Would you rather listen to this post?
It is tempting to stay focused on the negative side of things. To talk endlessly about fear, anger, being overwhelmed, and frustration.
Today is April 1st, a day of jests and fun! I think it’s a good reminder that there are always two sides to a coin. You can try to reduce what you don’t like OR you can try to increase what you like!
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How Joy Can Help Your Parenting
You’d like your children to be less in a whining, yelling, sulky, tantrum-throwing mood, and who wouldn’t? But what if, this week, instead of learning how to diminish those behaviors, you’d learn how to stimulate their opposite?
Maybe you feel like it would cost you more energy, of which you are already depleted. And maybe you think I am about to tell you to put on a rabbit costume and jump around? (When all you want really is 15 minutes of peace).
I hear you. I am not the cheerleading kind either. But you know what I’ve found out? When you give children a taste of what joy and enthusiasm are, you reap many benefits. For instance, curiosity and motivation. Two skills that will lead your children to explore by themselves (and leave you alone for longer periods of time)!
Who said there was no secret plan behind it?
As a homeschooling mother, I always keep in mind that my children need to learn skills as well as knowledge. Joy is a beautiful emotion that nurtures several learning skills, so focusing on it will improve your child’s ability to learn, hence, he will have a more efficient and meaningful homeschooling experience.
Intrinsic motivations are rare and precious. While children have a natural tendency to curiosity and joy, their parents tame those feelings until all is left is external rewards. How many of you are stuck with a system they don’t like at home, having to use rewards and threats to get anything done?
You can help your children to re-discover those skills, curiosity, motivation, perseverance, by infusing more joy in their daily life. Sounds like a pretty nice plan to me!
April Fool’s Day Is More Of A Man Thing
It is harder for women to feel and experience joy than it is for men. I know, crazy, isn’t it? But research shows that out of the four basic emotions (fear, anger, joy, and sadness), women tend to experiment more fear and sadness while men feel more joy and anger.
Have you ever noticed how your husband is better than you at taking time for himself? At ignoring the laundry in peace and laying on the couch? At deciding to take the kids and go for a walk because the weather is beautiful? At playing with the children?
Men are good at feeling joy. And because they’ve experimented with it more, they are better at creating it. Makes sense. Whatever you do, the more you practice, the better you are at it.
But this is not a genetic distribution of the basic emotions, it is a cultural one. And a complete stereotype, so don’t let it influence your access to joy. Our culture thinks that women are more sad and fearful (emotions that convey weakness), while men are more joyful and angry (emotions that convey strength), hence we raise children with this unconscious idea, and them in their turn think that it is the truth.
Remove the guilt, Bring The Joy
It is not sadness, but guilt that keeps us most from living more joyful lives.
We grew up learning that pain is good, that pain is rewarded. When things are too easy, it doesn’t feel right. For instance, we assume that if a child has fun doing their homework, then they’re not really working. We were told that learning is painful and needs effort, but research shows that children learn much better when playing and having fun.
We are captives of our beliefs. We learned that joy comes as a reward after we’ve endured pain. But truth is, joy is the natural state of human beings, and no matter what school, family, or church say, there is no need to suffer.
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So before you start reading about how you can nurture joy in your children’s life, take a moment to assess where you stand.
Bringing awareness allows you to move forward. Here are some questions you can ask yourself:
- Of all the things in your life, is there something that you would rather not do?
- Why do you do those things you don’t like? Are you following your heart or your brain?
- What gives you joy?
- What keeps you from doing these things every day?
- Are those good reasons or excuses?
Every emotion that you denied in your life, every feeling you buried, the unhealed traumas, are fences on your way to joy. Free your emotions. Joy exists in life itself. Emotions are life.
Be mad, be sad, be afraid, let those old emotions out of your system, and joy will come back because it is in your human nature.
Bring More Joy In Your Parenting To Celebrate April Fools’ Day
Joy is an emotion of love, success, and happiness. When you go through too much in your life, when you can’t find the resilience to overcome difficulties, you might lose your joy. In French, we say that you lost your joie de vivre (joy of living). Such a meaningful expression!
