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FIFO Families – Get Organised In The Overwhelm

I recently did a short talk at a FIFO family event in Perth, (hence why there are so many children running across the stage!)

In the video below I will share with you the systems and processes that have worked for my clients and our family over the years.

Keeping to a set routine when Separated by Work is challenging. Every family has different needs and every working away roster has unique demands. Yet having a plan and being organised will decrease the overwhelm, and you will be better able to cope with the day to day tasks and responsibilities.

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Not Home for Birthdays

We have two big birthday months in our home, June and September. My husband has been a FIFO (fly in fly out) worker for the last eight years and he is rarely home for any of the actual days. The first couple of years were the hardest for us all, but as the years went by our family became accustomed to his absence, and we developed ways that everyone’s presence is still felt, and the birthday boy or girl feels special and celebrated.

After talking to many families in similar situations, who ask me for ideas to keep connected when apart on a family member’s special day, I felt moved to share how we celebrate and create birthday memories.

My top six tips for families separated by work on birthdays are:

  1. Overthinking it is the number one enemy! I strongly advise you to not become completely immersed in the fact that you are away or your loved one isn’t there for the special day. This will fuel negative and destructive feelings of missing out, loneliness, isolation and seclusion. This type of thinking will put a dark cloud over all celebrations, which you will regret later.  Instead, attempt to keep as upbeat and prepared as possible, stay focused on a day of festivities and activities, and have a good time.
  2. Just because you are apart, no one is forgotten! Even though one family member is away from home, the day is not less important or forgotten by anyone. It certainly doesn’t even have to be downplayed.  We have instantaneous ways to communicate at our fingertips, we can pop up on screens to join in on the party and we can pre-plan activities to be involved in on the day.  At times, being separated by work on a birthday can make the day seem much more special because of the effort involved.
  3. Let your friends step up and help you celebrate! Instead of downplaying the day, hiding it, or telling people it is no big deal – let others make it a big deal. Even if you must arrange it, (I have found though that friends usually love being a part of the planning) have a group of people around you to make a fuss and celebrate the special occasion.
  4. Always celebrate when together as well! It may not be on the actual date, but pre or post parties and gatherings are always fun. In the future, no one will remember what date it was you celebrated, but everyone will remember how they felt every year being the centre of attention and spoiled for their day. So, look at the roster and plan ahead so that it doesn’t become overwhelming and too hard as the date rapidly arrives.
  5. Be a positive force of festivities for your children! Your children may feel it the most – Mum or Dad isn’t here for their birthday. This is a time when we as parents need to excel in role modelling that their day is still a super special one; that everyone is involved in some way, they may even get two celebrations out of this, and that even though this isn’t everyone’s normal it is our families normal.
  6. Pre-plan, prepare and pre-book! As mentioned above, planning is key whether it is your child’s birthday or yours. Sitting down together and planning the surprises and activities for the day keeps everyone involved and excited. Planting hidden presents and notes around the house or in luggage to be found on the day certainly warms the soul for the receiver, and booking venues and events in advance avoids disappointment.

To finish off, I would like to leave you with some of my favourite activities for celebrating and to inspire you to plan yours and your family’s special moments, whether you are together or apart:

  • Finding hidden notes and presents/scavenger hunt.
  • Spending time with friends.
  • Eating out.
  • Going to the movies.
  • Having a picnic at the beach.
  • Ordering pizza and having movie night at home.
  • Cooking (and cleaning up afterwards) done for me.
  • Treat myself pamper day.
  • Doing something I love doing.
  • Checking something off my ‘bucket’ list.
  • Getting flowers and eating cake.
  • Having lots of good food, laughter and fun.
  • Outdoor activities and hiking.
  • Going to a concert.
  • A weekend getaway.
  • Taking a cooking class.
  • Winery tour.
  • Having a tea party.
  • Painting party.
  • Themed party or get together.
  • Feeling loved, spoilt and special!

I would love to hear your ideas on how you do birthdays when separated by work or when you are apart from your family – and what are your favourite ways to celebrate?

