A recent British study shows just how important playtime is for children, and that it has positive effects into adulthood. In fact, adults who reported high levels of creative play have better health habits overall. They eat better and are more likely to exercise than adults who had a more limited play experience as children.

If you want your kids to grow into healthy adults, then, it's important not to curtail their playtime and to encourage creativity. This can be difficult when you're tired and don't feel particularly creative yourself. Here's how can you help your kids find their creativity when yours seems to be in hibernation or, even worse, when you feel like you never had it in the first place.

Make time to play.

Most kids are pretty creative on their own, when given time and space to practice it. Sometimes, though, kids do so many structured activities, like music lessons, school, sports, and more, that they don't get time to entertain themselves. If your kids don't have much downtime, carve out a space in their schedule (and yours!) for it. You'll be surprised at the things they come up with when they get this time regularly!

Suggest artsy activities.

We mostly associate creativity with the arts in our culture. While it's also exercised in other areas, artistic activities will definitely help kids find that creative place inside of them. Suggest paints, putting on a play, writing a story, singing a song, or drawing pictures. And rest assured, you don't have to be an expert in any of these to make the suggestion, or even to help your kids in their endeavors.

Have creative supplies.

In addition to markers, crayons, pens, pencils, paper, glitter, glue, scissors, and the rest of the paraphernalia associated with traditional creativity, keep some other things on hand, too. Dress up clothes always go over well, and you usually don't have to do much more than give your kids your old clothes. Legos are great for promoting creative processes, as are blocks, play kitchens, and couch cushions to make a fort.

Let them make a mess.

Many kids have their creative play curtailed when things get messy. If your kids know that they can make as big of a mess as they want to (as long as they clean up, of course), they'll be more likely to let their creativity run wild. So resist the urge to keep things nice and clean, and see what they make and do.

Read to your kids.

Reading out loud not only promotes a love of reading as your kids grow, but also helps promote their own creative processes. Once you've read them a story, have them retell it to you, or ask them what they think happened next. These simple questions can get them started in making a story of their own. If they're old enough and so inclined, have them write it out and/or illustrate it once they've told it.

Turn off the TV.

Since TV tells kids what to think, they're not creating anything while they're watching it. Set limits on how much they can see in a day, and turn it off when they're done. Better yet, have them earn it. Let an hour of creative play earn 30 minutes of television, for instance, or only let them turn it on after they've been outside for a while.

Celebrate creative attempts.

Sometimes, kids learn not to be creative when their creative attempts are laughed at or ridiculed. Of course you don't mean to do belittle their efforts, but it can be hard not to laugh when your daughter draws a duck with 3 feet or your son shows up with his sister's pink tutu on his head. Do whatever it takes not to laugh, though, and instead praise their creativity, even if it produces odd results. Creativity can be shot down in school, too, so be ready to counteract this negativity when it happens.

Join in the fun.

When your kids try to engage you in creative play, jump in. Sure, you might feel silly twirling around in the front yard, and you might get sick of "eating" Play-Doh food, but by joining in you validate your kids' efforts at creativity. Often, they want nothing more than to have Mom and Dad play with them, so having you join the game makes it that much more fun (and means they're that much more likely to do it again).

However you choose to promote it, remember that creativity should be fun. Try not to evaluate their efforts as "good" or "bad" or push them to be creative only in particular ways. When you recognize every interaction as a chance to promote creativity, you'll be surprised at what your kids produce.