If you have kids who are old enough to be aware that we’re in the middle of a global pandemic, navigating and shepherding their emotions and questions adds another whole layer to your family’s experience of COVID-19. It can feel defeating—will they grow up anxious? Are they being permanently harmed by this?
I have really good news for you today, friends. Research has shown that exactly the opposite is true, if you’re able to frame this current challenge in the big picture for our kids! I’ve got an easy and fun way to do that to share with you today, but first, a little backstory:
In this fantastic article, the author explains that psychologists have found every family has a unifying narrative, and those narratives take one of three shapes: the ascending narrative (the family trajectory proceeds upward without any road blocks), the descending narrative (“we used to have it all, then we lost everything”), and the most healthful narrative: the oscillating family narrative. “We’ve had ups and downs as a family,” this one goes, “we’ve had setbacks and triumphs, but through it all, we stuck together and came out stronger.”
In that same study, researchers found that the more children knew about their family’s history, the stronger their sense of control over their lives, the higher their self-esteem, and the more successfully they believed their families functioned. How much kids knew about their family stories turned out to be the best single predictor of children’s emotional health and happiness.
WOW! Not friendships, or extracurricular activities, or grades, or life circumstances, or genetic makeup. Telling family stories—that’s something we all can do! A willingness to tell family stories might end up being one of your most important legacies of all.
Why you’ll love making a quarantine scrapbook:
Claiming the narrative of your days right now—talking to each other about what’s hard, where you’re thriving, and how you’ll come through this stronger as a family—is part of building your legacy. In doing so, you’ll show your kids that their best years don’t have to be perfect. In fact, they won’t be! Their best years—and yours—are built on character. They are marked by resilience. They are filled with gratitude and grace (for yourselves and others).
A really easy way to tell the story of this time is through a quarantine scrapbook. I’m not really a traditional scrapbooker, but we’ve been working on one with the kids for the last few weeks and it has been a sweet way to cultivate gratitude, talk through how everyone’s feeling, and notice the good all around us. In that way, our scrapbook is both a time capsule AND a helpful tool for today!
My best tips for making a simple quarantine scrapbook:
— Gather easy materials—perhaps things you already have! You can use a binder and regular printer paper (with page protector sleeves or just loose!), a college-rule notebook (decorate the cover!), a mini handmade “book” with craft paper and a stapler, or a regular scrapbook album and sleeves. Use whatever is easy and accessible! You’ll think less over time about how perfectly crafted it is and more about how meaningful it is.
— Keep it simple. Use these prompts and let your kids run with them. If you are making this yourself for younger kids, let them doodle to decorate some pages and help you paste photos in.
— Make it easy to access. Assemble a box with supplies that you keep out near your table or wherever you have space to work on it in your fringe hours or on the weekend.
— Choose a regular time to do it. Maybe Saturday morning or late in the day when everyone needs a snack and some time at the table to relax with a craft—or once a month! Pick what works for you and you’ll be so grateful for that forethought!
— Include bonus materials. Photographs, pressed flowers or leaves from neighborhood walks, cards from friends, newspaper clippings—all will add a fun textural twist! Social Print Studio does a great job printing Instagram photos or quick snaps from your phone (use code 0LARACHLN1 for $5 off your first order!).
Remember: you don’t have to do this forever, or for the duration of this pandemic. Document several weeks or months OR a single month of “pandemic life”— that’s plenty to capture what this time was like!
Your turn: if you have kids, how have you helped them through this pandemic? I’d love to hear what’s worked for your family!