Creating intentional pockets of joy in your family

I had my almost 4-year-old grandson spend an afternoon with me last week and all he really wanted to do was to have me sit next to him while he built with his Duplo blocks. I offered to walk him to the park and I offered to take him up to our playground and give him a swing º but all he wanted was to have me sit close by, while he played.

I had one of those epiphany moments where I realised that this was something I have done with him many times over his four years. This is something that brings him a sense of joy. It was his pocket of joy with me.

One-on-one time with a loving grown-up who is completely present is unbelievably important and magical for children.

For some of my granddaughters, their pocket of joy is baking biscuits with nanny. This is also something I have done many times over their short lives.

I have written and made videos about the power of micro-connections. These are great for busy parents and caregivers, because small regular bits of connection that happen throughout the day really matter. Family rituals too, especially bedtime rituals or welcoming and farewelling rituals,  are beautiful examples of micro-connections that also can bring a pocket of joy.

I’m sure you’ve read some of the wonderful things that come home for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day where children are asked to write why they love their mum or dad. Some of the things they write are pretty hilarious. Some of them are also really great ways for parents to recognise the things that really matter to their kids.

As a farm kid I loved nothing better than to spend time with my dad in the ute or the farm truck, driving. Just me and my dad with no other distractions, often chatting, sometimes singing along to The Seekers. Another pocket of joy.

Not all pockets of joy are quiet and quite so mindful. I remember a boy I was working with, who said what he loved doing the most at home was ‘stacks on’ with his dad and his siblings – where they’d all pile on top of each other. That physical connection and roughhousing was what brought him the greatest joy in his home.

Research tells us that feel-good endorphins are created in our brain when we sing together, laugh together, hug together or eat food that we love the smell of in the company of people we love.

No matter how tired we are, no matter how worried we are, no matter how stressed we are, we can all find pockets of joy in our families. Lying beside your little ones as they fall asleep can be seen as a pocket of joy, rather than something of annoyance if we can be present and try to see it that way. Also, let’s be real here – sometimes it will definitely not feel like that, and that’s OK!

One of the secrets to creating pockets of joy is that it is not about what we do – it is how we be. After all, we are human beings not human doings.

You might invite your kids to write about a couple of moments they felt were pockets of joy so that you can prioritise those things. You might be surprised with what they write. It’s important that mums and dad also write down their pockets of joy. It’s never too early to teach your kids what brings you joy. During the Covid lockdowns, many families began family bonding activities like boardgames, cooking together or watching family movies in the middle of the day with yummy popcorn. All of those were pockets of joy that helped to lift the spirit and to bring hope during those difficult times.

I can still remember clearly when I had a house full of teenage boys and one of my sons, one of my lamb sons, had noticed I was pretty stressed and came up to me and whispered that he had run me a bath. Yes, it had my favourite bubbles, a few candles lit and some essential oils – just how I liked it! He knew having a bath was one of my pockets of joy and creating it for me made us both feel so good.

No human is able to be happy all the time, including kids and grown-ups. However, regardless of any conflict or tension that is happening, we can still create a pocket of joy that might only last for a few minutes. Trust me, it will weave its magic and, like a pebble in a pond, the ripples will flow out.

One of the things I learnt as a funeral celebrant was that the memories that sometimes bubble to the surface after you have lost a loved one can be of quite small things. I still remember siblings sharing stories of a beloved parent whose pocket of joy brought smiles to their faces instantly. Funny sayings or quirky habits their parents had – the memory of these lifted their spirits.

I grew up in the wheat belt in Western Australia in a community known as the coldest place in WA. In winter, when it could be down as low as -5°C, our dad would tuck our school shoes into the warming oven of the slow combustion stove. There was nothing quite so magical as tucking our cold toes into those warm shoes when we got dressed for school. Shoes that had been warmed because our dad loved us.

Pockets of joy don’t have to cost a lot of money.

Pockets of joy can open our hearts to feeling the true joy of connection.

Pockets of joy allow love to have its rightful place in families and homes.

I invite you to create some pockets of joy in your home.



© By monkeybusiness/