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How my children make me more creative

Updated: Jun 7, 2020

This blog was originally published in April 2019 over on Medium. It appears here in its original published form.

Lilly Mae, written by Sarah Mahfoudh; illustrated by Ruth Thorp; published by Raw Mixture Publishing.

With a six year old and a three year old at home, I often complain about how little time I have to get things done; how, if I didn’t have to do school runs and nursery runs and meal times and bed times, I would have written another three novels by now! That may or may not be true (it’s probably not!), but what I forget about all too often are the creative opportunities that arise because I have children. Having young children gives me an excuse to play around with craft stuff and think up new and ridiculous games to play; I get to have fun making funny birthday cakes each year and, for all my moaning, I love thinking up ways to make World Book Day costumes without spending a single penny. Best of all, I always have a captive audience for my stories.

I created my first picture book, Lilly Mae on a car journey with my oldest daughter, who was about two or three at the time. She was bored and getting fidgety so I thought up this funny little character, Lilly Mae, whose mood swings changed the weather down on Earth. Last night, Lilly Mae came to my rescue again! We’d been to my six year old’s parents evening and, yet again, I had come away feeling stressed and anxious about whether or not she would meet her ‘end of year targets’. Cue a very long, very angry, and slightly repetitive rant about the education system and why on earth we feel the need to test our children at such a young age!

For the sake of my sanity and yours, I am not going to repeat that rant right now. When I had finished ranting, however, I decided that rather than despairing, I would do something constructive; something that would help my daughter without stressing her out. Apparently, one of the things she needs to work on is getting to grips with number bonds (or ‘number bombs’ as she calls them 💥.) So, I did what I do best — I wrote a story. It was a story that involved Lilly Mae using number bonds to help her get ready for her holiday. (It’s better than it sounds; promise!) I typed it up and printed it out all ready for my daughter to read this morning when she woke up.

She loved it!

It is amazing how completing even the smallest creative task can make me feel better about life, especially when it also helps other people. It might be silly, but every time I finish writing a little story for the girls, or make a pirate hat for them to wear to school, or see their happy faces when I present them with the birthday cake they asked for, I feel a little bubble of pride for what I have created. These are things I wouldn’t have made if it weren’t for having children. So, every time I start to moan about how little time my children leave me to ‘work on my master piece, darling!’, I need to remind myself of all the little master pieces I wouldn’t have created if it weren’t for them.

Work in progress: Lilly Mae does number bonds! (I’ll let you into a little secret: if you join our members club for your free wellbeing pack, I will also send through this Lilly Mae does number bonds story totally free.)

Children and maths (a side note) The idea of writing a story to help my daughter with her maths, came from a brilliant blog post that talks about how more and more children are becoming anxious about maths and how their anxiety is holding them back. Fortunately, there is ‘a surprisingly easy way for parents to stop passing on math anxiety and build their children’s math confidence’, and that is simply by reading math-themed stories together. If you have children or work with children, I would highly recommend reading this post: Parents and Teachers Pass On Math Anxiety to Kids Like a Virus, Especially to Girls. In fact, I would highly recommend reading every single thing on the A Mighty Girl website.

If you’ve enjoyed this article and have any feedback, I’d love to hear from you. Email me at and don't forget to browse the Can-do Kids website and follow us on Instagram for more creative ideas to share with your kids. If you would like to recieve a free downloadable copy of the Lilly Mae does number bonds story, sign up to join the Can-do Kids Club.

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