Updated: Oct 4, 2020
How to find more Joy and create a slower family lifestyle.
Rest is so important. In fact it's paramount to our body being able to be able to function properly.
Its hard to get enough rest often with young children. I remember when my son was little and me and my husband would take it in turns to have short naps.
I found this photograph and it made me smile.
Children always will play at any opportunity. I love this moment. My son liked to be close often when he played at this age.
Rest is not selfish and it teaches our children how important it is to take care of ourselves, sleep is a basic need we must fulfill. If we are tired we must listen to our bodies and providing our children are safe we can take short naps to help us function better!
In the long run, also going to bed early is a really good habit to get into to allow your body to have a deep rest, especially when you may again be getting disturbed by little ones waking.
Cuddles, hugs, cwtch, huggles, whatever you call it – we all need them, they make us feel good, help to calm us down,
reassure us, helps our personal, social and emotional development and stimulates the best mental state for brain
Family therapist Virginia Satir once said, “We need four hugs a day for survival. We need 8 hugs a day for maintenance. We
need 12 hugs a day for growth."
Hugging increases levels of the "love hormone" oxytocin... A 20-second hug, along with 10 minutes of hand-holding, also
reduces the harmful physical effects of stress, including its impact on your blood pressure and heart rate. This makes sense
since hugging is known to lower levels of stress hormones like cortisol.
Time can always be made every day for hugs, whether it's the first thing in the morning when you leave the house when you
get home and when you go to bed. There's always plenty of opportunities for hugs. Hug when you are happy when your sad and
all the in-betweens.
Who doesn't love a good proper belly laugh?
I know I do!
Laughter is a big part of our household. My husband never fails to make us laugh every day—I think that's great. Laughter is the best
medicine. It is so good for us. It lifts us and having this joy is a really important part of our lives.
Laughing lowers blood pressure, reduces stress and increases muscle flexion (it increases the circulation of antibodies in the blood
stream and makes us more resistant to infection.)
Laughter touches our soul, it brings us closer together. Sometimes life feels a little bit serious—so play and laugh, loosen up.
Laughter also helps to create more positive emotions.
MAKE SOMETHING TOGETHER /ART/JUNK MODELLING/ PLAY DOUGH
Whether you get a big roll of paper out and some paints with a selection of brushes and sponges,
Lot's of cardboard boxes, sellotape (selection of different tapes)
Old pipes, yoghurt pots, old bottle tops etc Play dough can create so many options too along with buttons, scraps of material, cookie
cutters, glass beads and pebbles, the list is endless but these little items create so many worlds of ideas of what you can make!
Creating Art doesn't have to be about a finished product it's the process that's the most important. The squishing, stamping,
cuttings, squeezing, gluing all does something with our hands and takes us into a different part of the brain. It can be very relaxing
to create without any end in mind. I think often adults feel a little bit silly if they haven't played with these materials for a long
time maybe since they were a child so it can feel foreign and they can often feel like they are not sure what to do, observe your
child, and ask them for some ideas to start you off.
Your child may have very different ideas of what they want to create and may want you to help them or make something alone, but it's
great for adults to get involved in this process and spend some time together, you never know what creations you may come up with and
this time can create lovely conversations.
FAMILY DINNERS/ BREAKFAST IN BED
Family Dinners are a great time for Connection. It's not just about sitting together and eating the food at the same table. Connecting
with each other by taking the time to have eye contact with each other and listen to each other speak about your day. A lovely way to
connect and chat could be for each person to say;
- What they enjoyed about their day
- What they didn't enjoy/ or what perhaps didn't go so well or was challenging or difficult.
A connection can be in many moments. It can be in the preparation of the food, the peeling, the cutting, the stirring, the mixing,
getting the food from the various places they need to come from. Children can be a part of family dinners in many ways helping with
all of those things and even things such as putting out cutlery, cups, pouring drinks into glasses etc, even clearing away or washing
the pots, or helping to fill a dishwasher.
These are all ways that build Connection with each other, it's also really important for children to feel involved. Children want to
be involved and these little things really do mean a lot and help them to feel connected and an integral part of their family life.
How great do you feel when someone notices you? They notice a certain quality in you, or they notice something about you that they
In our everyday lives, it's really important to really notice our loved ones. Life can be really busy and in the course of a day
sometimes it's so easy to take the ones we love for granted.
