When we first moved into the A frame, we started a weekly family meditation time. The same day of the week, same rectangle carpet squares, same four humans. It felt like a lot of change and moving into a new house is a lot to take in for a little one and it was a simple way to reconnect as a family and share our hearts, apologize if needed, start fresh, talk about intentions and share what we were grateful for, what we want to work on and move our bodies through stretches or yoga. We all enjoyed it so much and found that it enough so much value to our family life, to slow down together. So now we do it closer to everyday if we can and the carpet squares are torn and worn and a year later, definitely need to be replaced.
There are are many ways to incorporate meditation, rest, or slowed activity into a child's world and can't express what a difference it's made in Luella and now starting to see Minoux as well.
Here's what works for us:
1. Start small. Don't expect much.
2. Give them a physical space to be on. A blanket, a carpet square, a log, a rock. But don't expect them to stay there and don't shame them if they wander away from that space.
3. Everything stays positive. Draw them back in with a tender voice, an open mind, or a story. Keeping a smile on your face and an open lap or arms open lets them know they are welcomed and heard and seen.
4. Find your flow. We begin by going around the circle saying that we are grateful for. What we are excited about. Max and I will take turns asking:
"Are there any worries on anyone's minds?"
"What do you want to get better at today?"
"What is one thing you like about yourself?"
5. Bring in a reading or a song. A poem, a Bible verse, a children's story with intention, or a quote.
6. Verbalize mantras. Max always leads us through these and they are simply phrases we repeat to each other and ourselves. With many things in life, the way we speak to ourselves and our kids becomes the voice in both our heads and theres. It sets the tone for the morning, the day, and essentially, our life. Its the same route I used for laboring girls. Nine months long of empowering phrases to my body and mind make for tricking myself into just believing it. I can share more on that if you'd like!
"My body is healthy."
"I am grateful to be alive."
"I will love myself and others today."
"I will offer those around me grace and kindness."
7. Bring in physical movement of some kind to either warm up or cool down. Yoga, stretching, expansion of the lungs, or literally jumping up and down until all the wiggles are out and then sitting again calmly.
8. Have your children choose the timer sound on your phone or timer. Start small by telling them that for the next 10 seconds, 25 seconds, 45 seconds, 5 minutes, "we will all sit still without talking and our eyes will be closed until we hear the song play." No shame, let them watch you do it even if they don't want to or can't. Gently welcome them back to their space with a kind smile and voice and a simple "shhh". Listen for the sound. Point to your ears. Smile. Each time you practice they will get better and better and even if they hate it the first 10 times, number 11 might just be the magic moment.
9. If they scream, "No!" Try saying, "That's fine if you don't want to join us. Right now it's quiet time. You are welcome to sit with us when you are ready." Carry on, if even for yourself to have a moment of peace. They are watching regardless.
10. The goal is connection and trust building. The less expectation we have as parents, the greater the results. Guide them in, welcome them, accept them for wherever they are at that day showing that they not only can trust you, but that they are enough just the way they are.
We hope to incorporate this into our girls' life for as many years as we can. I imagine the topic of conversations will change as the years do, but to come together as a family with an intentional time to just exist seems to ground a level of trust and openness that we hope to give and have with the girls for the rest of their life. An "it's okay if you come to your mat angry, sad, excited, or happy. We just want to meet you there."