I don’t know about you, but this time of the year can be a struggle for me- shorter days, grayer skies, colder weather…I find myself using more coping tools to stay present and balanced. It’s no surprise that children experience a similar shift—not only do they go from the freedom of Summer to the structure of a school day, but they also miss out on the opportunity to be outside due to those shorter days. It’s important that we give our kids the opportunity to connect, breathe and move to help target some of the feelings that accompany the transition into the colder months.
Here are some activities to try with your kids at home:
Stay connected to your family with mindful communication: Start by setting a timer for one-minute just once a week. During that minute, only one family member gets to speak, and everyone else has to listen without saying a word. You can pick a topic that is relevant like something that is exciting about the upcoming holidays. As your family improves, increase the timer to two, three or even four minutes. You'll be surprised at how much you have to say (and how good it feels to be listened to)!
Help your children stay connected to themselves: Introduce journals and art as a form of self-reflection. I also like to use coloring books as a way to decompress. Try this as a rainy day activity: http://www.amazon.com/Djeco-Sand-Art-Tibetan-Mandalas/dp/B000TZGA3M.
Try breathing as a family: We cannot teach our children to breathe unless we are breathing ourselves. This back-to-back breathing activity created by Jennifer Cohen Harper of Little Flower Yoga is a great way to calm down before bedtime!
Energize yourself and your children with breath of joy (laughing breath): on those days when you feel like you can't get out of bed (or need to take a nap), try practicing this. Stand with your feet hip width apart with a slight bend in your knees. Inhale three times- first as you swing your arms in front of you, then to the shape of a "T" with your arms stretched wide, and then finally swing your arms overhead, reaching your hands to the sky. When you exhale, fold forward as you swing your arms around and down while letting out a "Ha" breath. Have fun with it, and don't be surprised if you and your children erupt into a fit of laughter.
Last but definitely not least, move with your children. Play a game of freeze dance when they need to get their energy out but can't go to the park. Buy a deck of yoga cards like Yoga Pretzels and let your kids teach you how to do poses. Most importantly, have fun!
For more resources, visit Resources for Kids.