Parenting Thursday: How to Relax while Being Creative with your child: Storytime

Creativity in parenting is a valuable tool. You can use it in many ways, from storytelling to arts and crafts. Only your imagination is the limit, really. Being creative with your child is an excellent opportunity to bond with them, inspire their creative endeavours, and… relax! The latter may sound surprising, but resting while having fun with your offspring is possible!

In this series of blog posts, I will write about various ways you can relax and be creative with your children.

This week we will look at storytime.

There is nothing more magical than reading a story with your child. The sole act of reading is relaxing: sitting still, cuddled up with your son or daughter, travelling to enchanted places, meeting fascinating characters and having exciting adventures. 

You don’t have to do anything. You are in the moment, in the here and now. 

It’s cosy. It’s calm. It’s creative.

How is it creative?

There are two ways of looking at creativity during storytime. 

The sole act of reading is relaxing: sitting still, cuddled up with your son or daughter, travelling to enchanted places, meeting fascinating characters and having exciting adventures. 

Imaginative play

Firstly, reading feeds the imagination and generates ideas for play. A child’s mind is filled with images, plots, and heroes – creating a bank of inspiration for the make-believe time.

After we read “Room on the Broom” by Julia Donaldson, my nearly two-year-old son went to get a black, pointy hat from his room, put it on his head and took a broom, standing in the corner of the living room, pretending to be the witch. I followed his lead and joined in by bringing a dragon soft toy and chasing him while reciting verses from the story. 

Oh, how much we laughed! 

I also asked my son what other characters there were, and together we collected other soft toys – a dog, a cat, a frog and a bird and put them on the broom. E. then decided to swap roles, making me the witch by handing me his hat, taking the dragon off me and chasing me around the house. Since then, once a day, E. takes his dragon and the witch’s hat and initiates the play.  

Of course, my son has a blast! But apart from having fun, there are many benefits for him and his development from this creative play, to name a few: 

  • inspiring imagination, 
  • vocabulary building, 
  • practising social skills,
  • feeling loved and important.

But it isn’t only good for a child… 

…taking part in a child’s imaginative play offers benefits for their caregivers too:

  • it stimulates feel-good hormones like oxytocin, endorphins, dopamine, and serotonin, which reduce stress levels and boost our well-being,
  • it enhances cognitive ability,
  • it teaches us to take ourselves less seriously, 
  • it helps us build a solid relationship with our children.     

Combining reading and imaginative play together is an excellent antidote for busy, stressful lives and a fantastic way to relax. 

Storytime ritual 

Secondly, you and your child can create a special storytime ritual. In my house, we have a very magical storytime-bedtime routine. Every night, after brushing our teeth and getting into our pyjamas, E. chooses a book from our home library cabinet and brings it to bed, where my husband and I wait for him. He makes himself comfy while my husband passes the story lamp he has made. Then we sing a song I have written: 

"This is storytime; this is storytime,

magical fairies, story fairies,

bring us the fire,

magical fire, story fire,

we light it up; we light it up."

E. takes out a battery-operated tealight and gives it to my husband or me to light up. 

Then one of us reads the story, E. cuddled up between us. 

After the story is finished, we sing again:

"Magical fairies, story fairies,

thank you very much, thank you very much,

we put out the fire,

magical fire, story fire,

we put it out; we put it out."

Next, we sing “Twinkle, twinkle, little star,” take three deep breaths – in through the nose and out through the mouth, and we all say what we appreciate about the day. A kiss goodnight and cuddles till the little one is asleep. 

We have been doing our story-bedtime routine since E. was a few weeks-old infant and have loved it ever since!  

Our family has an excellent quality time every day, no matter how busy it is. My husband and I have time to unwind after a hectic day and, for a moment, forget about all the worries. And our son falls asleep feeling happy, safe and loved.

A story lamp made by my husband. All our beloved characters are there.

And that is not all!

My son loves books so much that we have another storytime routing in the morning! Reading books is the first thing we do. I drink my coffee; he drinks his warm milk, and we cuddle, listen to jazz and sometimes read up to eight picture books! 

Moreover, whenever he needs to wind down, he grabs a book. Sad, overstimulated, tired – he always goes for a story.

I cannot stress enough how beneficial storytime is! I highly recommend you try it if you haven’t already got one!

How can you create your own story ritual?

  • choose an item to be a central part of storytime: a story lamp, a story teddy, a story stick, a story rocket, or a story clock – whatever works for you and your children. 
  • write a song, poem, a special spell or even only one sentence to open and close your storytime, 
  • sing a lullaby for the little ones or tell a joke for the older children,
  • say what you appreciate about the day. 

Enjoy, relax and let yourself be creative!