I was first introduced to the concept of mindfulness 3 years ago. At the time I was not in a great headspace. I was a very jealous person, consumed by technology, and well… completely jaded about life in general. Long story short, I started practicing yoga, meditation and mindful living. I now live a more balanced and happy life. I’m not going to say I never get jealous or angry, but now I at least have to tools to deal with low vibration emotions.
Teaching your family to be mindful is one of the best things you can do for their well-being. You may be thinking this sounds like a bunch of hoo-hockey, hippie-dippie stuff, but I assure you it’s not. Being mindful doesn’t mean your home is filled with Buddha statues or is zenfully feng shui’d. Being mindful simply means you strive to be the very best version of yourself.
Put your family on the fast track to mindfulness with these 10 activities:
1. Establish your goals. Maybe your goal is to create a compassionate home; a non-judgmental home; a joyful home; a creative home… you get the idea. It’s really up to you to figure out what is truly important to you and your family. Once you’ve thought about your goals, write them down. Frame them and hang them in a spot everyone can see.
2. Give technology a time out. That sounds far more terrifying to me than it should. I’m not going to lie; I’m addicted to my cell phone (as are most people my age). So challenge your family to turn off all cell phones, televisions, computers, ipads, etc. for at least an hour each day. This new quiet time will allow your children (and yourself) time for self-reflection, which is the basis of mindfulness.
3. Encourage journaling. Journaling is a great tool for developing mindfulness. Journaling time gives your child a chance to think back through their day and express their experiences. It’s a time to really think about all the choices made throughout the day. Would they have done something differently? Did they impress themselves with a very mature decision?
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4. Be altruistic. Compassion and friendship are deeply rooted in mindfulness. Volunteer as a family at a local soup kitchen, animal shelter or even support a neighborhood project and watch as your child’s sense of interconnection grows.
5. Make self-care a priority. Everyone on the face of the earth deserves “me time.” Whether you’re a stay-at-home dad or high-powered executive mom, you deserve time to relax and rejuvenate. Give yourself permission (without any guilty) to take a little time for yourself. Whether you take a yoga class, take a bubble bath, or even go grocery shopping sans kids, make it a priority each day or week to take a little time out to rejuvenate yourself. Allow your children to have “me time” as well. Make sure you’re giving them ample time to just be a kid rather than over scheduling them in structured activities.
6. Enjoy a mindful walk. Every evening, my fiancé and I go for a mindful walk. We usually walk for 30 minutes to an hour around our neighborhood. If we’re feeling adventurous, we’ll take a hike up Mount Beacon before dark. During our walks, we’ll take time to notice our surroundings. We’ll point out little lizards we see running through the grass or even stop to admire gigantic leaves that have fallen to the ground. The first 10 minutes of our walk, we’ll ask each other about our day and share our experiences. The last 10 minutes of our walk, we designate as silent time. During silent time we’ll simply listen to the sound of the crickets chirping, the frogs croaking, etc. Take your family for a mindful walk 3 or more times a week. You’ll be amazed by all of the interesting and new things you’ll discover along the way.
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7. Practice mindful eating. Can I get a show of hands: how many of you have eaten dinner standing up at the kitchen counter after everyone else has already chowed down? Or sucked down a PB&J in the car on your way to soccer practice? Mindful eating is all about slowing down and engaging all five senses while eating. Encourage your kids to smell, look, touch, taste, and even listen to their food. When you practice mindful eating, you’ll begin to truly savor each bite. You’ll slow down, which aids in digestion and you’ll enjoy meal time more.
8. Give mediation a try. At first the thought of meditating seemed bonkers to me. How on earth would anyone expect me to “quiet my mind” for one second, let alone 20 minutes or more?! However, once you find a mediation guide that works for you, you’ll be chomping at the bit each day for your nightly mediation. There are tons of guided mediations on YouTube that you can listen to for free. Click here to enjoy one of my favorites. As for mediating with kids, you can’t just tell a child to “focus on their breathing” and expect them to have any clue what you’re talking about. Instead, try this awesome Spider Man mediation with your kids. You can change it up to be about any character your child adores.
9. Reflect as a family. When I was younger, my parents and I used to sit around the dinner table each night and take turns sharing our “peak and pit” of the day. This time allowed us to reflect on the great experiences we had during the day. It also gave us a chance to think back to some of our negative experiences and discuss how we could have handled the situation differently. As an adult, I still participate in this mindful practice with my fiancé each night. Start a new tradition with your family tonight by sharing your peak and pit around the dinner table.
10. Fill your home with happiness. If you’re anything like me, you believe mornings stink. Not only do I hate being roused from my comfy bed, but I just seem to wake up in a crappy mood each day. To combat my mood, I’ve made a morning music playlist that I listen to upon rising each day. My playlist is filled with songs that elicit tons of joyful emotions! It’s a quick way to raise the vibrations in your home. Some of my favorite feel good songs include:
- "Can't be Denied" by Devin Lima and the Cadbury Diesel
- “Born this Way” by Lady Gaga
- “I am not my hair” by India Arie
- “Me Veda" by Devin Lima and the Cadbury Diesel
- “Tubthumping” Chumbawamba
- “Girls just want to have fun” Cyndi Lauper
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Brittany L. Morgan is the web editor and executive assistant to the publisher at Hudson Valley Parent. She lives a mindful life with her fiance in Fishkill.