Happiness seems to be on the tip of everyone’s tongue these days. There are more articles to read, apps to download, adverts to watch and cafes to frequent to pay it forward. It’s wonderful that the mainstream public are starting to fully embrace happiness, mindfulness and gratitude. We definitely need more of this in the world! But how can you embrace happy at home? Do our children really need to LEARN happiness? Shouldn’t they just be happy? They are children after all! What’s not happy about childhood?
Childhood is no where near as happy and carefree as it once was. School, learning, friendships, after-school activities and general family dynamics all put stress on our children which can dramatically affect how happy they are inside and out. I have some ideas on how to embrace happy at home and help your children to tap into the happiness inside of them which should result in a much more positive family environment for everyone.
- Leave Good Morning greetings in the form of post-it notes either on the kitchen table at your children’s place settings, on the toilet seat or sink or on their bedroom door. Wouldn’t it make you happy to start your day with a lovely message, drawing or smiley face?
- Find a way to inject a bit of fun into breakfast with pancakes decorated with a fruit face! What about a drop or two of food colouring to a glass of milk to make it PINK or BLUE instead of boring old white? Maybe a smoothie with a fun straw will bring a smile to your little one’s face? Think outside the cereal box!
- Instead of morning telly, what about creating a YouTube playlist to share with your children. Pick some of their favourite music videos and throw in a “classic” tune or two from your past and boogie through breakfast.
- Lay out your children’s clothes on the bed or floor in a fun “Flat Stanley-esque” pose and then ask them to copy that pose once they are fully dressed. This may help them to get dressed faster and will add a bit of entertainment to the boring job of putting on the school uniform!
- Every once in a while, pop a post-it note or postcard in your child’s school bag. They will find it at some point during their day (hopefully!) which will help them to feel loved and remembered.
- BUBBLES!!! If you are lucky enough to be able to walk to school, why not bring along a bottle or two of bubbles for either you or the children to blow. It’s amazing how fast the walk to school goes when you’re focusing on blowing bubbles! You’re also sharing a bit of sunshine as well…who doesn’t love bubbles??
- Most children need a snack of some sort after school so why not put out a selection of suitable snacks and let your children choose? Allowing your children control over their own food gives them a sense of responsibility and takes some of the work out of your hands. As the weather gets warmer, make up some smoothie/yoghurt ice lollies which are the perfect after school snack to have in the garden whilst chilling out!
- Set a timer (30 minutes) for a bit of after school homework/reading/drawing which will be a visible countdown for your child and will help them to stay on task for any work that needs to be done. If your child doesn’t have homework, perhaps they could make a bit of artwork, write a card for a friend or family member or get the PlayDoh out and create an artistic masterpiece. Homework doesn’t have to be painful. When the timer goes off, everybody can have fun!
- At a loss for what to do after school? Create a Fun List! Write down all of the fun games and activities that you could do with your children after school and when you don’t have an activity or event to attend immediately after school, choose one or two to do WITH your children. Activities could include: board games, watching a favourite DVD, dancing, jumping on the trampoline, going to the park, taking a bike ride, building sandcastles, eating ice cream cones, drawing with chalk and MORE!
- Are your after school hours filled with numerous lessons and activities for your children? Why not prepare a HAPPY BAG which you can bring along? Fill it with colouring books, colouring pencils, notepads, LegoDuplo blocks, cars/dinosaurs/characters, iPad/Tablet, magazines (for you as well) and pre-packaged snacks to make the hour(s) fly by pain-free.
- Are your children able to help with dinner preparation? Set them some simple tasks to keep them busy and involved while you prepare dinner? Setting the table, chopping soft vegetables, stirring and washing up are all things that most children should be able to do with supervision. Spending time together creating the evening meal will help everyone to feel more a part of what’s going on.
- Create a Happiness Jar! Choose a container/jar and put squares of paper and a pen next to it. Anyone in the family can add something Happy that happened to them in the day (remind them to add the date to it) and then place it in the jar. At the end of the year, open the jar and share the memories one at a time to reflect back on the year that was.
- Baths/Showers should be a fun, relaxing end to the day but often they are the cause of major stress. Ideally, getting the children washed up when they first get in the bath and then allowing for a set amount of time to play is preferable. Playing some fun or relaxing music will keep everyone in a calmer state as well.
- If you’re up for some fun in the bath, turn off the lights and use glow sticks or candles (safely of course) in the water or around the bathroom. This will chill out even the most stressful bath and calm your children in the run to sleepy time.
- Pick two songs that are perfect sing-alongs for a shower. Two songs will be approximately 8-10 minutes which is just the right time to get everything done! Encourage your child to sing as loudly as they like to make the work that much more fun!
- Use the time right before story time as a chance to reflect on the day that was. My daughter writes her #3goodthings in a journal every night before we read together. She thinks back about the #3goodthings that made her day happy and special. It’s a wonderful way to practice her writing and helps me to understand what was important to her. If your child is too young to write on their own, perhaps they can dictate to you and you can write it in a notebook or journal. This is a wonderful record to keep and review in the future.
- Reading to or with your child(ren) is a wonderful ritual that will not only help to prepare them for sleeping but will bring you both closer and finish your day on a very happy note. No matter how old your children are, reading TO them will always be welcome.
Help your family to embrace happy by giving some of these ideas a try. A happy home is a wonderful place to grow, flourish and create. Are you ready to Embrace Happy?