Family Mindfulness: Practices for you and your children
By: Cali Fuller, MA, LPC Co-Founder of Found Space Counseling, LLC
As the COVID-19 procedures of social distancing, self-isolating, and “carry-out only” become more our way of life, the one thing that we know to be certain is that families are spending more time together.
Parents, we love and appreciate you. As you transform the kitchen table into a classroom, we see you working incredibly hard for your children, and it is completely normal if you feel lost or overwhelmed as you navigate this chaos. What is essential to recognize and consider during this time: your kids are watching you, and they are going to be impacted by how you chose to move forward during these times of uncertainty. Mindfulness practices and activities can help you and your family cope with the ongoing COVID-19 stressors, together.
While there is no single definition for it, mindfulness, in short, is an evidenced-based practice that focuses on reducing stress and worry responses by bringing one’s attention to the present moment. Many will engage one or more of their 5 senses as a method to gain present moment awareness. Below are some mindfulness practices and activities that you can try with your children!
Make it a routine: Incorporating mindfulness into a daily or nightly routine will be the most beneficial. Just like any new skill, practice is important! Also, doing so will establish an intentional time for connection with your kiddo/family.
Teach and practice 5 senses Grounding:
When you need to find your calm space, practice grounding by naming the following:
5 things you can see
4 things you can feel
3 things you can hear
2 things you can smell
1 thing you can taste
Download the Stop, Breathe, Think App -They have a version for kids AND adults!
If your kiddo’s worry is causing some difficulty with sleep, try this guided meditation on Youtube and check out their other videos! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DWOHcGF1Tmc&list=RDDWOHcGF1Tmc&start_radio=1
Mindfulness walk: Visiting a New Planet!
Take a walk on a route which you typically take. Beforehand, explain that this will be a mindfulness walk and that mindfulness is looking at and describing what you see (like a scientist!; i.e. The leaves are round, yellow, and green) but not judging it (i.e. the tree is pretty, the car is ugly).
The task of each family member is to walk the route as if they are aliens from another planet and have NEVER been there before! Each person should spend time really looking at their surroundings, mindfully describing the details they see on their walk. (NOTE: younger children may need you to describe with them while older children can do it in their heads).
At the end of the walk, share what you noticed during your walk! Did you see anything new? What are details you have walked past hundreds of times, but only noticed during the walk?
**Mindfulness walk bonus**: Make a leaf person or animal together using leaves, twigs, and grass and glue (we use modge podge) them on construction paper with googly eyes (or draw them on if you don’t have any)! Kids like writing their own mindfulness mantra or feelings they experienced during the walk underneath their leaf.
Make a calm down bottle! Using a water bottle, glitter, food coloring, water beads/Orbeez (optional), and any random objects you can find around the home (buttons, a coin, shells, etc), and super glue (to seal the lid shut) you can teach your kiddo to use their mindful observation skills or just some observing and deep breathing to watch the swirl settle after you shake up the bottle. You can model this for your kiddo if you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed too! We like this link: https://mamainstincts.com/foolproof-calm-bottle/
As always, if you or your family have any needs or are curious of how to best handle mental health during these times, please reach out. We would love to hear from you by email, phone, or comment!