Let’s be honest. Creative parenting in the mids of a pandemic is not easy. And neither is raising healthy, happy kids. At least these things are not as easy as when the world is functioning normally.
But what are parents to do? The reality is that in 2020, the world isn’t functioning as usual. Mask wearing is mandated. Creative parenting options—including indoor playgrounds, school sports, and social gatherings—are either shut down or restricted to limited capacities.
Undoubtedly, raising healthy, thriving, happy kids in a pandemic requires creative parenting. The best place to start is with a creative parenting mindset shift!
A Creative Parenting Mindset Shift
In 1992, I was a freshman in high school, waiting for history class to start. When the bell rang, our teacher made her way to the front of the room. She wheeled a cart that held an oversized television set. “Class, we won’t be doing our normal curriculum today.” Murmurs of excitement flooded the room.
“Today, we are going to watch the events happening in Waco Texas on the news. And we’ll talk about them during the commercials. It just doesn’t make sense to teach history class when we are in the middle of new history being created. This is what your children will learn about when they study U.S. history years from now.”
Fast forward 28 years. My thirteen-year-old daughter and I are sitting in our den. I’m writing my next book, and she’s finishing up a homework assignment.
“Hey dad, do you know anything about what happened in Wacko Texas?” she inquired.
I paused my work. “Actually, it’s pronounced ‘Waco,’ not ‘Wacko'” I replied. “But the events were pretty wacky. So you have that part right. Why do you ask?”
After a gracious chuckle at my poor attempt at humor, my daughter explained she had to write a paper on ten major events from the 1990s. Her teacher provided a list and her job was to write about the ten that interested her the most.
This is when my history teacher’s words came to mind. “One day your kids will learn about this in their history classes.”
Raising Happy Kids in a Pandemic
Creative parenting in the midst of a pandemic starts with a mindset shift. 2020 is not a traditional year. So we shouldn’t try to treat it this way. If the evens of Waco Texas went down in history, how much more will the event of today.
Some of the historic stressors include:
- A global pandemic with over 1,000,000 deaths worldwide.
- Racial tensions inciting riots that have exceeded anything I’ve witnessed in my lifetime.
- Finally, we are in the midst of what may be our most polarized election yet.
As 2019 came to a close, it seemed the new year couldn’t arrive fast enough. Little did we know, the disheartening events of 2019 would pale in comparison. The job losses, social distancing, isolation, loss of life, economic rollercoaster, tensions, polarization, anger, and chaos are far beyond what anyone expected.
This is why a creative parenting mindset shift is needed. Right now, history is being made. The events of 2020 are what our grandkids will study in their history classes.
Creative Parenting when History is Being Made
Twenty-eight years ago, a history teacher at a tiny Christian school ran her class a little differently. She understood that pausing the curriculum and experiencing the moment would have the greatest impact. She was right! I still remember her lesson nearly three decades later. And few classes live up to that!
Creative parents who want to raise healthy happy kids during this pandemic would be wise to follow her example. The most important thing for parents to remember is that historic events cause life to operate differently. Using the same creative parenting ideas to try to raise happy kids today will probably not work nearly as effectively as they did last year. In other words, when history changes, creative parents adjust too!
One of the best adjustment creative parents can make is to release the pressure to succeed fast and teach their kids tiny habits instead.
Creative Parenting with Tiny Habits
In 1993, a physicist named Lorne Whitehead published an article entitled Domino Chain Reaction. The big idea behind Lorne’s research is that each domino, in a chain of dominos, can knock over a block approximately 1.5 times bigger than itself. This means a 2-inch domino, can topple a 3-inch domino, which will knock over a 4.5-inch domino. This pattern very quickly leads to exponential growth!
If you’re like me, you might think, OK, that’s a neat trick. But don’t miss the point. If this growth continues, domino number 30 will be large enough to topple the tallest skyscraper! Now that is some exponential growth. Below, is a partial recreation of Lorne’s theory. It starts with an exceptionally small domino and proves just how quickly growth can escalate.
Creative Parenting, Happy Kids, and Exponential Growth
Pretty amazing, huh!
Now, let’s apply this same principle to creative parenting. In 2019, creative parenting meant starting with the biggest domino possible. Both parents and teachers had the mindset, Happy kids are successful kids. And the best way for kids to succeed is to push them to learn. For example, our daughter’s preschool teacher said, “Preschool is the new Kindergarten.” And every time one of our girls entered Kindergarten, the teacher always said, “Parents, we want you to know, kindergarten is the new 1st grade.”
There was a non-stop push for our kids to do more. It seemed everyone wanted them to skip over the smaller dominos in the learning chain. Isn’t that wild?
