Whew! What a year it has been. We’ve all been through the wringer and it looks like this will be our reality for a while. How do we handle such hard stuff and not let circumstances steal our joy, especially around the holidays?
I grew up with a brother who had many special needs. Every single day posed some kind of challenge to him. While he was never supposed to live past 30, he passed away at 56. Because of his life circumstances, he had every reason not to be joyful, yet he was one of the most joyful, funny people I’ve ever known. I’m thinking I could take a cue or two from him about navigating hard times without letting them steal my joy. As we approach the holidays, here are some things Lee taught me about finding joy when life is hard that may be helpful for you, too.
1. Don’t let circumstances dictate your mindset.
Even in the worst situations, it is possible to have joy because you can choose it. What amazed me about Lee was although he had bad days, they were always the exception to the rule. I don’t remember my mom saying to him, “You are going to be happy,” and that wouldn’t have worked anyway. Somehow, he was able to look past all of his daily challenges and experience joy. Boy, do I want that! The holidays may not go like we want or plan for, but they’re going to happen and we get to choose to make the best of them!
2. Focus on others.
Lee was always thinking of others. Once, on a trip, he bought so many t-shirts for friends and co-workers, he didn’t have room for his own clothes when it was time to pack. If my mom hadn’t made him pack his clothes, I guarantee you he would have left them behind. He loved people and genuinely cared for them. Spending time loving on others and letting them care for us can help us experience joy.
3. Wishing away your current set of circumstances can steal joy, and it’s a waste of time.
No doubt, all of us are over COVID-19 and ready to get on with life. But, the more we talk about and focus on that, the more joyless we become. My brother was on dialysis for the last 10 years of his life. Three times a week he would sit in the chair for hours while the machines worked. He didn’t like it, but I never really heard him complain. He took that opportunity to meet a whole bunch of people he never would have known otherwise. Lee chose to see the opportunity in his current set of circumstances instead of focusing on wishing them away. We can do that, too.
4. Make a list of all the things that bring you joy.
Sweets, football, holidays and people, for example. My brother never met a sweet he didn’t like, but he especially liked sugar-coated orange slices. Give him a container of those and his face lit up like you had given him gold. While he couldn’t add numbers, he knew football better than most and was an avid fan. He loved every holiday, but Christmas was his favorite. Being around people made him happy. What brings you joy? How can you bring joy to others during the holidays?
5. Avoid information overload.
Lee was aware when tough things were happening in our world and he took in the information, but he didn’t go looking for more. News and talking heads are available 24/7, so it’s easy to get drawn into the same news over and over again. I’m not even going to go there with social media, but…you know. Talk about joy-stealing on steroids—that’ll do it for you. We have to learn to turn it off. I haven’t spoken to anybody yet who regretted limiting it. This is a great time to take a break from technology and spend that time doing activities that bring you and others joy.
I’ve learned it is exhausting to focus on the negative and it for sure doesn’t help me work my way through the hard times. During times when we are really put to the test, just doing one thing differently can help begin the process of flipping the script. Circumstances will only steal our joy if we allow them to this holiday season.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/pexels-any-lane-5728301-1-e1606151904162.jpg6781350Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-11-23 12:00:212021-12-21 10:26:265 Ways to Keep Circumstances From Stealing Your Joy at the Holidays
College for my son began with the entire family traveling to NYC to drop him off.
College life this year is DIFFERENT.
You probably experienced many different emotions all at the same time like excitement, sadness, pride, worry, happiness, and anxiety. You had concerns because it was the first time your student had been away from home and had the responsibility to manage their life.
We are still in the middle of a pandemic. You watch the news and see reports on the mental health of college students. OMG! I didn’t even talk to them about their mental health. How can I help them from a distance?
Here are a few ways you can help your college student with their mental health from home:
Communicate with your student.
Text, email, IG, Messenger, a goodie box, or even a simple phone call works. It’s important to stay in touch. To prevent missed connections, it may be good to set a specific day and time to check in.
