Written by Steady Mom contributor Megan Tietz of SortaCrunchy
Don't be fooled by its simple appearance.
See that cobalt blue spray bottle in the photo above? It's one of the greatest parenting tools I have in my tool box: improvisation.
Almost a year ago, our six-year-old began having a lot of fear and anxiety at bedtime. We tried lots of traditional solutions: night lights, soothing bedtime stories, calming herbal remedies. Nothing seemed to assuage her fears.
One day, she and I were talking about it, and she revealed that the reason she was so scared at bedtime was because she was afraid of having bad dreams.
Inspiration struck with a powerful solution: Sweet Dreams Spray. I dug that spray bottle out of a drawer, filled it with water and added a few drops of lavender essential oil. Beginning that night, we had a new element in bedtime routines - spraying Sweet Dreams Spray on her pillow and her forehead.
That bottle has traveled with us to the homes of grandparents and to hotel rooms far away; each night, it brings the comfort and security of a routine she has grown to know and trust.
Did I discover that solution in an article in a parenting magazine? Did I come across it on a parenting blog? Did I hear it in the advice of a parenting expert?
I just improvised. As every parent knows, the ability to improvise on the fly is one of the most amazing gifts we receive along this journey.
And while it is important and good and helpful to turn to others for advice and inspiration, it's equally important and good and helpful to never allow the voices of others to drown out that voice from within that just knows what needs to be done, especially in the midst of a tense or problematic moment.
Learning to trust yourself and your own imagination is a learned skill.
I remember when I was teaching high school, my students did okay with writing assignments with an assigned topic. But when I insisted on them choosing their own subject matter? Wailing and gnashing of teeth soon followed. Sometimes it's easier to just tell us what to do.
By the time we reach adulthood, far too many of us have quieted the voice that speaks of imaginative solutions and rely singularly on the logical choice.
But our children still live in a world that is built on the beauty of all things made-up. Connecting with that part of ourselves is the key to unlocking our ability to improvise.
And it's kind of amazing to see what you can dream up when you let yourself go there, so here's to more lavender-scented solutions for all of us.
*I'm sure every parent has a story of effective improv! When have you been able to come up with a solution on the fly, one that was perhaps so good, it surprised even you?*
Megan spends her days with her two daughters and husband seeking the steady amidst the endless activity. She blogs at SortaCrunchy, where she leads a community of like-minded people in discussion and dialogue at the intersection of faith and a life more natural.