The holiday season is here which means lots of food, gifts, parties and STRESS! With the need to have perfect homes, give perfect gifts or have perfect children, we often set the bar impossibly high for ourselves during this season and then feel upset when our celebrations don’t live up to our expectations. We often end up transferring stress or disappointment to our kids and we lose sight of what the holiday season is all about.
But, don’t fret just yet. There are ways to ease through the holiday season and make the most of this festive time with our kids. The key is to not lose connection with the present moment and miss out on all the beautiful things that make the present so beautiful. The answer lies in being more mindful and aware of the precious time in hand.
Remember, mindfulness isn’t just about meditation. It simply means to slow down, breathe, experience and feel the life around you using all your senses.
Ways your children can be more mindful during the holidays
Cooking is all about taste, smell and touch so it is a wonderful idea to include your children in cooking and baking for the season, allowing them to help with as much preparation as possible.
- Ask them to think about how ingredients feel and smell as they prepare them. Even little ones can help in tearing lettuce for a salad!
- When eating special holiday treats, encourage your child to taste slowly, savoring the flavor, texture, and aroma of each item. Ask them to describe how a treat tastes.
- When making and eating traditional family items, tell your child the story of the dish and the memories you have around it.
- Be grateful:
The holiday season is a great time to get your children to think about what they are thankful for and to remember that there is so much more to this season than just presents, glitz and glamor.
- As a family, take some time to write notes to people you are thankful for–family, friends, neighbors, community givers, caregivers.
- Ask your child to think of some non-toy or -electronic things or experiences they are thankful for.
- Every so often, at dinner, or driving in the car, ask everyone to name something that they are thankful for. You might be surprised by what you hear.
- Practice mindful breathing & yoga poses
We all need to breathe! If you think your child is feeling overwhelmed with the holiday excitement, encourage them to try some breathwork.
- Consider trying five minutes of quiet breathing together every evening before story-time and bedtime during the holiday season in order to establish a calm and consistent pre-bedtime routine.
- Consider practicing some poses with your child, particularly when you think your child needs to re-center.
- Blowing and creating bubbles is a fun and playful way to practice deep breathing exercises.
Gift-giving and receiving can be a great time to teach kindness, empathy and gratefulness.
- Get your child to think about what simple item or experience might be gifted to others and instead of focusing on its cost, focus on what it will make the recipient feel. Gifts are not about how much money is spent on them but rather they show the giver’s care and admiration.
- Encourage children to make gifts. This engages sight, touch, smell and taste if the gift is baked or cooked.
- Wrap gifts together. This is a lovely experience for kids to use their senses to touch, feel, measure, etc. and you will also get to spend more time with them which is an added bonus.
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ABOUT THE FOUNDER
Internationally Recognised Emotional Literacy & Mindfulness Expert Tenille Bentley is the founder of The Emotional Literacy and Mindfulness Academy and the author of the children’s emotional literacy books with Jazzy and Pinky and The Energy Ball. Giving children a wonderful introduction to understanding their emotions and what to do with them.
Tenille has been featured on Channel 9 News and other major outlets. Her work has been recognized in the community by The Governor of Western Australia, The Prime Minister of Australia, and Australian Financial Review.
As a child, she experienced severe anxiety and emotional traumas as well as bullying which left her feeling isolated and unable to understand why she was feeling the way she did. As an adult, this impacted her ability to make healthy decisions because she didn’t have the tools to understand her emotions.
This is why she is passionate about equipping parents with the tools to support their children to make better decisions in life and healthy ones to help support and create a balanced home life.