The pandemic has been extremely challenging for mamas worldwide, especially those in lockdown. Keeping your sanity while stuck in your house is no small feat when you are homeschooling young ones and working from home. In this article, I outline some mindful practices that can be used to overcome the inevitable stress that arises when your kids are bouncing off the walls.
JUMP IN THE BATH
Water is incredibly calming for the nervous system and a great way to wash off bad vibes if you’re in a lockdown funk. This goes for kids too. While most people traditionally bathe in the morning or evening, a midday bath is a great way to decompress yourself and children if you can feel stress or boredom levels rising. If you want to make bath time last longer, make sure you have a good supply of bath toys. Or invest in some bath crayons, bubbles or coloured bath bombs for some water fun. As for mama…if a solo soak in the tub isn’t possible, jump into the shower and imagine all of your stress and worries washing down the drain.
MOVE YOUR BODY
Although it’s not the same as heading into a studio, rolling out your mat in the middle of your living room to practice yoga is a great way to stretch out the kinks in your soul. There is so many fantastic online yoga classes and courses available that cater to every yoga style and skill level. And when it comes to littles, ‘monkey see, monkey do’. So while you bend and stretch, set your kids up alongside you with a suitable kid’s class. Sites such as Cosmic Kids has an impressive array of yoga and mindfulness classes for children that are fun and engaging. Another option? Dance! Turn up the tunes and have a lounge room disco with your kids. Not only is dancing a mood-lifter, it’s also a great way for young ones to burn off energy while housebound.
We all know that arts and crafts can get messy and potentially frustrating for mums who aren’t artistically inclined. And there’s nothing more exasperating that setting kids up with craft activities that you think will entertain them for a solid hour or two, only to have them tugging on your arm within 5 minutes. But mindful colouring is a simple activity that you can do TOGETHER with your kids as part of an intentional mindfulness practice. Not only does mindful colouring bring your awareness into the present moment by consciously focussing on the shapes and patterns on the page, but it also reduces anxiety and stress (by reducing the thoughts of a restless mind), which ultimately serves your mental health. In fact, mindful colouring has been scientifically proven to induce relaxation and is considered a form of meditation and spiritual practice, especially if you are colouring in sacred shapes such as mandalas. What’s more, it’s fun, cheap and accessible any time of day. So go buy a mindful colouring book pronto!
Mindful breath is a meditation in itself and is a fantastic way to calm your nerves. Most of us are in the bad habit of shallow ‘mouth breathing’ (also known as thoracic breathing) which triggers the sympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘fight or flight response) – which in turn stimulates a stress response in the body. Yet the simple act of putting your hands on your belly and taking 3 deep breaths into your diaphragm (in through the nose, out through the mouth) can work wonders on stress levels. Scientifically speaking, diaphragmatic breathing helps lower blood pressure, reduces your heart rate, relaxes muscles and increases energy levels (due to more oxygenated blood reaching the brain). It does this by triggering the parasympathetic nervous system (the body’s ‘rest & digest system), which helps you move from a state of alertness to a state of calm. So…take 5 to practice some ‘belly breathing’. And teach your kids to do it with you. Your nervous system will thank you.
Even if you’re not a Martha Stewart in the kitchen, one thing most people can do is bake. Whether it’s bread, cupcakes, or simple bite sized snacks, kids love getting their hands dirty in bowls of flour. The key to making this a family-friendly activity (and time killer!) is getting your children involved so they are doing the measuring, egg-cracking and mixing. Even if things get a bit messy, it gives them a chance to learn about ingredients and teaches them life-long culinary skills. The best part? Creating yummy food that kids can nibble on between meals.