It was a smooth sailing kind of morning getting the girls to school today. The sun was shining. The birds were chirping. Spring was in the air. Alll the stars were in alignment and we were on time.
But then, getting out of the car for school drop off something didn’t go my two and a half year old’s way. She lost her marbles! Screaming. Refusing to walk. The whole shebang.
Meanwhile my big girl has to get to school, so I pick the lil one up and throw her over my shoulder. The problem is, she’s 13kg of writhing maniac so it’s sort of like trying to wrestle a very large fish.
I manage to get us across the road where I can safely send the big one down to school on her own while I beeline it for the daycare. Thank God for daycare, right?
The daycare workers and I managed to get her calmed down fairly quickly and I got some cuddles before racing out the door screaming “Hallelujah! Get me out of here!”
You know, there are moments where we can stop and focus on helping our kids move through these feelings, but then there are other times when ya just gotta throw ’em over your shoulder and keep moving.
As I was driving home I thought it would be the perfect day to share with you my favorite tips for the moments I DO have the wherewithal to pull off some zen-parenting and help my kids incorporate mindfulness into their lives. I feel like at least in those moments I’m planting little seeds that will hopefully germinate and give them some tools later in life. Oh, and guess what? These have a sneaky way of helping out the parent administering said tactics as well.
So if you see your kid is teetering on the edge of losing their mind and you can see the storm brewing….
- I Spy. This is my little version of I spy, but without the guessing because the aim is not to engage their thinking brain, but to get them in the present moment. It’s so simple: “I spy with my little eye white fluffy clouds in the sky. What do you spy?” We’ve also used it with listening: “I hear with my little ear birdies chirping. What do you hear?”I use this sometimes just because it’s a beautiful day, or I notice something lovely, but I mostly use it to help them snap out of the cycle of negativity, bickering, or fixating on things they can’t have.
- Where do you feel it? It’s super helpful if they can get the mind/body connection, so I will reflect back “You’re looking sad. Where does the sad show up in your body?” This is something I’m still learning to do as an adult, so when my five year old tells me “mommy I’m feeling anxious in my tummy” I feel relieved she can make those connections already.
- Push me, baby. When I can see my kid is getting really aggravated and it’s written all over her body, another way to get her out of her head and into her body is to get the pent up energy out. I just put up my hands and let her push into me. I give her a bit of resistance, but then I let her push me over. She. Loves. It. And, it helps her to feel powerful.
My big girl has a really hard time winding down for bed at night. Any forward folding or twisting yoga postures can be helpful at bedtime, but here’s a few other mindful practices I like to talk her through. Disclaimer: this doesn’t always help her fall asleep more quickly, but for me it’s more about planting those seeds.
4. Nigh-night body. I talk her through a body scan including gratitude. We start at the feet: “Thank you feet for carrying my weight all day. It’s time for you to relax and rest. Nigh-night feet. Thank you legs for moving me around and helping me to run today. Now you can go to sleep. Nigh-night legs.” You can even incorporate tensing and releasing each area.
5. Belly breathing. Bring their hands or yours to their belly and see how much they can fill up the belly. On the out-breath teaching them to completely let go with a nice deep “ahhhhh.” You can even use a stuffed animal on the belly and they can watch their friend rise and fall.
I hope those ideas help you hang on to some sanity when your little ones are going insane! We all have lots of moments when we don’t have time, or we’re just tapped out energetically ourselves, to do these little exercises. But hey, that’s part of our healing work–to realise and accept that we’re human. We do what we can, when we can and we let go of the idea of being the perfect parent.
Now, let’s just hope for a ride home this afternoon that doesn’t include two kids arguing and swatting at each other in the back seat.
No? Too much to ask for?