Earlier this week I had a great mom day. To be honest, I totally rocked it. I usually don’t rock it as a mom, so I was feeling pretty good about myself. It was the kind of day that I thought, this is why I have decided to work part-time and wish I could be home full-time. The kids and I spent the whole morning together enjoying our time. I didn’t get frustrated and my kids didn’t cry, whine, complain or run off in two directions! It was amazing!
So what was different about this day?
First of all it was a Tuesday and I was present- fully present.
Tuesday are becoming my favorite day. I typically do not work Tuesdays so I don’t have to worry about getting home for work, what to leave for dinner, what needs to get done after I leave, or really anything related to life when I am not home. I can just enjoy the day and end it with a family dinner (which unfortunately isn’t every night due to our work schedule). So I truly value Tuesdays.
I had decided to take the kids on a nature walk and thanks to www.makeandtakes.com I was able to print out these great nature scavenger hunt worksheets. Together the boys and I headed up to a local nature park to find all things related to nature. Each had their own sheet and I brought stickers to mark when they found something. The boys had so much fun.
I use times like this with my kids to begin to teach and model mindfulness. As adults, going on a nature walk can be a quick way to become mindful in the moment and reduce stress. Here are some suggestions to help you begin to teach mindfulness.
1. Get down on their level.
When you are looking for your items in the scavenger hunt, kneel down to talk to your kids and see it from the view they observe.
2. Do not rush them.
As adults we can often be in a hurry, maybe our competitive side comes out or we focus on completing task, while our kids would rather pick up sticks. If they pick up the sticks, that is ok. Talk about it. What do you observe? Go slow during the walk. It is not a race. Just be with them at their own pace.
3. Ask them about the item.
What do they see, hear, and feel (I wouldn’t necessarily recommend taste-but if they are anything like mine, you might be asking). Allow them to take a few minutes to observe the object. For example: Pick up a leaf and have them touch it for a few minutes. What are the colors, what do they feel, is it smooth? Have them describe it to you.
4. When on your walk, ask them to stop and be silent.
Follow up with what did you hear. Teach them to listen to the birds, leaves falling or a squirrel running.
5. Use this opportunity to practice deep breathing.
Deep breathing is an excellent tool for adults and kids. Take a moment to stop and teach them about deep breathing. Follow up with a question such as “what do they smell in the woods?”
6. Talk about being grateful.
Use the time on your walk to talk about being grateful for all the things you see, hear, for the walk and each other.
Mindfulness is about observing your thoughts, feelings, and surroundings without judgment. Kids may not fully understand what being mindful is, but doing these suggestions is helping them to become more aware.
Many of these things you may already do. However it is about doing so with purpose and sharing the experiences with your kids. Mindfulness is a great for adults and children. You can find more information about the benefits of mindfulness for children here.