As families across the globe work through the effects of COVID-19, job losses, pay cuts, home-schooling, fear of illness, lack of social interaction and increasing amounts of isolated time with family – it is no surprise that many of our conversations have turned to our concerns about the mental well-being of ourselves and our children.
While some us may be starting to see the impact of this pandemic within our homes, and we don’t yet know exactly what the residual effect may be over time, now has never been a more appropriate time to start building resilience, connectedness and consciousness into our families.
Building daily rituals around mindfulness is a great place to start and we asked our friends at Mini Mindfuls for their advice on how we can incorporate some daily rituals with our families. Here are their 7 go-to daily rituals that you can start to practice with your families today:
1) Make use of Mantras
A mantra is a frequently repeated positive statement used to affirm the way you want to live your life. Mantras are hugely beneficial at any given time in a person’s life but now, more than ever, this form of positive self-talk is absolutely necessary for parents and children alike. We suggest creating 3-5 personal mantras that you can use in rotation and saying them aloud to model this practice to your children.
Some of our go-to mantras are…
- I can do hard things
- This too shall pass
- I am enough
- From gratitude comes growth
- Breathe in, breathe out. I can settle with my breath
The Mini Mindfuls Complete Toolkit includes 60 Peaceful Parent Affirmations & 12 mantras for children ages 3-12.
2) Introduce Daily Breath Work to Start Calm & End Calm
Family life can be busy at the best of times, but as the impacts of COVID isolation is starting to appear, now is a really crucial time for families to pour energy into creating calm within their households. It’s not a perfect art nor an end-goal that you achieve just once. Creating harmony in your home is a daily practice, just like maintaining relationships. The more you pour into this, the more you will get. One sure way to incorporate calm is to introduce a daily breathing practice.
We suggest starting and ending the day with this breathing practice and of course, adding it into moments of chaos. Use this breathing practice as an anchor in your day to help promote peace within yourself and your home. Remember to include the entire family in this practice to keep you all united and moving together in the same direction.
The week 5 breathing practice from the Mini Mindfuls Complete Toolkit is a great place to start…
- Start by holding your hand out in front of you with your fingers spread apart
- Use your index finger from your other hand to run it up the side of your thumb and then down the other. Then up the side of your index finger, and so on. When you go up…breathe in. When you go down…breathe out
- Use your hand as a visual reminder of these five deep breaths for calm!
3) Recognise Moments of Mindfulness
Our favourite definition of mindfulness is simply, being fully present to experience the magic in each moment. When you practice mindfulness you are able to fully be in the moment with no judgement. This means you can let thoughts come and go like a clouds passing in the sky. There are a number of times within a day that we can practice a moment of mindfulness. We encourage your entire family to look out for those moments and start to use them for your own Moment of Mindfulness.
Children are particularly brilliant with this concept because they still have the ability to play, pretend, create & love without worry or fear (or a very long to-do-list) creeping into their thought pattern. However, in such worrying and uncertain times, our children will undoubtedly be experiencing a whole new set of their own concerns. So, this practice of recognising moments of mindfulness is so important for the entire family.
Speak to each other about it. Make it a family mission to find these moments together and then take a couple minutes to chat about what your moment of mindfulness was and how it made you feel. You will all be pleasantly surprised at how these little moments become the favourite parts of your day!
Some of our favourite Moments of Mindfulness are…
- Playing a board or card game
- Building Lego or doing a puzzle
- Planting & watering the plants
- Washing dishes
You can also use Mini Mindful’s Complete Toolkit for a new weekly mindfulness practice and at-home activity for 12 weeks!
4) Insist on Self-Care
Parents, this one is for you. The saying ‘you can’t pour from an empty cup’ is absolutely true. It might be difficult right now to find that time and perhaps you’re even feeling guilty for needing it, but you have to begin to reframe the idea of self-care. Finding 15-20 minutes a day to fill your cup means that you can approach your entire family in a kinder and more mindful way. The ripple effects of this time for self-care are far-reaching!
A few self-care ideas for you are…
- Light some candles & take a bubble bath
- Put on a podcast you love and tune everything else out
- Go for a drive and listen to anything other than Disney soundtracks
- Get stuck into a book
- Listen to a guided mediation
5) Find Your Feelings
Mini Mindfuls dedicate an entire week in their Complete Toolkit to finding our feelings through building self-awareness. This is such an important concept for children and parents alike. The ability to find your current feeling and validate it is the first step in working through the feeling (especially the tough ones). Naming it to tame it and feeling it to heal it, start with building our own self-awareness.
A few little reminders around the topic of voicing feelings…
- Acknowledge – Repeating a spoken feeling back to the person sharing it is a really important first step in creating a trusted space
- Validate – It takes real vulnerability to speak our feelings, so to ensure your children will continue to feel safe to share please remember to validate. You may not share the same feelings, or even think that their feelings seem unreasonable, but it is not your job to judge. Their feelings are not a direct reflection on you. Try to remember to validate wherever you can to keep the lines of communication open
- Plan of action – When your child is expressing tougher feelings (ie. anger, sadness, confusion, worry, fear, loneliness) try and remember to work together to find a plan of action that helps to resolve these feelings. Saying ‘don’t feel sad’ is not going to take sadness away from your child. It will only send the message that it is wrong to feel sad. Try ‘I can see that you’re struggling and I hear that you’re feeling sad. I am here for you. What can we do together to help you feel better?’
Some easy ways to start the conversation around feelings are…
- Use the Feeling Finder in week 7 of Mini Mindfuls Complete Toolkit
- Use magnetic letters on the fridge to spell out ‘I am feeling…’ and encourage your children to spell out the feelings they are experiencing
- Create a Feelings Jar full of individual strips (one for each feeling) that your child can pull out and create the facial expression for
- Ask in passing – remind yourself to quickly check in with each other throughout the day
6) Practice Gratitude Daily
We know that from gratitude comes growth, and this is exactly why a daily practice in gratitude goes a long way! According to PositivePsychology.com, ‘evidence has shown that a regular attitude of gratitude can make us happier, increase psychological well-being, enhance our positive emotions, increase our self-esteem and keep suicidal thoughts and attempts at bay.’ (https://positivepsychology.com/benefits-gratitude-research-questions/)
In week 3 of the Complete Toolkit, you explore the practice of gratitude; and because we know it goes much deeper than saying ‘thank you’, we incorporate the strategy of Notice, Think, Feel, Do. Adding a daily practice in gratitude can be done by simply taking a minute every evening to name your gratitudes for the day. We encourage you to turn this into a fun game for your family by going around in a circle to each name a gratitude as quickly as you can. Speed it up as you go and it always ends in laughter – just one more thing to be grateful for.
7) Write a Family Mission Statement
Having a family mission statement is a brilliant way for your family to align your values and direction. When you’re united in your family’s mission it means that you always have an anchor to come back to. When things are smooth you can relish in your family mission statement coming to life and when things get a bit bumpy, you have a really impactful reminder to get back on track!
Mini Mindfuls recommend writing this together as a family and hanging it someplace in your home with high visibility as a continuous reminder.
You can print the FREE Family Mission Statement template on their site (www.mini-mindfuls.com) to start writing yours today! Mini Mindfuls are offering their Complete Toolkit for only AED 99 (normally AED 185) in their Summer Sale!