Kirsty 🙂

 

 

 

 

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A Time To Relax – Program Launch

This month I am launching my first online Mindful Madhouse 4 week program.  It has been a big learning experience (helped by a team of very supportive people) to get my knowledge, expertise and experience into this format.  I am so proud of the result and grateful for the feedback coming in.  So, watch as I tell you a bit more about A Time To Relax 🙂

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Over being overwhelmed in January?

As you enter the shops and see the isles filled with exercise books, pens and pencils; pass the shoe stores and notice that black and white shoes have taken over much of the floor space – you realise that back to school is fast approaching.

Apart from the cost of purchasing school supplies, there is a sudden realisation that madness is fast approaching – before, during and after school activities, homework expectations, uniforms to be constantly cleaned and pressed, and making sure there is enough food to prepare and pack!

My eldest is 21 years old and my youngest is 9.  I have had many years of getting it wrong, getting it right, and most years it is a bit of both!  Here I share my top 18 tips to support you being better prepared and be more productive this upcoming year.

  1. Plan and prepare to avoid chaos. This includes weekly schedules, lists and weekly meal and shopping plan. Create a flexible routine that works for your family – from waking to bedtime.
  2. Have a central calendar in the house that all family members have access to with events written on it that are coming up.
  3. At least a couple of times a week make double the evening meal and freeze half for those nights when you run out of the time or enthusiasm to cook.
  4. Make time to bake each week.
  5. Make lunches and get uniforms ready the night before. We all think we will get it done in the morning, but sometimes it is just such a rush and adds so much pressure when trying to get you and your children ready and out the door!
  6. Have bags packed and checked ready to go the night before (including the hat).
  7. I think it’s never too early to give children some responsibility –tasks that you know they can complete for their age and abilities.
  8. Give children checklists – good for parents too!
  9. It is the perfect time to have conversations with your children when driving around with your kids in the car. They can’t get out or walk away!
  10. Take weekly time out for you to de-stress and reward yourself.
  11. Get proper sleep so you have the energy each day needs and avoid getting run down and common illnesses.
  12. Eat well to feel good and keep up. Feed your kids well to keep them healthy and calm.
  13. Remember to breathe – sometimes we just need to stop, take a couple of deep breathes and then proceed.
  14. Keep at least one day free on a weekend to relax and have fun with your family.
  15. Be kind to yourself.
  16. Ask for help when you need it!
  17. 30, 30, 30 and 30 every day! 30 minutes for quiet time for you, 30 minutes listening to your children with enthusiastic interest, 30 minutes for your partner and 30 minutes making sure you have cleared your day and are prepared for tomorrow.
  18. Get up each morning with a grateful affirmative attitude and a desire to meet all challenges with a smile.

As parents, we are constantly creating, re-inventing and re-shaping whilst keeping up with all the demands and challenges of each day. Creating routines and being organised will keep everyone on the same page and help you make sure you go to bed each night feeling a sense of peace and achievement – well most days!

What can you do differently this year to make your school and work weeks run smoothly?

Kirsty 🙂

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Here Be Dragons – Book Review

I was asked recently by Exisle Publishing to review Here Be Dragons.  It says on the cover, “A parent’s guide to discovering purpose, adventure, and the unfathomable joy of the journey.” I did think to myself, “not another parenting book!”

I got to about page three and, to my delight, couldn’t put it down.

It wasn’t like any other parenting book I had read or reviewed.  I loved what was different. It is written by Annmarie Kelly-Harbaugh and Ken Harbaugh – from how they met, how they developed as people together and apart, and how they met each challenge once they became parents.  I found it to be an honest and personal insight into both parent’s experience and how they felt about it and dealt with it – and is full of humour only parent’s would appreciate!

I felt a part of Annmarie’s and Ken’s lives as I turned the pages and could relate to their many experiences; as well as how they had overcome the tough times.

What stood out for me though was how they described real issues faced by all of us once we become parents –

  • How mothers are judged differently to fathers.
  • Working through career goals and meeting the needs of your children.
  • Who does what, when.
  • How imbalanced it can be – and that is perfect.
  • Getting the right people around you.
  • Weathering each storm, knowing it will pass.

