The Importance of Creativity: Feed Your Soul

You might have noticed by now that I’m pretty passionate about creativity, both for adults and kids. Creativity forms a bedrock of my family’s entire educational philosophy and is a primary reason for us choosing home education. Not to mention my chosen career of Writer!

Enjoying creativity is one thing…

But why is creativity IMPORTANT?

Aside from the fairly obvious things about creative expression being a good way to unwind and de-stress, creative writing, in particular, has some pretty impressive benefits for both adults and children. I’m going to cover a handful of them for you today.

There is oodles of research on this out there. But if dry research papers are not your bag (they’re not mine either!) then here is a handy summary.

Aids Crucial Areas of Development For Children

Expressive writing, which includes poetry, journalling and writing stories, has been proven to improve problem-solving abilities and facilitate creative thinking in different situations. This kind of lateral thinking is incredibly valuable in both personal and professional spheres. Encouraging children to engage in expressive writing now will help prepare them for their future.

In the more immediate term, creative writing gives children the opportunity to express their feelings in a safe and constructive way. Learning to manage big emotions can be challenging for children, especially if they are sensitive, as mine are. Being able to sort through their feelings by writing them down in creative forms can help them to process what’s going on in their life and feel better able to cope.

Developing the skill to express themselves also builds self-confidence in children. With so many negative messages bombarding this generation from all of the information around them, a bit of confidence in their own abilities to communicate and be themselves will be invaluable.

Picasso famously said that all children are artists. But is it inevitable that they cease to be?

Children Are Naturally Creative

It seems obvious to someone like me. But I realise it may need saying anyway.

All children are naturally creative. Think back to your own childhood, or focus on the early years of your child’s life when their imagination ran wild and free. Sometimes it didn’t serve them so well, (monsters under the bed), but how about all that time playing out stories with their toys? They are capable of creating vast worlds and complex stories spontaneously with just a few simple cues.

Some people would argue that this creativity naturally declines as a part of growing up. I disagree. I think it is a trait that needs nurturing, absolutely, but in incidences when creativity does seem to abandon children it is not because this is the natural result of maturing. Rather it is the fault of a society and education system that not only devalues creativity but is fundamentally anathema to it.

If you haven’t already watched it, I highly recommend all parents, and anyone with an interest in education watch Sir Ken Robinson’s influential Ted Talk: Do Schools Kill Creativity? This video has been viewed over 46.5 million times, all around the world, since it was published online over a decade ago.

Valuable for Mental Wellbeing In Adults

Expressive writing aids organisation and planning for people who engage in it. These are important skills for both children and adults. [1]

It probably comes as no surprise to those of you who have been reading my blog for a while, but I wholeheartedly endorse this research! As someone who is somewhat keen on organisation and planning *innocent whistle* this little fact is music to my ears.

What’s more, writing poetry has been found to reduce anxiety. [2] Research from Oxford Brookes University has found that writing poems and haikus can relieve work related stress and also stimulate a better work-life balance.

Journaling or blogging can enhance mood and writing a weekly gratitude log has been found to enhance motivation and generate a more positive outlook. [3]

Writing about traumatic events has also been found to be beneficial to long-term healing. [4]

What About Getting a “Real” Job?

Well, creative writing helps with that too. One study found that engineers who were out of work found new jobs more quickly if they practised expressive writing than if they didn’t. [5]

Writing notes by hand has also been proven to improve the retention of new information, which may aid in all sorts of professional and educational endeavours. [6]

Sir Ken Robinson, creativity and education expert has wise words for us all.

It is also widely recognised now that creative thinking is one of the most valuable skills in the modern job market. The world’s problems need increasingly creative solutions and employers are valuing creativity when selecting candidates for interviews. [7]

We Ought To Be Valuing Creative Careers Anyway!

Not everyone can or wants to be an engineer, financial advisor, or doctor. Wouldn’t the world be a sad and empty place without writers, artists, musicians and dancers?

Why are we telling children not to pursue these careers?

It sort of made sense 40 years ago, when people were guaranteed a job if they went with the flow through the industrialised public education system. Well-meaning parents wanted their children to enjoy a secure future and so advised them against the perceived “high risk” arts career choices where “failure” was almost certain.

But when university graduates are no longer able to find work and the modern economy is becoming centred around self-employment and entrepreneurship, it makes far less sense to blindly funnel people towards academic subjects at the expense of those that stand a higher chance of being a) useful and b) fulfilling.

I absolutely love this talk by Elizabeth Gilbert, author of Eat, Pray, Love, on Your Elusive Creative Genius. It’s definitely food for thought.

Find Your Passion

I write novels, I blog and keep a journal. I found my passion.

  • What is your passion?
  • What were you born to do?
  • Are you doing it?
  • What about your children?
  • Do they want to write and create?
  • How can you help them?

First of all, model what it looks like to follow your passion and express your creativity.

Then nurture theirs. Give them space to create without criticism. Give them access to learning opportunities that will enhance their creativity.

