Magical Days with Jenny Solar of the Happy Family Movement

Hello friend,

Today I get to bring you another Magical Days interview with a woman, family and movement that I find incredibly inspiring!  Jenny Solar is one half of The Happy Family Movement her husband, Josh, being the other half.  When I stumbled across their website I felt as though I had found kindred spirits half a world away. (Don’t you love it when that happens!?)

You just have to check out their fantastic manifesto – I’m sure you’ll find yourself nodding furiously as you read.  Jenny recently shared a beautiful, honest and vulnerable post about overcoming a really difficult childhood and choosing to parent with love and joy.  She truly believes we can change the world one happy family at a time – inspirational, yes?!

 Did your family have any memorable family traditions when you were a child?

I grew up in a broken home and my childhood was overrun by my mom’s drug use, abuse, and neglect. We didn’t do much as a family. Now that I have my own kids, family traditions are very important to me! In the spring, we take bike rides and go on picnics, every summer  we create a summer bucket list and try to squeeze the most fun out of every day. In the fall, we go apple picking, go to the pumpkin patch, we have a HUGE Halloween party, we make an apple pie from scratch for Thanksgiving, and we have tons of holiday traditions!

One of our favourite times of day to connect as a family is story time.  What have been your favourite books to read to your children?

We LOVE reading! We’re big fans of Dr. Seuss and the Llama Llama series. We also have almost all of Sandra Boynton’s board books.

Do you have any special ways to celebrate milestones & special occasions in your family?

We don’t have anything specific. But we do try to make our kids feel special and loved. On their first day of kindergarten, Josh documented the entire preparation process (we’re also photographers in addition to this happy family gig :). On their birthdays, we try to do something fun and unexpected. Last year, on Max’s birthday, we surprise attacked him after school with silly string. On Ava’s birthday, we filled her bedroom up with balloons… tons of them! On Lia’s birthday, we busted out a bubble gun and had crazy amounts of bubbles.

Which holiday occasion (or season) does your family enjoy celebrating most?

That’s hard to say. Now that the kids are in school, summer is a definite favorite since we get so much time together. We LOVE summer and everything that comes with it… ice cream and swimming, lightning bugs and fireworks. Carnivals and going to the beach.

We really enjoy the Christmas season too… there’s something about holiday music and chilly weather, getting excited for Santa Claus and two weeks off school in the winter to play in the snow (when we have it!).

What is one of your favourite things about being a Mama?

I love seeing my kids’ faces light up when they are excited! And I love that they get excited about big things, but also about small, seemingly-trivial things like finding a grasshopper or learning something new about sharks.

I also love snuggling with them and getting to know them more. We have three kids (Max is 7, Ava’s 5, and Lia is 4) and they are all SO different from each other. I love learning about their little quirks and encouraging their individuality. And looking at their freckles… I LOVE their freckles!

Any words of wisdom for making life both easier and more joyful?

To make life easier, you’ve got to be organized. Our generation is BUSY. There’s no doubt about it, but raising kids takes lots of time and effort and we all have jam-packed schedules. We try to streamline everything from packing lunches in the morning to teaching them how to read to unloading the dishwasher. The more efficient and organized we are at home, the more smoothly things run and the more TIME we have to do the fun stuff.

When it comes to being more joyful… I think you have to let go of conventional rules. Some of our best times often involve breaking ‘the rules’. We don’t believe in rules for the sake of rules. We definitely have rules like don’t hurt others and don’t draw on the walls… stuff like that, but that’s about it. We recently had been dying to have a water gun fight. But it just kept raining for days… finally we said, “who cares!” and had the water gun fight in the house. We were drenched by the time we were done, but you know what? All the water dried. And we had ridiculous amounts of fun! So, just because traditional rules say you can’t have a water gun fight in the house, that doesn’t mean you can’t decide to go against those rules. I mean, it’s YOUR house… you make the rules!

What are some of your favourite ways to spend time together as a family?

We love snuggling, riding bikes, playing, being wild and rowdy and a bit too loud, swimming and running through sprinklers, dance parties, tickle fights, making pancakes, traveling, learning, reading, adventuring, and making up new twists on old favorites, like ‘Hug tag’ (it’s like freeze tag, but you have to get hugged to get unfrozen).

Who inspires you?

There are SO many people who inspire me. I think the key is to surround yourself with sources of inspiration. I have friends who are AWESOME parents and I soak up from them all the time. I have online friends that I follow and learn from. I get a lot of inspiration from Pinterest. There’s SO much great information out there about parenting with love and joy. You just have to search it out. If you’re asking me specifically, who am I following online there’s a LONG list, but here are a few:

Don’t you just love Jenny’s take on breaking with convention – I think we’ll definitely be trying to break a few rules from now on!  I know you’ll be wanting to find out more about The Happy Family Movement now!  And all you ‘Southern Hemisphere-ians’ will want to check out the Summer Bucket List for loads of great inspiration for the coming months!

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