Don’t Be Left in the Dark: Teach Cultural Diversity with the Best Hanukkah Music For Kids

Hanukkah Music for cultural diversity lessons.

Hanukkah is always celebrated in our house, despite not even being Jewish. We decided a long time ago that teaching cultural diversity was a lot more important than what culture, or religion for that matter, we were as a family. Not bound by preset norms, we dove into many different cultures quite easily, along with their foods, music celebrations, and history. One of our favorites is Hanukkah.

Mindful Planning for Hanukkah Music and Fun

We do try to celebrate this holiday when it is celebrated in December along with our Jewish friends, but it is OK to teach about Hanukkah anytime. We are all very busy, so I suggest celebrating whenever the calendar opens up. Actually, January is always a slow time in our family, and I can confidently say that our menorah is still on the family room table. I can bet you within a few days, the kids will be requesting some Hanukkah time. Of course, we will be happy to meet there requests with more Hanukkah food, music and fun!

Mindful Parenting Resources for Hanukkah

Given a Jewish Godmother, my kids have been greatly blessed with many gifts and resources to understand the Hanukkah holiday. Also, with both myself and my husband being musicians, we have been blessed with good ears for finding the best music. This has led to very musical multi-cultural learning in our home.

Many of our friends and family have asked over the years, for recommendations on what music resources we recommend for a variety of different topics. Hanukkah is one holiday that gets the most requests for music resources from us. I am always excited to help when asked about music for Hanukkah, as mindful parents planning mindful learning activities is so inspiring! I love to see it happening in families I know.

Our friends often ask how to use Hanukkah music resources to teach cultural diversity to their families and students. Many tell us that they feel like they don’t understand the culture and don’t want to get it wrong. They feel silly for even trying and don’t want to offend anyone or mess up!

The advice I give is to “give it a try”, take it slow, and add new concepts each year.

Kids can listen to music anytime to learn about cultural diversity.

Even Busy Homes Can Teach Using Great Music. It’s Easy.

Hanukah For the Non-Jewish Family: Cultural Diversity Lessons

Cultural Diversity is really best taught through real life experiences. Books are a great way for us as parents to learn a little about the culture first. Even kids books work for parents in this area, as they teach the basics quick and effectively. Two books we recommend are The Complete Guide To Hanukkah Book and My First Hanukkah Board Book. Also, a trip to the library is recommended for deeper understandings of the culture through various resources they have there.

Briefly, Hanukkah is the holiday of lights. The Menorah is the main symbol of the season and the Menorah celebrates the miracle of light filling the temple from the oil lamp, despite there not being enough oil for the lamp to stay lit. Many foods of the Hanukkah season therefore are full of oil. The music sets the scene for nightly celebrations where food, candle lighting, and gift exchanges occur. For a full article on ideas to have your own cultural experience through a Hanukkah party, Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious. is a good place to start.

Mindful Parents Choose Good Music for Their Hanukkah Celebrations

Weather you are Jewish or not, we all know that good music sets the scene for a good party. Just like a movie with a good music score in the background, life is so much less without beautiful sounds to make it all the more vivid. Choose the Hanukkah music resources below and you can’t go wrong teaching you kids about music and culture, simply by listening to great music.

Kids learn eaily with music leading the way!

Mindful Parenting for a Great Hanukkah with great music! Kids Love it!

Here are our top 5 pics for Hanukkah music, weather you are new to this holiday or a seasoned participant. We personally love them all! Truly, you will never need another Hanukkah CD if you get all of these. We started with 1 or 2, then grew our collection. Now we listen to these 5, and feel we are musically blessed beyond belief!

Top 5 Resource Guide: Hanukkah Music for Kids

Memories of a Winter’s Night by Jazz Sax player David Koz is perfect to spice up dinner. Typically, you here David at weddings and fancy events, so putting this in while eating dinner, or getting set for family and friends to come over, heightens the senses for a celebrations. It just makes me want to check my hair and throw on a fancy outfit. This CD will work well for Hanukkah, as well as setting the scene for holiday event sin general. The song on the Album “Memories of a Winter’s Night ” is specifically for Hanukkah.

 

The Acoustic Jewish Holiday Collection by Mama Doni is simply fantastic. Both my husband and I were grinning ear to ear when we first heard the lyrics on this CD. The musicianship is also top notch, and the use of mandolin, guitar, and banjo make the CD very Americana and hip. It gets the kids dancing, and tells a story at times. Great for background music to get kids excited to participate, great to get them listening. Another first rate CD I could not live without. Check out the video to Mama Doni’s song “Honey, This Ain’t Money” here.

Chanukkah In Story and Song is an excellent narrative and music combo. This music compilation teaches about the story of Hanukkah with lessons paired with real authentic music. It can’t get better than this! Lessons anchored by emotions elicited by the very well performed music. If you get this CD, your cultural diversity lessons for your family or students will be more than mindful! They will be simply exquisite!

The Child’s Hanukkah by The Jewish Wedding Band is really great for kids and teaching families that might not understand Hanukkah or never experienced it for themselves. It takes the listener on a journey through a night of Hanukkah and shares the joys, the music and the emotions of this celebration of light. Great for kids and parents, it is a must have to get the basic songs and concepts covered, in a way that is just purely magical.

 

Mah Tovu was given to us by my friend who is Jewish, who is also the Jewish Godmother to my kids. If you want the real deal of a Jewish Godmother bringing music to your celebration table this season, pick up this music. It is real, contemporary music you would hear and enjoy only in a household that was Jewish. We happen to love it!

Blessings of Light and Music to You This Hanukkah

So why is Swami Mommi so interested in cultural diversity this time of year? We at Swami Mommi know how important it is to understand different cultures, but also because different cultures enhance our lives here on the earth. It goes back to the old adage, “Would life be boring if we were all the same?”.

Music is an easy way to bridge the gaps in cultural understanding. It is fun, and magical, and something most of us can relate to. So weather you are a teacher, therapist, homeschool family, a family with a baby, toddler, preschooler,  kindergardener, or elementary age kid, make music, culture and Hanukkah a part of their winter season. The simple act of coming together can warm all of our hearts when it is so very cold outside this time of year.

Happy Hanukkah!

