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We can learn a lot from our kids when it comes to experiencing joy. Kids have this natural ability to live in the moment in ways we as adults have forgotten how to. And when we’re not planning places for them to be or scheduling activities for them to do, they instinctively and creatively come up with their own ideas for fun and enjoyment. They have their own recipe for joy without having to search for it.
Kids show us that joy isn’t something that we need to look for outside. It’s something that lights up inside of us when we experience moments that awaken our love and excitement for life.
When we begin to look at joy as an experience - not as a feeling that comes and goes - we can practice keeping the experience of joy alive in our homes and family life.
Playing with your kids is a quick and easy way to have more fun and bring more joy into your home. The next time you see your kids playing with their action figures or making up some clever game, drop everything (if you can) you’re doing and hop right in with them! We know it’s easier said than done but give it a try from time to time. Nothing beats the joys of free play and the wonderful effects of spontaneity, curiosity and amusement that it inspires in our children. Pausing on all responsibilities for a moment and playing together can put everyone in a relaxed and joyful mood.
When things start to get messy as it always does in painting, science experiments or water play, don’t let cleanliness get in the way of savoring the moment with your children. Save the clean-ups for last so you can be fully present as you engage in activities with your kids and have fun with them. After all, there are a bunch of ways you can make clean-up a joyful family experience too. Put on some music and turn it into a dance party or set a timer and turn it into an exciting race.
Create an atmosphere of joy in your home. Decorate the walls with family photos. Have each member choose a family photo that brings up joyful memories for them. Print them out and hang it where everyone can see them. Put up a gratitude wall where the whole family can share messages of gratitude and joy. Decorating for joy can make one’s home a delightful place to be in. If your children are making art of any kind - be it drawings, clay or playdough sculptures, display them on the walls or shelves. While adding color to your room they will inspire and encourage your kids to be creative.
Get creative with new family traditions so there’s something to look forward to. Brainstorm ideas with the whole family so everyone will be sure to enjoy them. Some fun ideas include themed dinners, game nights and visiting animal rescue shelters on weekends, or more quieter ones like making a family scrapbook and having a spa night. The activities don’t need to be elaborate and they can be anything your family loves doing together. The fact that everyone participates and enjoys is bound to bring joy.
Let go of rules and checks once in a while and be silly with your kids! Go along with their silly games or have a cake for breakfast. Sing out loud, make up the lyrics, and dance your heart out. Go be a child again with your kids. Nothing is too ridiculous to give a try and notice how much joy there is in tapping into your inner child so you can connect better with your kids. These are moments that will stay with you and your kids forever.
Read stories that inspire positive feelings and lift everyone’s mood. Choose books that teach children about love, kindness, gratitude, appreciation, and joy. Cultivate these qualities in your kids so that they understand what it takes to recreate joy in their daily lives. Feeling joy is also about ‘practicing’ it every day. Something as simple as going around the table during dinner where everyone shares one thing they are happy about that day, can be very uplifting. It can remind us that we are surrounded by wonder.
Practicing joy with your kids starts with creating experiences where joy can be recognized and felt. Often in our busy schedules we think that joy has gone and disappeared from our lives; we wonder how to get it back. But the truth is that joy is never lost, it’s just hiding behind everything else. Let’s remember what it’s like to be kids again and put joy first, above all else.
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