

Then I started thinking about my childhood and it suddenly dawned on me that so many elements of it were creative, and that my mother played a crucial part in fostering that creativity.

So today I’m sharing some tips on encouraging creativity in kids – based on my childhood experiences – but I also want to know:

Were you encouraged to be creative as a kid?

encouraging creativity in kids via schoolhouse electric

Growing up, my family wasn’t well off financially

There were some years there that were actually pretty dire. We didn’t take holidays, we didn’t have lavish cars, and up until I was 17 my parents rented the homes we lived in – and we lived in a lot.

Moving around so much was actually amazing for me. I reckon by the time I was 17 I had lived in over 10 different homes. I’m pretty sure that having so many bedrooms to decorate kick-started my interest in how spaces work and what you could do with them. I can walk into a space now and tell you exactly what will and won’t fit.

Not having a lot of cash growing up forced me to become creative. When Christmas rolled around, we didn’t go out and buy new anything in terms of decorations. That was a luxury we couldn’t afford. And this is where encouraging creativity in kids comes into play!

Chris Carroll from TLC Interiors

Vintage Chris Carroll right here. Get a load of it!

Encouraging creativity in kids: Christmas edition

Each December, Mum would by crepe paper from the newsagent in different colours and we would sit in the living room weeks before the 25th hit, making ring streamers to hang across the room along with a host of other Christmas activities.

Looking back, God we were doing it tough sometimes, but my parents never made me feel like we were. I had a ball creating those streamers and nothing pleased me more than stepping back and looking at the room once they were all up.

School holidays were creative, too

We made many, many cubby houses beneath our trampoline, with old sheets or tarp. We would set up little room around it using old wooden stumps and rope, draping fabric over them to create various nooks. You could spend all day out there, actually, reading and eating snacks.

Again, I never felt we were ‘doing it tough’; those cubby houses cost nothing and I had a ball making them.

Greeting Cards Display

Stationery goals started early

As a kid I also made a lot of cards. I wonder if little ones are still encouraged to do that anymore. I also made my own wrapping paper at times, stamping it with stamps or creating a polka dot effect with textas across it.

Again, this all came from – I’m guessing – not having enough money. But that’s the funny thing about creativity; the more you use it, the more you have. So even when we did end up being better of in terms of finances, I still looked to creative ideas that didn’t cost a fortune.

I wrote a lot growing up

And I was a very confident child up until about 12 or 13. I attended dance and drama classes and loved nothing more than putting on a show for my family at home.

Between the ages of 13 and 17, when I went through the process of realising I was gay (and all of the horrible situations like bullying that go along with it), I became quite introverted; doing everything I could to blend in and not be noticed by anyone. It wasn’t until I came to find ‘myself’ again at about 18 that my confidence came back.

Chris Carroll TLC Interiors

What was your childhood like creatively?

Do you think your childhood led you to your current work or interests? And do you agree with encouraging creativity in kids?

I’d also love to know if you do Christmas activities leading up to Christmas with your kids. Drop a comment below and let’s chat.

Images 1 and 2 in this post come courtesy of Schoolhouse Electric.

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Chris Carroll

Outside of writing this blog, Chris is an interior designer, presenter and author. He’s also spent time on TV, on Channel 10’s Changing Rooms, as well presenting segments on Channel 7’s Sunrise and The Morning Show. If you’d like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

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10 Responses

  1. Hi Chris, I’m really enjoying your blog.

    I was lucky to be surrounded by creative folk as a kid. Both my mum and dad were wwII immigrants and resourcefulness also made them creative. Handmade furniture from dad and home-sewn soft furnishing and clothes from mum .. I laugh now remembering that ‘home brand’ had a whole different meaning back then!

    People always ask me how I became an artist, or how can I encourage my children – one thing my parents always had for each person in our household was our own little desks. Desks to collect stuff, cut-out stuff, build stuff and generally have a small personal space to enable creativity whenever it occurred.

    I was also in a creative school (by luck) among the hippy-type and always making cool things like bees-wax candles in primary school through to pit-fired raku pottery in high school. I always suggest keep the art alive as an adult, sewing and home decorating contributes but still having a craft desk, pencils and sketch pad while on holidays and plenty of Photoshop type programs for the geek in us.