Make sure to check out the following article for more ideas for Hanukkah celebrations and cultural diversity lessons! Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious.

 

 

 

 

Don’t Be left in the Dark: Teach Kids About Diversity with Mindful Hanukkah Activities for the Curious.

Hanukkahdiversitylessonsmindfulholidays.png

Experiencing Hanukkah Teaches Strong Cultural Diversity Lessons

When we experience things, we internalize them and make them our own. Growing up in a home where Christmas was celebrated, it would be impossible to ever lose my sense of what Christmas means to me. It is a wonderful, joyful, sometimes hectic, time of year, that I just love. I feel comfortable in the Christmas season, and all that comes with it.

As an experiment, I decided that I would teach my children the same Christmas traditions that I followed, however I wanted to add cultural diversity to the mix. So, from when my first child was born, we added in Hanukkah as a traditional family celebration. Long story short, the experiment turned out positive.

Starting small and adding each year, my kids are comfortable with Hanukkah as a holiday and won’t hear of not celebrating it. They have internalized Hanukkah, and with it have internalized cultural diversity and greater respect for Jewish customs.

If my kids had only read about Hanukkah from a book, I don’t think they would have gained the richness and deep understanding of Hanukkah, that they have by experiencing it each year.

Timing: When Should a Family Learn about Hanukkah?

Hanukkah is typically celebrated in the winter during the month of December. There are 8 nights to celebrate with the dates changing each year. However, if we miss a night, or even if we miss many nights due to family scheduling needs, we simply adjust the holiday to meet our time constraints. Of course, we try to honor the precise dates, but if that doesn’t work out, we would rather celebrate than miss out on the celebration and quality family time.

Finding time during the winter months is tricky, especially around the holidays. Family bonding can be a way to help kids and parents alike with emotional development and emotional regulation. Kids are often needing down time, and time with family during the holidays at home, and Hanukkah is a perfect island in the sea of presents, Santa activities, and general holiday hectic atmosphere. A lesson in cultural diversity can be a fun way to experience something new, open up communication between parents and kids, and decrease screen time. All great ways to sooth the senses this time of year.

If your family missed out on the exact dates for Hanukkah, try to catch them next year, but enjoy a few days of Jewish holiday excitement this year. During the month of December, the “celebration of lights” will bring a feeling of warmth to your home. Try my suggestions and I bet you and your family will have fun too.

Mindful Holidays: Hanukkah in Our Family Each Year

I have made it a point to teach our kids about diversity from the very start of their little lives, and being blessed with a Jewish Aunt, we couldn’t have been more gifted with various resources to make Hanukkah an enjoyable holiday to learn about. We really feel that in addition to our regular Christmas fervor, we have embraced Hanukkah with confidence in recent years.

DSC_0791

We started with the basics and so can you. Here is what you need to get started:

  1. Menorah: a picture, a felt one, a crafted one or a solid one.
  2. One book that explains the holiday in pictures (kids like this format!)
  3. One book about a Hanukkah that tells a story
  4. Easy Hanukkah food
A good way to enjoy Hanukkah is to try Potato Latkes

Potato Latkes

Easy and Mindful Hanukkah Resources For The Busy Family

You might feel like you don’t know enough about Hanukkah to actually create activities for celebration with your kids, but a few basic concepts will allow you to do so in no time. It’s like opening a door to a dark room you know nothing about. But have no fear, as somewhat slowly you can peek into the doorway, and then enjoy a look at the wonderful light the holiday of Hanukkah brings forth.

To get started, here are a few of our most favorite Hanukkah tips and tricks. These easy and mindfully chosen resources will help you understand this cultural and religious holiday. You will be well on your way to helping your curious kids enjoy some fun with cultural diversity.

Resources for a Mindful Hanukkah that Teach Cultural Diversity

Using these materials will help you get you and your kids celebrating the holiday quickly, and that is the goal. Experiencing the holiday is the easiest and most fun way to learn about it!

Menorah Resources:

First Kids Menorah Soft Toy

Menorah Coloring Page

Paper Plate Menorah

Noah’s Ark Menorah

Picture Book About Hanukkah:

My First Hanukkah Board book

The Complete Guide To Hanukkah book

Hanukkah Story Books:

Oh Hanukkah

Curious George Hanukkah

Cultural Diversity Dreidel game for Hanukkah

Dreidel is a game played by children during Hanukkah. Mindful planning can making cultural diversity easy. Dreidel is a fun game that teaches cultural diversity in a fun atmosphere.

Hanukkah Activities:

Dreidel Game

Gelt Coins Candies for Dreidel Game

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat

Jelly doughnuts are a Hanukkah treat! A little mindful planning makes it easy.

Foods to Enjoy:

Hanukkah Treats Cookbook

Hanukkah Cookie Cutters

My Easy Vegan Potato Pancake Recipe. Get to it here.

We cook with the kids to make these pancakes each year. Toddlers love to wash the potatoes, and the older kids love to push the buttons on the food processor (with supervision for safety always). Baby can even try mashed potatoes with some sauteed and pureed veggies an butter mixed in for color and taste. Whatever age your child, cooking and eating these Potato pancakes is easy to adapt to include the whole family.

Music for Kids at Hanukkah (even if they never listened before)

Mah Tovu CD – “Only This”

A Child’s Hanukkah

Hanukkah Party with the Neighbors

This year we decided to have an impromptu party with the neighbor kids who came over for a play-date. We started off with a story about the meaning of Hanukkah from our Complete Guide to Hanukkah book, then a little dancing to Mah Tovu Music CD. For a full description of our favorite Hanukkah music click here.

After a pretty good dance session, we went into the Kitchen to make Easy Vegan Potato Pancakes. Also, known as Latkes, you can save time if you buy frozen ones at the grocery store. Dipping Latkes in apple sauce, ketchup or sour cream all add fun and taste to these little potato wonders.

We made them as a group, with the neighbor watching with interest.  First seeing how the Potato pancakes were cooked, then watching how much our kids liked them was all our neighbors needed to give them a try themselves. Next time we all voted on Jelly doughnuts!

Make sure to check out more easy ideas to make your Hanukkah great by visiting our Hanukkah Music Guide Resource Don’t Be Left in the Dark: Teach Cultural Diversity with the Best Hanukkah Music For Kids.