Then it is all tied nicely together at the end with a section of topics and questions for discussion as you examine your own ‘story’.

I highly recommend Here be Dragons for parents of any age children.  Whether it is for reflection, guidance or amusement – this book has it all.

Kirsty 🙂

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Less Stress at Christmas

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Christmas is a special time of the year filled with joy and reunions – with parties to host and attend, guests and visitors to catch up with and gifts to exchange. Not to mention the shopping trips, planning and preparing, holidays, getaways and day trips to enjoy.

Christmas can also be extremely stressful, exhausting and challenging – for kids and parents alike. Sometimes getting everything done so that the big day is ‘perfect’ can end up leaving you drained and your children filled with agitation.

To beat the blues and have everyone enjoying the season to its fullest, here are some approaches to keep Christmas as stress-free as possible for you and your family.

Firstly be aware of the signs of holiday stress in your children. Signs of holiday anxiety can include –

  • Tears for seemingly minor reasons.
  • Nervous behaviours such as nail biting and ?hair twirling.
  • Physical complaints, such as stomach-aches, headaches, fatigue, diarrhea.
  • Regression to younger behaviours – bed wetting, eating with hands.
  • Withdrawal from friends or siblings.
  • Any behaviour that your child doesn’t normally do could be a sign of Christmas anxiety.

Helping family members, especially children, cope with holiday stress involves knowing their personalities and limits. As their parent you are the expert in this. So when the anxiety hits, take a breath and a step back, and consider how you could best manage the situation.

Here are some of my suggested stress management tips for your family –

  • Take children out of the spotlight during Christmas events at relatives’ or friends’ homes if they are feeling uncomfortable.
  • Combine parties and get-togethers to reduce the time you spend partying.
  • Stick with the routine as much as possible. Keep stressful holiday shopping and eating out to a minimum.
  • Start preparing for Christmas early to avoid holiday anxiety.
  • Ask your children what makes them feel better. Do they wind down with music, reading, spending time with you or playing with their friends, brothers or sisters? To help children calm down at Christmas, encourage them to do what they love often.
  • Make sure your children and you are eating nutritious foods, drinking lots of water, and getting exercise and time outside – a antidote to holiday anxiety.
  • Talk to your children about traditions and spirituality. If you have traditions, explain why they’ve stayed in your family. That sense of knowing why things are done this way will bring a sense of calm.
  • Bring a favourite blanket, pillow or stuffed animal (or other age appropriate familiar thing) if you’re staying with family or going away over the holidays. A bit of home always helps to be more relaxed.
  • Cope with your own holiday anxiety. The less holiday stress you feel, the more relaxed your children will be.
  • Volunteer at a charity, kids’ hospital, community centre or a cause (big or small) that is meaningful for you. Volunteering at this time of year brings a sense of contribution, satisfaction and involvement – and as the whole family gets involved there will be a moment where you all feel a connection to the true spirit of Christmas.
  • Lighten the mood with funny movie marathon days, park afternoons and cozy chats with hot chocolate treats – just getting out or staying in having fun together and laughing to let go of any built up stress.

Remember that with all its sparkle, expense and lists – the point of Christmas is togetherness, laughter, sharing, connecting and love. I often like to think of a word to represent my Christmas time. This theme keeps me on a calm purposeful course without getting caught up in the hype of shoulds, coulds, must haves and must dos. This year my word is appreciation.

What is your word this year?

Kirsty 🙂

 

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Must haves in your home – Book Reviews

I have just reviewed two books for Exisle Publishing and want to share what I thought with you all.  It is rare that I come across books that I think should be in every family home.  These two tick all the boxes! They would both be excellent gifts for your family or friends, and  I know I will be getting a few copies as Christmas presents.  To find out more click the links below under each review.

The Art of Mindful Origami

9781925335293-copy25-01I loved The Art Of Mindful Origami from the moment I saw the cover and picked it up. Upon opening you notice that it is dedicated to experiencing each moment fully, and I could feel this concept oozing from the books pages.