Notice the people you love, and tell them something that you love about them often. It's a great way to connect and notice the
greatness in them.
It's the same with your kids.
We don't need to excessively compliment everything about people but if we can notice a quality or something positive such as;
- I'm so proud of the way you handled that situation
- That was really observant of you to notice—how thoughtful
- Don't worry that you spilled that, you had such a good try at balancing, and with lot's of practice it will get easier
- it was so lovely to receive a call from you whilst you were at work, I really needed to hear that I am loved today
"Gratitude is the healthiest of all the human emotions, the more you express Gratitude for what you have, the more likely you will
have more to express Gratitude for." Zig Ziglar
Gratitude is something I live by every day, throughout my days I always find something to be grateful for, it doesn't matter how small
it is, there is so much around us to be grateful for. Living our lives from a state of pure Gratitude reminds us to always look for
what I like to call rays of hope. Because even when we have difficult or challenging times, we can always choose to lift ourselves by
finding something to be grateful for. It can be as simple as being grateful for the morning cup of tea, the strangers smile, the time
someone took to wish you a good day, someone cheering you up or giving you a hug. We actually make a conscious choice to live in
Gratitude in each moment and can form a moment that is challenging or difficult choices to lift ourselves into a higher state of life.
It will change your life in the most beautiful way as you find around you these little rays of hope and joy that are all around you.
When we express Gratitude openly around our children we also encourage them to notice the little moments too. It could be as simple as
I am grateful for the Rain—it means we can have fun splashing in the puddles. I am grateful for the Spring flowers opening, their
beautiful colours cheer the world up and me. I am grateful for the morning bird song and to watch the little birds bathing in the bird
bath. You could even ask them—what do you feel Grateful for today?
GO ON AN ADVENTURE
An adventure can be ANYTHING!
Drive down a new street or take a different road home
Go outside when it's the night with a torch and explore
Find a hilly road to drive on
Visit a farm and pick your own fruit or vegetables
Look at the stars or watch a sunset
Have a sleep out in the family room
Find a new park out of town
Visit an airport
Catch or watch a train
When you have young children An adventure can literally be anything! It can be imaginary in your home on a rainy day, going down the
garden to find worms, ad adventure walk to the shop, a treasure hunt on the way with a list to collect, the ideas are literally
LIMITLESS! Follow your child’s lead too :)
PLAY A GAME OUT IN THE OPEN
Games for connection
While children do need time to play alone and with other children without adult intervention, research shows that playtime with
parents is also important.
Children crave time with parents. It makes them feel special. I really encourage you as parents to find time to spend playing with
their kids on a regular basis. This should include one to one with each child and group time with all of the adults and kids in the
home. If you are a single parent or have an only child, occasionally invite family or friends over to play.
In pretend play, let the child develop the theme. Get into their world. Let them go with it. Ask questions. Play along. Be silly along
with them and have fun. Avoid over-stimulation. Know when it is time to stop.
Also, when appropriate, parents can use stuffed animals or puppets to act out real-life situations that can teach problem-solving or
social skills. Let the puppet demonstrate the wrong way to handle a situation. Then, along with input from the child, act out a better
way. Afterwards, let the child do the same.
Play outdoors. Throw balls. Push kids on swings. Make mud pies.
Play games – card games – board games – silly and wacky kids games. Help them learn to take turns, how to win and how to lose. Praise
them. Encourage them. Laugh with them.
PAINTING AND CRAFTS
Storytime can be such a lovely time to connect. Setting aside a place for stories whether it's a cosy corner with blankets and pillows
where you snuggle up and read your child's favourite stories. Early mornings with a safe candle lit and little characters to play with
like little puppets, or cut out of silhouette characters and exploring them in a dark room with a torch can bring to life stories in
different ways. There are many many ways to explore stories and depending on whether it's settling down for night-time to sleep or
whether there's more room to play and explore in the daytime have a little fun with it!
