Making the Most of Summer
I came across this article in green child magazine about conscious parenting in the summer. It speaks to some ways to support making the most of the coming summer including having a schedule which may be on a continuum of flexibility, exploring, creating a bucket list, and activities to do together. Hope it is an enjoyable read!
Summer Fun Ideas for the Whole Family
Many years ago I came across this list of fun ideas to do as a family. I still enjoy reading through it and passing it along to families. I felt called to share it in this blog with the recent summer solstice and summer holidays for children just around the corner.
Summer memories are some of which children hold on to and look back on throughout their life span. And as they grow older and have their own families will carry on some of the wonderful traditions that you started with your child(ren). I hope you enjoy this as much as I have!
Great Articles for Fathers
I came across these articles in a recent newsletter from Aha Parenting and felt the need to share. Please find the titles and links below. Hope you find something meaningful within them!
Articles That Will Help You Grow As A Dad
5 Things I Wish My Father Did More When I Was Growing Up by Steve Cessario, writing at Fatherly
Why Being a 'Manly' Dad Can Be So Bad for Your Kids by Ross McCammon, writing at Men's Health.
Nature and LIfe's Hard Lessons by Jacob Baynham, writing at Outside Magazine.
I Tried ‘Peaceful Parenting’ and It Turns Out I’m an Angry Dad by Patrick Coleman, writing at Fatherly.
Setting Limits with Teens and Preteens by Dr. Laura Markham, writing at Aha!Parenting.
Real Men Do Cry: 3 Ways I’m Teaching My Sons Emotional Honesty by Stephen Ebbets, writing at Fatherly.
Engaging in Nature Art
Eco art is well known in the art therapy community and I wanted to provide two tangible ways to bring this into your own home. There are numerous benefits to engaging with natural materials including supporting the environment by minimizing waste and connecting with mother nature in meaningful ways. In addition there are numerous benefits to engaging in creativity including feeling better about oneself, seeing tangible accomplishment, and self-regulation for the nervous system as we are often focused in the present while in the creative process. Here are two ways to engage in nature art:
1. Nature Mandala's
Finding any items from nature you wish to use that you find naturally on the ground, such as sticks, stones, fallen flower petal, pinecones, and leaves. Starting with a centre item and creating layers of circles around the centre. Continue the circles until you feel it is complete or until you run out of materials. Provide opportunity for your child(ren) to share about what they created and how they felt while creating it. I also encourage parents to make one while their child is making their own.
2. Clay & Nature
You will need clay, something to cut shapes or a safe tool to carve the shapes, something to create a small hole at the top of the clay sculpture (if you wish to hang it), modge podge, paint brush, cookie sheet lined with wax paper, and items from nature you wish to press into the clay (petals from a flower, fallen leaves, grass, or any other items that can easily be pressed.) Following this press clay flat and carve shapes, place on cookie sheet with wax paper, then choose nature item to press in, help your child(ren) to ensure it is pressed in well so it is flush with the clay around, create a hole at the top, allow to dry and then modge podge. Once dry you can put a string through it and hang it outside to enjoy all summer long.
I remember reading this article a year ago about the contribution of father's in a child's life, and with Father's Day approaching I felt called to share. The information reinforced all the wonderful things the presence of a father brings, and highlighted for me the importance to support father's being more involved in their child's life. Please share with father's in your life, and for father's please take a moment to acknowledge all that you do and how treasured you are in your child(ren)'s eyes. Happy Father's Day to all father's as parenting is a journey and we are taking one step at a time in the direction we need to go!
Benefits of Gardening
Gardening resonates with me and the therapeutic benefits it encompasses including possibilities for self-regulation and life skills for children. It supports self-regulation through being present in the moment, engaging in senses especially with touch, and the innate ability to self-regulate when we are deeply connected with earth. Then there are life skills that are gained including the following four:
1. Teaches them about nurturing and taking care of new life.
What better way of teaching metaphorically to children about growth, and what it takes to nurture a part of nature. Learning how to take care of something, and watching the outcome of their investment.