There is a simple, yet powerful, synergy – the combination of understanding, colouring, folding and creating, which certainly promotes a calm and focused mind, as the author intended.

I found that Dr Richard Chambers combined the art of origami and mindfulness in such a masterful way, and each project is supported by a story about the piece to be made and mindful practice suggestions. I really liked the way it was easy to understand the explanations and exercises – even my 9 year old was hooked. It is a very nice touch providing paper, that has beautiful nature pictures on it, to use for each project, as well as paper to mindfully colour in and use to make the origami if you choose.

I highly recommend this book for all that need support setting time aside to engage fully in the moment, or to use as some great fun activities to do as a family around the table.

Find out more…

Australia: Illustrated

9781925335217-copy25-01The cover of Australia: Illustrated lets you know you have just picked up a book that will be in your family for quite some time. It is a hard cover, with a material type feel that says, “This book will become a family favourite.”

Tania McCartney has created a book that inspires discussions in the readers – big and little. As you open to the first page you are met with words describing Australia – big, beautiful and diverse. I can tell you that this is a good description also of this book; it’s content and the beautiful illustrations.

What I liked most was the colours, the engaging dialogue, and how I felt inspired to either find out more or go to visit some of the places after reading it. I felt it acknowledged how diverse and multicultural we are – yet so very Australian. As my son and I flicked through the pages I said that there was so much we were yet to see, taste and experience in our own remarkable country. We also spoke about how different one end was to another.

Our family is Separated by Work (we are a F.I.F.O family) so this book was extremely useful for us as it shared information and pictures of where ‘Daddy’ worked and gave lots of points to talk about with Dad next time he rang.

I know every family would treasure this book in their home, and have many fun and exciting conversations whilst exploring Australia through the pages.

Find out more…

I look forward to hearing what you think of these delightful books, and if your family enjoys them as much as mine did.

Kirsty 🙂

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Beyond the Paper, Pen, and Envelope — Being Mindful Online

being-mindful-online

I think I might get T-Shirts made with the slogan—“Even though we’re miles apart, a computer screen connects our hearts.” It sums up my families reliance on technology to feel close and communicate when we are separated by work.

Our FIFO (fly in fly out) lifestyle demands we use phones, mobile devices, and computers more than we would if we were seeing each other every day. We all have instantaneous methods at our fingertips to communicate. This is a wonderful thing, and I personally am very grateful for it, yet there is more to consider when navigating online communication and social media—the to do, what to be aware of, and what to avoid.

Technology itself is not a bad thing—it is how it is used that can be a cause for concern. We need to be aware that technology can completely rewrite our brain pathways. For people who spend too much time interacting through a screen, the neural pathways change and different ones are created.

A study by UCLA professor Dr Gary Small in 2007 asked three regular internet users and three neophytes to browse websites, in an attempt to point out the cognitive differences between heavy and light multi-taskers. Dr Small discovered differences in the neural activity between both parties when tasked to Google pre-assigned topics. The part of the experienced Internet users’ brains involved in decision-making and problem- solving lit up like fireworks, but the same couldn’t be said for the other half of the group.

After further testing under this study, test participants were asked to browse the web for one hour a day. Dr Gary Small discovered that the inexperienced Internet users’ brains lit up like their experienced counterparts six days later. This showed that people’s web surfing habits change their neural pathways. Online activity affects concentration, self-esteem, and people can lose empathy.

Communicating via a screen can increase a lack of empathy. This leads to people saying things electronically they’d never say directly to someone—because the person to who they are talking to isn’t physically present to display their emotional reaction. Dr Gary Small said in 2011, “I think all this online time is weakening our face-to-face human contact skills. Many people, particularly young digital natives, gain social support through their hours of texting and social networking, but does that person who averages more than 11 hours each day using technology look you in the eye when you have a conversation? I know when someone maintains eye contact, I have a greater sense that he or she is listening and interested in what I have to say. I feel a greater empathic contact.”

