Yes, you read that right. Calming activities to do "with" kids. Because parents need calming activities also. And doing any activity with a parent is simply delightful for kids.
PURPOSE OF CALMING ACTIVITIES:
In our house, we do these things in the morning before school because the morning schedule is so chaotic. If we can incorporate 5-10 minutes right before we walk out the door to do some calming activities, it helps improve our mental clarity and mood significantly. Plus, a major coping skill that everyone needs for the rest of their entire lives is simply breathing to calm down. So, some of these calming activities naturally let you focus on breathing, or force you to just breathe.
SCHEDULING CALMING ACTIVITIES:
I get it. There are mornings when everything is so far behind schedule that you're just worried if you'll have time to dry your hair. BUT honestly, every type of schedule needs a little extra padding to accommodate those little unplanned delays that always seem to happen.
So, pad in at least 10 minutes for a calming activity. Most mornings you'll probably end up with 3-5 minutes for the activity, but that's really all you need to help re-focus moods and breath!
These ideas are not in any particular order...
When we take a few moments to do yoga in the morning, it's always full of calming laughter because we have a yoga dice. So someone throws the yoga dice and whatever pose it lands on is the pose we all do. We can fit in about 2-4 poses before it's time to head out the door.
But we giggle. And the giggling helps set the mood for the day. Sometimes we make up our own yoga poses and yell it out for the fun.
Like the time we saw a "pooping dog" as we were driving down the road. One of the kids yelled out "oh, look it's the pooping dog pose". Since our yoga dice doesn't actually have a pooping dog pose, someone usually pretends that's what it landed on. So that makes us get into the funniest pose possible to mimic that dog.
Laughter makes you breath. Laughter helps you start the day in a good mood.
working on a PUZZLE
This is the calming activity I recommend doing the least. We have graduated to putting together 1,000 piece puzzles, after starting with 300, then 500 pieces.
It's just addictive.
We never want to stop putting together a puzzle when our time is up, so this can be a problem! But having an ongoing puzzle that you work on together as a family is a bonding activity that has a definite goal. And you definitely know when the goal has been reached because you have a puzzle! Putting some modge podge on the puzzle to hold it together so it can be framed is a way to forever preserve your family's calming activity.
It's a good reminder of the moments you spent together to achieve a goal!
READING AN INSPIRATIONAL PASSAGE
Words impact us. Did you know that some kids go through an entire day with only hearing negative words? Well, when your kids start their day with positive and inspirational words, the positivity will stick with them throughout the day and possibly roll over into other days whenever they're repeating the passage you shared with them.
And by passage, I don't necessarily mean a Bible passage. It can be an inspirational quote for them to think about throughout the day and then discuss at the dinner table, or later whenever you have some one on one time together.
Just give them some food for thought in the morning by reading something that you feel is inspiring for them, or something that will help them in life or even just help them get through the day.
listening to Songs
Music can turn a mood around quickly. In our house, we have morning playlists filled with songs that are intended to add joy and a sense of calm to our day. We listen to it on days when we're all in the kitchen at the same time getting something to eat.
It doesn't require extra time...just remembering to turn on the music! And since the kids like to sing along with the songs, it's a good activity that helps them practice breathing. Win-win!
NOTICING THE SUNRISE
Sometimes the most beautiful and inspiring moments for calm are the ones that we tend to overlook. This is true of sunrises in the morning and sunsets in the evening. I am always amazed that God gave us this beautiful transition from night into day and from day into night.
Imagine if God had decided to suddenly switch from night to day by popping the sun into the "on" position instead of slowly letting it rotate around rising as it does. Our eyes would be in shock from the sudden lighting change.
But instead, we all have a few moments in the morning to witness a humongous artistic event in the sky as the sun peeks over the earth's horizon to begin the day. It's often breathtaking. And it's one of those types of activities that if practiced on a regular basis, will always remind your child of you.
I'd love to say that I'm consistent with praying over my kids in the morning, but I'm not. On those mornings when I don't get to pray over them, I do let them know that I'm praying for them throughout the day. And I am.
But when I do get to pray over them, I simply put my arms around them either individually or as a group and pray. First starting with thanking God for trusting me with this child, then I thank God for all the joy they bring, then I ask for God to guide and comfort them throughout the day, letting them be filled with His love.
Sometimes my husband prays over me, and it just brings such peace to my heart to hear him talking with God about our relationship and thanking God for His love. I would think that for a child, being prayed over would bring some sense of comfort and makes a good practice that they can do with their own children when they become parents.
I don't recall my parents ever praying over me, but wow...wouldn't that be a great recurring morning activity to remember from your childhood.
JAR OF COMPLIMENTS
Write down everything you love about each of your children and then cut each one into a strip to place into a jar or box. Other people in the family can do this as well. In the morning, have your kids pull out a couple of the notes from their own jar, and read the nice thought.
Hearing a compliment about yourself first thing in the morning is a great way to start the day off right, especially for kids!
BLOW OUT THE CANDLES
Blowing out the candles simply consists of pausing to breath just like you'd blow out a candle. It truly serves a greater purpose than just breathing before school to gain a sense of calm....the main thing is that it is practice for when your child REALLY needs to take a break and breath.
Like, when you sense that they're about to fly into a meltdown. Practice makes perfect. It's also a good trick for us as parents because sometimes we just need to pause and focus on breathing in order to calm down also.