Stories play a vital role in the growth and development of children. The books they read and the characters they get to know can
become like friends. It’s also good for children to understand that books are a useful source of information and that good reading
skills are important for success in their future lives. Reading also helps children with their confidence levels, coping with feelings
and language and learning
I recently created a workshop about Creative Storytelling with your Children
and I am also working on another PDF with different ways to create open-ended play with stories. (This is especially helpful if you
are fed up of reading the same stories and want to jazz them up a little bit!)
PHONE DOWN/ SCREEN OFF- BE PRESENT
PHONE DOWN/ SCREEN OFF- BE PRESENT
Screens are addictive and the very presence of them takes away your presence from the people you love. Every beep, vibration, and ting is designed
to make you immediately grab for it because it is quite simply designed that way.
Do you have your phone out all the time around your children?
Do you take calls/ get distracted with your phone during family meals?
Do you spend a lot of time with your phone?
Do you need to have your phone always attached to your body?
Have you considered switching your phone off during certain hours of the day to completely focus on your family or switching to silent?
A few things I found helpful for my own usage;
I actually turn the wifi off when I'm not using my phone at home so that I don't have notifications constantly going off. I also find that it's
easier to have my phone in a different room or I find I can easily just have a quick check of Facebook—when the reality is we just don't need to
check social media more than a couple of times a day really? You never fully relax when you are hearing beeping constantly, it's exhausting. Also,
the real truth—You are not present. Your kids notice. They notice your face in front of a screen giving it all of your attention and sucking you
in. If children grow up seeing faces behind the screen all of the time this is a huge lack of communication.
One thing I have noticed change in our society is that people are struggling to " just be" they feel like they have to be doing something
constantly, I am noticing more and more a moment needs to be filled so a constant checking of the phone—in awkward moments socially, or I don't
know what to do, I must do something—so another check of the phone.
It's OK to just be in stillness and be completely in the moment—being present is the greatest gift you have. It's also the greatest gift you can
give to the people that you love.
I think it's really important - actually crucial to consider the effects of screens in your home and the usage of them.
It's a very personal decision as to what your choices are but if I am ever not sure about something I always think—what does this look like to my
child? What could this feel like to my child? Am I creating Connection? Or am I creating a disconnection?
LOOK AT FAMILY PHOTOGRAPHS TOGETHER
Do you have lot's of photographs of your family?
My answer is going to guess YES! am I correct?
I highly recommend that you create your best pictures into books so that you and your children can enjoy looking through them time and time again.
Properly printed photographs (not on a screen) provide your children with something real and tangible to love and care for and will bring them much
As you look through the pages there will be lot's of laughing and lot's of questions, and remarks of different things that they remember and you
can also share particular stories too about what happened on the day those photographs were taken. I find it's always handy to start keeping a
journal whether it's hand written journal or written words physically in printed books that will help you to remember because it is easy to forget.
This time you spend with your children it really taking beautiful and thoughtful moments to connecting. Children will not forget this time they
spend looking at photographs with you. It brings such feeling of joy in celebrating your own family and the quality time you spend together - I
think this has got to be one of my favourite ways of connecting of course being a photographer. I have created books that are my sons and he loves
sitting together talking about each photograph. When he was very little I made him a very small photo book with about 15 photographs in of family
members as we don't often see a lot of these family members and so it was a way in which he could remember them even though he didn't see them
often. I smile when I think of him looking through these photo albums, the joy that it brings us is the best connection.
I encourage you to start getting your photographs together and start to organise them.
You can print good quality books with Blurb.
PLAY HIDE AND SEEK
Who doesn't love a good game of hide and seek?
Depending on the age of your children, they might not have figured out how to hide without telling you where they are! However, you
can just still play along and pretend that you have absolutely no idea where they are, going to different places for example I can't
see George under the bed, maybe he's behind the door (You may hear fits of giggles) or they may just jump out because they are so
For little, little children you can pretend and tell them where you are hiding or play peel a boo with a Muslin cloth, as they get
used to what it all is you can hide further away and they can too!
The purpose of teaching mindfulness to our children is to give them skills to develop their awareness of their inner and outer experiences, to
understand how emotions manifest in their bodies and to recognize when their attention has wandered and to provide tools for control. Mindfulness
is also good for our kids.
It's helpful with dealing with emotions and finding ways to calm the body and helps to be more mindful through the day.
Doing this as a family or one parent with the children is really helpful for everyday life in many ways.
