It's 8 a.m. and Donna Erickson, star of Odyssey Network's parenting series "Donna's Day," is ironing out some business wrinkles over the phone while rousing her sore-throated son out of bed to take a math test by 9 a.m.?all before she gets two eggs in the pan. Despite her reputation as one of television's queens of homemaking, Donna Erickson is, after all, still a busy mom.
Although Donna's highly rated television show demonstrates innovative, easy-to-do activities for parents and kids, she's no Martha Stewart. Mothers breathe a sigh of relief when Donna publicly confesses that living in a family is about 90 percent chaos. Her real agenda is to strengthen relationships between adults and children and to build family traditions. So whether it's walking in the woods, sharing an old family recipe or designing a customized birthday flag, Donna emphasizes the time spent between adults and kids rather than the results of any particular project. Amid all the chaotic activity, she stands by one unshakable truth: kids are our most important responsibility.
I caught up with Donna to talk about the ways her faith affects her work and to get some advice on developing children's creativity.
How can we encourage our children's natural gifts and interests?
First, we need to take the time to discover and be aware of who our children are. This may be as simple as wandering through the house. I might see a board my daughter broke in karate class, a wheel from my son's skateboard next to the tools he's strewn all over the floor or a pile of baseball cards he's sorting through. I might think the house is a mess; yet it's through all the clutter that I see my children's interests developing.
Spending time with your children can be an invaluable way to bring out each child's natural curiosity. One of my favorite places to spend time with my children is in nature?the places God has created. Let's say you and your child go for a walk in the woods and find a beaver pond where she begins to discover how beavers live. Then you go to the library and read about beavers. From there you go to a science museum and see an exhibit on beavers. Suddenly your child has developed an interest in something she might never have thought about.
What if my children don't seem to have many specific interests?
Parents are children's best teachers. To enhance your child's creativity, share who you are with him. If you enjoy an activity like photography or gardening, share it with your child. That exposes him to new experiences and helps him identify what he might be interested in.