How to Help Your Family Come Out of this Season with More Joy

By Jessica Wolstenholm


Before the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a dangerous trend taking over today’s families. So driven by FOMO (fear of missing out, or for parents, fear of our kids missing out), we were over-scheduling and over-committing our lives so our children didn’t miss out on anything that might possibly bring them joy.

The irony is, by doing all the things, our kids were missing out on something big. Many lacked the true joy that comes from anticipation and selection. We were giving them everything and taking away the joy of it all. We watered down their excitement because our kids no longer had anything to look forward to. Every day was special. Every activity over the top. Their expectations and opportunities were high but, for many, their joy (and ours along with it) was depleted.

We were looking for joy in all the wrong places.

And then we were forced to stay home. Cancel everything. Though this season has been hard and full of loss and disappointment, many families are finding the slower pace and extra time to be life-giving.

I hope life never fully goes back to “normal”. We’ve learned so much and come so far. At the very least, my prayer is that families take something of the slower pace with them into the years ahead.

Sure, many of the things we busy ourselves with make our kids happy for a while, but temporary happiness is not the goal. True happiness is not dependent on what we have or what we do. Many have come to realize that more deeply during this season. Happiness is a benefit of a life deeply rooted in Jesus and powered by the joy He brings.

A life of joy means we know how to be happy, no matter what. This has been a struggle for me and my family over the years but I’m learning how to fight against bad moods (usually triggered by something insignificant or temporary) to access the well of joy available deep within my soul.

How to Help Your Family Come Out of this Season with More Joy

That deep well of joy can only come from Jesus when our lives are connected to Him. That is why JOY is a Fruit of the Spirit, growing abundantly in the hearts of those who stay connected to the vine (Jesus) and receive wisdom and nourishment from the Holy Spirit.

A life filled with joy knows how to make others feel happy and when someone feels happy one day and then another and then another, they’ll catch our joy and pass it on. I want my family to be known for our joy. We will always have to fight for joy in our home and relationships. But we’re committed to overcoming the lie that joy is based on the things we do, acquire, or achieve. The only thing we want to achieve; the only possessions we hope to acquire are these essential elements of a joy-filled family.

Essential Elements of a Joy-Filled Family

  1. Adequate Margin – Connection to Jesus (and to each other) requires space and time. There will always be busy seasons but for the most part, families need space in their lives to refill their reservoir of joy. Maybe you’ve experienced the benefits of margin during this season. What can you say “no” to when life goes back to “normal”? Where can you create space for your family?
  2. Spiritual Practice – The secret to the happiest life that leads to overflowing joy is to stay connected to Jesus. This happens through Bible reading, prayer, worship, and other intentional spiritual disciplines. When these practices are done as a family, not only do they develop joy, they produce other amazing fruit in our lives as well. Maybe you’ve had more time to engage in family spiritual practices while staying safe-at-home. How can you continue to develop regular spiritual practices as a family once life gets busy again?
  3. Intentional Atmosphere – Creating a joy-filled environment may seem superficial but the state of our home plays a big role in the joy we feel in our hearts. For our family, music is key. Having our favorite songs playing in the background can completely change our mood. We’re also working hard to simplify our surroundings and our possessions. The management of stuff is one of the greatest thieves of joy. Take a prayerful look at your home atmosphere especially now while you have some extra time on your hands. What changes can you make to encourage joy?
  4. Lighthearted Fun – This year we’ve made an intentional effort to have more fun at home. That means we play more music and more games. We have a blue tooth strobe light speaker for dance parties. Family fun is a personal thing. What things can you keep on hand or what ideas can you keep in your back pocket to bring spontaneous family joy?
  5. Abundant Stores – The reality is, life as we once knew it will return again and we are going to have busy seasons and hard days ahead. At times, we will need to go to war for our family joy. It’s at those times we can pull from the stores of joy settled deep within our soul. The more we practice the other 4 essential elements of a joy-filled family, the more we’ll have stored up for later (and to share with others). But we may need to clean out the storeroom and get rid of the clutter to make room for our joy. What can you do right now to make space to store joy?

The only thing I have a fear of missing out on is the abundant life Jesus has for my family. I’m more afraid of missing joy-filled moments with my husband and children than I am of my kids missing out on trying something new. There’s nothing wrong with activities and achievements. The only way kids will find their unique gifts is to explore their abilities. Kids learn to work hard and persevere by going after accomplishments. But it’s never worth it if our family unit falls apart from the stress of it all.

When joy, instead of fear, is our motivation, we can help our kids be better prepared for every interruption, experience, and opportunity. They’ll focus on what truly matters when they aren’t driven by an unhealthy desire to do all and be all. Whether they know it or not, they’re looking for us to lead the process. Oh, how much more amazing the end result will be with joy as our guide.

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Looking for a way to engage in worship and Bible teaching as a family while you are home? Check out Minno Church at Home, a free resource to help you meet with God wherever you are!