I’m not a big fan of Valentine’s Day. My wife and I hardly acknowledge it. Not that we aren’t madly in love, have opposition to giving gifts or aren’t always looking for an excuse to have a date night. It just feels like a manufactured holiday conveniently located during a down time in the calendar. Bah Humbug!
Despite my personal indifference, I volunteered to plan my second grader’s class Valentine’s Day party. The PTA sent an email recruiting parents who would be willing to help, so I raised my hand.
My motivation: my oldest hasn’t had a normal year of school yet due to the pandemic. In turn, we as parents haven’t had a normal year of parenting an elementary-aged child. Parents entering the school is not permitted, and most school events and field trips are still on hiatus. I saw planning the party as one small opportunity to feel connected to her day-to-day school life and helping in some small way.
The PTA was explicit in that the party would only be 30 minutes, and I had a $25 budget to maneuver with. I put my thinking cap on and came up with two activities I pitched to her teacher via email:
I created 21 individual bingo boards with a subset of 30+ kid-appropriate compliments and affirmations. Fittingly, I purchased heart candies with messages for the kids to fill out their boards. School-approved candy and mechanical pencils were purchased for winning prizes. This was fun, because my daughter helped me in drafting the boards.
I developed a template for students to write and/or draw something they appreciate about an assigned, random classmate for them to share and/or post in the classroom. While her teacher green-lit this concept, I’ve been told they didn’t get around to doing this activity [INSERT SHRUGGING EMOJI].
I don’t deserve a medal. Nothing I planned is overly novel or creative. But the feedback I received (opinion of one from my daughter) is that Bingo was a ton of fun for her and her classmates, and everyone loves mechanical pencils! This, plus efficiently only spending $11 of my allotted budget, I’ll take as wins.
I’ve been told since the festivities by the lone male member of the PTA board that I was the first dad in the history of the elementary school to volunteer to help plan a party. Whether that’s true or not, I’m happy I contributed.
Coincidentally, this week our home school district announced masking will be optional starting next week and volunteers can start coming back into the building again for the first time in two years. Not sure if this is my first or last class party I’ll plan, but fingers crossed for more normalcy for school-aged kids and the parents who want to be involved - even if it just means buying suckers and drafting bingo sheets.
-Steven Michalovich, CBUS Dads contributor
I know what many of you are probably saying under your breath or to the screen: "There's only so much of this I can take. We all have a breaking point!" It's true, you might have seen or read news stories lately about how some parents are "hitting bottom" or "reaching new lows" at this stage of the COVID-19 pandemic. We all have a reason, no matter who you are or where you live, to be experiencing this right now.
So, why talk about happiness? Right now?!? Turns out, happiness is not an achievement and isn't totally dependent upon on your situation or current life circumstances. The science of happiness has come a long way in the past few decades, so let's talk about why happiness is so important and how we can teach our kids, and ourselves, ways to cultivate happiness (yes, even now during the pandemic!).
My favorite definition of happiness is "the experience of joy, contentment or positive well-being, combined with a sense that one’s life is good, meaningful and worthwhile.” This definition, by Sonja Lyubomirsky, captures both the experience in the moment and a long-term sense of life as a whole. What we're learning is that happiness is not the outcome of a process or success in a task. In fact, many people who study happiness now think that we have it backward, that greater success and achievement in life is a result of happiness instead of the cause.
So, how can we help ourselves (and teach our kids) to cultivate positive emotions during tough times? Here are five strategies to try out at home:
This a guest post authored by Dr. Parker Huston, formerly the director of the Nationwide Children's Hospital On Our Sleeves campaign and now owner of Central Ohio Pediatric Behavioral Health. Check out his recent appearance on The Dadass Podcast.
I like to think at 36 years old I’m still very healthy, but recently I’ve been reminded otherwise. It took surviving being snowed in with a two-year-old to learn that.
A large dose of humility came crashing down on poor ol’ me (and my back) over those frigid four days. As my back became sore from clearing our drive and those of some elderly neighbors, the time at home taught me I’m not the young buck I used to be. It was tempting to also allow the little guy to just watch every Bluey and Gigantisorous episode 24/7 just to keep our sanity. But during those days we also were able to learn and teach some valuable lessons.
So yeah, my back is strained a bit, but looking back at it shoveling those drives and increased hikeball (a.k.a football) in the living room was totally worth it. He still talks about shoveling and seeing me help push a car. Those are lessons he learned during a time not much was going on. That’s humbling as a parent, as much as realizing I’m not as young and strong as I used to be, but I’m ok with it.
As Dr. Matthew Sowcik, a recent guest on our podcast said, “humility is….” I recommend you hear what else he shared about the power of humility at home and at work. It’s quite eye opening.
CBUS Dads is a community of central Ohio area dads balancing an active lifestyle with being an involved parent. A Saturday for us may involve enjoying morning t-ball, lunch at a new local spot and an evening at a summer festival with our families. We may live downtown, in the suburbs or somewhere between, but our common thread is that we continue to experience the community we love - now as parents.