Be realistic in your communication expectations. All day, every day is unrealistic ( and not healthy) even by text. Remember your calls are for connection and checking in, not CONTROL.
Be patient with your student and yourself.
If this is your first time having a college student, it’s brand new for both of you. There will be a learning curve in what and how your student communicates. If you feel you aren’t getting all the information you need, learn to ask open-ended questions. This gives them space to share without feeling interrogated.
Be aware of how much pressure you’re placing on them.
Perceived or real, many college students feel the pressure to perform. A certain amount of pressure is healthy. Be aware of your words and actions that can add extra pressure for them to perform academically or join specific organizations.
Talk with your college student about mental health.
Reassure your student that having many different feelings is normal. It’s normal to be overwhelmed during midterms and finals, it’s normal to be sad and miss your friends, and it’s normal to be frustrated and disappointed this year is not going as you wanted it.
Share with them the warning signs of depression and anxiety. Talk to them about drug use on campus and ways to protect themselves from being sexually assaulted or being accused of sexual assault.
Be aware of the impact that Emotional Intelligence has on your student.
Studies have shown that emotional intelligence can impact four main areas in life: self-awareness, self-management, interpersonal awareness, and relationship management. When your student has and continues to develop these skills, it can not only help them keep their mental health strong, but also boost grades, strengthen friendships, and help them learn more about themselves and others. Click here to find out ways your student can build their emotional intelligence!
Talk to parents who’ve had kids in college.
Yes, talking to your child about their mental health is important. Taking care of yours is equally important. You may find yourself extremely sad or anxious now that your student is gone. “The house feels empty and is so quiet.” Finding people who have been through this journey and made it to the other side will be beneficial for you.
Listen to your intuition.
Things have been going well, and all of a sudden your student stops communicating. Or, you feel something is wrong or going on. Trust your instincts. Share with them that you are concerned and ask open-ended questions: How are you feeling? Is there anything I can do to support you? Would you like to use me as a sounding board? If you find the issue is bigger, take appropriate action.
Be willing to reevaluate each semester.
Each new school term brings a different set of challenges. Being flexible, open, and honest will help you and your student successfully move forward. Discuss how this first semester went—the good, bad, and ugly. Then, take time to examine any changes that need to be made (i.e. more/fewer check-ins, more/fewer visits, and any mental health needs, etc.).
For many, college is a time of fun and exploration. However, this year, you and your student may be feeling the pressure of the “new normal.” Working together, connecting, and paying appropriate attention to your student will get you through the college journey.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pexels-ketut-subiyanto-4560092-e1603139734387.jpg210600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-10-19 16:35:492021-09-03 11:51:03A Parent’s Guide To Mental Health For College Students During COVID-19
Happy (and easier) holidays can be yours with the people who mean the most to you!
For many of us, planning for the holidays is just another thing to add to our long list of things that stress us out. I felt the pressure as I walked into Home Depot over the weekend—I was greeted by a HUGE variety of holiday decor.
OMG! It’s that time of year, again.
This year, like no other, will cause you to search for the true meaning of the holidays and new ways to celebrate.
As you prepare for this upcoming holiday season, here are a few questions to consider:
What’s the meaning of the holidays to you and your family?
In the past, what have the holidays looked like?
What are some of your family’s favorite holiday traditions?
This year, what will be different?
What needs to change?
Personally, the holidays are a time of celebration and gathering. It usually includes families who travel and friends who are like family. Food and fun are the centerpieces of activity. However, this year requires more conversation and planning beyond the menu and what football game is on television. Below are some ideas to consider as you make your holiday plans.
Think About Other Years The Holidays Were Different. Learn From Them!