5 mindfulness activities for kids;
Do a breathing exercise. If you've never tried meditation before, it's as simple as sitting down and focusing on the sounds and feelings of your
own breath. ...
Take a nature walk. ...
Come up with a positive mission statement. ...
Talk about gratitude.
RANDOM ACTS OF KINDNESS
Too often we underestimate the power of a touch, a smile, a kind word, a listening ear or the smallest act of kindness and caring. All
of which have the potential to turn a life around.
Kindness is love made visible.
Each family member to offer one act of kindness to another family member. It could be anything. The thing is though, this could be
done often until it is no longer a "let's do this" It teaches you kindness and connection and not needing to do something for a
particular reason other than wanting to find ways to be kind and considerate to the people you love the most. The thing with kindness
is that it's done quietly. It's not something you shout out all over social media. Kindness with the best intent is done from the
heart when the heart feels it. Teach your children by example, if you are kind, don't expect anything back, just be the example and
kindness is the example itself.
Even little children find ways to show acts of kindness as they give you something they love, it might be a stone they found or a
stick, accept with gratitude and kindness—they found something and they chose to give it to YOU. This is an act of kindness.
Here are 5 ideas for random acts of kindness
- Write little sticky notes with little messages
- Write a letter telling that person all the things you love about them
- Say thank you—often
- Surprise a family member with breakfast in bed
- Make a picture or a piece of Art
LET GO OF ANYTHING THAT IS BOTHERING YOU AND BREATHE
Taking time to sit together (somewhere all cosy and safe) where you can all express what's bothering you.
It might be a good idea to take it in turns and listen to each other until the other person has finished. Expressing how you are
feeling, is there something worrying you, Is there something you are not enjoying at the moment such as a class, or a hobby or
friendship or other commitments?
Pause and see if there's a way to help. Sometimes you can't always solve a problem but you can offer advice and ask questions that
will help to see if we can look at it from a different perspective. Sometimes we need to allow our children to work out their own
worry or problem with support.
Sometimes we just need a cuddle to just know that you are all here for each other.
PATIENCE is the most important attribute here.
GET SOME FRESH AIR
Take a Nature walk, it could be a trip to the park, a wander through a forest or Nature Reserve or maybe even where you live, the
nearer to Nature the better.
Being outside in the Fresh air and nature is amazing for the soul. Kids enjoy a really good run around it's great to breathe in all of
Spend as much time are you are able to outside with your children, being outside is so good for your body, your immune system.
Explore, allow your children to pick up feathers and stones and sticks etc they learn through the world around them and these little
things are like pure treasure to them, dirt isn't bad, you can give them a wash later:)
Whatever the weather (unless it's literally stormy and impossible!) then you can enjoy rainy walks with wellies and get in those
Do your kids have Dunga waterproofs? I highly recommend getting some. The Didriksons full body or two pieces are great if you go
outside a lot.
Always take spare clothes for the kids; It's always about the preparation!
Allowing your kids to get dirty and wet and really enjoy the elements will bring (most kids!) a lot of joy.
I've always got a bag in the car for spares as rainy walks as our favourites!
A great opportunity to communicate from choosing a recipe, gathering, shopping and bringing all the ingredients and tools together to
mixing, licking the spoon and flattening down and of course the taste test afterwards!
It is hard for some people but try not to get too worried about mess. We all have to learn and little ones are more able than you
They are really so independent and are able to do so much. Some things may be really heavy for them to lift such as big jugs, but
equally plastic things that have no weight to them are sometimes really easy to tip so try and use size appropriate and some weight to
Size appropriate cooking materials are also helpful for young children.
Most children will be delighted and excited to stand on a chair or stool and take part.
Talking through what you are doing and what you are looking for is also helpful, Describe the process to them and talk about textures,
numbers etc all of these things are so helpful and children pick up so much. You will be surprised what they remember.
CULTIVATE AN ENCOURAGING ENVIRONMENT
I believe that your home needs to be the safe house from the outside world, a place where you and your children can really feel safe, included, loved,
comfortable, a place where you can speak your mind, feel heard and listened to and a place where you can encourage each other.
What does a good home learning environment look like?