    Best wishes for 2016!

    1. Oh Dina what an awesome story! I love the idea of giving everyone their own desk. In the early days of the blog I used to laptop from the couch or the dining table. I eventually got my own office at home – desk and all – and it makes SUCH a huge difference. Creativity and ideas can flow far more easily when you have your own pocket to work from and play in.

      Hope you have a fabulous 2016 too and thanks for stopping by to comment 🙂

  2. Hi Chris, this is a great blog post and thank you for sharing from your heart!

    I can see how your resourcefulness added to your creativity here; and I definitely think that the ‘hard times’ in life will add depth and character and wisdom and even more resourcefulness/creativity to us – if we let it! Cubby houses were the best!! And very very cheap to run! 😉

    My situation was similar to yours in the way that I was moving house a lot… and I realise now that there are perks to that.

    You become less precious about ‘stuff’ in some ways… and I think this can grow resilience.

    In saying that – it can make you appreciate ‘home’ – a house to call your own whether it’s through ownership, renting or sharing – even more!

    Anyway, great post. 🙂

    1. Thanks so much Anna. I have tried to make these Conversation Series post a place where we can gather each week and all share more about ourselves, so I love hearing your story too. I definitely agree with you about appreciating home. I am such a homebody now and love nothing more than being surrounded by my things.

      Thanks again for sharing and see you next Wednesday for another Conversation Series post 🙂

  3. Oh goodness the joy I felt reading your little story. I can so relate to all that. I also was from a not so well off family, split, halves, steps, adopted, everything really. My dad raised me and he worked fulltime. I remember having to use my imagination (as I was told constantly) so would make all sorts of things, with no resources actually! I also loved poetry, and my dad still has every one I wrote to him. I think I would write one every time I did something wrong to get out of it. he he naughty girl!! But now I run my own business and I sew. I failed home Eco! lol I don’t think I ever completed one sewing article in the whole years of high school. But I had a friends mum who sewed everything and I was always there. So yes I think that along with that and my dads influence on use your imagination, curbed my way to where I am today!

    1. Love your story Monique – and so good to see that you figured out early on that you could get out of trouble by writing lol. Smart girl! And also a good message for kids to realise that you can have an amazing (and successful) life and career after failing some subjects in school 🙂

  4. Thanks for sharing Chris.

    My childhood was creative because of my mother and aunt. They let me listen to all of their conversations about interior design, fashion and art. (My pre school teacher had a meeting with my mother over me calling something a “blue red”. She thought I couldn’t see colour and Mum had to explain that reds can have blue or yellow undertones.)

    We also had adventures like going to the ballet, making clothes for barbies and decorating our own rooms.

    Last year my mother supported my first solo art show.

    1. Justine that is so awesome (and hilarious about the blue red). I can just imagine a teacher trying to broach the subject with your mum – how funny. And that is so wonderful that the creative encouragement you got has helped you in your career. It is a hope of mine that all parents guide their kids on one creative path or another. It has such impact.

  5. Omg can totally relate to this!!! Single mum with twins on the pension in the late 80’s was tough… But we were never deprived somehow! Just like you I came out at 16 and that’s when I just wanted to fit in and blend in… Later realizing why did I want to be like everyone else!
    When my nan passed we found a box with my name on it & all the things I had made her… Pressed flowers, cross stitch & sugar paste roses she taught me.
    I look back & think she kick started my creativity & it was ok to be a little different but be yourself & you’ll be fine.

    1. Oh Michael, that is SO beautiful that your nan kept all of your things. That makes my heart happy. And kudos to your mum for never making you feel like you were doing it tough – an awesome attitude she must have had. And go you for not being like everyone else 🙂 Thanks so much for commenting. I love hearing these stories.

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I’m interior designer Chris Carroll, and at TLC Interiors we’re all about helping you create an amazing home without breaking the bank. It’s affordable designer style at its best, and we make the whole process easy and fun for clients & readers alike!

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