We are almost a year into the COVID-19 pandemic, and we are all feeling the weight of its effects. You may be facilitating online learning, working full-time from home, and remaining committed as a spouse and parent. Although nothing can make life “normal” as we knew it, here are some relaxing, free, and simple ways to lift the fog and help you smile again.
When there’s a million things going on, it can be exhausting to even consider playing dolls or trucks on the floor with a smile on your face. However, playing is an easy way to bond with your children.
Build forts with blankets and read a story. Play dress up with jewelry, painted nails, and a dash of makeup. You can even put on a fashion show with some music. Or, grab the LEGOs and see who can build the best castle. Get out a classic board game and evoke that nostalgia.
Try out some type of physical activity for a half hour, even if it’s dancing around the house. Many kids are happy to do activities with you, regardless of what it is. And, as hard as it may be, leave the mess for a day. The memories will always outlast a clean floor.
Date Your Significant Other at Home
It is common to get into the same monotonous habits of the day-to-day routine. It is even easier to become frustrated and annoyed by the smallest interruptions. Setting an evening aside once a week or a few times a month to date your significant other can help keep the household running peacefully.
Try eating a late dinner after the kids are in bed. Get “dressed up” and light some candles to create ambience. Have a conversation that isn’t about the kids or what you have to do tomorrow. Or, pop some popcorn and watch a movie. Sit beside each other instead of on opposite ends of the couch.
Live as a unit, versus what feels like separate lives, inside the same house. Asked detailed questions beyond, "How was your day?" Regular communication with your spouse and kids can strengthen emotional connections and family unity. You may be surprised how rekindling the spark in your relationship will uplift the entire family.
Rekindle Your Passions
This last year has made it easy to lose ourselves in, just, life. Do something you’ve always wanted to do. Start a group or join an online community focused on crafting, meal prepping, playing music, or participating in fantasy sports.
Whatever you choose, surround yourself with people who enjoy doing what you do. Challenge yourself to do something small each day that fulfills you and gives you some time to escape from the daily chaos.
Take 20 minutes each day to go for a walk with the dog or alone, or get some type of physical activity. Raising your heart rate with exercise for even a short time period has many health benefits, but it also releases stress and improves your overall mood. It also gives you some time to mentally check out and focus on self-care.
Whether it’s academics, emotions, or abilities, kids may regress at times. This is normal, especially in times of uncertainty, like now. If your child suddenly needs you to lie with them before bed, take those extra few minutes to soak up the snuggles. Let your little ones feel their big emotions and take breaks to regroup. Do activities that help you all to relax, such as getting fresh air, coloring, and reading stories before bedtime.
However, establish healthy boundaries with yourself and your children so that you create a sense of comfort but avoid a sense of dependency. For example, you probably don’t want the extra snuggles to evolve into long-term co-sleeping.
Give Your Family (and Yourself) Grace
You may be ordering takeout too often or letting your kids have more time on technology than you’d like. Every day won’t be magical but staying grounded in your love for your littles will help you through any developmental regressions or emotional outbursts.
Take a moment each day to breathe in the positive aspects of your current situation, even if it's as simple as drinking a cup of hot coffee or seeing the grass covered in snow.
None of us know when our “normal” will return. In the midst of the pandemic, remember the love your family has for you and that you have for them. Remind yourself that you are valued, you are appreciated, and you are doing a great job.
Do you have any ideas that have helped you stay bonded to your family over the past year? Leave your suggestions in the comments below.
Nicole Thompson is a contributing writer and editor to the Lincoln Learning blog. She brings more than a decade of experience in education, curriculum, and communications to her blogs. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and a Master of Science in Instructional Leadership, with certifications in secondary English and Communications. Nicole is married with four children and has a spunky golden retriever named Cinder and a rescue dog named Annie Banannie.
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