A box of children's board books, all carefully cleaned and placed in a pretty box. A set of dumb bells delivered to my porch by the owner of my local gym. An online link to fun activities for toddlers from a friend in Australia. The wave of a stranger as they pass (at a distance) on the trail. These are treasures beyond measure. Yet truthfully, a few weeks ago they may not have held such significance or been received with such gratitude – because as ashamed as I am to admit it, I took so much for granted.
I doubt there is anyone reading this today whose world has been left untouched by the pandemic. It's so easy to spiral into that dark hole of fear and despair and to focus on all that we have lost, including our freedom of movement. To combat that, I continue to choose hope each day, but I'm trying to take that a step further and actively seeking and acknowledging joy in the little things. It's a lesson I have learnt from Anna.
Anna is my three year old granddaughter who would usually go to a wonderful daycare during the week while her parents, both architects work. With the daycare now closed to all but the children of "essential" workers I was happy to offer to help out, admittedly whilst also wondering if my stamina was going to be up to the task! I won't lie – it's exhausting – but it's also the most fun I've had in a long time.
I have a box of craft supplies we call the Rainy Day Box. It has all the basic essentials like chalks, markers, colored paper, glue, and paints inside as well as a large plastic tablecloth and child sized plastic aprons. When I asked Anna if she'd like me to get out the Rainy Day Box her eyes sparkled as she clapped her little hands and exclaimed "Yes please Nana!"
So we've been baking, painting, printing, singing, reading, gardening, making pasta necklaces, and more. We've laughed as we've made a mess. We've laughed as we've blown bubbles over one another in the process of cleaning up. We've laughed as we pretended that the cow says "woof" and the pig says "meow". We've laughed as we poked holes into the soil to plant radish seeds, dropping in too many at once by "mistake".
Life is simpler and slower today than it was a few weeks ago but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. In slowing down, I now have time to sprout seeds on damp paper towels so that Anna can learn about roots and shoots. We can jump in puddles and hunt for bugs. We can make memories.
As you adapt to the ever-changing situation, may you also find joy in the little things, both received and given. Maybe you can pick a simple bouquet of flowers from your garden and put them on a neighbors doorstep? Or leave a bottle of water out for the mail delivery folks with a note to say thank you? As you plan your vegetable garden, can you plant an extra row so that you have plenty to share later in spring?
I'd love to hear your ideas on how YOU can bring joy, and also to hear what small joys you have found.
Gardening (with or without kids) Resources
- Start your own vegetable garden this yearr; this blog post by my friend Jessica is GREAT, especially for beginners.
- My favorite vegetable gardening book for families
- Row marker and dibbers as demonstrated by Anna in the video above. Made by her grandad at Stumpdust
- Great website for kids gardening inspiration including lesson plans and garden activities; KidsGardening.org
- My favorite things! Books, tools, and more on my special Gardener's Supplies & Resources page
Wishing you all good health and small kindnesses this week.
A note about these photos: all were taken very quickly (!) with my cell phone so not the usual quality, but fun captures that I hope you enjoy nonetheless.
Disclaimer: this page includes a few affiliate links which will help me buy Anna a few more seeds – thank you!