Updated: Mar 25
In these trying times, it can be very easy to let stress and anxiety get the best of us. New information is being thrown at us every minute; kids are stuck indoors with nowhere to go and nothing to do. Despite the number of toys around the house, each one is “more boring” than the next. As adults, we are also feeling bored and cooped, which is okay -- these are hard times, and for most of us, this is feeling a lot like a “time out.” But why not take this as an opportunity to make it a “time in?” Why not take advantage of this forced pause to regroup and consider what is most important to us? How can we make this impactful and meaningful for ourselves and our loved ones?
We at Spread the Joy thought about our social mission; to alleviate some of the stress families go through in hard times (which we try to accomplish with the help of a Joy Box). Because we cannot safely assemble and deliver Joy Boxes just yet, we decided to provide you with a virtual Joy Box filled with tools and ideas to make this not-so-easy time feel a whole lot more fun for everyone.
Set up a daily routine for you and your family
For the most part, people are generally happier when they know what to expect, and this is especially true of kids. Sure, it’s fun to have a few PJ days every once in a while, but keeping to a schedule will give you all a sense of structure and stability within the chaos. As part of your daily routine try to get outside. Go on a family hike, bike ride, blow bubbles, or just go for a walk around your neighborhood. If the weather is not cooperative, do an online exercise class or chase each other around the basement! Teach your kids (and yourself) something that you don’t usually have time for in your hectic schedule.
Use screens judiciously
How much time is too much screen time? Like many parents, you may be struggling with the fact that your kids are going to have a lot more screen time than when they are in school. Be kind to yourself (and the kiddos) and know that this is only temporary. Use the screens in an engaging way. There are so many apps and Youtube videos that will allow your children to use the screens while also learning at the same time. Most of these are free, and most of those that require paid subscriptions are offering discounts at this time.
Khan Academy / Khan Academy Kids
Crash Course Kids
Geek Gurl Diaries
Kids Learning Tube
National Geographic Kids
Sci Show Kids
The Brain Scoop
Continue to celebrate those special moments
For those of you who have children celebrating a birthday while away from friends and
family, there are definitely still ways to make the occasion special. I have a friend
whose son turned 6 recently and she asked her friends and family to send her videos wishing him a happy birthday. She said he was thrilled to see how much love everyone was sending him. As a side note, why not send out friendly messages ‘just because’? There is nothing stopping us from using technology to our advantage here! Send a little message to a grandparent, cousin or friend to brighten their day!
Arts & Crafts
The next time Amazon Prime delivers your order of toilet paper, hold onto the boxes they come in! Cardboard boxes make for the greatest art projects! While you’re out on your next walk, collect some “art supplies”. Leaves, branches, and rocks are all wonderful tools! Have your children really examine them, feel and touch the different textures and talk about what you can do with them. Often in these situations, less is more; offer a few things at a time, and rotate your supplies often. This will keep them engaged for longer periods of time.
Cooking together is a great way to spend time with and empower your kids. This is an opportunity to teach them about different kinds of foods, with hands-on learning! And if cooking is not your thing, you can bake together. Enjoy the process - mess and all!
This can be as easy as “No-Bake Energy Balls” or adding frosting and sprinkles to your latest batch of cupcakes. Whatever you decide to do, there are so many benefits to cooking and baking with your kids from enriching their vocabulary (using words like beat, whip, sift, sautee, chop), to working through math skills (recipes call for specific measurements, or for things to be cut into specific shapes or sizes). They will also be developing fine motor skills and building better hand-eye coordination when holding a spoon, using a whisk or stirring something in a pot. Not to mention, they are more likely to enjoy the foods after they have prepared them!
Visit a virtual museum
Virtual Museum Tours are available from around the world! Take a video field trip 12 Famous Museums Offer Virtual Tours from London, NYC, Washington DC, Paris, Seoul, Berlin, Amsterdam, LA, Florence, São Paulo, and Mexico City. For extra credit, try to recreate artwork that you discovered on your tour during arts and crafts time, or cook up something from one of the countries you visited!
However, you decide to spend your time, try to enjoy the little moments. Notice when your family members are kind and praise them for it. Pointing out the positive impact of their words and actions will build their self-confidence and spread joy throughout your home.
During this time, know that you are not alone. Talk to friends, share ideas that work and be ready to change course whenever necessary. Above all, be kind and compassionate to one another - no one really knows what the other is dealing with during these trying times. And, when all else fails, stop and smile. It will automatically make you feel just a little bit better.
The Spread the Joy Team