School holidays have started and I find myself once again trying to find creative ways to keep the kids off their digital devices. These holidays I decided to pull from my own personal goals and think about how I could encourage the practice of mindfulness with the kids.
If you aren’t too familiar with what mindfulness is you might be picturing yourself meditating alone in a quiet space (I know I did when I first started!). But did you know that mindfulness can also enhance the relationship you have with your kids whilst teaching them to appreciate and acknowledge their surroundings, their senses and sense of self? Afterall, that is what mindfulness is all about; the awareness of the self, which doesn’t necessarily mean you must do itby yourself.
So I’ve compiled a list of my top 6 activities to do with the kids to get them into the groove of practising mindfulness. I’d love your thoughts, your feedback and any ideas you have as to how we could build on this list, as I’m sure between us, our little community has so many more ideas that just 6 :-)
1. Build a gratitude list
This one is as simple as it sounds. All you need is a pen and paper for each participating member for this activity. Everyone writes down a list of what you are each grateful for.
Depending on their age group, you can also ask them to group these things based on what they might be learning at school. For example, my 7 year old is learning about different types of nouns. You can then divide their paper into 4 sections for 4 different lists. People, places, things andabstract nouns i.e. friendship, love, health. Simply ask what they are grateful for and to write them down into the categories.
2. Take a nature walk
Remember during lockdown, how we all suddenly rediscovered our neighbourhoods again? A walk around the local park can be loads of fun for the whole family. Simply sightseeing, taking photos, birdwatching or looking out for native species, and the physical activity itself can be very rewarding for the whole family.
But how can it be more of a mindful activity? Try a scavenger hunt while you walk - it could look something like this:
Name 5 things you can see.
Name 4 things you can hear.
Name 3 things you can smell.
Name 2 things you can touch.
If you want to include taste, you can bring some snacks for kids and ask them to describe if they are sweet, salty, bitter or sour. Simply mix and match to suit your family, if someone in your family has vision impairment or difficulty hearing (like me!) you can always reduce or replace activities based on the different senses.
3. Spring Clean
Spring cleaning as a mindfulness practice has so many benefits but for some it can seem like an overwhelming chore - but it doesn’t have to be if you involve your kids and get them to help you! You can start with the toy trunk, your wardrobe, the kid’s wardrobe, or even the linen closet. For each item you sort through, ask the kids to think of the following:
Ask them to pay close attention to the sensations they feel when they hold the items.What does the texture feel like? What does it smell like? etc.
A memory they associate with it.
One thing they like about it.
One thing they don’t like about it.
In quintessential Marie Kondo-fashion - Ask if itsparks them joy?
It’s important to note that The Kondo method for spring cleaning is not about minimalism, it is about transforming your house into a place of joy for items you love. So yes, you don’t have to get rid of everything and downsize, just keep the things you want and need.
4. Colouring In
Much like other mindfulness activities, colouring directs our conscious attention away from ourselves and into the present moment. Historically seen as a very childish activity, colouring in is now a more widely accepted form of mindfulness practice in adults, which is why it’s such a great activity to do with your child at all ages. To give it a bit more of a mindful approach, you can engage in conversation with your child around how they choose to apply colour, what they are colouring in and how it feels in their hand. Using a colour in book, printing out colouring in sheets or creating your own designs are more traditional ways of colouring, however if you’re after a new texture, why not try our Awakind Colour in pyjama kits? These are a great school holiday activity or gift, and best of yet your child can wear them every night!
5. Mindful Driving
Driving time often increases during school holidays as we go on road trips or more playdates. This is a great opportunity to introduce some mindful activities to make the drive more relaxing and more enjoyable for all. ‘I Spy’ might seem like the obvious choice of activity here, as it is great to practice mindfulness with the kids, as well as other spoken word games like Sparkle (a.k.a verbal Hangman) or 20 Questions or Fact or Fiction or Truth or Dare?
6. Do a Puzzle or Build a Puzzle
Jigsaw puzzles, crosswords, sudoku, word finds, spot the differences/mix and match cards are all such terrific games that you might not even realise their Mindfulness qualities. If you and the kids are feeling crafty, you can also create your own mindfulness game from scratch with some paper and drawing materials.
To create a puzzle, draw a beautiful scenic picture together, then cut it up into unique shapes - they don’t have to look like puzzle pieces… that could easily turn into a stressful situation for kids cutting out those shapes! So just let them cut shapes into however is easiest for them. Shuffle the pieces around and put them back into place one by one. Once done, you can put your new puzzle pieces into a small jar, container or ziplock bag. If you have a laminator at home you can easily preserve them to reuse for next time.
So there you have it, nothing complex, nothing too demanding, just 6 simple ideas to encourage mindfulness. Now I just need to put them into practice! I think I'm going to set a goal of one per day, which means in about one week I'll need all your suggestions 🙏