If you’re anything like me, there’s a phone near you right now (or perhaps you’re even reading this on your phone) and you’d be hard pressed to go anywhere without it. The problem is the paradox of that phone’s importance in your life. On the one hand, it’s a constant distraction, sending you push notifications for social media, letting you know about new texts or emails, and being obnoxiously loud at the most unfortunate moments. On the other hand, that same distraction can be a welcome one, at times. It can bring you sanity on days when your baby won’t stop crying, or your toddler is having their fourth tantrum of the morning. A short bout of escapism isn’t a completely bad thing, if it maintains your sanity.
That said, I am guilty of allowing my phone to distract me from spending enough time with my kids, some days. In my case, working from home, both as a writer and a social media manager, is convenient in terms of money and travel time, but the line between social social media and work social media is constantly blurring. It’s something that needs to change, so with the start of this new year, I’m going to try a new trick to carve out quality time with my daughter each day.
I’ve created a Happy Fun Times Jar. I know, I’ll definitely be trademarking that name. It’s so catchy, right? We’re not talking about rocket science here, so don’t worry. Basically, my plan is to take a mason jar and fill it with slips of paper, each one with an activity my daughter and I can do together. Every day after school, I’ll get her to pull out one of those slips of paper, and we will do the activity on it. At five years old, she can practice her reading when she reads the activity out loud to me, and we can decorate the outside of the mason jar together, with stickers and glitter glue.
When I told her about my idea, explaining it to her completely, she jumped up in pure excitement. The idea of having me all to herself for some time each day and to do something she thought was fun, thrilled her beyond words.
Today, I got out the mason jar I planned to use and after school, my daughter and I decorated it together. I let her guide the process, so it’s currently globs of red glitter glue placed randomly all over the jar, but it’s a start. The two of us spent some time thinking up activities we could do that she’d find fun, and I wrote them out, then she folded the pieces of paper and put them in the jar. Some of our ideas were: finding a new park to play at, going to the library to explore, and going outside to take pictures.
Each time she picks an activity from the jar, we’ll put it in a ziplock bag so that she doesn’t end up choosing the same paper over and over. My goal is to have at least 30 activities in the jar, so we can cycle through them each month. Right now, we have about 12, but I’ll do some scouring of Pinterest to add some more, in the coming weeks.
Our first activity that she chose was to do our nails together. I had gotten her Frozen-themed nail wraps for Christmas, so I finally applied them on her nails. Seeing the delight in her eyes as she gazed at her nails, and listening to her singing softly under her breath, “I’m so lucky, I’m so lucky!” made me realize just how important and precious these moments are.
This is the year I start making sure she experiences lots of those precious moments.