No parent wants to think of their little one as stressed out, anxious or worried, and while we do our best to provide a happy home, stable environment and endless care and support for our children, we know we can’t protect them from every bump, big or small, that life will throw their way. As a parent, it can be difficult to see our children experience any kind of hiccup, whether it’s stress at school or conflict with friends and while it’s important that we allow our children to navigate their way through their lives as they see best, it’s also important for us to arm them with tools to cope so that they can flourish, thrive and succeed in the big bad world.
‘Mindfulness’ as a concept can, at times, be a bit of a mind maze, encompassing many disciplines, traditions and actions, but one of the most important things we can learn, and in turn teach our children about is the act of self-care. Self-care is something that can be uniquely tailored to each individual and practiced in many forms. It can include exercise, meditation, yoga, spending time with friends or even spending time alone. The most important thing to remember is that during this time, you and your needs come first. Use this time to reflect, focus on yourself and on what feels good/relaxing for you.
Teaching your child about self-care and allowing them to choose how they wish to practice this is an excellent way to introduce and instill Mindfulness from an early age. There are many benefits to practicing self-care and Mindfulness as a family and many ways in which you can easily, and cost effectively incorporate it into your daily and weekly routines. Yoga is one such option you can explore and you don’t need to be an experienced yogi or an expert in stretching to try it at home with your family!
We know there are many health benefits associated with practicing yoga, but beyond our physical wellbeing, the practice can be extremely beneficial for our mental and emotional health too. Practicing some basic beginners stretches with your children will not only introduce good exercise habits, but it is also an excellent way to encourage family bonding too. There are lots of websites and YouTube channels you can access for free, many of which introduce basic beginner stretches and tailor workouts to little bodies too.
While there are many advanced, more difficult poses and stretches to try too, it’s important to remember to relax, enjoy and have fun wherever you can. This time is not about nailing the perfect pose, but more about bonding with your children, catering to their abilities and allowing them to relax and feel safe and comfortable throughout their self-care practice. The more you practice together, the more you can encourage your little one to make up their own routine that feels good for them and helps them express themselves as comfortably and creatively as possible.
With technology at our fingertips and especially as your children get older, the temptation can often be to opt for some TV or Netflix time before you get some shut eye, but trying out a 20 minute stretching routine before you settle into bed can help encourage a relaxing sleep and be a great way for your child to offload any worries or anxieties they may have about the next day.
If yoga doesn’t suit you and your family, there are plenty of other Mindful exercises you can try together, such as meditation, nature walks, listening to relaxing music and taking time out to talk about and acknowledge how each other is feeling. For more inspiration on wellbeing activities to try, check out the parents resources section on the Super Troopers website.