As parents, we all want the best for our kids and to find ways to support their wellbeing and happiness. I have developed some tips that guide you on this journey and with reminders that I hope help you continue creating an environment for your family to thrive.
We also know that sometimes even parents need reminders to look after themselves! So, some of these tips are there to remind you, to look after your wellbeing as much as you would for your kids.
Remember that “you can’t pour from an empty cup” and when you look after yourselves, you also model and teach your children that too.
Create a Routine
Routines keep us all sane. They give kids a boundary to work within and that is what helps them thrive in uncertainty and in the unknown. Remember when developing a routine that it’s about working out what is best for your child, as well as what works for your family too.
Boredom isn’t a bad thing
Don’t worry if your kids say they’re bored. Being bored isn’t a bad thing, as it can ignite a spark in them, that encourages them to think creatively about other ways to entertain and engage themselves.
One way to support your kids through boredom is to co-create a list of activities that they can do when the feeling comes up. This encourages them to take ownership of their boredom and make choices about what they can do to ease it.
Gratitude is such an important quality to cultivate. Set aside time daily to talk to your kids about what they’re grateful for. You can do a ‘What Went Well’ for the day or ask questions such as:
– What/Who are you grateful for?
– What do you love about…?
– Describe a memory you cherish
– Describe a mistake you’re glad you made
A reminder for those tough moments
“When your child is having a meltdown, remember, it’s their crisis, not yours. Breathe deeply. Calm yourself. Then use a quiet voice and gentle hands to guide your little one through their crisis. That is living what you want them to learn.” L.R. Knost
Mindfulness and Breathing
Mindfulness has a powerful impact our kids. It can not only help to quieten the mind but also creates calm and focus.
Spend time in the morning or afternoon (or both!) practicing mindfulness with your kids. There are many ways to bring calm and stillness to their bodies and minds and it’s important to find a way that best suits them.
Some ideas for this are to:
– get them to lie still and quiet whilst listening to soothing music,
– ask them to focus on their breathing and taking deep breaths in and out,
– get them to practice settling the body by breathing through one area at a time,
– colour quietly and with focus.
Breathing mindfully is also another technique that helps kids to centre themselves and to breathe through any strong and intense emotions they may feel.
You can do this through:
– encouraging your kids to breathe for a set number of counts, or
– guiding them to go outside and take deep, mindful breathes whilst focusing on a sound they hear.
Mix up Routines
Routines are important for kids to know what is happening and what needs to happen. But often the weekday routines bring about some more rigid timings than weekends, so it is important to ensure you have different routines for them.
Have a routine for weekdays but modify the routine for weekends. Mix things up, change the activities, timings and expectations. This will take some pressure off you and the kids and will also allow some space and quiet to just be in the moment.
Balance is so important. We often can get so stuck in doing things and ticking things off our to do list that we forget that there is a need for balance between work and play. Kids operate better when there is a balance of both these aspects in their lives, as do adults!
It’s also about understanding what works well for you and your family. You don’t need to push yourself to have everything right or perfect, identify what is manageable whilst considering the other priorities and values of your family.
* Remember, that with balance comes time and space to create those special memories as a family.
Each day we encounter moments that put a smile on our faces and bring happiness or calm to our lives. But we are often so focused on the big goals and achieving them, that we forget to stop and celebrate these small wins.
Start a daily habit of writing down a small win with your kids. It can be anything they want to celebrate or acknowledge or even something they may usually take for granted.
Slow down, reflect and celebrate. There is a lot of good, we just need to make space to see it.
Daily Emotions Check-in
Talking about and expressing emotions is an important part of developing resilience for kids. Every morning and evening ask them to share what they are feeling and why.
“Sometimes you need to rain before you can shine” ~Kimochis
Having the space to express their emotions is really important, not only as it helps them get it out of their systems, but it also helps them understand that their negative emotions are just as important as their positive ones.
A good way to work through the emotions with our kids (and for ourselves) is to not only talk about it, but also to journal it. It gets them thinking about their emotions in a way that helps them to understanding what they’re feeling and why they might be feeling it.
*If they are finding it difficult to write it down, encourage them to draw a picture to help explain how they’re feeling.
Talking about strengths and the fact we all have them is important in empowering your kids to own what they can do. Ask them to note down the key strengths they have and how and when they use them. To help start their thinking, you might also share what you consider their strengths to be.
Once you have this language of strengths, use it to praise or reinforce positive behaviours with your kids.
* If you want to build your vocabulary of strengths have a look at the VIAcharacter.org website or even just google a list.
Savouring helps us to step outside of a moment to appreciate it. It can also strengthen positive emotions when we are doing something we love because we stay present and aligned to what we’re experiencing.
Practice savouring with your kids, by picking one experience to truly savour each day. Spend time, be present and appreciate the experience which may include a nice shower, a walk outside, a family meal or any other experience you enjoy. To enhance the savouring experience, share what was noticed as a family during mealtimes.
Involve your Kids in the Everyday Routines
Get your kids to help you with the cooking, cleaning and activities around the house. This helps them to see how working together makes light work but also shows them real life examples of what they learn in school.
For example, when baking kids see the application of numbers and measurement in practice, which helps them to retain their learning of these concepts.
Connection is something we all are seeking as it gives us comfort and helps us to feel safe. Create this in your family unit by spending focused and quality time playing games or doing activities together.
Ask your kids to reflect on and share with you 3 new things they have learned about themselves or their family members throughout the week.
This reflection on experiences helps them to acknowledge the good things and the small wins, whilst also developing gratitude.
A great message for our kids to have is that, “courage doesn’t always roar, sometimes courage is the quiet voice at the end of the day whispering, ‘I’ll try again tomorrow’.” ~ Mary Anne Radmacher
This idea of courage and perseverance is an important part of developing resilience and thriving.
Consider sharing this quote with them or having a night time ritual that allows them to let go of the day, so they can start fresh tomorrow.
“Almost everything will work out again if you unplug it for a few minutes, including you.”
Don’t forget to unplug sometimes and let your mind quieten. It reminds you that everything works out in its own time and that rest is important for our bodies. And it also shows you that it is in this calm and quiet that inspiration and creativity hits.
It is also so important for our kids to see this modelled too, these habits of wellbeing and self-care start from a young age, what they see you do will become what they want to do.
Mistakes are part of life and so it is important for our kids (and ourselves) to learn to use these mistakes as ways to learn and grow, rather than as problems to get rid of.
As we work together, as parents and kids, on this journey mistakes will be made. So, the earlier we teach our kids that they’re ok and that they are, in fact, beneficial, the better equipped they are later in life.
“Don’t try to be perfect. Life isn’t; no one is. Use mistakes and mishaps as opportunities to grow tolerance and to teach.” ~ Teri Hatcher
When you focus on wellbeing and self-care in your parenting and for your kids, you are not only supporting the development of habits, but you are also developing a safe environment filled with love, connection and gratitude for your family. It is within this environment, that your kids can and will thrive!