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Finding Joy in the Not So Ordinary

Today’s post is by preschool educator Tracy Lee, who has been with the Early Learning Center for over 20 years. She is currently teleworking from home with her teenager. Check out her video or read the post below! 



You may have heard a phrase encouraging us to, “find joy in the ordinary,” but what do you do when life is anything but ordinary? We find ourselves restructuring and combining our work life and home life to create some kind of normalcy.  All this can leave us experiencing a range of emotions from panic to exhilaration, but eventually, it seems many of us are finding ourselves feeling a little dull and lackluster. As we navigate this new way of life, it might be time to consider how we can bring back some brilliance to the days and weeks ahead, or as I like to call it, “bring a little bling to your quarantine.”

Here are some tips that might help you and your family create opportunities to find joy in the days and weeks to come.

Tip #1:  Self-care

You are important and taking care of yourself is the first step in being able to take care of others.  Consider consistent sleep patterns and allowing yourself time for a full night’s rest when possible. Eat healthy meals and stay hydrated, but allow yourself the freedom to make decisions that work for your family when you are tired and just don’t have the energy to cook a gourmet meal. If you are working for home, take breaks throughout the day to spend time with your family or do something you enjoy. This might be going out for a walk or just being outdoors for some fresh air and sunshine.

Tip #2:  Complete non-preferred tasks early in the day

If you have a task that you really don’t enjoy for either work or home life, try attending to those tasks early in the day so that they aren’t hanging over your head for the whole day.  Sometimes a looming chore can interfere with being totally present for our families or for the activities in which we find passion and that fuel our souls.

Tip #3:  Set some boundaries for yourself

Find times in the day where you can “go dark” or “go off the grid” where you step away from work tasks, screens, and other distractions that may cause you stress.  Protect that time by distancing yourself from your phone, TV, or other forms of technology that might draw you into conversations or information that prevent you from being fully engaged with your downtime. 

Tip #4:  Do something ridiculous

Do something so silly that you and your family can’t help but smile and laugh. Be spontaneous when opportunities arise for activities such as blindfolded pillow fights, eating breakfast food for dinner in your pajamas, looking at some old photos, or creating a TikTok dance video with your family. Laugher can sometimes be the best medicine for our spirit.

Tip #5:  Plan something to look forward to

Sometimes you just need something exciting to motivate you to keep you going through the week. Planning a fun family event will give everyone an opportunity to work together as a team and generate some excitement and anticipation about what’s to come.

Here are some ideas:

  1. Have a home video movie night where you watch old videos of your family from the past.  If you have an outdoor project, it might make the experience even more fun especially with some candy and popcorn on the side.
  2. Plan a party.  Have a zoom party with people outside of your home or maybe an “un-birthday party” where everyone can be celebrated for NOT having a birthday.  What about a theme night or a prom where everyone can dress in their finest clothes and enjoy a fancy meal and dancing? Set up a selfie photo booth with props and don’t forget to crown the prom king and queen!
  3. Have a dance party. Decorate the house, dim the lights and create a family-friendly club scene. Sing some karaoke with your family or invite others to join you on a karaoke app. 

Tip #6:  Practice gratitude

It’s important to validate the true feelings we are all experiencing from these troubled times and I think it’s also important to acknowledge the many things we still have to be grateful for. Say them out loud, write them down, and/ or share them with your friends and family. Do something for someone else to express your gratitude and it may also offer you a sense of peace and happiness as well. This is a great time to let the people in your life know what they mean to you. Be kind to yourself and to others and appreciate that we are all managing this situation in the best way we can.

These ideas are not meant to dismiss or minimize the true pain and fear that so many of us have experienced recently. This has been a challenging time for all and so many of us have missed out on opportunities that can’t really be recreated. Hopefully, some of these ideas can help you find joy even in the midst of the storm and create new memories that will last a lifetime. I hope the days and weeks ahead offer you peace, comfort, and joy and bring “Joy to the World!” If you’d like, share your joy with us in the comments!

Enjoy some scenes from ELC staff and students finding joy during quarantine!