Children are listened to
Their contributions are valued
Their ideas are taken seriously
Their language and thinking is encouraged
- One of the most important things you can do to value connection is to help children to connect with themselves. To listen to themselves, to listen to their
feelings. The sad thing about the current educations system and a recurrent thing I have noticed come up a lot in life within a lot of people is that from a very
young ages children fear to be wrong, making a mistake. They fear being wrong at School or making a mistake because if they get the wrong answers they are told
they are going to fail the test, or they don't get the gold star, they are embarrassed, ridiculed, and have reduced self—worth, they fear being a disappointment
Yet it's by not getting every right right that we learn, it's by not getting everything right that we become resilient.
Encouragement at home is going to be so key in helping your child connect with this concept.
" To live a creative life, we must lose fear of being wrong."
Tell your children OFTEN that it's ok not to get everything right—that just because you get things wrong that it does not affect your self—worth.
You should not base you " being right" to self-worth.
The most important traits and qualities Willpower, Patience, Integrity, Passion, Connection
Optimism. You know there is much to achieve and much good in this world, and you know what's worth fighting for....
Self-confidence. You trust yourself...
Communication. You work to communicate and pay attention to the communicators around you.
There are so many people in the world who do not have our children's best interests.
I believe there are many things we can teach our children but if there is one thing we could truly teach them it is this;
" Perfectionism is a self destructive and addictive belief system that fuels this primary thought; if I look perfect and do everything perfectly, I can avoid or
minimize the painful feelings of shame, judgement and blame." Brene Brown
CREATE FAMILY RITUALS/ TRADITIONS
Why are traditions important?
Provide a source of identity
Strengthen the family bond
Offer comfort and security
Add to the rhythm and seasonality of life
Pass on cultural and religious heritage
Create lasting memories
It can be from the usual celebration of Christmas, Easter etc to family dinners, special recipes, Easter egg hunts, particular crafts,
lanterns, and dark night walks, camping every summer, Sunday roasts, summer bbq's
SHARE IN RESPONSIBILITIES AROUND THE HOME
I like to use the phrase " Purposeful work" rather than chores mainly because it sounds a little bit nicer, but also because it brings
more joy to every day in feeling like it " has " to be done.
In a way of teaching our children that we need to keep our spaces tidy and organised so that we appreciate what we have and make good
use of the things we need. Also so that we can find what we are looking for.
As adults we can role model to children how we go about purposeful work in our home. If we go about our daily work as though it is something we
simply take pleasure in, then that is what our children will learn about housework. However if it is something we rush and seem to want to have
over and done with then our children will learn that purposeful work is not something to enjoy. Purposeful work can become a part of daily rhythm,
something that we put time aside for each day, rather than squeezing in and doing quickly when we have a moment. Children do not think of tidying
and purposeful work as something to be avoided, unless their adults do. It’s worth taking time to reflect on our own attitude to household tasks
and whether we can create space and time to make these tasks a time for our children to enjoy.
Children are never too young to learn about helping and contributing to the family way of life. Tidying away before getting more toys out is a
great example. If you set that expectation as a normal part of daily life then children will know no different and learn to tidy with you. With
very young children we can tidy up toys by putting them away in a basket or box. Young children quickly learn which toys belong in which box, as
long as there aren’t too many toys and boxes. Rather than nagging, or asking, we can simply sing a song as we tidy and children will know that it
is now time to tidy.
BEDTIME ROUTINE—CRAFT A RHYTHM
Bedtime can be sometimes the most peaceful time of the day or the most hectic.
Here are some ideas to craft a peaceful bedtime Rhythm
The first thing to consider is;
Have your children had good exercise?
Often after a long day at school and a lot of sitting down they may need a good dose of fresh air and a runaround. Speaking to more
and more parents who take their kids to the park after school for a really good run around.
Some time to move, time to unwind and time to relax
Turn off the screens
Eat dinner early, say goodnight to toys and play spaces
Dim the lights
Create a bathing ritual
Tell or read a story
Head to bed, tuck them in and say a verse, blessing or sing a lullaby
Try to strike a balance between empathy, loving kindness, and consistency
PLANT A FAMILY GARDEN—MAKE CHILDREN FEEL A PART OF SOMETHING
Planting a garden is a great way to learn as a family about how to grow flowers and vegetables together when to plant them, how to
plant them, enjoy taking care of them and of course eating them! I think it's wonderful that children can learn how to grow food and
how to prepare it into something whether it's a salad, fruit for ice cream, vegetables for a roast dinner. They have been a crucial
part of preparing the garden, taking it to care of it and furthermore helping to pick and prepare to eat.
