And how joyful activities with your children can help you all
When our normal lives are turned upside down, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. We can’t think straight and all our best intentions for positive parenting can go out of the window, as we struggle to find the ‘right way up’ to get through each day.
Times like these can also be very unsettling for small children. They can sense that things aren’t quite right and pick up on our anxiety and stress, even if we don’t verbally express it in front of them. It’s easy to assume that they are too young to understand what’s going on and try to carry on as normal. So how do you deal with that dilemma?
How positive parenting can help you both
It’s about coming together, about being totally in the moment with your child. About sharing something fun and joyful. About focusing on and revelling in their unending curiosity and zest for life.
And if you can do that – even for a brief moment – then it has the power to allay your fears and put them in a better perspective. Which will not only help you realign with the positive parent within, but will provide immense comfort for you and your child(ren).
So here are some ways to carry on positive parenting, providing relief from global or home events AND have some fun and quality time together.
FIRST THINGS FIRST – TALK TO YOUR CHILD ABOUT THE SITUATION
They know something isn’t right
Children are incredibly sensitive and can tune into exactly how you’re feeling like an exocet missile. Don’t think you’re doing them a favour by pretending everything is OK when it isn’t and leaving them completely in the dark – it’s unsettling and frightening for them.
And it’s not about going into depth with a 3 year old about negative events and scaring them. It’s about providing reassurance that despite whatever’s going on, you are there for them and everything will be OK.
Get yourself into as calm a frame of mind as you can and keep it simple. For some great advice on this check out How to talk to a child of any age about difficult topics from Motherly.
Then the next step is to…
It’s just the BEST way to leave your problems behind and reconnect with positive parenting. The sense of space, fresh air and connection with nature is the quickest way to nurture both your souls.
In our current self isolation, this will only be a once a day excursion and of course we have to be sensible and safe about it, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t still make it a special time. Making a grand expedition of it – planning and preparing it in advance with your little one(s) – will ensure that if it’s fun for them, it’ll be fun for you.
So, plan an adventure like:-
We all love a walk in the park or country, but when was the last time you saw it through a child’s eyes and truly revelled in it?
So make an real adventure of it – find a corner of the countryside or park that has some fun ‘obstacles’ – clamber over ‘Snake Log’, wade through the ‘Rusty River’, play hide and seek in the ‘Wild Woods’ – the only limit is your imagination. Be intrepid explorers going where no man has gone before!
Set them challenges:- ” Touch the wonky tree, walk along snake log, run around the dark puddle 3 times and be back by the time I count to 10!” Have some rewards ready when they complete their ‘challenge’. Then get them to set one for you!
And of course, go well prepared with wellies and waterproofs, drinks and snacks to provide a boost when energy starts to flag and a trusty stick to lean on! If the weather’s good, make a day of it with a picnic. Just have fun and remember, the great outdoors isn’t called ‘great’ for nothing.
Brilliant for white fluffy cloud days. What shapes can you see in the clouds? (Looking out my window as I write this I can see a man with a very long nose, a fish and a whale.) Have fun with it! What stories can you make up about the cloud shapes? If you were a cloud what shape would you be?
What 3 Words
For livening up exploring and treasure hunts, check out What 3 Words. It pinpoints 3 unique words to every 3m square on the planet – it’s a quirky and fun way of navigating or planning a treasure hunt, whether you’re outdoors or in.
Infinity and Beyond
Whilst outside, take a moment to marvel with your children about how the sky goes on FOREVER, out into space, the Universe, infinity and beyond!! What name would you give a planet? Who would live there? What would they look like? Imagine you’re exploring it on your walk!
The Sky At Night
On a clear night, wrap up warm and find an outdoor space where you can pick out some prominent stars, planets or constellations. Make up your own names for the star shapes in the sky. Imagine how it would feel to be an astronaut up there in their rocket or space station, weightless, floating around. You can check out some awesome stargazing apps to help you identify what’s in the night sky here.
