Well, I think we’d all agree that this week marks the end of school term unlike any other! As we began 2020, who would ever have imagined the changes ahead of us? In my work, we often talk about a “new normal” after a person experiences loss of some kind, however, I think the question many of us are currently asking is, “What’s the next normal going to look like?” Without doubt, we have faced and are facing serious times ahead.

As parents, our focus is often on work, school, and the future as we get caught up in the necessities of family life.  These responsibilities can be stressful. It can be helpful to ask yourself what “face” your children see when they look at you. Is it a grumpy one, sad, happy, or a distant one? Do they see you smile very often?  When was the last time you all had a good laugh together?  In all this seriousness, it’s easy to forget to have fun together.  Our children need it and so do we.

Laughter has been described as “the best medicine” and it’s true. It causes our body to release chemicals that help us feel good and contribute to our overall sense of well-being. Sharing laughter with others creates connection in relationships especially with our children. When was the last time you did something fun with your children?  When was the last time you were a bit silly around them?

The great thing about having fun is that we don’t have to outlay large amounts of money (if any at all).  How many children love playing with their parents? What child doesn’t appreciate receiving Dad or Mum’s undivided attention?  Have you considered asking them to teach you how to play their games?  What about letting them direct the game rather than you calling all the shots?  Our oldest grandson used to spend ages designing games (cutting out lots of pieces of paper, making boards) and teaching us to play them.  (At times, it could be a little tedious and he did have a habit of regularly changing the rules during play to suit himself.) However, he loved getting to spend time with others and teaching the adults something. His creativity has developed into designing quite complex games online now as a teenager. Another one uses Lego and home-made Play-Doh to make movies. Play fosters social, emotional, cognitive and physical skills in our children as well as helping them develop creativity.

Sometimes we don’t have to have a point to an activity. You could surprise your children with a mystery trip somewhere nearby. Don’t tell them where you’re going – but see if they can guess where.  Have you ever walked across the Ted Smout Bridge? It’s surprising what you see, especially if you walk at kids’ pace.  Pack a bag of snacks and have a picnic on the other side.

Kids love jokes too and it’s great to encourage their sense of humour. You can download 100 Jokes for kids from this site.  http://www.imom.com/why-having-fun-with-family-is-important/#.XvAEmGgzZaQ

There is no shortage of ideas for having fun with children. You might include planning and preparing special dinner nights, planning together for adventures, making a film. If you aren’t a great ideas person, a search reveals plenty of options. You might consider having a family celebration this weekend to mark the achievement of making it through Term 2.

Encourage your children to celebrate the little things. It’s amazing what adding a dose of silliness to an ordinary week can do. Your children will love it and are more likely to remember those times too.