In the past, positive parenting, good parenting, and creative parenting focused on seeing how quickly we could get our kids to domino #30—that skyscraper-sized domino of success. The goal was to raise kids with skyscraper-sized intelligence, skyscraper-sied creativity, and skyscraper-sized happiness. Creative parenting was all about finding ways to bypass dominoes 1-10 and get to the exponential growth!
Few people stopped to examine if this race for growth was a good thing. Sadly, most people simply joined in.
Creative Parenting Made Easy
2020 is a year of increased stress for many families. One of my goals is to make creative parenting and raising happy kids feel light. The best way to accomplish this is to get back to focusing on that first domino.
There is no need to bypass steps on the path to growth. Every domino in the chain is there for a reason. Happy kids (and happy parents for that matter) enjoy the process. In 2020, Jenny and I are focused on helping our kids grow by teaching them tiny habits.
We like to call these creative parenting strategies 1-minute habits. The good news is that 1-minute habits are easily incorporated our kids daily lives. And while this post focuses on 1-minute creative parenting habits, this is not the only place where the principle of achieving massive growth by starting small applies. There are
- 1-minute creative parenting habits
- Minute long connection habits for couples
- 1-minute habits for raising happy kids
- And 1-minute productivity habits
I suppose one could create a 1-minute habit for nearly anything. Now, just to clarify, a 1-minute habit doesn’t have to take exactly 1-minute. There is no hard and fast rule about time. Instead, 1-minute habits have to feel easy and light. This is important because when habits are easy, we are more likely to stick with them.
In this post, we’ll dive into three, 1-minute creative parenting habits. You can use these ideas to raise healthy, happy kids in the midst of a pandemic without it feeling like you are adding another burden to an already hectic day.
First, we’ll examine a 1-minute creative parenting strategy for helping our kids develop excellence. Then, we’ll look at a creative parenting strategy for helping our kids practice extreme gratitude. The third creative parenting habit teachers our kids how to stay focused at school and in life.
Are you ready?
let’s dive in!
Creative Parenting Idea #1
How to Raise Happy Kids Committed to Excellence
The first 1-minute creative parenting habit is all about helping our kids learn to complete tasks well. Happy kids are committed to excellence. How do I know? That’s easy. It always feels amazing to complete a task well!
Not only does excellence feel good, which inevitably adds joy to our kiddo’s lives, it’s also a value found in Scripture.
Colossians 3:23-24 says,
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
One way parents can foster excellence in their kids is to have them start the day by making their beds–with excellence!
I know this may not sound like a creative parenting strategy—after all, what parent hasn’t heard, “Children should make their beds in the morning.” But here’s the twist. The goal of this 1-minute bed-making routine isn’t to have a clean room (although that’s nice). Instead, it’s to teach kids to start their day by doing something well.
I wish I could take credit for this positive parenting strategy. But it didn’t originate with me. It comes from Admiral William H. McRaven and his bestselling book, Make Your Bed: Little Things That Can Change Your Life…And Maybe the World.
Creative Parents Know that Small Acts of Excellence Make a Big Difference.
So how does making one’s bed change our kid’s lives and possibly even the world? I’ll tell you one thing, it’s not through the act of bed-making. The world does not care if my five girls have neat beds or not.
On the other hand, when my kids start their day with an act of excellence, it sets the tone for the rest of the day. In other words, this bed-making is a tool creative parents use to help their children incorporate the value of excellence into their day.
In The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership, expert John Maxwell describes The Law of the Big Mo. The 1-minute creative parenting idea I describe is effective because it helps our kids put The Law of the Big Mo into action. “Mo” is short for momentum. And when he is on our side, life is easier. Having our kids start their day by making their bed with excellence gets the positive momentum going.
If our kids can make their bed with excellence, then they can do other things with excellence too. And this leads to happiness!
Happy kids get their schoolwork done. They excel in sports. Happy kids try new things. They take risks, introduce themselves to people they want to meet, and live their lives out loud. Parents can foster a spirit of excellence in their children by helping them build positive momentum. When Big Mo is on our side, life is better.
Creative Parenting Idea #2
How to Raise Happy Kids who Practice Extreme Gratitude
Gratitude changes us. It makes us more aware of the many blessing we have. And this makes everything brighter. Grateful kids are happy kids! So how can parents encourage their children to practice gratitude in the midst of a pandemic?
Here’s the 1-minute, extreme gratitude habit that Jenny and I use.
Each morning, the alarm sounds at 6:00 am. At 6:30, the song, Smelling Coffee, by Chris Rice, plays throughout our home. If you haven’t heard this song, be sure to check it out. Not only does this tune set a positive tone for the day, but it’s also a lot of fun–especially if you love coffee!
This song is everyone’s cue to gather at the dining-room table for breakfast. During breakfast, our 1-minute extreme gratitude habit involves every family member shareing three things they are grateful for.