For there’s nothing like marvelling at the wonder of our little planet in the grand scheme of things to give us a sense of perspective about our lives. So get outside, forget your troubles and find your joy together!
SHARING SCREEN TIME
In trying times, you may find that your children end up with more screen or device time, as you deal with the stuff around you. Don’t beat yourself up about it, it can be a great part of positive parenting, by making it a constructive thing that is just one part of each day, balanced with other activities.
(There may be times when you’re desperate to get some ‘you time’ and plopping your kids in front of their favourite show is the only way to do it. Just go with the flow – if it gives you some time to get on top of things, regroup and refresh then go for it.)
However, as this article is chiefly about positive parenting with your child to enrich both of you, here are a couple of ideas for sharing screen times together:-
There are so many amazing educational resources online for you to help your child with and to explore together. Of course Googling and YouTube will help you find information on pretty much anything you want.
And if that seems a bit bewildering, the London Mummy has helpfully narrowed it down to 40 educational online resources for kids of all ages .
Choose a favourite film together – maybe introduce them to one of your favourite childhood films. Make a real occasion of it – set up your ‘cinema’, with your favourite snacks, comfy chairs, rugs, pillows and cuddly toys and just get lost in it snuggled together.
MAKE THE NEWS!
Create your very own newspaper
Featuring your family and/or friends! A great way to get other relatives involved, especially ones that you don’t see regularly. Get your little one to interview them over the phone about their lives – their childhood, their school, their family, friends and pets – and how growing up was for them.
Other ideas for your paper are:-
- A cookery segment
- What’s the weather like today?
- Fun in the garden – what’s blooming?
- Out and about on our walk – what did we see?
- A book review or creative writing – a short story or poem
Older children can help with the writing whilst the younger ones can be more involved with the artistic side of things – providing pictures and photos. (And make sure you send grandma and grandad a copy too!)
Lights, camera, action!
If you’re feeling really adventurous, create a video of your own news magazine show,. You can do all the newspaper features above with the added bonus of:-
- Live interviews and news flashes
- Sports – gymnastics, games or races in the garden or park. (Film those intrepid explorations and challenges!)
- Arts and culture – a musical instrument, dance or song performance
You could eke this one out for a few days. And then edit it together – there is plenty of free editing software to do this – and an older child could also get involved. You can then have a grand viewing ceremony as part of your daily screen time together.
And finally, not forgetting…
ACTIVITIES AND CRAFTS
Children love creating and getting stuck into a creative project with them is a wonderful way for all of you to be absorbed in the moment. The newspaper is one I’ve already mentioned. But how about a Still Life art class? Make some jewellery to send to a relative? Learn sewing or knitting together? A Bake-Off? Make your own potato stamps, or stencils and if you’re feeling REALLY brave get covered in it with finger, hand or foot painting! For some great ideas 5 Minute Fun has a plethora of easy activities from craft projects to baking.
And games – board games, card games, all great to play together – in fact why not make up your own games? Also performances – a magic show, or write and perform a play or musical together. (If that sounds too daunting, start with a fairy tale and perform a 5 minute version of that.)
A Good Book
One of the most WONDERFUL immersive activities to do together. Nothing beats snuggling up with and getting lost in a good book – whether you’re reading it to them or they read to you.
One of the reasons we started Tickled Moon was because we have so many treasured memories of storytimes with our 2 boys when they were little. It is simply the quickest and easiest way to connect fully with your children.
Immersive positive parenting brings you together
I hope you find some of the above ideas useful. I know that some of them really helped me transform my day when my boys were small and I was struggling.
It can be really tough maintaining positive parenting when your world is crumbling.
But ultimately the point to all of the ideas above is to leave the troubles of the world behind by getting immersed in something wonderful and fun with your child. To reconnect with the child within you. And finally to remember the sheer joy that can be found by being in the moment with your children.
For that will not only lift both your spirits, but will deepen the bonding between you, helping you to weather whatever storm life is throwing at you.
Alison Reddihough is the co-founder of Tickled Moon and the writer of all their personalised books.