I hope you try some of these ideas! please share how it went. Here’s to a fun lesson in cultural diversity and a Happy Hanukkah to you all!

Save

Frightfully Fun: Halloween Sensory Play and Photo Shoot for Toddlers

halloween cute bug

So it’s super easy, indoors or outside.

Outdoor sensory fun!

Grab these materials for some fun and some great Halloween pics. Smiles are easy with all the sensory fun!

Materials: Box, Blanket, Halloween costume, nature toys, pumpkins, different texture fabrics, camera

DSC_1015

It’s good to pick a cozy blanket. This makes for a warm and nurturing base for exploration. The spandex costume makes for great deep pressure input, but costumes of any kind make for great new sensory experiences. They are wonderful to use more often than just on Halloween night.

DSC_1021

Toys and blankets should be baby safe, meaning they are safe to explore with their mouth. Babies need input to their mouth and tags and strings are a real treat!

DSC_1027

It’s even great that they explore all the parts of their costume. Babies are learning not only about their body and how it works, but also how it works in relation to the world. Let your baby explore her costume.

DSC_1022

Different textures are a sensory explorer’s dream! Give your baby several different fabrics to explore.

DSC_1032

Different toys are also great! This little bug had the chance to explore some stuffed nature critters. I went with a nature theme. A quick visit to the plush animal bin and we had all we needed.

DSC_1043

We thought we would head outside for more fun and photos. I was amazed how curious baby was about this big pumpkin. Grass, cooler air, more texture, more colors. Nature based sensory play brings its own advantages.

DSC_1051

Baby was happy for a long time out in nature. I was happy because she was happy AND I got some cute photos!

Happy and Calm Sensory Play Baby!

One good way to know your little one has enjoyed their sensory play, is to see them calm and eventually tired. We’re not talking about being over-stimulated from too much sensory input. Calm, fun, new exploration. That’s the way to go.

DSC_1079

As a mom, I hope you use these ideas to get some great photo ops. As a developmental therapist, I hope you get the idea about great sensory play. It’s fun and exciting for baby, but in the end it’s calming as well.

Sensory play is simply the “work” of our kids!

Halloween sensory play for toddlers is fun!

Kids are so much fun! They are easy to engage in sensory play, and make a great photo-op easy!

Mindful Halloween Ideas: 2017 Blog Hop

Halloween blog hops make it easy to be mindful of spending quality time with your kids.

Being Mindful of spending time with your kids this Halloween is easier than ever!

 Hope you got the chance to visit the other excellent blogs involved in this Hop. It has been a pleasure working with so many talented bloggers on this project. Happy Halloweening!

Take a look at these Halloween activities from my blogging friends!

Neon Halloween Banner by Projects with Kids

Halloween Sponge Painting with Ghosts by Preschool Toolkit

Counting with Halloween Board Books by Homebound But Hopeful

Halloween Activity Pages by Mosswood Connections

Halloween Teacake Spider Treats by the Gingerbread House

X-Ray Exercises Free Printable by Growing Play

Cardboard Tube Monsters by The Joy of Sharing

Spooky Eyeball Brownies by Moments At Home

If you have a picture of Halloween fun please share it in the comments section. Activities, recipes, or just Halloween mayhem! We’d love to see what your up to this fall!

Mindful Music: Jazz Up Their Day With Fun Kid Songs!

songs for kids resources

Mindful Parenting With Music and Songs

The yoga of everyday life includes music. Growing up as a musician and still enjoying my musical gifts, I can’t help but think about what my kids and family listened to each day.

When we really get down to the truth of it, mindful parenting is actually aided by the presence of certain music and music of a certain quality. Karma yoga, the yoga of daily action, would suggest that we select music in a thoughtful way.

For example, when I want to create a calming background for my kids while they are drawing, yoga music for calming such as chanting, ocean or nature sounds, or music consisting of certain musical tones is what I would select. When I want a more upbeat background for activities such as cooking, I play some cultural music such as salsa or swing music from the 30’s.

One of my most-loved musical experiences comes from a beloved collection of music under the Guess How Much I Love You CD/book title. The 3-CD set came along with the book. The CD includes author Sam McBratney’s audio reading of the book, as well as a selection of lullabies, soothing classical music and nature sounds.They are designed for baby or child to play and rest while listening, but they really affected me the most!

When I first got these CD’s my little baby would sleep or play and I would just cry and cry tears of joy that only these sweet little songs could bring up. I couldn’t help myself!  They tugged on my heart-strings so wonderfully, and made me aware of the immense love I had for my baby. I wouldn’t miss out on all this wonderful awe thanks to the music, even if I did feel a little silly for all the tissues I went through. The music helped to bring me to a mindfulness that I might have missed in all my daily busy-ness. It was a gift when I still didn’t know how important it was to be mindful. It allowed me to stop and realize joy. This music would not let me miss out on the love in those moments with my baby.

If you want to listen to this book with some of the music in the background to help your little one unwind or get ready for restful sleep, click Guess How Much I Love You Kids Story with Music

mindful listening to music

_____________________________________________

Check out these musical resources when mindfully selecting music and kids songs for your family.

Music Together is an organization that provides organic music experiences for families and children through classes and online. It gets the family involved in music enjoyment, and just like a language, when the family speaks the same language, in this case music, the child is sure to learn. Even if you don’t know a thing about music, this organization will allow you to be an example for your child.

Putumayo Kids is the best resource I have found for the classroom and home world music. They pick songs that are easily accessible to both the newly-trained and the seasoned ear. The tunes are fun and very well produced. Putumayo kids has been my favorite and go to source for world music for the past 10 years.

Jazz at Lincoln Center We Bop Program

Kindermusik is a valuable educational music resource.

Calming Music and Songs for Kids:

The Earth Spirit music by R. Carlos Nakai is so focusing it could be used to calm for yoga sessions, used as a meditation, or background music to create a calm home or classroom environment. I listen to this CD even when my kids aren’t around. It is fantastic!

