Happiness – Finding Joy Amidst a Pandemic

Happiness does not need to stop in a pandemic! When a crisis hits, we often focus on the ‘what if’ rather than the ‘what is happening right now’, which can be upsetting to those close to us.  Positive thinking is very important for our own mental health and that of our children.  Children look to us in a crisis for reassurances and guidance.  Our behaviour will role model our children’s behaviour as they develop, so it is important to demonstrate the skill of finding joy in unsettling times to nurture a positive outlook in life. 

How many times have you heard a child laughing and just joined in?   A child’s laugh is pure, honest and joyful.  Children are full of curiosity and wonder; they enjoy and want to spend time with their parents.  There are many ways to create this atmosphere in your own home.    There are many activities easily created, at little to no cost, that would bring a smile to your child’s face. For example, why not teach them about their family:  create a beautiful family tree, and include older family members through phones and laptops to talk to your child about their life.,  It does not have to be very detailed. The fun is in the connection, learning new things, and creating a memory through art and talking.   Another idea is cooking with your child. Mixing the dough, stirring the chocolate or decorating the bun develops their creativity and enhances their fine motor skills..  Yet another activity guaranteed to bring out the giggles in your little ones is buying a cheap bag of balloons and filling a room. Watch them run through the balloons while you take a moment to stop, drink your coffee and smile, enhancing your own mindfulness moment.  Rip open that cereal box and colour a picture, select your favourite song and sing and dance as if no one is watching., A memory you and your child will cherish forever.

When headlines are dark and all the news is distressing, finding joy can really be challenging and children may one day ask you about it.  So why not create your own time capsule focusing on all the lovely things you have done together.  Include all the things you created, pictures, and a written account of your thoughts. Keep them safe in your time capsule to  remind you of your own joy at a challenging time.  Start today with a smile, go put the kettle on, make you and your child a warm, rich, cup of hot chocolate. Sit together and before you drink, smell the chocolate, breath it in, take a mindful moment together and enjoy your day.

This article was contributed by Eileen Hartigan, Anna Gardiner McInerney and Fiona Gillespie, Family Support Workers with Barnardos, a member of Parenting Limerick. Parenting Limerick is a network of parenting and family support organisations.