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At Body Ecology, our mission is to improve the health and happiness of adults and children. Along the way, we discovered Meg Brown, former corporate executive, single mom of two adopted boys and Body Ecology follower. Meg’s focus on empowering parents to create healthy, happy families is what inspired this Conscious Parenting column. You can follow Meg and her family’s journey at www.ConsciousFamilyJournal.com.
Did you have a wonderful family vacation this summer? Do you even remember your family vacation this summer?? For many of us, the transition from summer fun to school, clubs and organized sports can be stressful, to say the least. In the blink of an eye, the rhythms of lazy days and backyard fun give way to “early to bed, early to rise”... with every minute in between scheduled to the max. Welcome to the school year!
Early fall is a time of transitions. Here in the northern hemisphere, long, hot, sunny days have given way to something a little cooler and shorter. For our children, unstructured, carefree days spent outdoors have been replaced by the scheduled, date-driven obligations of school – spent largely indoors, sitting still.
As the pace picks up and the leaves fall, it may feel like your life is spiraling out of control. What’s an over-scheduled, sleep-deprived family to do? Here are some conscious parenting tips that just might help you ease into the school year with a little more fun and a little less frenzy than our family has experienced in the past!
We all know that children (and families) thrive on a certain amount of predictability.
Design your ideal AM and PM routines. Start with the basics: Ask your children to make a list of all the things they need to do before going to bed at night and to school in the morning. Put as many of them in the PM routine as possible (except breakfast, of course!)
Make a couple posters to hang in their bedrooms, bathrooms and the kitchen, reminding them of the schedulethey created. A sense of ownership is key to successful implementation!
Most of us need more sleep than we are getting.
Autumn is a natural time to start catching up on some Zzz’s. Agree on standard times for going to bed and stick to them. Make bedtime a special time to connect with your children. Read together. Talk about “the best thing that happened to you today.”
Debrief and re-frame negative experiences as needed. Spritz their pillows with a little lavender water and put some soft music on the CD player. Tuck them in with love, no matter what.
How much sleep does your school-aged child need? The National Sleep Foundation recommends 10-11 hours for children aged 5-12; teens need 8.5 to 9.5 hours per night.1
Based on personal experience, protecting family sleep time can be the single most effective way to ensure your mornings are calm and enjoyable.
We all know this, but unless you’ve really tried it, you are missing out.
Quality sleep isn’t just for the kids: Put yourself to bed at night. Giving up late night TV in favor of a peaceful wind-down ritual and a couple extra hours of shut-eye will change your life, I promise.
Imagine waking up full of energy, grateful for the new day and all it will bring.
It doesn’t have to be the stuff of fairy tales. Teach your children and yourself to take a few moments upon waking, before you open your eyes, to take several deep breaths, and express gratitude for all that is good in your life. Smile, even if you’re not sure why.
Keep doing it until it becomes a habit and you don’t have to remind yourself.
Consider adding some mindfulness practices to your daily routines.
Yoga, meditation and visualization techniques are all easily adapted for children.. Yoga Pretzels is a great oversized card deck with one yoga pose per card, designed with children in mind. You can mix and match to create different routines each day. Have fun identifying each child’s personal favorites. Keeping the entire family centered and grounded will reduce stress and add joy to your days
Need a quick pick-me-up? Borrow some tips from the world of Energy Medicine.
You can give yourself an instant lift by tapping or massaging your “K-27” points, acupressure points on the kidney meridian. Find your K-27’s by tracing your collarbone from each side toward the center, until you reach the inside corner.
Then move your fingers straight down about one inch below the collarbone, looking for a soft spot or indentation. Take some more deep breaths as you slowly tap or massage for about 30 seconds.2 (We call these “monkey thumps” at our house... it may not surprise you to find that your sons, in particular, enjoy beating their chests as they start each new day.)
Adjusting to the change in seasons takes time. Be kind. Be gentle. Be patient.
You’re not supposed to be perfect right out of the gate. So what if your son misses the bus two days out of five, or your highly anticipated family yoga time gets bumped because last night’s homework is still, shall we say, undone? Take some deep, cleansing breaths, smile and try again tomorrow. Parenting is the most important job in the world. It’s worth practicing a bit.
PS: I just realized that I’ve suggested taking a deep breath four different times in this article. Maybe this is the best parenting tip of all: Just breathe. Until next time.
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