As many of us stay indoors during the Covid-19 pandemic, it can be challenging to juggle the responsibilities of work and home life. How can we share our efforts with others so we do not feel like we are pulling all the weight alone? This question arises in the book Thomas and Gordon, the first of four Caribu Video Read Alouds featuring Kevin Jonas that celebrates the 75th anniversary of Thomas and Friends™.
In this story, cheeky little Thomas teases older train engines, especially Gordon, the biggest and proudest of them all. Thomas bugs them when they are taking their breaks from pulling heavy trains cars. “Wake up lazybones!” he cries. But soon his antics catch up with him, and the other engines show him what it takes to be a leader on the tracks.
Thomas and Gordon offers a reminder to appreciate the work of others. Even more than that, it suggests that we can — and should — share our experiences with those around us so they can empathize with what it takes to carry the load.
What might this look like in our homes, and among family and friends?
First of all, we can assign household members to help us with some of our tasks. This can lighten the burden and make chores less lonely. Also, family members and housemates might have creative tips that will make routines more fun and efficient. Invite others to assist with preparing meals, supervising kids, clean-up, gardening, laundry and errands.
Next, make space for family members to talk and share about their challenges. Daily mealtime conversations or afternoon family walks could be an opportunity to express frustrations and brainstorm solutions. After all, adults are not the only ones experiencing a change of routine; kids, too, are facing the new realities of staying home. It can be tricky to keep up with school assignments from a distance, and to stay focused with so many distractions. It’s also hard not to have regular playdates with friends. Family meetings and one-on-one time can help parents and children discuss strategies to stay positive, productive and calm.
If you live alone, schedule calls with supportive friends and family so you can share your daily ups and downs. Consider documenting your experiences and reflections in a journal or blog. It’s important to recognize the extent of your personal efforts, and to realize what others are facing. By sharing our collective struggles, we can feel less isolated.
Finally, we can take time to appreciate each other’s efforts. Some small ways to say thank you:
- A daily gratitude share among family members can boost morale and positive communication. Before or after meals, invite each family member to share about a person or situation that they feel grateful for. If you live alone, take time for gratitude on calls with family and friends. Consider keeping a gratitude journal to focus on the positive.
- A personalized message is encouraging during difficult times. Make handmade cards or tokens to say thank you to others — and invite your kids to help! If arts and crafts are too complicated, thoughtful thank yous via e-mail, video calls and phone calls can have a powerful impact.
- Make time to reward each other with fun activities — play favorite games together, listen to music, have a dance party or read favorite books.
- Do someone a favor by picking up one of their chores without asking.
- Treat a friend or family member to their favorite meal or snack.
- Craft neighborhood decorations to lighten spirits and build community. Create window signs, design tree ornaments or decorate the garden/balcony.
There are so many ways to be there for others, and Thomas and Gordon can inspire us to start our engines. No matter the difficulties of the daily grind, picture yourself in someone else’s shoes from time to time, and lend a hand to brighten their day.
Thomas and Gordon is just one of many Thomas and Friends™ stories that has captivated readers for the last 75 years. This book marks the first appearance of Thomas in the series. As you watch the video on Caribu, share your memories across the generations.
And for all the Thomas fans in your family, the 75th Anniversary Celebration will continue on Mondays in May! We’ll be posting three more Thomas and Friends™ Video Read Alouds featuring Kevin Jonas. Use the ‘Videos’ tab of your iOS app to find Thomas and Gordon when you’re ready for your #CaribuBreak.