This year will be like no other, but there may have been some years that didn’t go according to tradition. I recall one Thanksgiving where I had to work on the day after, but I wanted to have dinner with my out-of-town family. We decided to meet midway between our homes so we could be together. The only thing open was a southern-style restaurant. We were the only people there, and the food was pretty good. Was it our traditional holiday? No. But it is one of the ones that my children talk about and remember the most.
Consider Creating New Traditions.
Change is not always comfortable for our near and extended family. A tradition becomes a tradition because it has meaning, and it occurs over time. Traditions take many forms: from using Grandmother’s china and silverware to who carves the turkey. As your family grows, it’s inevitable that change will occur. You may have had to create new traditions or adapt old ones. Different doesn’t mean deficient. It’s just different.
Create A Plan.
You have considered how things used to be. Now, think about the new possibilities for the holidays. It’s ok to look at a variety of conditions in order to create a plan that works for your family this year. (You may need to work on contingency plans as well.)
Here are some thoughts that may enhance your planning:
Are we willing to travel? If not, will we allow family to come to us?
How many people can attend?
Should we be tested before gathering?
Should we gather in homes or try to find a large space for our festivities?
Can we celebrate earlier? Later?
Talk and Listen to Family
Seek out your family to discuss plans. Everyone may not be on the same page and that’s ok. Be open and willing to be flexible with the plan. Listen for concerns and fears, but also new opportunities. Remember the meaning of the holidays and how you can work together to make it come together this year.
Family and friends are what matter. The holidays are moments of concentrated time we have with those we care about the most. It may not look the same as it has in the past. It may actually be better because we’re keeping first things first.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/element5-digital-RPjyNMHDrFY-unsplash-scaled-e1603112315704.jpg208600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-10-19 08:55:012021-11-23 09:10:26How to Plan for the Holidays Without Getting Stressed Out
These things can help when life seems to be out of control.
Nothing seems normal these days. Many people say, “I just keep pinching myself thinking I’ll wake up and this nightmare will be over.” Sometimes life can take a real toll on everyone – both physically and mentally. As you continue to navigate through these times, there are ways you can be intentional about protecting your family’s mental health.
For starters, it’s important to continually remind ourselves that when we’re going through something that’s very unusual, we remain in a heightened state of anxiety and stress that impacts our mental and physical health.
One thing that can help you regain your footing is to establish routines, rituals, and structure.
In times of high anxiety and stress, the consistency of routines and structure is soothing to everyone.
Make your home a peaceful place—a refuge from all the craziness going on in the world.
Spend some time thinking about things you can do to create calm. Play calming music, light a lavender candle and let the sunlight in. Encourage your children to find a comfy spot where they can read or play with their toys.
Your children are like sponges. Whether you notice it or not, they’re watching your every move, your facial expressions and even listening to your conversations that don’t include them. They’re quick to pick up and take on your stress and anxiety. Have adult conversations out of the hearing range of your children. Be proactive in dealing with your emotions.
Be open and intentional about having conversations about things that are going on in your world.
Ask your children to tell you what they know or have heard. Use their information as a platform to affirm accurate information and correct inaccurate details. Assure them that your job is to make sure they are cared for and protected and you are doing that.
Exercise, getting enough rest and eating right are three essentials for protecting your family’s mental health.
This is like the trifecta right here! Walk as a family and insist that people get the rest they need. Involve everyone in creating fun, healthy meals.
Limit the amount of time you and your family members watch the news.
This one action can dramatically decrease the anxiety, stress, anger, fear and drama in your home. Mentally and emotionally, our brains and bodies aren’t meant to live in a constant state of stress, but that’s exactly what happens when we watch news nonstop.
Think of ways you can be helpful to others.
During difficult times, it’s easy to become focused on yourself and all that’s wrong with the world. A great way to combat this as a family is to look for ways to help others. Deliver food, do yard work, run errands, bake bread or cookies and share them with your neighbors. (Let your kids do a ring and run when they deliver. It can be your secret!)
Make play a priority.
