Back to school doesn’t have to mean back to stressful routines.  Sure, transitioning between the relative easy breeziness of summer to the more structured demands of academic life on students and parents can cause a few hiccups.  Whether it’s sending your preschooler off for their first-time classroom experience, or helping your teen get their arms around the independence of dorm life, there’s no shortage of factors that can fuel anxiety and jitters.

Here’s where a dose of creativity can help smooth out this annual ritual, and we’ve got a few suggestions to fire up your thinking cap:

Pinterest Power

  • Figure out what is needed in the way of supplies, books, decorating the school locker or bedding for the college bound and then put creativity into play.
  • Pinterest is a landing strip for ideas, limited only by the energy you have to search. Take a look at some of these creative ideas for decorating notebooks, book covers, pencils, and lunch boxes.
  • More than a great spot for inspiration, Pinterest is also a great community for sharing your own creations and the feedback can be really motivating to experiment more.

Picture This

  • Make the first day memorable in a rewarding way. Plan on taking a photo somewhere along the back-to-school journey and captioning the image with your own thoughts and perspective on the day.
  • There are mounds of photo caption apps (just Google it) for smart phones or download on your laptop and get ready to catch “font fever.”
  • Check out some of these kitschy but cute photo ideas to document the day – if you don’t find something here it will lead you to your own inspired creation.

What’s for Lunch?

  • Cook up some something new in the lunch department. Picky eater? Have your child be a part of the process of creating their meals.  They’ll be much more inclined to eat what they have made and packed themselves.
  • Incorporate a creative interpretation to familiar favorites.  For example, if broccoli is the only veggie your child will eat, think of a handful of ways you can dress it up:
    • Broccoli florets – with a side of hummus.
    • Steamed broccoli –then sauté with olive oil mixed with herbs and add fresh lemon juice then sprinkle with toasted sliced almonds.
    • Broccoli salad – add in chick peas, grape tomatoes and some feta cheese.
    • Broccoli can star in a spud. A baked potato with broccoli and cheese is a yummy and filling lunch.
  • Have a ready supply of healthy snacks—and don’t feel like you’ve got to make everything from scratch! Stock up on easy to grab and go items like yogurt and power bars. Get granola cereal out of the box and into snack bags. Or turn to simple recipes like kale chips or baked sweet potato fries.
  • Create a lunch menu with your child—and make lunches the night before. That prep time will help ease the morning rush before school and it’s a creative way to eat healthy and de-stress the process.
  • Check out these other creatively tasty lunchtime ideas.

Creative Time

Authors of the PBS Guide to Creativity Christine Theberge Rafal, Ed. D and Miriam W. Smith, Ed. D., said in an interview with The Washington Post that there are several components defining creativity with the central components being:

  • Playful Exploration: Ways of playing, especially with open-ended materials—either alone or with other people—that allow for creative expression and spontaneous discovery.
  • Fluent Ideation: The ability to generate multiple ideas, including unusual ones, across multiple categories for a single image, object or situation.
  • Novel Combination: The ability to generate original thoughts and ideas by making connections between or among concepts that the thinker previously saw as separate and unrelated.

Are there are ways to engage with your child to help them explore their own creative path?  People are most creative in activities they love, says Smith, and creativity requires interest in the form of motivation or inspiration.

Click here to find ways “to grow your own ideas and make your home a place where creativity flourishes.”

So let’s wrap up this back-to-school lesson with a thought from professor Albert Einstein, who said that creativity is seeing what everyone else has seen, and thinking what no one else has thought.  Good advice for discovering how infusing creative expression into everyday routines—such as homework, errands, cooking, and cleaning—can help de-stress hectic seasonal changes.

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