When times of uncertainty hit, it can throw you and your family’s life off-balance. For example, life amid the current pandemic isn’t easy. In a matter of months, all of our lives have shifted in such a way that’s made even the most minute of tasks become a challenge (i.e. grocery shopping). Adulting has become an even harder role to fill if you have a child. Keeping your kiddos joyful and engaged in fun activities may seem like a thing of the past, but here are seven ways you can help them to achieve peak joy despite encountering rocky times.
Create a gratitude journal. The old adage, “things could always be worse,” certainly helps ease the blow of the effects of uncertain times. Creating a gratitude journal – using simple words or by drawing pictures – can help your child grow up to be an appreciative adult. Assist your child to think of five reasons their personally happy to be alive – nothing is insignificant. Highlight their attention to the joy they feel from being able to play outside on a sunny day, wet kisses from their pet dog, big hugs from parents, and so forth. Getting your child into the practice of mindful thinking and reflection will help them cherish good moments during less than ideal circumstances.
Stick to a routine. Children flourish when structure in the form of a routine is put into place. With the unpredictability of crises, you may wonder just how you can maintain a steady schedule with your child. The key is being flexible in what you can control. For example, keep nighttime rituals such as baths and bedtime stories consistent. Also, schedule regular times for your child to focus on learning fundamentals such as the alphabet. Small moments like the aforementioned can help create an atmosphere of normalcy.
Make playtime a unique experience. Joy can suppress fear of the unknown, and the most natural way for a child to experience this emotion is through play. Laughter conquers stress and anxiety from unsavory circumstances that you might be projecting on your child (unbeknownst to you). Try out new ways to engage in playtime whether it means moving the afternoon teatime session to the park or engaging in a virtual dance party. You can even be the host via apps such as Zoom and House Party! Another fun way to boost playtime is by making it a thing around the clock. How so? Embrace mess. That’s right, we’re telling you to open your arms wide to mess that stems from creative and happy moments (hello, glitter). Clean-up afterwards can also be a fun way to bond with your child since – depending on the age of course – they’re eager to help mommy and daddy beautiful the home.
Be a good listener. The impact and trauma stemming from COVID-19 has largely caught the globe by surprise. During trying moments, oftentimes the voice of children gets lost in the sea of troubles. So, ask your child how you can be of support during this time. By being a good listener, your child will readily share feelings on how the pandemic is affecting them. Express to your child that it’s okay to feel sad or uncertain but reassure them that your love for them is constant.
Implement a joy jar. A creative way to practice mindfulness and gratitude is by creating a joy jar. Children and parents can fill the jar with instants of joy they recognize throughout their day. What are such moments? These can include one-liners on a piece of paper such as, “I had fun playing dress-up” or have your child draw a picture of the moment that particularly brought them joy. Then, reflect on what the causes for joy daily, weekly, or whenever you all need a pick-me-up.
Explore the great outdoors. It’s no mystery that being outside catching rays helps trigger the endorphins in your brain that signal happiness. You can still social distance and have a great time with your child by taking walks – this is great whether you live in the suburbs or the city. Enhance your child’s appreciation of creation and wonder by pointing out colorful flowers, chirping birds, fluffy squirrels, and the like. Embrace your inner child as well when you become captivated by nature’s many beautiful sights.
Send custom artwork to friends, family, and the local community. There’s no better time than now to help bring a spark of joy to your loved ones and the community. Just because we’re staying home more often, doesn’t mean you can’t encourage intention and fellow feeling within your children. Work together with your child to create custom works of art – painting, coloring, or writing a letter with the inclusion of vibrant hues and stickers – for neighbors, grandparents, and others who you’re not able to physically connect with at this time. Since nursing homes are off-limits during this time, have your child create a picture for the residents. It will surely bring a dose of sunshine to their day! Remember: There is more happiness in giving than receiving.