Seriously. Play releases all the feel-good hormones that promote an overall sense of well-being. Heaven knows we could all use a triple dose of that right now. Ride bikes, go for a hike, play hide and seek, tag, kick the can, four square, hopscotch, double dutch jump rope or any other active game you can think of. Just get moving!
Remind yourself and your family members – there is light at the end of the tunnel.
This is hard and there are parts of dealing with life right now that are not fun, but together as a family, you can do hard things. When one person’s having a hard day, other family members can be encouraging and affirming to help them get through it. Having healthy relationships with each other is one of the best ways to protect your family’s mental health.
When parents model and lead using these strategies, children learn how to navigate through hard times in healthy ways. It shows you believe they have what it takes to keep going even when things get really challenging. This builds self-confidence and helps them learn how to think and be creative in the midst of change.
A side note: if you feel like members of your family aren’t handling all that is going on well, don’t hesitate to seek help. Talk with their pediatrician and/or a counselor to seek guidance on other ways you can help them.
If you or someone you know is struggling and you need immediate assistance, you can find 24-hour help here:
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pexels-elly-fairytale-4008800-3-1-e1602084544645.jpg7381400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-10-07 11:25:462022-03-04 13:27:24How to Protect Your Family’s Mental Health
Nobody would or could have predicted in January what all of us have experienced the last six months. For many of us, the past six months have been an unpredictable time. The government mandates to quarantine in our homes stopped our lives right in their tracks. We were unable to go to work, to school, or to attend events. In the beginning, we didn’t know what to do or how to react. We were juggling work and school and family and everything… at home. Eventually, we created a new normal; we slowed down due to a mandated lifestyle change. We didn’t have the pressure to go everywhere and to say “yes” to every invitation because no one was going anywhere or extending invitations.
Many of us discovered that our marriages and families actually benefited from the forced break in the chaos. We ate meals together. We had movie nights and game nights. And we sat and talked. We also discovered that we didn’t miss the hectic schedules we’d been keeping—always in a rush to get to the next thing.
Now things have opened back up, including schools, restaurants, amusement parks, and entertainment centers. Our kids have school events, practices, and games for little league football or soccer. We now find ourselves back on the hamster wheel of busyness. Why?
Why are we…
Choosing to say yes when we really want to say no?
Overloading our schedules and those of our children?
No longer having family dinner nights, family movie nights, and participating in fun family activities?
What is driving us back to the busyness?
Getting back to “Normal”
For many of us, continuing to deal with the pandemic into the fall was not on our minds. We naively said, “When things get back to normal,” and never took the time to look at what our “normal’” was. We just wanted out of quarantine and wanted “our lives back.” Now, you have the opportunity to choose what “normal” looks like for your family. You can prioritize what is most important to your family. Yes, your children can participate in sporting, community, or artistic activities. But do they have to do them ALL AT THE SAME TIME? Maybe your normal can incorporate some of the family activities you did during the shutdown like family meals together or family movie night.
Opportunities For Children
Your child being involved in activities does teach them skills like accountability, responsibility, teamwork, and patience. I’ve experienced the pressure of making sure my children are exposed to and experience a variety of opportunities to assist them with their future. However, you get to decide how much is enough and what is too much for your family. Additionally, you can discuss with your child the activities that hold the most importance to them. In our case, my sons chose to focus on music rather than athletics. As a result, we were able to be more intentional in how we invested our time, energy, and resources. Having that conversation and respecting their decision has served them and our family well.
Full Schedule Means Value
You have heard that old saying, “Idle hands are…” For many, the desire to prevent idleness has created an environment of busyness. We may feel important when we have a busy schedule. Internally, we feel valued as a resource for our community. However, the trade-off for saying “yes” may include: disconnecting from family, exhaustion from keeping up with the schedule, or even a lackluster job because you really didn’t want to do it. Is it worth it?