Seeing what it takes to keep a garden alive, including time management and organization regarding regular watering, turning the soil, and pulling out weeds around it. It also teaches the direct impacts when it is neglected; allowing for important life lessons and natural consequences of actions.
3. Taking care of the earth.
Supporting children is seeing how important it is to take care of nature and the earth; right down to the quality of the soil and the microorganisms in soil.
4. Being more closely connected to where food comes from.
Learning about the cycle of seed to plate. For those parents who have challenges getting their children to eat more veggies, research shows the more children are connected in the food making process they are more likely to eat what is served. Ways to support this connection can be through gardening, cooking in the kitchen as age appropriate, or choosing the vegetables with you in the grocery store (this can be more challenging with the pandemic).
These are starting points, and there is so many other benefits and ways to support children with gardening. Please take these as a place to get things peculating in the mind, and what will make the most sense for your child(ren) and family!
I came across this article from CMHA's latest biweekly update. It speaks to the mental health impact of the pandemic on parent's. They also provided the full research article which speaks further to the work, family life during the pandemic. This article unfolded the starting point for this post and the importance of integrating mindfulness breaks even for one minute a day. If it seems almost impossible to have a moment's more time, I hear that and encourage you to give some space for the need for replenishment and not allowing your "tank" to be running on empty. Here are four tangible ways to integrate a mindfulness break:
1. Deep breathing break.
Simple connecting to your breath noticing where it is at. Noticing whether it is shallow, mouth breathing, or holding. And consciously shifting to inhaling through your nose to a count that feels comfortable, holding if this feels right for you, and breathing out through your mouth for a few counts longer than the in breath.
2. Movement break.
Standing up and moving around in whatever way that feels right to your body to find balance. One that can help people move towards this step is tensing the whole body like a stick for a few moments than jumping up and release allowing your body to become like a wave.
3. Outdoor break.
Getting up and walking around outside or simply taking in some fresh air whether you walk once around the backyard, stand for a moment on your balcony, or go outside and breathe in the blooming flowers.
4. Guided Meditation Break.
Whether this is finding a phone app that supports this for you, or utilizing YouTube Channel that can support this, there are varying amounts of times of different meditations. Favourites of mine are The Mindful Movement and The Honest Guys. UCLA also has 8 guided meditations in 9 different languages.
Integrating a new habit takes time, so even starting in really small ways in the step in the right direction for whatever your wellbeing goals may be.
Mindfulness is at the foundation of so much of the work I do with my clients. Mindfulness in its essence is about being present in the moment to all life unfolding internally and externally. With countless benefits to mindfulness engagement solo and in relationship. This post provides four ways to engage in mindfulness with your child(ren):
1. Sitting in the grass together.
As simple as it sounds finding a space in the lush green grass to sit with your child(ren) for as long as they can stay focused. Describing what you notice to be in the grass (texture, colour, scents). To further the experience can tell your child(ren) if you notice any life in the grass such as bugs, weeds, etc.
2. Noticing the sounds around.
Explaining to your child(ren) will be paying attention to what we hear in our environment. Provide examples of what sounds you can hear far away and ones that are closer. Encourage your child to describe what you are hearing.
3. Paying attention to the birds.
Looking outside or from a window paying attention to any birds that come and leave. Even if there is no birds that appear the process of focusing in the moment and being attentive to what we are seeing is being present. If birds appear can share what you are seeing the bird do, and encouraging your child(ren) to share their experience.
4. Rainbow walk.
One of my favourite go to mindfulness activities for all ages. Going on a walk in your neighbourhood or in nature, looking around to find something red, then orange, then yellow, then green, then blue, and finally purple. Repeating as many times that seem engaging to your child(ren).
I am a Registered Psychotherapist and Art Therapist. And I have been writing this blog since May 2021 about various topics including parenting, supporting adult and child mental health, and holistic approaches. The intention of this blog is to provide resources and information to others, however it is not intended to take the place of therapy. If you have any questions about anything written please reach out to me.