Have you ever noticed the crazy creativity that your kids come up with when they play together? Claudia Vidal, New York-based coach, training psychotherapist, mum and co-founder of the personal and professional development social enterprise, Hues of Change, certainly has. And it got her thinking – how can we harness collaboration and creativity to overcome chaos? She explained exclusively to haven magazine…
Chaos. It feels all-consuming and unavoidable, right? With so many places to be and people to see – not just for you, but for your kids, too – it’s not hard for life to turn into, well… a mess.
We often find ourselves longing for the weekend. Maybe then, with those 48 hours with “nothing” to do, we’ll be able to catch up to ourselves! But, time after time, we’re hit with piles of laundry, food shopping, cleaning and the million-and-one other jobs that we neglected during the week thanks to… chaos.
And it continues.
“How can we challenge the unavoidable and focus on what matters? Creativity!” Claudia says. “What separates a creative parent from the rest is their ability to evaluate their actions. Creative parents understand that their role at home is to solve complex issues – thus, they take the time to notice, observe, and revise their daily actions.”
By noticing effectively, Claudia says, we can begin to stop chaos in its tracks.
For example, if you notice your children’s interaction with one another, you can begin to strategise your errands around their routines.
“On weekends, during the winter months, my children settle in the living room and play from around 9am until 1pm,” Claudia says. “They engage in a verbal manner by debating or exchanging ideas about their toys, and spend time playing with LEGOs and watching Netflix shows. During the summer months, they like to play outdoors. Preferably in the nearby park and at times in the backyard.”
Noticing these seemingly-mundane aspects of her children’s day has helped Claudia plan her errands strategically – she’s realised that scheduling things like food shopping and laundry for the late afternoons and evenings is better than disrupting her kids’ morning play time.
It’s all about exercising your observation muscle. Noticing our own actions and the actions of others can help us create much-needed space in our busy lives.
“I stop and notice: are they playing or fighting? Bored or entertained? Is the environment overstimulating or under-stimulating?” Claudia says. “Asking these questions can determine if the activities I’m providing them with are sustaining their interactions.
“My children spend most of their time debating about who goes first and who goes last, who is right and who is wrong, and they don’t always like to share their toys. This is helpful when they’ve got a vast selection of toys to choose from, but sometimes this set-up just creates a temporary illusion of harmony.”
Claudia identified that her children fought less and engaged more when they played with their LEGOs, which she thinks is due to fact that LEGO helps them embrace their individualistic visions while also inviting collectivism.
“I noticed that when they were playing with LEGO I was able to do more around the house and less troubleshooting, which allowed me to tackle cleaning, cooking, and personal projects,” she says.
While these kinds of insights can be valuable, they’re useless when we don’t use them to revise our actions. Repeating something in the same way won’t improve your outcome, and it’s not enough to simply analyse the ‘why’s and ‘how’s of our daily decisions. Instead, Claudia says we must revise what works and discard what doesn’t.
“As I spent time observing my children’s actions, I learned that they both love to build, and enjoy drawing and colouring,” Claudia says. “My youngest is astonishingly imaginative while my oldest is peculiarly detail oriented. So, I bridge these strengths by creating experiences around their skill sets, and introduce items that enhance their strengths and promote collaboration.”
Claudia makes sure she provides her kids with LEGO, blocks and art materials, with clear instructions about the tasks she wants them to complete, outlining the vision of the project, the allocated time and benefits of their mission. For her, this has worked wonders.
“I think these personal experiences can help parents develop strategies that spark the spirit of collaboration, creativity, and communication at home,” Claudia says. “And they’re not just useful when it comes to your children – you can try implementing the same process in others chaotic situations, and I guarantee you’ll feel a significant difference in your response to the challenge and an improvement in your relationship with others.”
For more from Claudia, head to www.huesofchange.com.