Let Go And Move Forward
It may seem to many that we’ve missed out on a lot during this pandemic. Birthday celebrations, summer trips, family gatherings are just a few examples. Now that things have opened up, you and your family are making an effort to make up for what you all missed. Unfortunately, you can’t get that time back. What you can do is make a conscious choice to do what’s in the best interest of your family. You can move forward and think strategically about your family and the activities that best serve you.
Before you get all the way back to the ultra-busyness that was your life pre-COVID, now’s the time for you to have a family meeting so you can create a plan that reflects your family’s priorities.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/10/pexels-caleb-oquendo-3038369-2-e1601900492271.jpg6931400Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-10-05 08:18:082020-10-05 22:25:50Should Life Go Back to “Busy” Post-COVID?
Sometimes life just seems to be getting harder. For many, most days feel like slogging through thick fog and it’s really hard to see the road ahead.
Perhaps you or someone you know is really struggling at the moment and you’re wondering if the sadness is due to a single life circumstance or if something bigger is going on like depression or some other mental health issue.
First, let me just say, you’re not alone! We’re living in a moment in time where everything—marriage, parenting, work, socializing with friends, even the most normal things—seem more difficult than they should be for many people.
Second, regardless of whether you or someone you care about is sad or dealing with something else, the good news is, help is available.
Sad? Depressed? How do you know the difference?
Glad you asked!
Feeling sad and down about things like job loss, finances, marital issues, a child giving you a run for your money, or a breakup is normal for a period of time. But, when you:
Can’t seem to shake those feelings and you begin to feel hopeless and desperate;
It feels impossible to think clearly;
Making a decision seems out of your reach;
Work is consistently challenging;
Things that used to bring you joy in life don’t anymore;
Food doesn’t interest you or you are eating way more than normal; and
You’re either not sleeping enough or you are sleeping all the time and still feel like you don’t get enough rest.
These are like blinking caution lights warning you something is not right. There are some things you might be able to do to help move you to a different place, though.
Here Are 5 Ways to Work Through Depression
1. Surround yourself with a supportive group of friends.
Not necessarily people who are experiencing the same thing you are, but people who seem to be mentally and emotionally healthy right now. Ask them to walk this road with you and help hold you accountable for changes you’re trying to make.
2. Create a new bedtime routine.
Lying in bed watching television or scrolling through social media doesn’t count as rest. Stop all screen time at least an hour before you plan to get some shut-eye. If silence makes it hard for you to sleep, download a white noise app or purchase a white noise machine. Maybe you could try a simple fan in your room. Don’t use your bed for anything other than sleeping… and well, those things that you typically do in bed (like sex). Otherwise, keep your bedroom as kind of a safe place where your body knows it’s time to relax and rest.
3. Get moving.
Exercise has been shown to be one of the BEST ways to combat depression. According to the Mayo Clinic, regular exercise releases feel-good hormones that can make you feel better about yourself. It also can help you get out of the negative thought cycle that feeds depression. Exercising on the regular can give you more confidence, it’s something you can do with others and it is a super positive way to cope with and manage depression. Don’t forget, being outside, getting enough vitamin D, drinking plenty of water, and fueling your body with healthy foods are all powerful weapons for fighting depression.
4. Pay attention to how much news and negative information you take in every day.
Remember, the motto for the newsroom is, “If it leads, it bleeds.” Their whole goal is to be sensational to draw you in. The more you are drawn in, the more it will affect you. It’s a vicious cycle. Your brain doesn’t know it’s the fifth time you’ve seen information about the plane crash, murder, latest political blunder, or car wreck. All of this impacts you mentally and physically whether you realize it or not. Put a time limit on how much news you watch. The same applies to social media.
5. Eliminate as much stress as possible.
Think through all you have on your plate. Is there anything you can let go of for a while to reduce the stress in your life? If you can’t let go of certain activities, can you ask others to help you?
In addition to doing all of these things, be bold and ask for professional help. Plenty of counselors are providing telecounseling and Zoom sessions right now. If you don’t know where to look for help, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration hotline is 1-800-662-4357.
