It is kind of crazy how us, adults, looking for a calm family life, so often find ourselves rushing around trying to get everything done, rushing the kids out the door to get them to school on time and then when we have dropped them off we take a breath and say “Man, that was hard!”
Do you think the kids pick up on our energy, do you think they walk into school feeling tension and stress due to the mad rush at home every morning? I think perhaps they do. Kids really can pick up on everything we adults do. We all know what it’s like to be around people that are so highly strung or stressed out we can’t help but so often infuse what they are feeling to the point we can feel drained after a conversation we have with them. If this is the case, is this how we want our kids to feel? To start their day or would we like them to feel calm, relaxed, loved and at ease (probably a better way to start the day of learning)
Last summer I spent the month working and volunteering in an orphanage just outside of Delhi in India and every day we would start the day with a yoga and meditation session. I would stand at the front of the small oval with all the kids and teachers squashed in like sardines with me leading them into breathing, meditation, and a yoga movement-based practice. The kids and teachers of all ages would get involved. I could see the light on their face lit up and the sense of joy, gratitude, and love that we all felt was incredible. If you would like to hear more about my trip to India and how much fun and growth I had working and teaching in the orphanage you can listen to my chart-topping podcast Get Happy Hour in this episode I share the insights into my trip
It got me thinking, are we doing this enough in Australia in my own country and other places around the world? Kids love yoga, they love to sing and breathe and if we are not doing it how can we start to incorporate more of it in our home and family lives. if we rely less on the school system and make it part of our home life, could it possibly make a change to not only the kids, ourselves but the entire family dynamic? Yes, I do think it could.
Change isn’t easy. It can be hard to adjust to new routines. By doing things more mindfully, you reduce stress by bringing your entire awareness to the present moment. So below I have listed a few simple mindfulness tips that we could all start to incorporate into our lives that could make a dramatic change:
Wake up with yoga
Parents and kids can benefit from learning to connect the body and breath. Get the kids up 10 mins earlier and why not all do a short few yoga poses to ground ourselves for the day. Some awesome examples could be tree pose, warrior 1 and 2, triangle poses (if you are unsure please google and have a look at some basic yoga poses)
You could then follow this with standing in a tall position with hands at our heart and breathing 10 deep breaths together in and out of our nose and starting the day with an intention for everyone. An awesome one I love to set every day is “to smile and laugh as much as I can.” Then the family can enter the rest of their day with some strong grounded roots.
With sports, friends, pick-ups/drop-offs, and other extracurricular activities, landing back at home and trying to settle everyone down can seem impossible. Around the dinner table with all phones out of sight is a perfect time for the family to share each one thing they were grateful in their day e.g. “I was so grateful today that the man at the shops helped put my groceries in my car”. Taking a pause to say thank you will let the mind release stress so activities afterward go more smoothly and efficiently and you can all share an enjoyable family dinner together.
Sometimes getting your kids to talk about how their day was or how their interactions at school are going can be a challenge, so start asking each other about one thing that felt nice and one thing that didn’t feel so nice that happened in the day. For example, “ I loved today how I got all the correct answers in my test, but I didn’t feel so nice when one of the other kids said I’m a nerd”, this dialogue opens up the line of communication so we can effectively engage with each other and work on sharing our feelings.
Goodnight sing along
I always love to sing a goodnight line to everyone, it’s a little fun can make us giggle and allows us to finish the day with a smile on our face – “gooooooooooooodniggggggggggght”.
These activities are simple and can be practiced throughout the year to help the entire family feel less stressed and more at ease, helping build more of a family mindfulness culture. It takes courage to step away from the TV and games, but the rewards will make your heart sing day in and day out.