In the past few months, opening myself up to life’s simple joys has been absolutely mood-boosting.
I don’t know about you, but I’ve been on an emotional roller-coaster ride lately. Some days I feel energized about all of the silver linings I’ve found during the current pandemic, and other days I feel frazzled, irritable, and sad. Finding simple joy at home with my family has been a highlight for me. These joys are simple in that they require little to no planning—because frankly, it’s been exhausting reading about ALL of the crafts I could make with my kids. The joys haven’t been fancy, but are absolutely memories in the making. Years from now I hope my boys fondly remember the extra time we shared with one another during COVID-19.
I’ve written a list of the special activities that we’ve found joy in, as well as many suggestions from family and friends. I hope others glean ideas from this list and share their own simple joys, so that we may all find more connection and happiness in the weeks ahead.
30 Ways to Find Simple Joys with Loved Ones:
1. Breakfast All Day
Pancakes in the morning, bacon and eggs for lunch, and cereal with fruit for dinner—why not?
2. Family Car Wash
Find some soap and a hose to wash all the cars, scooters, and bikes! On a smaller scale let the kids get toy cars muddy and use a bucket full of soapy water to get them squeaky clean.
3. Camping in the Backyard
Pitch a tent and camp in the backyard. Set a time after which no one can go back in the house.
4. Sidewalk Chalk Inspiration
Take your sidewalk chalk on a walk and leave pictures and inspiring notes on your neighbor’s driveways.
5. Pajama Day
Pajamas ALL day long!
6. Go Out to Eat….at Home
Let the kids create a menu and prepare a simple meal. Pretend to dine at their restaurant.
7. Virtual Indoor Scavenger Hunt
There’s one to try every Saturday here.
8. Bake and Deliver
Whip up your favorite baked goods and drop some off at the doorsteps of family and friends.
9. Jam Session
Find all the instruments in the house and enjoy a family jam session. If you’re feeling brave, record it!
10. Make Your Own Escape Room
Divide into teams. Each team comes up with clues and puzzles and sets a time limit for the other teams to solve them.
11. Family Olympics
Create a tournament for various “sports.” Some ideas include basketball, darts, ping pong, hurdle jumps, air hockey, putt-putt, long jump, and gymnastics.
12. Funny Fashion Show
Put together a box of clothing and accessories from all family members. Let each model choose their outfit and walk down the runway.
13. Snail Mail Surprises
Find a penpal and exchange homemade cards, drawings, and letters.
14. Indoor or Outdoor Picnic
Spread out a blanket and snag takeout (or a homemade meal). If indoors, put in a favorite movie.
15. Homemade Slip and Slide
All you need is a hot day and a few supplies. Find out how to make one here.
16. Try Tie-Dye
You’ll need to plan for materials here, but once you have them, be open to the creativity. Experiment with patterns and designs using old t-shirts and cloths found around the house.
17. Act of Kindness Awards
Encourage sharing an act of kindness with one another and give “awards” for the kind acts at the end of the day.
18. Slumber Party
Set the sleeping bags and blankets out in the living room and stay here for the night.
19. Make Sun Tea
Pick herbs (such as mint or lemon balm) from the yard and add them to a jar of filtered water. Set them in the sun for a day. Add pure honey and enjoy warm or iced.
20. Backyard Chickens
This one is certainly a commitment, whether you start with small chicks, pullets, or hens. It’s been an absolute joy for us and the boys love feeding the chickens food scraps and finding their eggs every day.
21. Fun Drink and Design
Make a fun drink (e.g., lemonade or mock sangria with fruit) and have everyone paint or draw the same picture.
22. Obstacle Course
Get creative and set up an obstacle course in the backyard for the kids (and yourself too I suppose!).
23. Living Room Fort
24. Bubble Mountain
Fill large bowls with water and plenty of dish soap. Give the kiddos straws and encourage them to blow until large mountains of bubbles form.
25. Rice and Bean Sensory Box
Fill a bin with rice, beans, and lentils. Include lots of scoops and small toys.
26. Share a Skill
Cozy up with a snack and teach the kids a new skill. Ideas include sewing on a button, writing a check, weighing pros and cons, or reading a recipe.
27. Pillow Sack Races
28. Character Day
Dress up as your favorite character for the day and do your best not to break character, no matter what the day has in store!
29. Hidden Treasure
Hide a treasure inside or outside. Include a map with X marking the spot and see if others can find it.
30. Interview Elders
Have the kids write down questions they would like to ask you or other older family members about their childhood. Ask the questions on the phone or through virtual chat.
Keep in mind, many of these joys may not feel simple at all to you, and that’s okay. We’re all in a different place during this time. Sometimes there’s plenty of joy to be found during movie marathons or sitting back and watching the kids play following their own creativity too. Any joy at home will be treasured. It’s all memorable.