Hello! I’m Clare Cooper and I’m super excited to be joining the writers¬†here on the Parent Tribe blog. I’ll be writing a series of articles exploring creativity and family life. We’ll be looking at how, although we might not recognise it all of the time, especially in the times of intensity overload and overwhelm, creativity lies at the very heart of what we do as mothers and fathers, whether or not we consider ourselves to be ‘creative’ in general.

As it’s my first post here, let me introduce myself and my family a little more. I’m of mum of three; two girls and a boy living overlooking the Solway Coast in Western Cumbria. Until recently the kids (9, 6 and & 4) have been home educated and we’ve mostly gone with their interests in a child-led learning sort of a way, and spending plenty of time out and about exploring the lakesides and beaches of our area. This changed last summer as my eldest expressed an interest in school and we began a journey of creating a flexi-schooling agreement with our local village school. This is going well and we now balance our days between school and home ed, spending some cosy, quiet days at home and others off around Cumbria at various groups and activities. Its a bit unconventional, like everyone we sometimes have wobbles, but at the moment, this mixture of styles of learning is working really well for our family.

I first met Hatti about 5 years ago when her eldest and my middle were babies. We clicked right away and on that very first meeting decided to set up a natural parenting group, and what followed was the creation of the Beautiful Beginnings Natural Parent and Child Group. We ran this little play group weekly for years, setting it up along the lines of a Steiner group infused with natural parenting and birth and breastfeeding support. We created a thriving and established community of like minded families which became great friends and evolved into a little tribe in which our babies and toddlers grew up in. As my kids have grown, I’m now training to be a Forest School Leader and am evolving the BB playgroup into the Beautiful Beginnings Family Forest School (well that’s the grand plan, once I can get some time to get onto the laptop and finish the assignments…)

Alongside mothering, I’m also a pregnancy yoga teacher and teach a weekly class where we explore how the yoga postures, breathing, meditation and visualisation can support us through pregnancy and all of the changes and challenges it can bring. I truly love this work and it is so brilliant to get to know a group of mums-to-be and offer them support and inspiration during pregnancy, birth and mothering. I see my role not so much as the teacher, but as a doula, holding the space for them to share and explore their experiences and the yoga, and for them to discover and learn more about themselves and their unfolding pregnancies so they can approach birth and motherhood feeling strong, empowered, informed and excited.

I’m incredibly passionate about mothering, and like Hatti, see caring for our children as one of the most valuable things we can ever do; the love we share with our children and the nurture we invest in them goes so much further than our individual homes and lives, we are contributing to the future ~ to our shared human and environmental future, and this is undoubtedly vital, yet at times overwhelming, frustrating and often under-valued work. It is from this passion that my first book emerged; Milestones of Motherhood, which explores the experiences of many mothers of different ages, stages and backgrounds and looks at the ways in which learning to love and nurture our children can be so profoundly transformational for ourselves. Writing this around kids was a challenge, but then day to day life can be anyway right? So much of it was written in the small hours at the foot of the bed, or early mornings with a little one curled on my lap, firstly breastfeeding, and as the months and years went on, wriggling and pressing lots of buttons on the laptop… I still can’t quite believe it will be a ‘real book’ and am super excited (as well as a little anxious) for its launch by Mother’s Milk Books later this year.

Parenting and Creativity

When we first start to think of our days as mothers and fathers, being creative can seem like it is the furthest thing from our reality, and often, at first glance it can seem this way. We are overwhelmed with the constant and repetitive practicalities of feeding babies, caring for children, mediating between sibling scuffles and the everyday constancies of feeding our families, running our home and any paid employment we do. Yet when we start to look at what we do through a lens of creativity, we can see that a great deal of what we do as parents has the energy of creativity running right through it. For when we first think of creativity, many of us associate it with art and craft; painting, drawing and creating beautiful, handmade objects. And we often swiftly label ourselves as ‘creative’ or otherwise, often thinking the skills and realms of creativity lie with others who have a natural gift and talent for the artistic and beautiful.

And of course arts, drawing and crafting are outlets for creativity, yet these means of expression are only one tip of the iceberg of how we, as humans, express our creative energy. Through these articles we will explore the ways in which we, as parents, are constantly involved in expressions of creation and creativity; obviously the very first one being the creation of our amazing and beautifully unique children. If we think of creativity as making, or creating, something new, of bringing forth something which wasn’t in existence previously, we can see that much, if not all, of our work as mothers and fathers is inherently creative.

Reflect on what you’ve been involved in over the past few days, hours, or minutes… what have you brought forward that wasn’t there previously?

What have you made? What new ideas, energy, meals or inspiration have you brought to your children and community?

As parents we are constantly creating our family lives, and whilst we may not recognise it at the time, as we look around our homes anew, at our children, our photos and reflect back over the years, we can begin to realise that we have been the creators of and the energy behind our children’s first experiences of life, of our family home, culture, learning and nurture. As mothers and fathers we bring inherent creativity to everything we do, and it is important that we see that we are giving such creative energy, rather than criticising or judging ourselves for not doing, or being enough.

In this series we will go on to explore these threads of creativity in family life, we will look at how we create our family culture, the connection between nature and creativity and how we can hold, and at times, protect, the space for the unfoldment of our children’s creative energy.

Reflect upon your own creative energy and begin to recognise just how much you are, and have been creating as you love and nurture your children, establish and evolve your family culture and relationshipsand bring new objects, activities, ideas and inspiration into your life.

Clare x