If you’re worried about someone you care about, don’t be afraid to step up and say, “I see you. How can I help?” Guiding them through all the above is a great place to start if they’re open to your support.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/pexels-inzmam-khan-1134204-1-e1600806395453.jpg6261400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-09-22 16:22:232021-04-20 11:43:10Is Depression Affecting You and the People You Care About?
I was walking in the grocery store the other day and I ran into a friend from high school. We started talking and she asked me about my cousin who went to school with us. Our mutual friend asked how she is doing. I was actually caught off guard because, in reality, I didn’t know how my cousin was doing. She and I have lost touch. I started to think about how disconnected I was feeling from other family members including parents, siblings, and extended family. Then, I considered my children. They don’t have the same memories that I have with my extended family. How can I bridge the gap that has occurred? How can we, as family, stay connected across the miles?
Here are 7 Ways To Stay Connected With Long-Distance Family:
1. Old Fashioned Snail Mail
Mailing correspondence may seem old-fashioned but it is tried and true. Handwriting letters has become a lost art. Letter writing allows you to share in your own words what is happening in your life. It provides a window for your family to see into. Postcards are another tool you can use. If you see a postcard that reminds you of a family member, write a note saying, “I saw this, and I thought of you.” This lets your family know that although miles divide you, they are still on your mind and in your heart.
2. Create A Family Newsletter
Whether you choose to do this monthly, quarterly, or yearly, it provides updates to your long-distance family. It shares with them: honors, awards, funny moments, celebrations. Let your children help design it and have input into it. Make a family logo and motto to go at the top along with a name like, “Keeping Up With The Joneses” or “Watson Family Gazette.” You could do this online or make it a family production and put it into print. ☆ You could make a “chain letter” that gets added to by a family member and mailed to the next person on the list and keeps circulating around your family, keeping everyone in the loop.
Every holiday season, as a child, I would go with my grandmother as she mailed holiday packages to my uncles who lived out of town. In the boxes would be a pound cake, fruit cake, cookies, preserves, and other sweets. You don’t have to choose the same items. You can create your own theme with the box. One theme could be Our Town. Select items representing the town you live in. You could choose My Favorite Things where you select items your sister, aunt, cousin, or dad loves. Or, even a box of Things That Remind Me Of You.
4. Travel Together
It may be fun to select a location midway between you and your siblings and spend some time there together. It may be fun to coordinate time in the summer with the grandparents and cousins and call it “Cousin Camp.” It may be a blast to schedule a multi-family vacation to the beach, mountains, amusement parks, etc.
5. Book Club
For many, storytime is an integral part of their bedtime routine. Create space for grandparents who live out of town to be “guest readers” via phone, Skype, FaceTime, Messenger or video. Another idea is for the adults in the family to choose to read the same book and then have a discussion about it. Even the kids could read the same book and draw pictures about the scenes or main characters.
6. Go Virtual
Technology is an innovative way in which families can stay connected. It may look and even feel different from the past. Nevertheless, it allows family members to maintain connections. Don’t be afraid of trying some “high-tech” ways to stay in touch with your long-distance family members. Here are some examples:
Have Virtual Dinner Night: Each family makes the same meal and you sit down ‘together’ at the same time to eat via ZOOM, FaceTime, Google MEET, etc.
Create Family Group Texts: Families can create a text message group or utilize a messaging app to share information with each other.
Virtual Game Night: Families can choose to play online games (PlayStation, XBOX), board/card games (UNO, Battleship), Minute to Win It, or Charades via ZOOM or Google MEET.
Schedule Weekly/Monthly Calls: Families can utilize whatever platform they have available (i.e., Facetime, ZOOM, Skype). On the calls, birthdays, special awards or everyday moments can be shared.
Facebook: Create a Family Facebook page where you can post pictures, videos, etc.