Multi-Cultural Music and Songs for Kids:

The Gipsy Kings are a easy transition to Latin Music. Kids and parents can enjoy their music quickly even if Latin music is unfamiliar.  The GK’s are from Europe and draw from many traditions, including flamenco, salsa, Cuban music and even rock and roll, with an energetic and driving sound.  We listen to The Best of the Gypsy Kings in the car all the time and cook tacos with it on in the background.

A great CD for African music is African Playground. We absolutely love this CD and have some favorites the kids can’t help but dance to. For a more African to American transition in music, we listen to Jazz and Blues Cd’s we pick up from the Library.

Teach Me German is a fun book and music combination that has kids’ songs in German and short reading lessons in an easy format. Kids can color each lesson page, and a few pages can be done at a time. Teach Me More German is the next book in this series. We used these books around the Christmas holidays as their are special holiday sections, but it takes kids on an adventure through the year, so it could work in any season.

In the same vein is Teach Me Everyday Spanish, a book we’ve used year after year. The songs are fun and they have a mix of English and Spanish so even the kids who are listening for fun won’t get lost! It’s really easy and we have also used Teach Me More Spanish as supplement to the other Spanish-language resources we use at home to encourage our kids to learn multiple languages. Fun coloring, story-telling and kids’ songs!

Exploring the Senses with Music and Songs for Kids:

Explore music through the senses, SEEING the universe as never before, with great songs from  The Mighty Sky musical experience. These songs for kids have been awarded the “Smart Media” and “Notable” medals by the American Library Association and Academics Association. This collection rocks and creates a beautiful picture of the universe through music.

A great CD related to all things food and also for all the Barenaked Ladies fans out there! Snacktime is BNL’s take on a kids’ CD that does not disappoint. Whether you have a picky eater or kids who love to eat, this CD makes food a feast of musical fun. We play this in the car just for giggles! Then we sing it in the kitchen because we know all the lyrics.

Auditory Meditations for Kids:

These are tracks I love to use in my work with kids and with my own family. My favorite is Mermaids and Fairy Dust.

Yoga Songs for Kids:

Self awareness allows for mastery of emotions.

Calm parents are a model for calm kids. Music and mindful activities can help!

One of the best yoga recordings I have found is by Kira Willey. Her music in Dance for the Sun takes kids on yoga adventures they can listen to AND do! It is really a ton of fun for the whole family.

Folk Songs for Kids and Families:

John McCutcheon’s music in Howjadoo is down-home fun with a level of musicianship that kids can understand and grow into, while still having fun!

Try the Johnny Cash Children’s Album for a grounding experience for the whole family. Johnny’s voice in it’s booming bass style wakes us up to the grind of daily life but in a fun way which kids can grasp. Great songs.

Family Music and Songs for Kids:

Ziggy Marley does a great job with his album, Family Time. It’s upbeat and a great listen to put the whole family in a happy mood!

music for kids, kids songs about the moon

Coconut Moon is a master music compilation for silly family fun. The Green Chili Jam Band rocks these kids’ songs, so parents can just sit back and laugh. Here is an example of just one silly song called Lard. It’s sure to bring laughter.

Holiday Music for Kids:

An amazing CD that creates the a feeling of warmth and love around the Christmas Holiday is Christmas Folkjul. I cried when I listened to this music in my car, driving home once late holiday evening alone from work. This has become a consistent request for the whole family.  Don’t let one more holiday go by without this true musical gem.

De-stress This Mess Challenge: Parents Reduce Distraction and Increase Joy!

Beautiful place inspires mindfulness and joy.

Out On the Edges of Life Is Where There Is So Much Joy To Be Found.

The “De-Stress This Mess” Challenge:

I want to challenge you to turn your own spiritual practice and mindfulness up a notch in your own personal life. Why? This will undoubtedly trickle down into your therapy practice and family life, with not only you benefiting, but everyone around you benefiting as well.

You will find that spark of childhood wonder again. I promise.

Mindful parenting can bring a sense of childhood wonder back to your life!

The Sparkle of Childhood Wonder Isn’t Far Away. Find Your Wonder. De-Stress.

De-Stress This Message 7 day Challenge

Try these simple mindfulness and stress reduction activities for 7 days.

If you try these simple activities for just one week, you will notice a difference.

  1. Limit device use. Reduce your engagement on your device by half. I recommend telling you family and friends you will be checking your device 3 times a day. Morning, afternoon, and early evening. Return messages, texts, and social communication at that time. If they need you right away, tell them to call you.
  2. Stop 3 times each day and focus on your breath for 1 minute. I recommend lumping breath check-in  with device check-in. Three times a day.
  3. Take a walk for 10 minutes. To get a healthy snack, to buy a magazine, to observe a garden or get fresh air and sunshine. Do something you enjoy. No device.
  4. Call one friend during the week. No text.
  5. Set aside one evening, approximately 2 hours, to relax. Prepare to relax ahead of time by brewing tea or coffee, getting a good book from the library, taking out cozy blankets, or setting up a bath. You may find that by reducing social media engagement you will actually have more time in your day to relax. This week, commit to relaxing one evening only.

If you miss a day or a few days just add more days until you get to 7. Be easy on yourself, but try to do it for as many days in a row that you can.

My experience: “De-Stress This Mess” Challenge.

De-stress this mess, is all about the mess in my thoughts, house, and schedule. It was starting to look like a tangle, chaotic and overwhelming. I needed to focus. I needed to de-stress. Life was not working well.

Of course, everyday, I strive to be mindful of my choices. It’s easiest, of course, when I turn off the devices and don’t over-schedule. As a mom, if I am grounded and centered, the day goes better. As a occupational therapist, it’s the same deal. I can work with my clients more efficiently when I am calm, centered and focused.

I started to wondered if other moms and therapists used spirituality in their daily lives to de-stress. IF they did, how did they do it? In an age where religion and spiritual practice is markedly less evident than the generation of our parents, how were we making it through the day as grounded as our parents? Were we really doing the work as occupational therapists from a grounded place? Was I doing a good job at mothering?

I was looking for answers to some of these very questions when I saw that the Pennsylvania Occupational Therapy Association was hosting an upcoming workshop titled “Spirituality in Occupational Therapy.” So I went.

