For those of you who don’t know me very well this may come as a surprise. I am a shy introverted kind of gal who prefers the sweet sound of silence to the chaotic hustle and bustle of every day life. I’m a thinker and a dreamer and often find the custom of talking slightly exhausting… Even with my mum. In the oddest moments I’ve been known to sit in silence when I ’m not sure what to say… Mmm that sweet sound of crickets!
So as you can image I can be a little socially awkward at times. Especially when I’m in the presence of those I feel really comfortable with. A question I often hear when I’m talking on the phone with my mum is – Are you still there?
So why am I going into all of this you may ask? Well the truth is my mum is exactly the same.
Growing up there was just the three of us, my mum, sister and I. And when my sister left home it was just my mum and I for two years. It was a very quiet household (besides the occasional teen meltdown when I couldn’t find the right top to wear and of course my mum (in my opinion) HAD NO IDEA AND DIDN’T UNDERSTAND ANYTHING!!! The rest of the time it was quiet and peaceful. So with so much silence how did we bond? How did we find common ground? How did we connect?
We did projects.
My mum was a graphic designer, back in the day when it was all created by hand and the imagination. She was and (still is) an incredible artist. Painting, drawing, pottery and craft were just as much a part of our lives as breakfast, lunch and dinner. Our creative projects brought us together when words couldn’t. To this day my fondest memories are working along side my mum in her art studio, music playing, paint splashing, brushes flowing.
To me, our projects felt like the netted string that holds a Christmas roast together. Our projects kept us strong, attached, connected to each other. Our projects took away the awkwardness of our silence and allowed us to just be ourselves, together. No judgment, no questions, no hostility, no strenuous effort to connect. It just worked.
We have created many things together over the years but none of them I am more proud of then the creation of our new Standing Strong Club. Designing, drawing and painting the walls of this beautiful place with my mum brought incredible happiness and love to my heart. This special place where girls and parents will come to connect, learn and grow together, just as my mum and I have.
It’s experiences like this that remind me how important it is to set our own Bonding Rituals for our parent/daughter relationships. To be ok with the things we do even if it’s different to everyone else. I don’t tell my mum everything and she doesn’t ask all the details of my life but, there is no other woman in this world I would rather sit silently and peacefully with at the end of the day. To me, that’s as special as it gets.
So as we head into the holiday season when we all start to spend more time together and the chances of arguments, disagreements and tension can rise, I’d like to offer some suggestions of ways to connect and bond through creative art of projects- Things that CAN work when words don’t. But before I go on, there is a Warning!
Warning: These activities may cause unexpected peace, happiness, love and strength between the participants. Proceed with caution!
Create a 2014 Memory Book
Go back through each month of 2014 and record all the special events that happened for your daughter. This is very similar to scarp booking. Print off photos and find any little bits and pieces of memorabilia from the year- letters, cards, notes etc. Help your daughter to reflect on her year, the highs and lows. What did she learn? How did she change?
Help her with ideas and questions but don’t make her answer them. Teach her the importance of reflecting and seeing how much she has changed in a year. Let her take her time and when she is ready she will show you, she will open up and share. This can be a very emotional experience for your daughter, especially if she had some significantly tough times in 2014. Help her to see how times change and how strong she has been to get through the year with the challenges she has faced.
Restore an old piece of furniture
There is something very rewarding about taking an old piece of furniture and giving it new life. Jump onto Gumtree or even look around your home for an old piece of furniture (something with wood works best). Draw up some designs of how the final product will look, try different styles and colours. Do you want to sand it back and varnish it? Paint it a fresh and vibrant colour? Recover the cushions with beautiful material? Bunnings and Spotlight are the perfect places to get everything you need and any advice and support. Get your hands dirty and see how clever you can be.
Create a Dream Board for 2015
This is a great one for parents and girls. You can create one each or do one together as a family. Buy a big piece of coloured cardboard and lots of coloured pens, textas, stickers, sequins, glitter, magazines etc. Start thinking about the things you want to do in 2015. What’s important to you? What do you love? What do you want to do more of? Who do you want to spend your time with? What things do you want to do as a family? Do you want to go on a holiday? If so, where? What foods do you want to eat more of? What activities do you want to try? What motivates and inspires you?
Cut out pictures and print photos of everything you want to put on your Dream Board. Make it as creative, colourful, fun and inspirational as you can. Work with your daughter, help her and see what she creates. Once you have finished you can frame it as a piece of art and hang it on a wall in you home. It will be a positive reminder throughout 2015 of all the great things you want to share with your daughter and do together.
And remember, like all important pieces of art you must sign it! That is one of my mums favourite parts of finishing our projects, when she gets to sign and date our names on it- Side by side.
So if you decide to give any of these ideas a go the team and I would love to see them. Send us a picture of your work in progress and your final piece of art. Tell us how you went, did you enjoy it, what did you learn? If you come up with another idea for a creative project please share it with us. We would love to hear from you and it’s as simple as posting it on our Facebook page or emailing it to us as firstname.lastname@example.org.
From the team and I, we wish wish you an incredible Christmas and New Year filled with lots of love laughter and happiness. We look forward to sharing all the wonderful things ahead with you.
With love and gratitude,