Living a balanced life seems nearly impossible with all of today’s stress. Whether the kids are crying, your cell phone won’t stop buzzing in your purse, or your email inbox is full, slowing down doesn’t seem to be on the menu. However, there is one way that families can slow down together and balance all of the stress of everyday life: mindfulness.
You may be thinking: “I don’t have time to sit around and meditate. I need to pack the kids’ lunches and later on I have to help everyone with their homework! The only ‘om I get to do today is in the phrase ‘oh my’.” But, if you get the kids to practice mindfulness with you, it will not only help you, but it will help them too. Not to mention, it is easier than you might think.
Many of us think that mindfulness is full-blown mediation, but it actually just means maintaining a moment-by-moment awareness of our thoughts, feelings and environment. Mindfulness can be as simple as focusing on taking deep breaths.
One way to get the kids to practice mindfulness is to have the kids lie down and close their eyes. Then, pass something fragrant, like an orange slice or an essential oil under their nose and have them think about each part of what they are smelling. Tell them to focus all of their energy on that one smell, and then guess what it was. This can not only help with anxiety in the long run, but can also help them, and you understand how easy mindful thinking can be.
Another way to practice mindfulness with the kids is to turn off everything in the house and have everyone sit or lie down comfortably with their eyes closed. Then, taking deep breaths encourage everyone to focus their thoughts on how their toes feel, then their legs, their tummies, arms and finally their heads. Encourage them to point out sounds that they might not have noticed before, or smells that they pick up. This is a great way for not only the kids, but for you to clear your mind and focus on the here-and-now. If your kids are slightly more wiggly, while they are brushing their teeth, encourage them to think about the toothbrush and how it feels on each one of their teeth.
Looking for more of an activity for your restless bunch? Color! Adults are discovering what kids have known for years: Coloring is fun. Whether you choose a simple children’s coloring book or a more intricate design, coloring steers your attention to the present and can alleviate anxious thoughts.
Doing yoga is another great way to teach the family mindfulness together. Yoga is good for the body and the brain. Counter the time kids (and adults) spend hunched over computer keyboards or phones and boost energy and focus with simple yoga poses. Yoga Journal offers a 10-minute “homework break” routine that includes side bends done from your chair, seated twists and three to five rounds of cat and cow, inhaling and exhaling as you alternately raise your chest and then round your back.
Remember: taking time to slow down together as a family can increase everyone’s overall happiness and wellness. It takes as little as 10 minutes to practice mindfulness and even your most wiggly little one will love it.
For more information on mindfulness click here.