There may be a lot of stress around at the moment – for parents and for children. Here Josephine Meehan from Springboard Family Support Project shares some fun relaxation games for families which can help us to unwind. This article is part of the “Parenting through Covid 19 – helpful hints to keep home life happy” which was produced by the staff of Springboard Family Support Project and Finn Valley Family Resource Centre.
When some people think of mindfulness they conjure up images of Buddhist monks sitting alone on a mountain chanting! However as a parent I have found mindful practices a valuable resource for my self-care toolbox. It is a great gift to instill in children which they can use in lots of different situations they may have to face in the future. It really is just about paying attention to the present moment. The best way to teach a child to be mindful is to practice mindfulness yourself. It is not always easy to stay calm and mindful, believe me I know!
Here is a simple technique for parents or caregivers who find themselves upset and out of touch with the present moment.
- Stop. Just take a momentary pause, no matter what you’re doing.
- Take a breath. Feel the sensation of your own breathing, which brings you back to the present moment.
- Observe. Acknowledge what is happening, the good or bad, inside you or in the environment. Just note it.
- Proceed. Having briefly checked in with the present moment, continue with whatever it was you were doing.
There are lots of mindfulness videos, music and helpful resources and techniques available free online, but just remember not to get too bogged down in the science of it or whether you are doing it right or not. Mindfulness for children should be fun and help us as parents/carers to explore, reflect and learn about ourselves and our children. We are all on a learning journey.
Here are a few simple exercises that will encourage relaxation in a playful and
interactive way for parents and children.
Pretend you have a nice smelling flower in one hand and a slow burning candle in the other. Breathe in slowly through your nose as you smell the flower. Breathe out slowly through your mouth as you blow out the candle. Repeat a few times.
Imagine you can reach up to the tree and pick a lemon with each hand. Pretend you have a lemon in each hand. Squeeze the lemons hard to get all the juice out – squeeze, squeeze and squeeze. Throw the lemons on the floor and relax your hands. Then repeat, until you have enough juice for a glass of lemonade! After your last squeeze and throw, shake out your hands to relax.
Pretend you are a feather floating through the air for ten seconds. Suddenly you freeze and transform into a statue. Don’t move! Then slowly relax as you
transform back into the floating feather again. Repeat as many times as you like making sure to finish as a floating feather in a relaxed state.
Pretend you are a turtle going for a slow, relaxed turtle walk. Oh no, it’s started to rain! Curl up tight under your shell for about ten seconds. The sun’s out again, so come out of your shell and return to your relaxing walk. Repeat a few times, making sure to finish with a walk so that your body is relaxed.
Our thanks to Josephine Meehan Family Support Worker, Springboard for these great ideas. You can find more helpful hints to keep home life happy here