Right now, we are in the middle of one of the most surreal, once in a lifetime, global crises of a generation. Everything we know about life, work, family, and parenting has been turned on its head, and we have had to reinvent ourselves and the way we do things at every corner. For our children, they are living through something no parent would ever hope that their family would have to experience. They are frustrated, worried, and lonely, dreaming of a normal childhood with their friends, but instead expected to stay indoors more than ever without an end in sight.
As a result, kids are spending hours upon hours with their parents and siblings, and emotions are running high. But spending this much time in each other’s company doesn’t necessarily mean we are spending quality family time together. This is why it is so important to find dedicated bonding time with our family, away from the chores, schoolwork, and TV. This time will either be looked back on with sadness and regret, or fondness and nostalgia. This is the perfect opportunity to strengthen bonds within the household, and give everyone happy memories to look back on.
As our children grow up, having strong family relationships will serve them well in forming meaningful new connections with peers and one day colleagues. Children who have spent quality time with their families also experience a better sense of self, community, and inclusion. The key to making sure that we actually find time for family bonding every week, is marking out blocks in our schedule. This means that actual activities are planned, while establishing a work-life balance for working parents and homeschooled children. This means keeping work areas dedicated solely to work, and once it hits home time, tidying up and putting everything away for the day.
The second important ingredient to making sure this works is planning. During a time where many of our favorite activities may be off limits, now is the perfect time to use a bit of imagination. Whether it’s recreating your annual family vacation from the living room, building a cozy home movie theater, or hosting a mini scavenger hunt, the possibilities are truly endless. This is also a great time to make storytime a bit more exciting for your younger ones, by bringing an interactive element into the activity. There’s a great selection of kids audio books out there with sensory aids to help create a fun educational experience while your children may be spending less time in school. My book ‘A Little Spark’ is full of colorful illustrations, and comes not only with an audiobook track, but an album of songs too. There’s also an important lesson in it that runs throughout the story, reminding children that they can ‘Be That Spark’, by helping those in need, and may one day need to be their own spark.
Children have less opportunities to discover important life lessons at the moment, so family time is the perfect way to introduce our kids to these through storytelling and fun activities. Despite the challenging times that we are living through, children learn to associate their positive experiences they have at home with the wider world. Instead of looking back on this era as something they lived through or experienced, they will remember it as a precious time when they got to spend more time than ever with their family. It will be remembered as a time when they really got to know their family, while learning valuable life lessons about kindness, compassion, inclusion, and dreaming big, all in a safe and loving space. By living the things you want to teach your kids, they will feel compelled to treat others the way they want to be treated: with patience, respect, and love. After all, children learn by example, and being empathetic, communicative, and open-minded parents is the best gift we can give our children during these unprecedented times.
Chris Parsons is a marketing and technology executive whose first passion is storytelling. Hidden deep down, and only visible to a few, is his creative passion for developing stories and characters for the entertainment of those around him (and of course himself). Chris founded Zuroam Media in 2018. Chris has been involved in a number of startups throughout his career.