I think it is as if the part of our nervous system that registers the feelings of others has been paralysed or removed when we are communicating electronically. I have had times where I was talking to others electronically and they respond in a way that shows the message wasn’t received as I intended. When we discuss further they are quick to realise that they had misread what I was saying due to us not being face to face.

Five tips to use phones and computers effectively –

  1. Don’t say anything electronically that you wouldn’t say in person.
  2. Use your words well, whether you are speaking, texting, or typing. Re-read it and attempt to avoid any misinterpretation before sending.
  3. Don’t delay responding to messages you would rather avoid. If you feel you don’t completely understand, ask for more information rather than disregard, or ignore it.
  4. Listen for tone of voice cues as to how the person is feeling or hearing what you are saying, and always check for understanding.
  5. Remember emojis are not a true expression of feelings— nothing is better than hearing a laugh and seeing a smile on someone’s face.

Mobile devices and computers are not just connecting tools for family and friends. The screen world expands to include a global network of people who have access to each letter you type and the technological footprint you are creating.

I enjoy the benefit of instantly sharing photos, quotes, memories, and activities on social media with my friends and family. I like that I can support others if they are struggling and post about it in an online group I am in. Just remember though that in these online groups some people use a screen and keyboard to confront others, and some share difficult emotions that they would not do face-to-face.

Use online communication and social media properly and mindfully. The Internet is an amazing tool and it is here to stay. To make technology serve you well requires good judgment. Aim for a balance of online and in-person connecting and really think about what you are posting and how that affects others. Think about how it represents you and your family and keep at top of mind that a gentle smile or a heartfelt hug has far more power than the cleverest emoticon. Please be aware of the other person’s situation or needs if you are tagging or mentioning someone, or a company, or a site on social media groups. If in doubt, get their permission first, or wait 24 hours and see if you still want to type and send that message.

Kirsty 🙂

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Become a Master Blender

blending

I would like to introduce one of my favourite parenting strategies – blending.

I have become a master blender—I can blend activities to make sure that everyone’s needs and wants are met. I can blend to create a learning or fun space for my kids while I am getting a job done or relaxing. I find blending offers many opportunities to connect with my children, hear them, and be present with them completely. As my children grow I make changes to fit in with their needs and values at their current age.

blender-576331_1280Most activities can be blended. Just be aware of the ones that require your 100 per cent focus and place those in your calendar at a time when there are no interruptions. Once you identify the blend-able ones you can work them into your weekly scheduling. I have grouped activities by age to get you started. There are many more depending on your area, family situation, and family interests. Get together with your family to create more ideas.

Six activities for five and under-

  1. Baking and cooking together. Children enjoy watching, stirring, and touching. There is something about food that brings a family together. Give them their own bowl and let them go for it. You get your kitchen tasks done and have a chat and bond along the way.
  2. Walking (either pram-ing it or on their little bikes). Great way to get out, exercise, and talk about bugs, butterflies, birds, and trees.
  3. Meet friends at the park. Big people and little people combination time.
  4. Reading a book. Don’t forget the all important tickle time.
  5. From about three years old, let them help you clean. Give them their own cloth and/or bucket of plain water and guide them through the task.
  6. Sing and dance together.

Ten activities for primary school ages-

  1. Baking and cooking. Both my older children can bake and make a couple of main meals. Very helpful on make your own dinner night.
  2. Get out and kick a ball or play catch. Good for developing their skills and revisiting yours, and lots of laughing.
  3. When at sporting practise, catch up with new and old friends, take a book you have been meaning to read or listen to your music. Remember to watch them too.
  4. Brush your daughter’s hair and style it, play make up, paint each others’ finger nails and swap foot massages— Dads can do this too.
  5. They can read to you or practise their dance rehearsal while you do the dishes.
  6. Plan holidays, meals, and weekly activities together.
  7. For boys, lots of hugs, draw monsters and aliens, and build an indoor car tunnel and ramp out of toilet paper rolls.
  8. Play cards and board games. Join in on their video/ computer games. It can be a quick or long game—the point is to learn, laugh, and connect.
  9. Read with them. Have a time each week where you all lay out on your bed or carpet and read. Each one of you has your own book, it is just quiet time spent together, no talking; just learning to be in a room silently with someone you care about.
  10. Watch movies with them. Bring out the popcorn, blankets and turn the lights out. We have movie night every Friday and the kids love it.