I was amazed when I got to the workshop! As it turns out, I am not the only mom, or for that matter, therapist, that thinks spirituality is an important part of the daily grind. In fact, many of us use it as a coping mechanism, a regular component of our dealings with family and clients alike, and as a buffer to the outside world. When surveyed at the Duquesne University Annual Celebration 2017, during the presentation by clinical scholars studying “cultural responsiveness in current occupational therapy practice”, greater than 80% of therapists reported that they used some form of religion or spirituality during their daily therapy sessions.

As a mother, I often see and hear moms talking about being calm and having the ability to deal with difficult parenting situations. One of the biggest topics on mom blogs and during play-date water cooler talk is how to motivate their kids without yelling! Moms want to know how to live with intention, be more efficient, and be more helpful for their families. They want to feel grounded instead of scattered in a thousand directions. Moms want answers – even moms who feel they are doing a good job. They want to know how to be most efficient, creative and calm.

Moms want to enjoy the bonds they have with their kids. Sometimes, parents are so over-scheduled that they barely remember the amazing connection they once had with their children when they were smaller. There is just so little time and so many more distractions than ever before. Parents want to make life simple. They want to hug their kids, before their kids are grown.

Mindful parents have time to hug their kids.

A Hug Is So Simple, But It Means So Much.

I started to ask the questions about my daily spirituality.

Do we engage with Spirit?

Do we allow ourselves the time to relax and have our ease?

Are we addicted to stress ?

Do we force our patients to do exercises and programs simply because they are billable?

Do we ask our  know what gives our kids meaning in their daily life?

In all of these questions I have a hunch that as therapists we do remember spirit in our work. Actually, it’s what drives to help others!  We are quite smart when it comes to all things spiritual as a profession in general. However, it’s always good to get a reminder to engage with our own spirituality on a daily basis in our lives outside of work as well. This type of self-care is an ever-present need for us to attend to, so we don’t burn out.

The same goes to all of us as moms. We work and work all day, and need to keep our ease about things. It prevents burn out, health problems, and yelling. Our whole family benefits when we take some time to de-stress and feed our spirit.

The workshop “Spirituality and Occupational Therapy” strongly affirmed the basic need for spirituality in daily life. Occupational science is based on the mind-body-spirit paradigm with whole theoretical models based on this paradigm. The presenter, Rebecca Austill-Clausen, drew attention to this basic premise in occupational therapy, much to my delight. It’s what drew me to the profession in the first place.

Mindfulness and connection to spirit brings good days.

Decide That You Are Going To Have A Good Day! Connect To Your Spirit!

The Rewarding Results of De-stressing the Mess!

What results is joy. More joy with family and friends. More joy at work. More joy in our heart! And choices that result in even more joy!

To tell you a little about what I do for a mindful practice, each morning I start my day with a calming CD. Honestly, without it, I don’t have very productive or calm days. I have noticed a true quantifiable difference. I have also set device limits. I check no more than 3 times a day. My thoughts are more present and not in cyber-mind space. I have time to give hugs and kisses to my kids.

A mindful mom giving her kid a kiss!

A Simple Kiss Goes A Long Way Through the Day!

Finally, I have worked to reconnect with nature and relax as a part of my weekly routine. To take a walk, stop near a stream or enjoy a sunset. Less distraction overall has allowed me to experience nature in a more vibrant way.

The results have been wonderful. I feel like I have regained my sense of direction, with more time in each day, more hope that things will be good, and more self care.

There’s no need to journal. You’ll feel the difference and it won’t be easy to forget. You might even decide that you want to continue your 13 Minute “Feel Good” practice well into the future.  I hope it will help you as much as it did me.

______________________________

About Rebecca Austill-Clausen:

During the workshop, Ms. Austill-Clausen further reviewed AOTA’s definition of spirituality as “the aspect of humanity that refers to the way an individual seeks and expressed meaning and purpose and the way they experience their connection to the moment, to self, to others, to nature, and to the significant or sacred.” Additionally, the 2005 AOTA Position Paper states that “occupational therapy can use complementary modalities in preparation for an occupational therapy treatment session.” In terms of Occupational Therapy, we are literally swimming in a sea of possibility in how we engage with spirit as therapists.

……… Living from a place of authenticity makes her an obvious example of spirituality in action.

To learn more about Rebecca or her new book,  click learn more.

Save

Mindful Music: Jazz Up the Day With Good Songs for Kids!

songs for kids, activities for kids, songs for babies, music for kids

“Is it possible to be mindful when listening to music?”

“Where can a mom or dad find good songs for kids?”

“Since when have good listening activities for kids been so hard to find? “

I hear these questions from parents all the time. I’m glad they ask because it’s easy to direct them toward good resources so their children can learn through listening.

Being mindful when choosing what our kids listen to is important. Kids are ALWAYS listening and learning. The lyrics of the songs they hear inform them about what people outside the family are doing. Hopefully, they are wholesome. Exposure to music when our kids are young weaves them a tapestry of understanding and processing sound that they will compare future music to and will influence their choices. Let’s hope the musical tapestry to which they’re exposed is complex and beautiful.

Most important, who they listen to music with as they grow will affect who they listen to music with when they are older.  Let’s set family musical listening and engagement happen as a part of the daily routine!

Did you know being mindful about music is easier than you think? If your kids have ears, you’re in business. Well, kind of.

As a musician since the age of 6, I knew music was my calling. I went to school many years later, specializing in sensory play to help kids of all ages and skill levels learn. Then several years after that, I was certified to teach Music Together, an organic way of bringing music to kids through the family.  You could say I’ve come full circle.

In all these endeavors, it became clear that in order for kids to learn and use music in the long term, it has to be seen as a family activity. I’m not suggesting that every parent pick up a new instrument, but even the most tone-deaf of parents can select music to listen to and enjoy as a family.

So you might be thinking: just turn on the radio, right?

Nope.

songs for kids, music for kids

Sound Advice on Music for Kids

If you turn on the radio today, many stations play the same kind of music. There doesn’t seem to be much variety. The music industry is primarily about selling music, and music that has “different” doesn’t make many sales. So this leaves us as parents with fewer choices and less say in the quality of music we get to choose.

