• Dr Missy Wolfman

5 Mindful Activities To Do With your Kids During Lock-down To Help Them (and you) Feel Calmer

It’s been over a week of lockdown (again) in Auckland due to COVID-19 level 3 restrictions, and I am getting bored. I’m running out of ideas on how to entertain my 2 now two- year old toddlers so I’ve been researching online for lockdown activities that we can do together.

While lockdown can be boring and stressful, it’s also a great opportunity for us as mums to slow down, take notice and practice mindfulness with our kids who are always reminding us to really notice what’s happening right here, right now.

Here are 5 mindfulness activities that you can do with your kids during lockdown. They are designed to help us slow down, connect with our kids, and enjoy the simple pleasure of life. These activities can help kids and adults feel calmer. Best of all, they are free and lock-down friendly. Adapt these activities to suit your kid’s age and developmental level.

1. Going on a safari walk (Mindful walking)

Dress up for an exciting adventure with your kids. Get them to wear their favourite gumboots or mud-gear. Let them know that you are going on a safari walk, and they will be looking for new things they haven’t noticed before. Pick up a small rock, a bug or a flower. Older kids might like having a magnifying glass or a binocular while they are on their safari. Get them to describe or draw what they see. While you are on your safari walk with your kids, try to be curious and see the world through your kid’s eyes. Notice what they are noticing, and pay attention when they are showing you or giving you something.

2. Playing I spy with the senses (Mindfulness of the senses)

You can do this wherever you are with your kids. Let them know that you are playing ‘I spy’ with the senses. Ask them to notice 5 things they can see, 4 things they can hear, 3 things they can touch, 2 things they can smell and 1 thing they can taste. Tell them what you are noticing as well and compare notes. Ask the question – isn’t it interesting that we can be in the same place or even room together and notice completely different things? This can lead to a discussion of how everyone’s experiences can be so wildly different yet all valid.

3. Blowing Bubbles (Mindful Breathing)

My kids, like any kids, love bubbles. Blowing bubbles is a fun way to do mindful breathing. Ask your kids to blow really small bubbles. They’ll be huffing and puffing pretty quickly to make small bubbles for you. Ask them to notice how they feel. Then get your kids to blow a really big bubble. They’ll figure out that in order to blow a really big bubble they will need to breathe out long and slow. Ask them how they feel after they blow a really big bubble. Do they feel calmer compared to when they blow small bubbles? Blow bubbles yourself, and use it as an opportunity to practice breathing from your belly rather than your chest. Belly breathing is a simple and quick way to help us feel calmer.

4. Make a mindful glitter jar

Use any jar, fill it up with water, and get your kids to add their favourite food colouring to the water. Fill the jar with glitter, close the lid and get your kids to shake the jar. When they stop shaking the jar, ask them to “wait and watch” what happens to the glitter. Watch how the glitter fall down to the bottom of the jar slowly. Use this opportunity to teach them (and remind ourselves) that our thoughts and emotions are like the glitters in the jar. Being aware and acknowledging passing thoughts and feelings without reacting to them will allow them to pass – just like the glitter in the jar. Get them to shake the jar again, and ask them whether they can see through the jar clearly when there are still glitter swirling around. Use this opportunity to teach (and remind ourselves) that we need to cultivate patience and stillness so we don’t react when our mind is clouded by swirling thoughts and intense emotions.

5. Mindfulness of the Body to help relax before sleep

When you tuck your kids into bed at night, play this game with them. Massage their feet and say “Your feet have done so much for you today – walking, running, dancing and jumping”. Move up to their legs and say “Your legs have worked really hard for you today – taking you to fun places and supporting your body”. Massage their stomach and say “Your stomach has had lots of yummy food” and move upward to their chest and say “Your lungs have worked hard so you can run and play outside”. Place a hand over their heart and say “Your heart has done lots of loving and you are loved”. Move upward to their lips and say “Your mouth has said so many words and you’ve sung so many songs” then move to their nose and say “Your nose has helped you breathe all day”. Move to their eyes and say “Your eyes have seen so much today”, and lastly move to their head and say “Your brain has done so much learning and thinking today”. Finally, say “It’s time to say thank you to your body and your mind, and allow them to rest for the night. Good night”.

I would love to hear your thoughts and comments on these mindful activities. Have you tried them with your kids and how did they go?

Want more strategies to help you and your kids feel calmer during COVID-19 pandemic and lock-down? Book your 15 minute chat with me below.

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