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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 The Life Creative

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 Sig

Outside of writing the TLC Interiors blog, Chris is an interior stylist and author. You can also catch him on your TV screens as a designer on Channel 10's Changing Rooms. If you'd like to book a design consult with Chris, you can find out more here

Comments (10)

  • 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.

    reply
  • Justine

    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.

    reply
  • Monique

    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!

    reply
  • 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. 🙂

    reply
  • 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!

    reply

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