Big Intentions: Building a creative life with kids

When I was a kid, my Oma would take my sister and I on expeditions to the Royal Botanical Gardens. 

That place was such an adventure.  There were trails all over that passed through magnolia trees and weeping willows.  There was also a concrete bridge that we would cross under where people would tag the wall.  One day as we were passing under the bridge, my Oma reached into her pocket and pulled out a marker.  This childhood memory and the joy on her face at introducing us to this idea is one of my very favourite.

Now I’m a grown up and with my partner, I’m raising our two daughters.  This task of motherhood is joy and challenge.  Before having kids, my life included a lot of art making and artist run programs working with different communities to bring creative projects to the streets and communities here in Toronto.
Partly out of a desire to give my kids a taste of this and because of my need to hang on to my identity in this new role as a mom, we try to do some of these things together. Maybe they'll feel like a part of this place where we live and maybe they'll get that feeling that I had with my Oma. And maybe they'll feel courageous enough to make all kinds of marks in their lives.

At the beginning, we loved the idea of making something together and then leaving it out there in the world on streets and in parks to become part of those spaces.  So for a while the three of us (my 5 year old, 8 month old and me) would strike out with paper cuttings to a nearby park or bridge to decorate the trees and railings with ‘paper jewelry” that we had made.  We had lots of painting and making times at home with the intention of bringing it out to the world, but my daughter got pretty uncomfortable with the idea of these things being left outside.  She imagined them at night... alone... in the dark.. 

So we kept making, but the results stayed in our house.  We haven't quite figured out how to get past that hurdle.


Life is so busy. The kids keep growing up and so do I.  The challenge to live with creativity and to be open to imagination is something that often feels like one more thing to do. 

But I notice for myself that when we get to it, something about time changes.  It kind of disappears and we are able to stay inside minutes together more easily.