Having to take time to grow and care for things children learn to enjoy the experience and reap the benefits. I think it's also
important because of we now in such a throwaway culture and it is so easy to go to the shop and replace things I think it's lovely for
them to see what goes into growing food.
Children learn to be appreciative of what they have around them.
Children can join in with all aspects of gardening. Giving them the correct sized tools will help them to be independent and do what
they are capable of such as carrying a small watering can, and little wheelbarrow, small rake, and trowel.
If you don't have an outside space you could grow from some simple pots, and even use the window sills in your home.
You can talk about the importance of bugs and creepy crawlies in the garden and how they help the soil, encourage them to take care of
Go on a mini beast hunt around the garden or local park and see what you can find.
Do you have any nature cards or books? These can be really helpful to get to know what birds and wildlife are on your doorstep. The
animals and insects that your child knows will become important to them and they will look around for them.
Magnifying glasses and binoculars are also handy to have too to get a closer look at the wildlife around you.
Making bird feeders can also be a great way to encourage birds into your garden and get to know their bird songs.
There is a huge sensory aspect of being outside.
The smells and textures, the sounds and tastes make for such an exploratory experience for connection with the family and wildlife
around that will give your children great joy as they grow up.
ENJOY A QUIET DRINK
DANCING AND SINGING
We all know that music and dancing are fun activities. Children love to move around and make noise, but did you know it’s also an
important part of their development? Dancing, singing and playing music are part of a child’s process of growing up and learning what
their bodies can do. It also teaches children how to interact with other people, objects and the world around them.
When a child dances, they learn about how their body can move. They experiment with travelling motions such as walking, sliding and
jumping, as well as other movements like twisting, bobbing and bending. Dancing uses different muscles than simply standing and
walking around does, which strengthens them. Through dance, children learn to coordinate and control their bodies and the movement
helps them develop spatial awareness.
Putting on music at home and having a boogy and a sing-song can be so much fun!
If you have a basket of musical instruments, a drum, rattles, tambourine, if you don't have any musical instruments you can use old
plastic bottles and fill them with rice, a stick and a pan will make good music! That could be a fun activity day seeing what
materials you can use to make music.
WRITE LETTERS TO LOVED ONES
SHARE FAMILY STORIES
One of the things I love most in the world is being able to share stories with George. We have lived part of our lives and we may
think that we haven't got anything interesting to share but it is the most ordinary stories which are the most powerful and of value.
Being able to share little snippets of your life with your child is such a lovely experience. Your child LOVES to hear them too. Guess
what? It creates a CONNECTION.
A few of the things I have shared stories of my life will George have been
- Sharing photographs and telling a story about a particular day in my life of what I can remember- Showing your child where you went
to school and a little about the route you took, who you walked with, a few friends you remember
- Share with them a place you used to go as a child that you enjoyed or have memories there, such as a park or Nature Reserve
- Show pictures and tell stories about pets you may have had and what their names were
- Funny, silly stories that you remember from being little, it could be related to cousins, siblings or friends.
Taking the time to share something about your own life with your children is so wonderful. It helps them to know more about you and
feel more connected to where they have come from.
GO FOR A NATURE WALK THROUGHOUT THE SEASONS AND SEE WHAT YOU CAN SPOT
Children love to tinker.
Encourage the art of tinkering. It could be screws and nails, broken alarm clocks, old broken keyboards or more!
Children love to tinker, they could learn so much from taking things apart and looking at things. We live in the culture of throw away
and buy new. Children learn very quickly the throwaway culture around them. They will learn so much more from getting to take a look
at things and looking at how they work.
I learned this from my husband, who found himself to be very good at fixing things. Whenever we go to anyone's house and they say my
laptop's broken or my kettle doesn't work or the hoovers kaputt he's right there checking it out.
He started to give George pieces of broken parts of computers etc to have a tinker with and let him have an explore.
Creativity is the future—if we take time to explore we can learn so much and children to learn from doing, they learn from having time