If you’re looking for a creative writing program for your child, then you could always check out my online course, Fun and Ink *shameless plug alert*. I help young people learn how to write fantastic stories that they feel proud to share with other people.

Whatever your child’s creative passion, you can help them to flourish.

What are your thoughts? Have you found creative or expressive writing to be beneficial in your own life? Do you have a child who loves telling stories? Let me know in the comments.

Creative Writing has enormous benefits to both children and adults.

Planning a Florida Vacation! – 9 Months To Go – Saving & Booking Flights!

So, as some of you may know, my family is somewhat obsessed with going to Florida. We went when the Munchkin was a toddler and the Bean was a baby. We went again a few years later, and we are planning another trip next year!

I absolutely LOVE planning these holidays. I love the magic of Walt Disney World and the epic fun of Universal Orlando. I spend hours and hours in between vacations browsing Pinterest, reading Disney blogs, watching vlogs and everything. It brings me so much joy! But it is also extremely practical because this kind of vacation takes an enormous amount of planning and if it’s your first time, it can get overwhelming.

So, I decided to share the obsessive planning magic, and write a blog series to guide other families through this process, from start to finish, in real time.


Walt Disney World WDW planning a Florida vacation holiday

One year is really the ideal time-frame in which to plan a holiday of this magnitude, especially if you are travelling to Florida from outside the United States, like we are. About twelve months out from travelling is when many of the offers are announced and the most popular accommodation can book up this far in advance too.

It is possible to grab a late bargain, of course, and if this is how your family rolls, then that’s terrific, go for it! But this series probably won’t be for you. This is one for the planners, the organisers, the folks who want or need to get their travel plans firmed up well in advance.

You can catch up with this series here:

  1. 12 Months – Initial Planning
  2. 11 Months – Accommodation
  3. 10 Months – Dining Plan

9 Months To Go: Saving & Booking Flights

So, you’ve booked your accommodation and it’s starting to feel a bit more real now. You’re actually going to Walt Disney World!

If you’re super sensible, then you didn’t even book until you had the total sum of your budget for the holiday in the bank. Or maybe you’re reading this well in advance of ever booking and are looking for saving tips to get you ready for booking. That’s fab. But if you’re anything like me, then you already booked and you’re realising now that you need to save thousands in time to pay for the damn holiday. Eek!

It’s okay, you’ve got this.

Your Budget

By this point you should be familiar with your budget; you know how much your entire vacation is going to cost. So now is the time to look at how much you have already paid up front for the deposit and how much you have already got saved up for the rest. The Worksheet that I shared back in the first post in this series will help you if you feel a bit lost here.

Your budget will be unique to you, so I don’t want to put figures into your head. Just remember to consider:

  • Accommodation
  • Flights/travel (inc to and from airports)
  • Travel expenses (food on the go, books or magazines for the journey etc)
  • Car hire
  • Parking
  • Food
  • Souvenirs
  • Park Tickets
  • Extra paid events e.g. shows like La Nouba (if you’re going to WDW this year, it finishes forever on 31st December 2017!) or seasonal parties like Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party.
  • Laundry – some rooms and resorts have free laundry facilities, but you may need to budget for the machines and detergent

I’ve made a handy Florida Vacation Budgeting Worksheet for you to help you figure all of this out.

Saving Up

If you don’t already have several grand in the bank set aside for this, then you’re going to need to figure out how much money you need to put aside each month in order to be able to cover everything.

Take the total cost and divide it by the number of weeks or months until you need the total (remember that your bill for the accommodation will be due a few weeks before you travel, but you won’t need souvenir money until you’re actually there). This gives you a saving schedule to follow. So for example, if you need £5,000 and have 35 weeks to save up, you will need to put away £143 per week.

You can flip this around and start with how much you can realistically put away each week or month. Say you can manage £400 per month and have 9 months, then you can save £3,600 in total.

Using My Bullet Journal

If you’ve been following my other blog posts, you will probably know by now how much of a fan I am of the bullet journal! My bujo is used for all aspects of planning in my life, and this vacation is no exception. I have a spread for tracking my savings, another my fitness goals and various pages dedicated to planning notes.

There are an infinite number of ways you could track your savings and there are fantastic ideas on Pinterest, so check there for inspiration.

This is my spread.

Bullet journal spread for tracking my savings for our Walt Disney World vacation

Booking Flights

Flights tend to start being available to book around 10 months ahead of travel, so it’s around now that you can organise this part of your travel plans.

Prior to this, it’s impossible to get an accurate quote for the cost of your flight. You can search flights with different dates to get a rough idea, but as flight prices vary so much by season and how far in advance you are booking them, this isn’t a reliable method. This is the most significant hitch when it comes to budgeting for your Florida holiday. As a general rule, when we are planning a year in advance, we estimate flights at £500 per person. When it comes time to book flights, we try to find an airline offering flights for around this price.