Many radio stations play music with a specific signal frequency. The idea is to make it not different, but mostly the “same”, within a consistent set of frequencies. All of the frequencies are compressed down into a very narrow listening range (or ‘band’). It’s like taking a mega-sized soup pot of clam chowder, with all its diversity and goodness, and compressing it into a sardine can. Not all that exciting.

These days, Radio is controlled by a handful of huge media companies, and when they realized that the music that people buy is basically “more of the same”, they decided that originality and sonic variety weren’t qualities they wanted to emphasize.  The effect of this is that when you turn on the radio, yours and your kids’ ears don’t develop to nearly their potential to be avid listeners and develop deep appreciation of music, let alone carry a tune or play an instrument.

Below I have a sample of 6 songs in the current genre of modern country music  (which, I admit, I used to like a lot) that, when mashed up together, actually sound like one song. This means that not only are the frequencies used in the music compressed to exactly the same levels, but also that the words and themes fit together topically. Just watch as the song scrolls and the different songs are played simultaneously. Amazing.

Develop Your Kid’s Musical Aptitude:

Musical Aptitude: refers to a person’s innate ability to acquire skills and knowledge required for musical activity, and may influence the speed at which learning can take place and the level that may be achieved. (Wikipedia)

Knowing that kids have a “window” of musical development that hits its peak between 0-5 years of age, what they’re listening to is important. Educational pioneer Maria Montessori refers to this window of opportunity as the “sensitive period.” There are other schools of musical thought that say this period can go well into the 7th and 8th year of a child’s life, and beyond.

Regardless of the age of your child, the answer here to developing musical aptitude is to get your kids listening to good music. Be thoughtful about what music you choose for yourself and your family.

songs for kids, music for kids, songs for babies

Start Early With Family Music

 

Are you ready for some good music?

Your kids are ready!

You think “Where can I get some good old-fashioned music?”

Here are a few ways to be more mindful in your selection of music as a parent:

1. Try visiting your local library’s music section. By that, I mean the grownup section, and check out some CDs! Don’t check too many out of the children’s section.

Kids’ music is so often very basic.  There are exceptions, of course, but it generally means that if your kid listens to very basic music, their ear learns very basic skills. If that’s what you want, then listening to “kiddie” type music will work.

2. Listening to more complex rhythms, sounds, instruments and tonality will develop kids’ ears so they can understand and enjoy these qualities. Adult music in the classical, Jazz, folk, and world music genres will provide you with great choices. If you pick music you like, so much the better. Just make sure the lyrics are age appropriate.

Here are three resources I use all the time. The first two use kids’ songs in complex ways. The third is a masterpiece all on its own, good for activities for kids that involve dancing and painting to music, among others.

For little ones, here is an example of Jazz used to teach babies a greeting that can be used when you arrive home or anytime you and your family is up for some fun and singing! It’s called Welcome My Baby.

A resource for kids specifically that utilizes folk, blues, classical, and a variety of cultures is Music Together. This is one of my favorites, and you can find many resources on YouTube for free!  It called Ridin’ in the Car.

This resource my kids heard for the first time at a free symphony concert. They could not be distracted! It’s great for activities for kids that involve dancing and painting to music, among others. In The Hall of the Mountain King

3. Being Consistent with Music Engagement teaches children to be mindful of what they listen to on a daily basis as they grow.

Make family music time a priority. When you hit the library for books, hit the CD rack too. Go to YouTube and see what you like. See what your significant other likes. See what your kids gravitate to. If your kiddo likes the idea of a trumpet, google search “top trumpet players” and see what you can find out.

There is no doubt that your musical ear will be developing on a growth curve if you take this approach. And remember, even if you don’t love a particular genre at first, music has a way of growing on you.

Just make sure to start the habit of Music Mindfulness-and keep it going. If you should break out into random singing and dancing as well, so much he better! If you start singing in the shower, more power to you. Just have fun.

Your kids will surprise you if you give them the chance.

Your children deserve a good shot at a lifetime of good music.

kids play music, songs for kids, music for kids

Different cultures mindfully chose to expose their children to culturally relevant music and teach them how to be a part of it.

We hope this was informative for you and your family. Let us know if you tried some of the ideas shared in this article. We love your comments, because they help us learn what your needs are and what we can do to make Swami Mommi even more relevant.

A baby playing a drum while listening to good music.

 

 

Save

Save

Save

Doctor Approved Feeding Tips For Toddlers Who Refuse To Eat.

Today’s post comes to you from Dr. Orlena Kerek, who recently released a book called Feeding Toddlers.: A Pediatrician’s Guide to Happy and Healthy Meal Times. Dr. Kerek wanted to share her guidance for feeding toddlers with structured mealtimes and a nutritious variety of foods! If you like the ideas shared in this article, be sure to check out her most recent book.

feeding routines, feeding toddlers

 

What is Healthy Eating for Toddlers?

If you have young children you may be wondering how I can mention the words “healthy eating” and “toddlers” in the same sentence. It is true that most children, especially toddlers, have a natural tendency for sweet and processed foods. Yep, they nag for cookies and refuse to eat anything else.

But children form eating habits from a really early age. As young as 2 or 3. So it’s a great opportunity to mold them and teach them healthy eating habits which will stay with them for life.

toddler won't eat, picky eater
And once you have a structure in place, it’s not difficult or stressful to offer your kids healthy foods.

But what exactly is healthy eating for toddlers? I’m sure you know but I really think it’s worth going over the basics. After all, it’s difficult to teach your kids to love healthy foods if you aren’t presenting them with healthy options.

cantalope is a great fruit for toddlers

In a Nutshell

Healthy eating can be summed up really easily.

Lots of fruit and vegetables. Not so much processed food.

If you stick with this motto, you can’t go too far wrong.

avacado for my toddler

A Closer Look

Lots of fruit and veggies. In fact, roughly half of what you eat should be fruit and veggies. Don’t worry if your kids don’t eat that much. They are learning. Keep presenting healthy fruit and veggies, don’t pressure them to eat and they’ll get there eventually. There are lots of ways that you can offer your kids fruit and vegetables, frozen, fresh, dried, cooked.

Protein. Around a quarter of what you eat should be protein. That’s things like meat, fish, eggs and vegetable proteins such as garbanzo beans. Kids need proteins for growing. Try to offer proteins other than meats.

