My family goes in three different directions every day. Lincoln has school, and Kyle and I both have our careers. We literally phase through our schedules, some weeks without a second thought, and then wonder how it became December so quickly. I won’t lie: Kyle and I are often the fly-by-the seats-of-our-pants-and-hope-to-pie-we-don’t-mess-it-up kind of parents. Our routine and structure comes from what we have going on in our work lives, so we try to make sure that our days together as a family contain few restrictions.
Mindfulness is easier said than done. We hear it all the time: Be more present! Find more time to sit still! I always want to ask these people if they have ever dealt with an extremely active 5-year-old. Try telling a child to sit still without them somehow busting out in song, dancing, crying, or all the above. In my experience: not possible.
It’s important to me that Lincoln learning about being mindfulness is interesting to him, includes more family time, and allows him to be extremely creative. It’s all about how in touch you are with your surroundings, or in the words of the urban dictionary, WOKE.
Here are a few ways my family busts out the mindfulness at least once a week!
Have A Meal Together
When I mentioned before that our schedules were all over the place, I wasn’t kidding. With work, I might get to have dinner with my boys three days out of the week. In my opinion, it’s not always enough to see how they are doing and what they are up to. When we do get a chance to be together for a meal, whether at home or a restaurant, we take the time to check in and really talk about what is going on within our lives.
Why is this important? Little ones need to learn how to communicate their feelings, and this way they can practise with us. Adults also need to keep learning and practising how to communicate, and having one-on-one time before digging into a delicious meal is pretty awesome.
Take A Walk
Not only is walking a great form of exercise, but it gives your brain a single task to focus on (like not falling on your face!) rather than ninety different things at once. For family walks, try something new! Find a park to walk in, snowshoe through a trail, or visit a friend down the road. Even try just taking a walk in the warmer months (perhaps a little bit after dinner for fresh air and bonding time), while focusing on just the people around you, and your destination (such as the local ice cream spot, thank you Tracey’s Dairy!). It can be one of the best mindful practices to do.
Talk It Out!
Have you ever turned off all the distractions (such as cellphone or tv), and just talked to each other at the table? In the living/family room? We try to reserve at least 1 hour, no distractions, to sit down and talk to Lincoln about his day, review and discuss any family issues, decide on where we want to go for the weekend, and talk about any plans we may have. This gives us a chance to be completely immersed in what each one of us has to say.
I use my phone for work quite often, and Kyle does as well. Lincoln has his show that he can check out once a day, and there are many other distractions throughout the week between errands, events, and unexpected visitors. Taking some downtime from our active lifestyles lets us check in, and also lets our brains have a rest from being on overdrive.
We have found that here is no better way to be mindful each morning (or evening) than by using our gratitude (or positivity) bin! Here is how they work: Every day, for 30 days, write down something you are grateful for, and place it in the bin. Doing so at the end of the day is nice, because it allows everyone a chance to reflect on the day. Once you get to Day 30, everyone in the family takes turns reading the notes, one by one, until there are none left. If while you are reading them out, you get to discussing them, all the better!
Take the time to notice the great things happening in your life; by doing this, you teach your children to cultivate a positive outlook.
Get silly! Laugh loud, and interact with each other by dancing (always my first recommendation!), singing, creating a fort, or playing board games. These are just a few suggestions of activities you can do to practise being aware of what is going on around you! If you can increase the amount of time dedicated to creativity, being present will be easier.
Being mindful can be challenging, but it all comes down to priorities. What areas of your life are you willing to adjust, to be present with your family, and to bond with them? My family is far from perfect. These are just some of the activities that have worked for us, but it isn’t foolproof: sometimes we want and need alone time. Try to work with the times that you are in the same space, and figure out what you can do cherish each other more.
Join me on my wild journey through Instagram with #DoTheDaniel, and see how I try to handle life in the Ottawa Valley, running a business, being an amazing partner and being a yogi while raising this amazing child that has given me a new sense of purpose (and a few grey hairs!).
Be Kind To One Another,
Photos by Ro Nwosu