While it is possible to get late deals on flights much closer to the time of travel, I don’t recommend relying on this in your budget. You might not be able to get flights for the right dates, and they might not be as cheap as you were hoping. It’s better to overestimate the cost and get a nice surprise saving, leaving you a little extra room in your budget for souvenirs or extras.

Do you have any tips you’d like to share on booking flights? Or on budgeting for a big family vacation like this? I love to hear from readers, so drop a comment below.

I’ll be back next month with my top tips for getting Fit for Florida!

Budgeting and saving money for your Walt Disney World Florida vacation
Budgeting for your Florida vacation - printable PDF worksheet

Sunshine Blogger Award!

I received a lovely little surprise recently. I was nominated for the Sunshine Blogger Award!
It’s an award given by bloggers to other bloggers. It’s given to those who are creative, inspiring, and positive! I was nominated by Alyssa Alley at Bride2Bride.


Once nominated for this award the blogger is required to write a post in which they:

  1.  Thank the blogger who nominated them and link back to their blog;

  2.  Answer the 11 questions asked by the blogger who nominated them;

  3.  Nominate 11 other blogs and give them 11 new questions to answer;

  4.  Notify your nominees and display the Sunshine Blogger Award logo in your post!

My Answers

Alyssa set the following questions, so here are my answers.

1. Why did you start your blog?

Great question! I started this blog, Spirited Mama after the Munchkin was born. It was a traumatic birth and I needed a place to talk about that. I also hoped that by sharing my experience I would be able to help other women avoid the sorts of experiences that I went through. It’s evolved a lot since then!

2. Did anyone help you when you first began blogging? If so, who?

I began blogging back in…. oh, about 2006, I think! I didn’t know anyone else who blogged and it was really just an online diary at first. I wasn’t in any way thinking about it as a way to make money.

I guess I really only started learning more about the craft and professionalism of blogging a few years ago. I learned from other bloggers, such as Suzie Speaks.

3. Tell us a bit about your family!

My parents run Washburn Books, a bookselling business and are really supportive and lovely. I have a big brother who lives in Australia with his wife. My hubby is a software engineer and we have two kids, the Munchkin and the Monkey (formerly “Bean”, but he’s a great, galumphing 5 year old now, so that hardly seems appropriate!) who are home educated and obsessed with Minecraft. We have two fur babies too, two cats, Misty & Jemima.

4. What would you do if you won a million dollars?

Well, that’s about £800,000, so it’s not such crazy money these days. So I wouldn’t do anything that extravagant! I’d want to buy a nice little house and a new car, take the family to Florida and put the rest away somewhere to earn a little interest.

5. Do you have any pets?

Yep, our fur babies, as mentioned above 🙂

6. If people could know one thing about you just by looking at you, what would it be and why?

Ooh tricky one… that I clearly love my chocolate! I’m carrying more than a little extra weight these days!

7. What do you like most about blogging?

I like connecting with other people. That’s ultimately why I do it. The blogging community is so warm and helpful and I love my readers to pieces too. I hope that I am serving them well with my posts.

8. What is one food that everyone loves but you hate?

Garlic? I’m really not a fan. The smell makes me queasy! But not many people seem to feel the way I do about it.

9. If you could only bring 3 things with you to a deserted island for the next year, what would they be and why?

My bullet journal, a pen, and my Kindle (with a magical, infinite battery!) I have to be able to read, or I’ll go crazy. Likewise my bujo, I need to be able to write and create.

10. What is your absolute favourite beauty product?

I’m not that into beauty products really, but I do love a nice spritz of perfume. Nothing fancy, my favourite fragrance right now is White Amber from Next.

11. What do you do to relax when you’re stressed out?

Read, or hand lettering. I almost always read before sleep as it helps me unwind and unplug from a tech-intensive day. I love to get my brush pens out and write out a beautiful quote if I’m feeling super stressed though. I also love mindful colouring. I’m actually giving away a stunning colouring book on my Facebook page right now! Shameless plug alert!


My Nominations

So now I get to spread the sunshine and nominate some other beautiful bloggers for this award. Here goes:

  1. Boho Berry
  2. Tiny Ray of Sunshine
  3. Disney Tourist Blog
  4. Diary of a First Child
  5. Attachment Mummy
  6. The Blossom Edit
  7. Suzie Speaks
  8. But I Smile Anyway…
  9. Art and Soul
  10. Journey to Ambeth
  11. Wendy Fairy Art

The Questions

So, the 11 questions for my nominees to answer are as follows…

  1. Where do you come from?
  2. What inspires you?
  3. What is your favourite book, and why?
  4. If you could travel to any one destination, where would it be?
  5. What is the one item you can’t stand to be without?
  6. Who are you closest to?
  7. Why do you blog today?
  8. What do you want to do with your life when you retire?
  9. If you could be 16 again, would you?!
  10. Do you do most of your internet browsing at home or on the go?
  11. What’s your morning routine like?


Thanks for reading. Thank you again to Alyssa for nominating me and for spreading the Sunshine. I hope you enjoyed reading and will go check out some of the other bloggers! When people support one another we all benefit 🙂