Carbohydrates. These are your energy source. Things like grains, potatoes, rice and pasta are all carbohydrates. Lots of kids are “carb junkies” and that’s fine. They need energy for all that running around. Just keep presenting them with healthy fruits and vegetables as well.

Dairy. Milk, cheese and yogurt are all dairy products that are full of calcium that our kids need for making bones. (There are lots of non-dairy sources of calcium too.) Most toddlers need 2 glasses of dairy a day.

Water. Water is the best drink for kids (and adults). It is the best way to keep you hydrated. Of course other drinks are fun from time to time but they should be drunk in moderation.

Treats. All those foods that are high in added sugar and fat. Yes, I’m talking processed candy, fizzy drinks, chips, cakes. All those delicious sweet treats. It’s fine to eat these foods in moderation but they generally don’t give you much more than calories. Treats are fine but remember than moderation is the key.

toddlers that won't eat

How Do You Get Toddlers to Eat?

Just keep presenting them with healthy food options. It’s that simple. If they don’t like it, don’t worry and don’t force them to eat it. Be patient and pristine and keep presenting them with healthy food. Eventually they’ll learn to love the healthy tasty food that you give them.

Dr. Orlena Kerek

Dr. Orlena Kerek is a pediatric doctor. She is the creator and producer of SnottyNoses, a family and parenting site. She is passionate about promoting a healthy lifestyle in children, especially healthy eating habits.

She has published 3 books to help you teach your children to eat healthily. Crunch! Put a Stop to Picky Eating and Help Your Kids Love Veggies is aimed at all children. Her latest book is now available and worth a read if you are having concerns or need some inspiration Feeding Toddlers, A Pediatrician’s Guide to Healthy and Happy Mealtimes

how to feed a toddler

For more information visit Snotty Noses: Happy Parents Raising Healthy Kids.

Also, give the Toddler Rice Nutbutter Bars a try from swamimommi.com. It’s an easy to make snack that is tasty and packed with energy and a little healthy protein! Toddlers who have tried them think they are super yummy.

Feeding Baby: Happy Eating Essentials

how do I feed my baby that is picky?

Messy babies have fun when they eat real food.

This is a guide that every mom should have when they think about how they are going to be feeding baby and their family.

If you are a mom who is curious how to ensure a HAPPY eater, the tips below will help get you started on the right path. These are the essentials for feeding baby first foods. Enjoy.

12345678910

Baby feeding should be fun! We hope this guide helps you and your little one!

Save

Save

Save

Save

Dont’ Miss Blueberry Season! Create A “Blueberry Party” This Summer That the Whole Family Will Enjoy With This Easy Blueberry Guide. Plus Free Music!

Blueberry season fun and free music for kids

Weather you are trying to teach your baby good eating habits from the start, thinking mindfully about your summer, or just want to have some summer sensory fun with your family, blueberries are the way to go. They are jammed with nutrients and anti-oxidants and are easy to work with in the kitchen. Plus, a trip out to the farm for U-pick blueberries is a great way to show our kids exactly where our food comes from everyday!blueberries muffins

Ideas for Family Activities that Center Around Blueberries

This past fall we went as a family to pick apples on a nearby farm, and having had such a great time with the experience, we decided mid-July blueberry picking was worth a try. Two trips to the farm, 13 pounds of blueberries and two cans of sweet cream later, we find that we are quite a natural picking bunch!

Our first trip was in 90 degree heat, and we literally all almost melted. My husband with the spray bottle, my daughter with her sun hat, and myself with the bottled water in the middle of the blueberry fields to pick the plumpest of blueberries. But all of our “cooling provisions” could not sustain us in the heat, and we left with a mere 5 lbs of berries. Actually, we ate so many directly off the bushes, it was probably more like 5 1/2 lbs.

Several days passed, and my husband’s idea of berries and cream had hit full stride.  We were soon to run out of berries and I knew we would be back in the fields soon.

Friday came with wild storms, and a cooler weather forecast for the weekend. When I suggested that we go pick berries, there were smiles all around. This time, the weather was breezy and sunny. We spent a good hour in the fields and left with 8 pounds of blueberries. On the way home we stopped for another container of ice cream ! Yum!

One other great benefit of picking our own blueberries, is that it gave our family time to slow down and do something quiet and mindful. Slowing down and going into a field of trees with a real clear purpose of collecting food, facilitates mindfulness and calm. Focus is just easy. Stress seems to drip away, and clarity of mind come quick. Blueberry picking for us was a pure delight. It might be for you and your family too.

So here’s a few ideas to make blueberries an “event” in your home too. I start with berries and cream, progress through berry muffins, and end with a song we sang while in the fields. I posted the song so you can learn and sing as a family too!

Berries and Cream

This is super simple. Here’s all you need to dig in!

Fresh blueberries
Vanilla Ice Cream or whipped cream ( I like coconut cream!)
Cute dessert bowls for fun eating!

blueberry muffins for kids, toddler recipes, blueberry toddler recipes, baby food

Gluten Free Blueberry Muffins

(or try a regular recipe if you are not gluten intolerant)

1/2 cup organic canola or safflower oil
1/2 cup maple syrup
11/4 cups soymilk (or rice milk)
4 teaspoons apple cider vinegar
1 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup Sucanat, date sugar, maple sugar, or org. unrefined sugar
4 cups brown rice flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1 teaspoon salt
2 cups whole fresh-picked (or frozen) blueberries

Preheat the over to 350 degrees F. Oil a 12-cup muffin pan or line it with paper liners and set aside. In a small bowl, mix 2 teaspoons maple syrup or sugar and 1 teaspoon brown rice flour as a topping to drizzle over the muffins just before putting the muffins in the oven.

Mix the oil, syrup, soymilk, vinegar, and vanilla in another small bowl. In a separate, larger bowl place the sugar, flour, baking soda, baking powder, nutmeg and salt. Sift the flour to ensure there won’t be clumps. If you are good with the mixing, and feel it is consistent throughout, you really don’t need to sift. It’s up to you!

Whisk the wet ingredients into the dry ingredients. Do not overwork the batter. If the batter is stiff, add 1 teaspoon of milk at a time. Fold in 2 cups of blueberries and do not overwork the batter or it will turn blue. (This actually could look interesting if you dare try it!)