I call this an extreme gratitude habit for two reasons. First, we are finding three things we are grateful for in the midst of a global pandemic. Practicing gratitude in a year of racial tensions, riots, and political polarization is pretty extreme. However, this is important because Jenny and I want our kids to know that there are always, things to be grateful for. The trick is to find them.
Second, three acts of gratitude a day add up fast. By the end of the year, each family member will have expressed his or her gratitude 1,095 times. And for our family of seven, we will have collectively expressed our gratitude 7,665 times over the course of the year. Now that is extreme gratitude!
Raising Happy Kids with Extreme Gratitude
My favorite example of extreme gratitude comes from author Barbara Ann Kipfer. In sixth grade, Barbra began keeping a gratitude list. Later, she turned this into a book entitled 14,000 Things to Be Happy About. In her revised edition, Barbra states her personal gratitude list has grown to over 145,000 reasons for happiness.
Happiness and gratitude are closely linked, which is what makes this 1-minute creative parenting idea so powerful. Happy kids excel at finding the good, which means this simple gratitude practice is a great way to help your child grow.
Oh, and to keep driving home the point, Barbara’s amazing, exponential gratitude growth also started small!
Creative Parenting Idea #3
How to Raise Happy Kids who are Persistent
Happy kids are persistent kids. They know how to keep pressing forward until they reach their goals.
One of my all-time favorite quotes comes from Randy Pausch, the author of The Last Lecture. Randy states,
The brick walls are there for a reason. The brick walls are not there to keep us out… brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. The brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.
Happy kids press forward and keep pressing forward until they reach their goals. This third creative parenting idea is actually a resource. It’s something I wrote to equip parents with creative parenting ideas that help their kids push through the brick walls of life. It’s called the 131 Stress-Busters and Mood Boosters Workbook. You can download your free copy here: The 131 Stress-Busters and Mood Boosters Workbook.
This creative parenting workbook is a supplement to my book 131 Stress Busters and Mood Boosters for Kids. But you don’t need the book to benefit from the workbook. It can, indeed, stand alone.
Happy kids know how to bust stress, boost their mood, and keep pressing toward their big goals. This workbook is filled with an abundance of 1-minute habits that parents can use to help their kids patiently persist. Creative parenting ideas include simple fidgets, deep breathing activites, and ideas to help kids quickly enter into a more positive state.
Raising Happy Kids in a Pandemic
As you can see, creative parenting in the midst of a global pandemic doesn’t have to feel overwhelming. The year 2020 is an excellent opportunity to get back to basics. Put your creative parenting skills to work by focusing on these three, small dominos. Then, watch the momentum build! You and your kids may just be happier as a result too!
Parents have a big job. Let’s remember, our kids don’t need to reach domino #30—that skyscraper-sized domino—by tonight. Growth is an ongoing journey and not a one-time event. So cut yourself some parenting slack. And, extend grace to your kids too. Take the pressure off. After all, we are in a year when history is being made.
Instead of stressing, trust that you and your family are right where you need to be—in the palm of God’s loving hands!
This has been a stressful year for everyone. It hasn’t been easy for parents. This year, I believe that raising healthy, happy kids is more about helping them learn tiny positive habits than it is pushing them toward success fast. It’s like the tiny redwood seed that grows into a massive tree over time. Parents who pour into their kids lives daily will eventually reap the rewards.
As my friend Sean Smith says,
Do the work, and you’ll get there when you get there!– Coach Sean Smith
As you can see, tiny habits matter! Small acts of growth add up and lead to big results. Creative parents understand that in 2020, God has still blessed them with 365 amazing days to build into the lives of their kids.
Wise parents take advantage of these opportunities, even during difficult years. The key is to get creative, start small.
So, what if 2020 isn’t a disaster after all. What if 2020 is an opportunity to look a creative parenting a little differently? Perhaps it’s our chance to stop trying to rush our children along and to build into their lives one powerful minute at a time.
Creative Parenting Live
Shortly after publishing this post, I had the privilege of speaking on this same topic at my friend Jessica Allen’s, Creative Family Solutions Summit. To dive deeper into these creative parenting ideas, be sure to check out my discussion with Jessica in the video below!
Our Creative Parenting Adventures
It’s 2020, the year of the pandemic, riots, and election tensions. Yet, our family is blessed. We have five healthy, happy kids. Everyone in our home is learning and growing. And, our family is spending more time together than we have in a long time.
For our family, 2020 is a call to creative parenting in tiny but powerful ways. How about you?
- How is your family using this year to your advantage?
- Which of these 3 creative parenting habits resonated with you the most?
- What simple strategies are you using to raise healthy, happy kids this year?
- In what ways is your family blessed?
- What creative parenting ideas would you add to this list?
Jenny and I would love to hear from you and continue the conversation in the comments below!