Eight activities for high school ages-

  1. Afternoon snacks around the bench. Great time to chat about their day. They don’t tend to move while food is there.
  2. Go out to dinner and movies date. Go to a big people’s restaurant, rather than McDonalds.
  3. Play cards and board games.
  4. Plan holidays together.
  5. Just be there. The most important thing is to be there for your pre-teen and teen. Be present and withhold adult Talk to them about you and your day often. Don’t expect lots of conversation—yet be open for it.
  6. Shopping—especially for the girls.
  7. Extreme days out. Try rock-climbing, abseiling, swimming at a waterhole, or something in your area that is different. Their curiosity will get them wanting to join you and join in.
  8. Offer to do pick up and drop off to their destinations, sporting events, parties, and friends houses. Allow it to fit into your schedule as much as possible. It is a perfect time to be in touch with what they are up to, meet the friends, chat in the car (they can’t get out) and show you support them.

I make time each day for all my children to have one-on-one contact time. They know that in that moment I am just with them, for them, and not distracted by anything else. I am all ears, eyes, and heart. I ask questions to get them talking. This is the time I enjoy the most, even if it is just a few minutes.

What I like is that for that few minutes I get to look through a window into their rapidly changing world, and understand a little bit more about how it is for them.

How can you become a master blender, or how are you already juggling it all?

Kirsty 🙂

 

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Reducing childhood anxiety through mindfulness and meditation

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A child that experiences anxiety can be one of the most difficult things you have to face as a parent. You may worry that your parenting skills are lacking if your child experiences outbursts of anger, reactive behaviour choices, nervousness or panic attacks.

Anxiety has become increasingly common among children as young as four. Statistics show that one in every ten will experience intense anxiety at some point during their childhood. Stress, fear and anxiety is a fact of life for both children and adults – and the way your child’s brain processes the fight or flight response has a great deal to do with how he or she reacts to a perceived threat.

That’s why teaching your child to manage anxiety and stressful situations effectively are some of the most important life skills you can give them. By teaching your child how to breathe, meditate and perform other stress reduction techniques, they are able to deal effectively with the stressors that are a natural part of modern life.

Mindfulness and meditation are particularly effective stress management tools and are widely known to increase calmness and a sense of wellbeing, promote better health and clear cluttered and cloudy thinking – even for very young children. By guiding your child through meditation or bringing your child back into the present moment where they can take back control and calm down, you are giving them a very special and long-lasting gift.

When children are taught regular meditation and mindfulness techniques amazing results have been documented, including –

  • An increase in attention span
  • Having better concentration
  • Are less likely to experience regular illness – have a stronger immune system
  • A marked improvement in studies/academic results
  • More imaginative and creative – which leads to a resourceful and more resilient adult
  • Have a sense of peace, calm and safety
  • Show more problem solving abilities
  • Less disruptive behaviour and angry outbursts

After a period of time, and with your guidance, they will learn how to still their busy minds and be more present and calm. From there, they will develop a more confident outlook and disposition. Over time your child will be able to create a solitary space within themselves that is safe – a space to think, breathe, calm down, and remember or imagine.

I have taught all three of my children to meditate, relax their muscles one by one, and take a couple of deep breaths when needed. From a very early age I encouraged them all to just check in to ‘right now’. To take a long slow deep breathe and feel the breath go in through their nose, travel down their throat, fill their lungs, and expand in their belly like filling a balloon. Then, let it sit there for just a couple of moments, and then exhale, blowing all the air out. As they did this, they could imagine feeling a sense of release and calm. I would get them to do it a few times – slow and controlled, and with an awareness of how they were becoming more relaxed.

My youngest son, who is now nine, has me smiling in many stressful situations. As he notices my posture changing, my body becoming tense, and he can possibly see steam coming out of my ears. He calmly walks over, puts his hand on my arm and says, “Mummy, just take a deep breath in – and hold – and let it go. And again, breathe in, and out.” Can’t get more stress relief than that!

