Last Friday, my 9 year old met me at the school gate. His little face was flushed and I could tell he wasn’t himself. It turns out, he was excluded from something his little friendship group were working on  and it had hurt his feelings.

Because I am such an intuitive parent and always know exactly what to do in any situation 😉 , I turned to the internet and typed in ‘what to do when your child experiences social exclusion’. I read a couple of articles and posts and it was this piece of advice that jumped out at me.

Fill up their Happy Bucket!

Oh, THAT I can do! I’m good at doing happy stuff. So I created a safe space for my son in his home environment and went to work on getting that Happy Bucket right up to overflowing again. Here’s what we did:

  1. TIME
    What’s the one things kids want from us more than anything? No, not the password to the wi-fi! Time. Friday afternoon and evening, I dropped everything else. The phone was put down. Emails were left unanswered. The computer was turned off. In fact, I didn’t venture into the home office once. We hung out. Normally on a Friday afternoon, our family all goes their separate ways and switches off from a busy week in their own way but not last Friday. We hung out. And it was awesome.
    Ice cream is the fixer-upperer for all ages. Keep on top of pesky brain-freeze and you have one simple way to add a little bit of Neopolitan sunshine to your day. A quick trip to the servo and a tub of Cookies & Cream later and levels of sad started to drop.
    ‘How does movies and an ice cream sound, dude?’ I uttered the magic words and a little 9 year old face lit up. Now, we live in the Southern Highlands in NSW and it can be a little chilly here in the evenings during winter, so schlepping two kids into a car and driving half an hour to the nearest cinema in sub zero temperatures is not inviting. That’s why Netflix kicks Happy Bucket butt. On demand Marvel movies – score! We curled up under blankets together on the couch and laughed at the antics of Captain America and Iron Man – oh, that Tony Stark is a joker (and still hot, just quietly).  That happiness meter just kept moving on up.
    The next day the heavens opened and the Angels of Sleep-ins themselves touched our home with their shiny wings and soccer was cancelled when the opposing team forfeited! Hallelujah! So that means a lazy Saturday. So I put my son in charge of what we do on Saturday. We ended up doing jigsaw puzzles, playing chess, reading and I may or may not have had a little nap when he selected some iPad time. He chose what we had for dinner and helped me make it too. It was nice to hang out in the kitchen and he started chatting about some solutions to the friendship issue while we were pottering around making nachos. Himself. He pondered and ran his thoughts by me. I listened and nodded and smiled while chili con carne bubbled on the stove and I ate extra Doritos when no one was looking.
    Now, he didn’t choose this activity. I did. On Sunday morning, we went for a bushwalk after eating breakfast at a local cafe. Whenever I feel sad or overwhelmed, it’s the outdoors for me. Swimming and immersing myself in water or, if in the middle of said Southern Highlands winter, bushwalking. We live on the edge of a national park so have an abundance of tracks to choose from. As we walked (and got a little puffed – I accidentally managed to choose the steepest bushwalk ev-ah!), I listened. He chatted about Marvel, youTube, Marvel, ideas for stop motion videos, Marvel, the spelling bee, Marvel and a round of ‘Would you rather?’ which tends to go something like this: ‘Mummy, would you rather lick rain off a car or wet dog?’.
    Both the kids are big readers and while they had device time on the weekend, I find that reading has a huge calming influence on the kids. We bought some second hand books at our local markets on Sunday morning and I put aside an hour in the afternoon for reading. For all of us. Reading allows children to escape into a world of magic, comedy, treehouses….whatever it is. It’s the most beautiful form of escapism on this planet. I KNOW reading fills up MY Happy Bucket and I’m glad it does the same with the kids.

Annnnnnnd long story, short. It was all a storm in a teacup. The little friendship group was all good the first day back at school. And everyone moved on.

But I loved the Happy Bucket idea and will keep it in my bag of parenting tools.

The whole Happy Bucket concept isn’t about not dealing with the issue. It’s about providing a safe and secure environment for your child to build up their happy again through experiences, familiarity, comfort, communication and love. Good old-fashioned love.

And you know what? It filled up my Happy Bucket too!

2 for the price of 1.

How do you fill up your kids’ Happy Bucket?

And have you downloaded our Winter 2017 Issue yet? Loads of great articles including an interview with Meshel Laurie, advice on co-parenting, a moving house checklist and guidance on managing your emotions using aromatherapy plus loads more……!

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