Helllooooo Parents! It’s been a dreadfully long and gloomy winter here in Pittsburgh and throughout much of the Northern US. Seasonal changes are EVERYTHING. Cabin fever is real. This pandemic winter has been the closest my family has ever come to authentic animal hibernation. It’s still a bit chilly and we aren’t yet ready to bust out our inflatable pandemic pool. In this blog, I want to discuss mindfulness activities for kids.
In a previous life, I was a therapist and I spent a lot of time coaching grown-ups through Mindfulness practices. As a parent it’s been so pleasurable to be pulled into the natural mindful presence that each of my children have had as babies, then toddlers, and now as young children. When it comes to the traditional understanding of Mindfulness practice, adults have so much to learn from watching children at play.
While there are lovely Mindfulness meditations for children in print, my bliss as a parent is simply to launch children into deeply engaged play. Mindfulness is no more or less than the exercise of bringing your full attention into the present moment. Children tap into this capacity to focus deeply all on their own when they’ve got great opportunities to engage it. Below are just some of my favorites in Springtime. Hopefully, they can help all of us begin to shift out of hibernation.
All of the suggestions below are things you can do with or without a lot of yard space.
We love to start the hunt for mushroom sprouts once the weather turns. In our city, they come up in all kinds of places and when we are lucky enough to make it out to a forest trail, we find a whole different variety. Part of the joy is in the search, part of the joy is in revisiting the same patch over several days. Many of our local mushrooms only last for 3-5 days and observing their growth cycle is fun, fascinating, and sweetly peaceful. To increase her sense of purpose and connection, one of my kiddos loves to bring along her camera and capture images of our finds.
This is our family version of stopping to smell the roses. Except mushrooms are weirder, wilder, and dirtier – completely on-brand for my family.
Yes. Swinging. Yes this is definitely a Mindfulness practice. Pushing that baby on that swing or pushing that big kid on that swing is a fantastic opportunity to be fully present in a sensory experience together. It’s such a glorious feeling to be completely in sync with our kiddos, even for only a minute or two at a time.
Honestly, my wonderful neighbor is so much better at doing this with his kids than I am, but… I really dig it when we take a tennis ball launcher out with our goofball puppy. It becomes a pretty great run around the field for all of the people involved too.
Our kids can go solo on digging in the dirt for shockingly long periods of time. Maybe I’ll have cultivated garden beds in some other phase of life? For now I just love watching them fully present, digging and shaping and constructing. If you don’t have a yard, I’ve also seen the same full engagement from my kiddos on a patio with a bag of kinetic sand.
Wash Those Windows
Just a little at a time and keep your expectations realistic, but a spray bottle and a rag are a heck of a lot of fun to play with. This isn’t a job for perfectionists, but it is a great job to do side by side with your toddlers through early childhood. Growing up I always experienced this kind of cleaning as a chore, so I have been completely shocked to see my kids naturally take to working alongside me with window and mirror washing chores.
This was an activity that I’d nearly forgotten about until one of my 6 year olds started to get a little obsessed a few years ago. She’s a pro now. I challenge ANYONE to jump rope mindlessly. If you can pull that off it’s probably because you’ve already given it a ton of mindful practice.
Whether indoors or outdoors, on a makeshift plinth or a ready-made balance board, or a low city garden wall… balancing is FUN and MINDFUL. It’s baby Parkor for beginners who may never get any better and don’t care if they look silly in the process. Choose your challenges wisely, but we always get a lot of traction out of tiptoeing along a raised curb together.
Emily Kane, a part of the Flexable Team. Learn more About Us.