Mothers of Invention
We all have an image of ourselves, that quick answer we give when asked what we "do." Mine usually is, well, kinda complicated yet always includes “creative” and “mom.”
For over 10 years I've been running Alli Q Design, a graphic design studio and simultaneously inventing products. Eight years ago, I began to develop a collectible, connected toy with educational benefits called FlairFriends. Prior to all of that I researched, wrote, and designed an historical walking tour guidebook of the Meatpacking District in New York City. A couple summers ago, I published a parody of Pinkalicious called Hip Hip Rosé about a mom who drinks too much rosé one evening and turns pink. Most recently, I have turned my complete, undistracted attention to a personal care line for kids called SPLATZ™, which grew out of frustration getting my son to wash his hands. But to be truly honest, some of my best inventions happen when dealing in the moment with my kids, and often never leave the inside of my house or car.
Thinking about this made me realize how most mothers at their core are naturally creative; we are the consummate "mothers of invention." Who hasn't employed the zoom of a flying spoon when trying to get a toddler to eat? Or a crafty on the spot bribe to wash hair? My neighbor, whose child dreaded the sound of airplanes, turned her flying spoon into a beautiful butterfly. Pretty creative, huh? On long car trips, my co-worker's mom used to give her three squabbling pre-tweens packets of pistachio nuts, which they would have to pry open to eat, causing them to focus instead of fight. When her daughter was afraid of lightning during a storm, another mom gave her a flashlight to "flash her own lightning" ahead of the bolt. She ended up giggling instead of crying. Whether it's a revised recipe (love this cookbook, No Whine with Dinner), an ad hoc Halloween costume, a bedtime ritual, or a rewarding "trip to the supermarket toy aisle", thinking like a kid as well as for a kid unleashes natural creativity and usually leads to successful solutions. The critical part here is "thinking like a kid." What would a five-year-old do? No holds barred. Thinking "how" instead of "why not?"
The pandemic has pushed all of us (moms, dads, grandparents, teachers, caregivers and kids) to the brink. Home schooling was not something most of us signed up for. But it is exactly these kinds of situations that challenge us to get creative. During the sometimes seemingly endless hours of Zoom lessons with my kids, I’ve found new ways to engage with them. We discovered why we get hiccups from Mystery Doug (https://mysterydoug.com/). We learned about the digestive track in Mad Science and how to grow herbs in three weeks with an AeroGarden!
Anyhow, what I'm getting at is that if it weren't for those tough parenting times, I wouldn't be sitting here typing this blog. I would have never been pushed to re-think things with quite the same urgency. Invention is born from a need to improve something that's not working the way you want. And to me, the most powerful incentive to inventing is improving the lives of my kids. Getting my son to wash his hands was not happening. Rewards and punishments weren't working. So I designed this new soap. Though I may still identify myself as a creative mom, I'm also the CEO of this fantastic company.
What have you invented lately? Big or small, serious or silly, I'd really like to hear about it, email me firstname.lastname@example.org.
We Mothers of Invention have to stick together!
One Fun™ CEO