Out of Ideas, Huh?
I understand. Being a creative machine (aka a parent) is hard! Especially when you factor in everything else that life throws your way.
You come home after a long day at work, you help with dinner, put on PJ’s, brush teeth, and then you hear the inevitable question… “Mom/Dad will you tell me a story?”
If you are anything like me, I could get away with 4 or 5 stories on a rotating basis for the first little while. But then my oldest daughter wised up (good for her, but not good for her. It’s an internal struggle 😂).
Now I need to supply her with stories that she is excited to hear about almost daily. But it’s a challenge for me because I am exhausted at the end of the day.
Exhaustion = Lack of Creativity
If you are emotionally, mentally, or physically drained (or all three!) after a hard day of work, join the club!
When I say “work,” I am not singling anyone out here. I am speaking to working and stay-at-home parents alike. From board meeting presentations to battling children from completely wrecking the house—parents of young kids have tough lives.
Of course, there are unforgettable moments with kids too. The morning snuggles, the laughable “wow did she/he really just say that” comments, seeing them play and imagine, and on and on.
Parenting is incredibly tough, but it is also gratifying.
But our ability to be good parents and help develop our children can be dampened by exhaustion. Specifically, helping our children have imagination time (which is extremely healthy).
Imagination time is needed to develop into good little humans later on in life (one of the countless sources on the topic: The Power of a Child’s Imagination).
But here lies the BIG dilemma. Children need and want us (parents) to be creative and imagine with them. To a child, imagination time = bonding time.
But what if you are too exhausted at the end of a busy day to give them what they want?
Enter, Story Starter Ideas
You do not have to compromise on imagination and bonding time with your kids. You simply need to have the resources to provide imaginative experiences during moments of exhaustion. The resource I am talking about is having the right start to a story.
Coming up with the initial idea is the bottleneck of creating something new when exhausted.
That’s where we come in.
You can quickly look to one of our story starter ideas to get you started in moments of exhaustion. These are the blueprints to many future stories.
You can take these ideas and change them, again and again, to make them into something new:
- Change out the characters.
- Change out the setting.
- Make the main character your child.
- Make the main character someone your child loves.
- Switch out the main objective into something that your child knows better, or something they are dealing with right now.
- Switch the questions being asked.
- The list could go on and on.
Once you have the blueprint or the foundation to build on, you can quickly create a story again and again.
Let’s review four starter story ideas that children will love to hear about over and over again.
Starter Story #1 – Overcoming the Monster
This story is rooted in many stories we know and love (Jack and the Beanstalk, Three Little Pigs, etc.) Everything is well for the main character until some threat appears. The character becomes the hero of the day by destroying what is in its way. The “monster” can be a literal monster but can also be an inner monster.
- Everyone gets hungry! Sometimes hunger is a monster. It’s what they do to solve that problem that could make a great story. For example, the kiddo trying to sneak a cookie before dinner and encounters problems with mom. (You could also read them our Hungry Hungry Sandwich story and make them the main character!)
- The pet hamster accidentally drinks some weird stuff and grows to become an evil fuzzball. Now you have to figure out how to return him to a hamster without getting eaten.
- A small monster lives in a town full of giant scary monsters. Every monster tries to be the worst and the most terrifying. But they find a meaner and more dangerous monster than them all combined, and they decide being mean and scary isn’t the best thing to be.
Tip: Imagine through your child’s eyes. What do they see every day that they would consider a “monster”? What is their favorite animal? Can that animal go on an adventure and overcome something?
Starter Story #2 – The Journey
Every child likes a good quest or adventure where the main character goes on a journey to find or do something (remember The Goonies?!) They will typically face a series of challenges and trials to get back home. Sometimes the main character has a few comrades that also come along.
- Two moose compete to see who can grow the most prolonged mustache! The other forest animals root for their favorite moose and try all different kinds of shampoos.
- It can be something that your child is struggling with at school. They compete with a classmate. You can determine who wins and how they won.
- A lost animal who must find his way back home. This can be a dog who got lost on a family vacation, a whale who is trying to find her family, anything!
Tip: Imagine through your child’s eyes. Is there something that the child needs to find today? Perhaps something they have missed, and you can relate with another character that is missing something too? Maybe it’s to find a favorite toy, brother/sister, or lost _______ (get creative).
Starter Story #3 – From Rags to Riches
This is the emotional roller coaster that ends on a high note. Harry Potter is a great example. From poverty to rich, from sick to health, or from a sad event to a happy one. Severely lacking in something and then acquiring it. They grow as a person throughout the process.
- A bird who loses her wings has to learn how to live without flying. She finds hidden talents that she never knew birds had.
- A poor farmer works hard all his life. He was so poor he would take his shoes off in the field so they wouldn’t get dirty. One day he finds two gold nuggets in his shoes. He gives the money away to a family with ten kids who are poorer than him.
- One frog is born with a tiny tongue, so he gets picked on a lot. It’s hard for him to catch bugs, so he practices every day and stretches his tongue all night. In the yearly bug snatching competition, he wins because of his hard work and practice!
Tip: Imagine through your child’s eyes. Were they unhappy today but became happy because of something? Relate that through a fun character. Did they learn a valuable lesson through the story?
Starter Story #4 – The Voyage
Like Wizard of Oz, where Dorothy ends up in a weird place with different setting rules before returning back home.
- Kids travel through a forest playing a game but encounter an abandoned pirate ship and find treasures inside.
- Someone jumps in their swimming pool on a normal summery day, but they are on the shore of a deserted island when they come up for air. They discover magical things on the island and have to figure out how to get back home.
- A fork, a knife, and a spoon move to a new kitchen. In this kitchen, the people chew and throw their silverware. The silverware gets bent, broken, and bruised. They finally speak up and tell the family how they feel! Then they get to go home.
Tip: Imagine through your child’s eyes. What vacation spot do they enjoy? What place in the house do they love the most? Can you relate to either of those places and add some new rules? The floor is now the ceiling, and there is magic in this new location, etc.
Basic Narrative Structure to Follow
Each of these starter story ideas can follow a similar narrative structure. Do not make it more difficult on yourself than it needs to be. In its simplicity, here’s what each story needs:
- An Opening
- The Build-Up
- A Problem
- The Resolution
- Finally, an Ending
For example, let’s take the ‘Overcoming the Monster’ starter story template to show how this would work:
- An Opening: You introduce the main character. All is well. They are happy.
- The Build-Up: A monster of some sort appears and starts causing problems.
- A Problem: The monster proves more challenging to defeat than initially thought.
- The Resolution: The main character conquers the monster!
- Finally, an Ending: All is well again for the main character, and they are better off in some way.
As a busy parent, it’s normal to be emotionally and physically exhausted at the end of the day. But that exhaustion doesn’t have to prevent you from bonding with your child.
Storytelling is an excellent way for your child to imagine. Reading helps children visualize the world but telling a story (without images) unlocks the imagination.
Don’t have the time or willpower to take these starter stories and turn them into engaging and fun bedtime stories?
We’ve got you covered.
Story Tyke removes parents’ need to search for or create a story from scratch to tell at bedtime. Give us a try, it’s 100% free!