“Enjoy the little things, for one day you may look back and realize they were the big things.”
—Robert Brault, writer, National Enquirer
Adding little moments of joy to your child’s life takes minute effort, but sets the tone for a happy and loving home. In hindsight, just as Brault’s famous quote indicates, it may just be these tiny things that your child will recall most fondly.
Here are 10 easy ways to brighten your child’s day:
1. Rearrange Their Toys in an Unexpected Way
“What’s the pink bunny doing on the ceiling fan? Did your teddy bear build that block castle while you were at school? Is that Mr. Potato Head in the fridge!?”
Prepare for giggles when your kids find their favorite toys doing unexpected things around the house.
2. Put a Joke in Their Lunch Box
Any lunch note from Mom or Dad will brighten your child’s day. One way to mix it up, however, is to include a silly joke in their note. They can share it with their friends or read it aloud in class.
Need a head start? “Why was 6 afraid of 7? Because 7 8 9.” Oh, how about, “What did 0 say to 8? Nice belt.” Ooh ooh! They’ll love: “What do you call a dinosaur that needs glasses? A Doyouthinkhesaurus.”
3. Have a Simple Craft Waiting for Them When They Get Home
Some shiny new stickers, colorful paper laid out, or a YouTube instructional video cued up—with some very minor preparation, you can have a simple and fun craft project ready to go when your little ones come home from school.
Too complicated? Even the simple act of setting out paper, crayons, scissors, and glue would be a joyful invitation to a child who loves to craft. (I have yet to meet one who doesn’t.)
4. Allow Them to Take a Day Off
Sometimes what our kids need is a break.
If you know of a school day that is going to be light on the essentials (like no tests) and you can bow out of after-school activities, give the gift of nothing. Let your little ones be home for one day, enjoying their books and toys and doing what they please, with the promise of not having to rush off. It won’t be a sick day, but a well day.
5. Take Them Out to Explore
Grab a notebook or a clipboard, pencils, paper, and perhaps binoculars, and head out the door. Let the wonders of your neighborhood be the subject of your exploration and jot down what you find out there.
Ask questions: What shapes are the clouds? What sounds do we hear? What does the temperature feel like? What animals do we see? What smells do we smell?
Let your children revel in the simple wonders that are right at their doorstep.
6. Leave Surprising Notes Around the House
Next to their toothbrushes, on their pillows, taped to a mirror, on top of a toy box—a little note from Mom or Dad can be a fun and unexpected surprise. Use simple messages like “I love you,” or “Return this note to Daddy for a hug,” or for budding readers, “If you can read this note, say ‘I did it!'”
7. Make up Silly Songs About What You Are Doing
“Mommy’s cooking dinner now, EI-EI-O” (instead of “Old MacDonald Had a Farm”). You see where this is going. “My kids are playing so nicely, doo dah, doo dah, it makes Mommy so happy, all the doo dah day.”
Sure, they may think you’ve lost it, but that’s part of the charm.
8. Announce an Impromptu Story Time (Not at Bedtime)
Stop everything in the middle of the day and announce, “It’s story time.” Invite them to bring you books and let the moment linger.
9. Indulge in a Special Treat
Not to endorse a sugar-filled diet, but as a special treat, enjoying freshly baked cookies, a trip to the ice cream shop, or a sweet coffee shop treat can make for moments together that are totally worth it.
10. Encourage Them to Surprise Someone Else
Activities that encourage children to think of others are winners on all fronts. Have them mail some of their artwork to Grandma, or help make a special dinner for Daddy, or bring homemade food to a neighbor.
Helping them to brighten someone else’s day may be the best way to brighten your child’s day.