1 | Give your children’s joy the space to exist
You had a hard day, and you are menstruating, which gives you headaches. You still have tons of things to do and all you want is to lay down. Here comes your daughter, singing and dancing, in the living room. And you tell her to be quieter! To go somewhere else! As if being joyful was a bad thing. Plus, you give her the idea that being miserable like mommy is probably what’s awaiting her in life.
2 | Keep your adults’ problems to yourself
Children cannot feel joy if they have the weight of their parents’ frustrations and sadness. You might have a lot of worries, and they might weigh heavy on you, but maybe you can find some time for a bit of love and joy in the day?
How many mothers ask their children to be quiet, only to miss the noises of life once the children have grown up?
3 | Nurture your child’s appetite for life
If your children think that life sucks and that they will grow up to be depressed and unhappy, they will lose their motivation to learn, discover and experiment. It is not about pretending to be happy, but showing that the heart can always have its say.
4 | Look for the positive
Instead of spotting all the things your child does wrong, notice the positive things and congratulate them. Foster confidence by praising your child when they dare trying something new.
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Success is a major driver, and being congratulated for real achievements, may they be small or big, doesn’t create pretentious children, it gives them the will to persevere and try more.
Children Are Joyful, What Can We Learn From Them
Most of us adults have lost the ability to play and have fun. When was the last time you were laughing with all your heart? Playing a game and forgetting everything else? Putting your heart into a game with your children?
Again, we can blame our education. We were told that playing is for small children. I remember a day at school, I was around 11. I had those little plastic dinosaurs and I took them to play during our break. Some girls from my class came by and laughed at me “you play like a baby, we are too old for toys”.
Most parents don’t play with their children, often because it brings back painful memories. You might not consciously know it, but playing like you used to do as a child will bring the emotions you were feeling at this time. Emotions are good, they are always better outside than inside anyway! It is all right to feel sad. It is also all right to be angry.
To feel more joy in our life, to laugh more, you need to connect with the child within you. And lucky you, you have little friends in your house!
Two Simple Ways To Nurture Your Joy And Make Your Children Happy
Try and organize a game of hide-and-seek with your children, and play for real! Don’t organize the game and go hide in your room. Play, have fun, find amazing hiding places. You will see how you’ll feel energized by all this joy.
Or surprise your children with a pillow fight! No one can go through a pillow fight without laughing. Your children will love to see some spontaneous games happen. It will motivate them to come up with ideas!
Express your joy, make some noise, sing and jump, clap your hands, hug your children when you’re excited about something, laugh out loud!
Are you worried there is nothing you can share your joy about? Think of all the beauty in nature “Oh! Look at this tree! It looks like a troll!”, “The moon is so beautiful today!”, “The sun is so warm on my skin!”. Or about food: “Oh My God, This tomato sauce is stunning!”, “Those biscuits are so good, all of you, give me yours!”, “That’s the juiciest, sweetest apple I’ve ever tasted!”.
Not so hard, is it?
Special April Fool’s Day’s Joy
April Fools’ Day has been celebrated for centuries! Though it is not clear what the origin is, historians believe that it all started with a change of calendar in France. The new Gregorian calendar moved the new year from the end of March to the 1st of January. Most people didn’t get the memo and kept celebrating the new year around the 1st of April, being called April Fools.
As for the fish that we stick in people’s backs, it is said to symbolize a young fish easy to catch, someone naive.
That looks like the perfect occasion to show your children you have a joyful side and know how to use it! And to practice with them how laughing together is not the same as being laughed at.
So what hoaxes and jokes are you planning on? Here are the ones I shared in my Instagram stories:
- Draw a mustache on your children while they are still asleep… Surprise in the mirror!
- Make some Jello, put it in a glass with a straw… It’s gonna be hard to drink!
- Does your child like cereals? Add some food coloring to the milk… Yuck!
And of course, the funniest part of April Fools’ Day: draw and cut fish together and then during the day, try and stick them on people’s back without them noticing!
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I wish you all the best with your kids, always remember that we all do the best we can at a given moment, so never judge yourself harshly. Be confident and listen to your intuition. If what you do comes from a place of love, then you’re on the right path.
See you next week for another exciting article!
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