Spoon the batter into the muffin cups and sprinkle with the topping mixture prepared ahead of time. You may place a few berries on top of each muffin to make them extra juicy on top.

Bake for 20 minutes and rotate the pan a half turn to ensure even baking. Bake 5-6 minutes more or until a knife inserted in the center of a muffin comes out clean. Let cool for 15 minutes, remove from the pan, and let cool completely on a wire rack.

(This muffin mixture was adapted from “Simple Treats: Wheat-Free and Dairy Free Guide to Scrumptious Baked Goods by Ellen Abraham)

A Blueberry Song That Makes for A Recipe Of Fun!

Once we were out in the fields, we had a blast with this song! With each verse I would pick a blueberry and put it on baby’s  belly button. We would cover it up with her shirt and after each round of the song, we would look to her bellybutton to see if she was the blue belly button girl! She loved it and asked for more over and over again!)

The next day, and for weeks to follow, we were singing this song and having fun with these berries in baby’s highchair. I cut them so they were not a chocking hazard, and baby got a great snack with tons of great nutrients and anti-oxidants.

Check out the audio of the song Blue Belly Button Boy here.

Chorus:
There once was a blue belly button Boy (girl)
Boy oh boy was his belly button blue
If you could see blue belly button Boy (girl)
You would say it’s the bluest too!

Mindful Summer Activities for Blueberry Season

This song is great for preschoolers and elementary kids as well. They sing it each and every year once they learn it. It’s like a good Christmas song that is learned and then used over and over, year after year. You’ll be sure to get this song stuck in your head, and sing it every summer or whenever you eat blueberries!

feeding baby, baby food, baby puree, developmental milestones for feeding

Feeding Milestones: What You Need to Know to Feed Your Baby and Toddler Blueberries?

Feeding a baby who is just starting solids should try blueberries in a very liquid type puree. Some recommend steaming fruits and veggies before making puree, but I never did. Baby didn’t have any difficulty so I never bothered, but if your baby seems to have digestive difficulty with them, I would suggest giving them a little steam.

Once baby turned toddler, I could cut the berries into tiny bites and put them on her tray. I would usually cut them in half and then cut them again to be extra sure they were not a choking hazard. Remember to do whatever you need to insure your baby or toddler is working with a safe texture or size during feeding. If you aren’t sure what is safe, ask you pediatrician.

I also use puree blueberries and small blueberry bites to practice with the spoon too. Babies and toddlers love the challenge of getting the berries into their mouth and they love to taste the reward too!

So have fun this summer, with baby and the whole family. Make blueberries an annual “Event” in your home for some real down home fun and for a family of happy eaters!

 

Save

A Better Way To Swing Your Kids

DSC_0332

If it’s warm or cold, doesn’t matter. Find a place outside to get moving with your kids! It’s good for you and your kids, and babies especially love movement play. Fresh air, natural light, and good old fashioned movement stimulation for the brain! Ahhh….life is good!

DSC_0331

I took my little one and first grader out for a swing ride, and although this may seem simple, there is an easy way to get provide great movement with little effort. All you need to know is the Sensory Movement Hack!

I can assure you these smiles you see are the real deal. Baby loved her time in the swing, as did my first grader, but having a developmental therapist as a mom, well, you get a little more bang for your buck!

The official name for movement input, in sensory integration theory  is “vestibular” input. (OT Nerd Alert!  🙂 The term was first coined by Jean Ayres, Phd., OTR/L, an American occupational therapist, educational psychologist and pioneer in sensory integration theory. She wrote many books and published many research articles in her day, as well as made great contributions to the field of occupational science. She was the one who started it all. Without her, we might not think about sensory play in the same way we do today.

Her groundbreaking book in the 70’s was entitled Sensory Integration and Learning Disorders.

I was fortunate to have one of her colleagues as my master’s thesis advisor. My advisor worked with Dr. Ayres in California for years before switching to University life. I somehow won the lottery to get her as my advisor! Jackpot!

And so began my complete obsession with all things development and sensory. I have been learning ever since, and have enjoyed applying my findings to thousands of kiddos. Let me share my #1 favorite sensory hack for movement play so you can indulge yourself in a little movement play geek-dom too!

Movement Hack for Brain/Language Development

When you are providing linear movement for your baby or child (like swinging!), make sure you stop every 30-60 seconds to ensure that you re-activate the brain. After approximately 1 minute, there is a brain habituation process that happens. Habitu-what?? Brain habituation means that the brain detects the sensory input coming, but quickly gets used to the input and stops sending signals to the higher brain centers. To short circuit this habituation process, you simply have to change the movement.

Remember to keep the movement linear, and simply stop the movement and restart the movement. That’s all you need to do. Tell the brain movement is starting. Then tell it that it is stopping. Then tell it again it is starting over and over, every 60 minutes or so.

Do this in a consistent manner, and bingo, you have sent the upper centers of the brain all kinds of great movement input that not only is calming and organizing for your little kiddos, but also great for developing their gross motor skills. Plus, calm and organized kids = healthy emotional development. 

sensory play movement play

2 common questions I get from parents:

1. Do you have to change the direction of movement? You can if you like. But stop and go movement works the same way.

2. Should I add some spinning or circular movement? Well, you can, but for truly                    calming and organizing input you want to keep it linear.

So, try this on your backyard swing. Try this playfully in a swimming pool as you play tug boat, or in a wagon on a trail. Just remember this hack is a simplicity hack. Simple is best.

For even more giggles for babies, I usually add the game of “stop” and “go” with sign language to engage language skills. I have noticed significant increases in how my baby initiates sounds and words during this type of play. This actually makes sense scientifically because the movement receptors are located in the inner ear, so, of course we see greater language engagement! Movement and language play- all in one!

For my older kiddo, I usually play “red light/green light”. Giggles ensue, I promise you.

One last piece of advice, be sure to have fun!! Make memories with this simple hack, that you will remember long after your kids are grown.

For more fun outdoors,  try to design some fun outdoor time with your kids. It’s Easy!

Swinging can be calming.

Swinging can be calming, if you know how to maximize its effects.