Scott Dunlop

Hello, creative geniuses!

“Creative genius... me?” Yes, you may not describe yourself like that on your CV, but if you’re a parent you probably use your inventive energy more than you realise.

It starts when they’re still small. You have to model out to them how to play. So you end up using the play dough or the Lego and you show them what it’s for. Many parents get distracted at this point and only emerge years later with massive Lego mansions complete with en suite bathrooms with tiny bidet sets. Okay, that’s just me. But you will have lots of fun doing it.

Then you get formalised creativity. Those school projects you’ve been told not to interfere with? I know I have had to brainstorm with my kids without feeding them ideas. That’s tricky. Prompting them to use their imagination so that they can see what they want to make in their own mind’s eye.

Here are some things I have done to keep the peace on rainy days:

• I’ve hand-sewn fancy ball gowns out of old ties for dolls in desperate need of fashion makeovers. It’s not that hard, either!
Cardboard and duct tape mansions, where all good plastic soldiers go to hide, along with some dinosaurs as protection.
• Pirate costumes made out of cereal boxes and tin foil.
• Capes, fairy wings, superhero suits and more made out of old towels and bits of wire.

It’s not just for when they’re very young, either. There are some gifted parents that are able to sew entire matric dance dresses for their daughters or waistcoats for their sons. Some parents are the go-to costume designers for the school plays, making outfits for the whole cast.

There’s creativity in the kitchen with mealtimes and baked treats and special games invented by parents which rival some of the most popular board games.

As a dad with three kids, the oldest being older than the youngest by seven years, it has always been difficult to find ways of keeping them entertained or busy without causing conflict between them. My oldest will want to do more sophisticated things which can frustrate his younger brother, or the board games are too tricky for everyone to play fairly. This weekend we spent some time playing bowls in the garden, rolling the heavy bowls towards the target and happily bumping each other’s bowls out the way. It hit me that we were all equally pitted and playing happily.

It can be frustrating finding out what activities work and which ones don’t but it’s such fun when you all discover doing something that makes everyone happy. Especially when it doesn’t break the bank.

That reminds me - I was nervous that the power would go off during the time I was due to cook supper on Saturday, so we went out for milkshakes and pizza instead.

No surprises, but they all agreed that they’d had fun doing that, too.

I bet you’re all creative, too.

Why not share your home creativity ideas with us? Email your ideas to

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