Family and Friends Movie Night. (Netflix for Chrome) Families can watch the same movie at the same time while being in their own homes. Then use FaceTime or ZOOM to talk about it.
7. Cardboard Cutout
Select a fun picture of the family member you choose and get a life-sized cardboard cut-out made. It allows your kids to recognize their family members. It’s also a way for that family member to be “present” at events such as a spelling bee, soccer games, or track meets.
If you’re feeling disconnected, that’s when you need to be intentional about communicating and connecting with long-distance family members. Whether you choose to make a phone call spontaneously or you send out a calendar invite for everyone to group chat, making that first step to check-in can change the direction of your connection.
Don’t get discouraged if everyone can’t make everything. We have to recognize that we’re all dealing with lifein some form or fashion. Also, remember to stay in touch with family and friends who live close to you. In this current time, everyone could benefit from a call or note letting them know someone is thinking about them.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/raj-rana-WENBRUAh7W8-unsplash-scaled-e1600261720936.jpg292600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2020-09-16 09:08:512020-09-16 11:25:567 Ways To Stay Connected With Long-Distance Family
The nip of fall is in the air, which means Halloween and fall festivals should be right around the corner. Sadly though, this year may look very different. Some festivals have been put on hold and many parents are uncomfortable with trick or treating. If you’re looking for fun ways to celebrate Halloween that don’t involve trick or treating, you’ve come to the right place!
Here are seven ways you and your family can celebrate Halloween without feeling like you’re missing out.
Make your own costumes and take family photos.Have some fun prizes for the most creative, out-of-this-world, colorful, funniest, scariest, and judge’s choice. Let the entire family vote on the costumes.
Create a Halloween-themed scavenger or treasurehunt that involves candy in all the places where they actually find the “treasured item.” This can involve making fun clues. They could do the hunt individually or as a team.
Host a neighborhood Halloween Costume Parade for adults and kids. Families can walk or bike together while social distancing. You could even pool your candy and make bags ahead of time to hand out at the end of the parade. (The upside to this is you don’t have too much of a sugar high for the kids. The downside is there isn’t enough candy for the parents to steal. Just sayin’…)
Have a pumpkin-painting contest.Let everybody choose their own pumpkin and give them a set amount of time to decorate it. You may or may not want to limit the materials they use. Categories could include: scariest, silliest, most unusual, most original, best use of materials, best traditional, most unique shape and most adorable. Winners could get candy, gift cards or some other fun prize.
Build a fire and roast S’mores.No fall celebration is complete without a bonfire and roasting marshmallows for S’mores. While you’re eating S’mores, play Build a Story. Here’s how: one family member starts the story with a sentence and the next person adds a sentence to build onto the first one. See how long you can keep it going. If you want to get really creative, build the story around a theme like Halloween, fall or some other topic.
Plan a Halloween menu and be creative. Let your kids help you come up with Halloweenish goodies. Think eyeball cookies, deviled egg spiders, gummy worm ice cubes, pumpkin-face cuties, “finger” foods, etc. (You get the picture.) Then have a Halloween/Fall party or meal with your family.
Play Minute to Win It or other friendly “competition” games.We all know trick or treating involves getting the “good” candy you love (YES, please). But, you also get the “blah” kind you’ll still have to hand out next Halloween. Buy everybody’s favorite candies instead! Then give them as prizes to the winners from the different Minute to Win It games.
No doubt this year will be different in a number of ways. Although many are choosing not to have corn mazes, fall festivals, trunk or treats and trick or treating, it doesn’t have to be disappointing for you and the kids. Launching off of these ideas and some of your own family traditions, there’s lots of fun to be had for sure!
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/09/frank-luca-d0PewyVcP_s-unsplash-1.jpg9001400Julie Baumgardnerhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJulie Baumgardner2020-09-15 16:10:342020-11-03 11:42:447 Fun Ways to Celebrate Halloween That Don’t Involve Trick or Treating