3 mindful holiday activities to slow-down the kids

We are well into the summer holidays in this part of the world. Because so many leave Hong Kong during the school holidays, it’s a virtual desert where I live. Although I often envy those who are able to take a month or more off at this time of year, keeping kids entertained for all this time can’t be easy, leaving many parents, and kids, feeling like they ‘need a holiday’ by the time they return to Hong Kong.

Downtime, slow-time or even small moments of calm might be just the thing that makes the long time away more sustainable. Here are some activities and short mindful practices that you might like to try.

Digital detox

mindful holidays - digital detox

Put the mobile devices and laptops away for a fixed period each day. 

This is familiar advice for those finding themselves on the 24/7 treadmill of work and life, constantly checking emails for work and often being expected to respond and act on work related matters in their own time. But kids could also benefit from some time away from digital devices. Meal times are an easy way for the whole family to experiment.

Getting into the habit of eating at least one meal together when no-one has a phone, ipad or laptop on the table is a great way to start a digital detox. When on holidays it seems almost compulsory to have our phones at hand, even if it’s just to capture the memorable experience we are sharing. But, do you remember what we used to do before we had powerful cameras in our phones, or if you are old enough, before digital cameras?  Well we simply ‘took in’ the experience! We used to be present with our surroundings, enjoying whatever it was that we were doing personally or together with family or friends, without having to ‘capture’ every moment on a device. Instead we captured those moments in our memories.

Kids are actually pretty good at this and don’t really need the ipad crutch. Try it out for one week, perhaps at the same time each day, extending the daily digital detox for longer each time. You might find that the kids simply enjoy and prefer the family time with whatever it is that you are all doing rather than being on their device.

Exploring new surroundings with our senses

mindfulness-for-children-body-scan-for-kids

Holidays usually mean new surroundings, new sights, new smells, new sounds. If the kids are playing up or over excited, even bored, spend some time calming them down by taking in the surroundings using the senses. When we begin to notice the external world with our senses we get new information about this environment and how ‘we’ are experiencing it.

Wherever you are spend a few moments doing this or something similar, it will calm you and the kids, and it may result in an entirely different experience for everyone.

Wherever you are find a place to sit and stop for a few minutes. 

Take a couple of deep breaths to notice that you have stopped. This will calm the body and mind.

Start with seeing, look around you, what do you all see? Name some things that you notice that seem special, different or something else.  Don’t judge (or label) what you see or create a story about that image, just simply see it. Let your eyes talk for you and let them absorb the beauty, the special, the unusual, whatever it is that they see.

Spend a moment to notice how this experience feels to you, what do you notice about sensations in your body. 

Now move your attention from seeing to listening.  Consciously open to hear the different sounds around you.  You might like to close your eyes so that all of your focus is on listening.  Notice the different sounds but try not to label them, just let them come to you – let the sounds come to your ears. 

Again notice how these sounds make you feel on the inside. Try not to judge them – like you might do when you are in HK’s busy streets – simply notice what sensations are coming up in your body as you hear these different sounds.

If you are all happy doing this for a while longer you might like to try the same approach with smelling. 

New places have new and often unfamiliar smells.  Close your eyes and breathe deeply taking in the smells around you.  Be curious about what you smell, without judgments like “I like that” or “yuck that’s awful”, and again notice what is happenings in your inner world as you experience these external olfactory sensations.

If the kids know best – try hip hop

They won’t listen to you?

Here’s a groovy hip hop artist who is right into mindfulness and has some thoughtful and educational lyrics.

Don’t Flip Yo’ Lid by JusTme

Or you might like to share some of these video’s for teens.

I hope you and your kids enjoy your experience with these mindful practices over the holidays. Feel free to share your experience, we’d love to hear about it.

Stay tuned for more ideas and activities next week.

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