The Importance of Creativity - SmartMom

The Importance of Creativity: What My Mother Taught Me

Photo by Meaghan Curry

My mother, a woman who always taught me the importance of creativity, was accepted to University of Cincinnati’s prestigious design school, DAAP, back in the seventies. She grew up at a time when women were encouraged to be nurses or teachers. Her dad said he’d only pay for college if she chose one of those occupations instead of the ever-bizarre world of design. She obliged, got a fine arts and education degree from The Ohio State University, and had two daughters.

However, her eye for design didn’t diminish despite her degree. In fact, my mother brought the world of design to four dazzling eyes of two little girls. Because of this, I attribute my eye for beauty solely to my mother, who found beauty in the everyday. She sought to raise me and my sister to appreciate the world which surrounds us.

Here’s (a small part) of how she did just that: 

  1. My bedroom wasn’t themed. Reflective of my mom’s value on design and the arts, my room wasn’t filled with Disney princesses or themed pillow cases. Instead, my mother sewed curtains and duvees from unique fabrics. She did the same for me this summer since I never took to sewing despite the hours next to my mother and her Singer. Thankfully, you don’t have to sew these days to find unique fabrics and textures that add a healthy dose of design to your child’s bedroom. Shopping on sites like Etsy can be a great way to support designers and artists while also decorating your child’s bedroom as an environment encouraging inspiration.
  2. We traveled. Before I left for college, I’d been to Europe three times and probably seen more of this nation’s historical sites than Obama (maybe that’s a stretch). And on each trip, I remember my mother pointing out beauty to me, savoring local colors, foliage and textures. Sometimes we’d have to camp or stay in “authentic Eastern European” hotels to afford the trips, but this never stole from her appreciation of the local culture and surroundings. One of my favorite memories is of my mother befriending the Croatian widows at the farmer’s market. That market brings back memories of fresh produce, babushkas, wrinkled fingers, and my mother attempting to convey meaning through hand gestures due to the language barrier. Through these trips and the experiences she sought out, I began to see color, textures, and culture from a very young age. Today, traveling is even easier with the internet and plenty of search sites that help you find the perfect destination for your budget. Even a short trip to the art museum or local farmer’s market can cultivate your little one’s eye for design.
  3. I had an inspiration board. and shelf. and book. From the time I was a toddler, I had a shelf shaped like a house, like the one posted on SmartMom’s pinterest page. It was above my headboard, within my reach. Trinkets from trips, postcards from museums, or even small flowers in vases filled this shelf. This was my shelf to place things that inspired me. Yes, as a four year old I may not have comprehended Webster’s definition of inspiration, but these opportunities to collect things that I liked, had an impact on my four year old work and ideas. Providing your child some platform to collect things that inspire them can be done in many different ways. A bulletin board above a desk or child-size table, a magnetic chalkboard in the playroom, a journal with pockets, or even a shelf on a bookshelf; all of these are easy ways to implement an inspiration platform within your child’s world. Giving your child this opportunity to gather, collect, and arrange things that are interesting to him/her opens up opportunities for conversation with your child (developing interpersonal skills and descriptive language) as well as the use of fine motor skills. Whether you implement this inspiration board as a kickoff to a school vacation, or as a project to enrich your travels abroad, enjoy giving your pre-Pinterest aged child the opportunity to inspire design!


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About Melissa Elchison

Melissa Elchison is currently pursuing her clinical fellowship as a speech and language pathologist. Previously, she studied education and was an early childhood researcher at The Ohio State University and University of Cincinnati. She enjoys barre classes, traveling with her husband, and trying new recipes.