The next thing I made a priority to teach my kids was to S.T.O.P – an acronym for mindfulness. I have shown many of my clients and students this skill over the years, but I found children took to it easily and quickly.

S.T.O.P stands for –

S = Stop right now

T = Take a breath

O = Observe what is going on around you and within you – just observe it, then

P = Proceed with your next action or non-action – whatever you feel most appropriate, beneficial, and right for you.

Most parents find it a challenge to get their child interested in meditation and seeing the benefits of pausing to be mindful. Our little people are full of energy and easily distracted, and the thought of having to be still and quiet can seem very boring, even impossible to them. You can grow their interest and love of meditating and being mindful when you begin by making it fun. You can make time regularly to guide them through the process until it becomes a habit they can easily follow through with on their own. Most kids will hold still for meditation if it’s something that Mum or Dad takes time out to do especially with them.

Keep your meditation periods short as you begin.

A child that is under five years old, for example, may only stay still for two minutes – and that’s okay. Slowly increase the length of time you spend on sessions as your child begins to take an interest. At first, you may have them start by laying down, but in time they can meditate while sitting cross-legged on the floor, by standing, or even during a walk. The most important thing to do is to make these times fun and relaxed.

You can encourage your child to practice deep breathing techniques by blowing up a balloon or blowing feathers as far as they can, then transition to imagining blowing up a balloon and blowing a feather.

Take a deep breath in ‘filling the belly’ for three seconds, hold, and then exhale for three seconds.

Do this three times to begin and once done for a while they will automatically know that when something is causing them anxiety they can take 3 deep breathes to calm down.

Here’s a simple guided meditation that I have used many times to get you started.

  • Remember to make this fun and relaxing for both you and your child. You can play soft music and lay on the floor or on the bed with pillows if that helps.
  • Begin by telling your child you are going on an adventure, using their imagination. Have them stretch out their arms and legs and allow them to go limp. They can close their eyes (usually the will peak occasionally!) Then count down from ten – as you do tell them that they are getting more comfortable, having a wriggle if they have to, and feeling more relaxed.
  • Then talk them through relaxing each part of their body, taking their awareness to each part as you say it, from the tips of their toes to top of the head. Name each part and ask them to imagine the muscles in that part relaxing and going soft as marshmallows.
  • When your child is relaxed, ask them to visualise a beach on a warm, sunny day. They can imagine standing on that beach in their mind, seeing the waves as they crash against the shore, hearing the wind blow and birds fly overhead.
  • Have them visualise the patterns of the waves as they wash over the shore, over and over again. (You can use any scene – a forest, a castle, a river, the backyard – anywhere you know they will feel happy to be there.)
  • Have them breathe in and breathe out softly, gently and regularly. Allow them to rest, feeling comfortable and safe. You can then use your imagination and trust your own intuition to guide them, with plenty of pauses, to where you want to go. You could walk along the beach feeling the sand in your toes, see a rock pool with lots of sea creatures in it, have people on the beach, sit under a tree, or even have a magic carpet ride! My children loved having a worry tree at the beginning of the meditation appear so they could hang all their worries, one by one, on it. When it was time to finish the meditation I would bring them back past the worry tree and they would find all their worries had disappeared.
  • When they are ready to come back out of the meditative process, ask them to take a deep breath, feel the floor beneath them, notice how calm they are and stretch their arms and legs – and smile.

You can also try a recorded guided meditation with your child. There are many options out there from beautiful music to someone talking and guiding your thoughts and imagination. I have found that children respond very well to background music and their parent’s voice – whether they are present or it is pre-recorded. In my personal experience, children are highly responsive to inner smile meditation, which promotes a healthy immune system. I believe this is because kids naturally and instinctively know the benefits of a big smile and happy thoughts. You only need 10 – 20 minutes ‘time out’ with a child a couple of times a week to see great results.

How could you introduce more meditative and mindful moments into your family’s life? What would be the benefits if everyone could S.T.O.P more often and be calmer?

Kirsty 🙂

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