Are your kids happy? Do they have enough time to do things that they really enjoy? What do they really enjoy doing?
Many of us adults are so busy coping and rushing through our days that we have little time to spend doing the things we really enjoy, and may even have lost touch with what those things are. That burst of happiness and appreciation which we might feel when the sunshine hits our faces in the mornings or our littlest one gives us a cuddle is often lost in the rush to get the kids to school or the threat of another load of laundry waiting on the bathroom floor!
And it is not just adults who find themselves barely coping with daily commitments. Children have increasingly busy school lives, more and more homework, frequent tests and exams, and even an overdose of after-school clubs and activities for which we sign them up in the belief that we should give them every opportunity we can. Kids can go from one extreme to the other: from mad rush during term times to absolute inactivity during the school holidays. They look to other people - most often you - to provide them with something to do, and depend on other people or extreme "busy-ness" to keep them happy.
Perhaps it is time to stop and think about how we can incorporate more "happiness" into our everyday, family, lives. In an effort to do just this, I sat down with my children last weekend and asked them to brainstorm a list of things which really make them happy. I wrote my own list at the same time, and prompted them a bit to get them going. Now, to be honest, I didn't get a lot out of my teenage boy, but at least I got him thinking! My daughter came up with a list of 30, including such gems as "watching Daddy snoring" and "waking up and remembering that it is Saturday". She also put 3 or 4 things on the list that I would never have thought of and which I can easily include more in our days, such as gardening and shooting hoops! We all agreed that we love going to the seaside, listening to a good story on car journeys, and having friends around.
This little exercise proved so worthwhile that we are keeping our lists displayed on a board in the kitchen, and adding to them when we think of something else that makes up happy. The short term benefit is that we have all been able to make small changes to bring more enjoyable activities into our days, and my husband and I can ensure that everybody's favourite activities are included when we plan what to do as a family. Longer term, I hope that we will all remember to appreciate the little moments of happiness that each day brings, and to realise that there are many, many opportunities to feel happy as we go through our everyday lives.