A Better Way To Swing Your Kids

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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!

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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.

Can You Be a Calm Mom When You Feel Stressed Out? (The Story of How I did it!)

Devices, work, the grocery store, the classes, the dishes, the house, the yard-honestly I have no idea where to begin with the never-ending list of daily chores. With all our modern conveniences, why was I so stressed out? Could I ever be a calm mom?

Being mindful with out kids can help them be calm.

Will I Ever Be A Calm Mom For My Kids?

Do you feel stressed out but want to be a calm mom too?

Do you want to be more mindful with you kids but just feel too busy?

After reading Chapter 2 of Free To Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life , by Peter Gray, I felt a lot more knowledgeable on the ways kids learn naturally. After reading the extensive research on societies that let children learn freely, through free play, adult example, and oral tradition, I wondered what in the world I was doing spending so much time on my device these days? That in addition to the daily grind makes me basically an absent parent to my children in terms of parenting with real thoughtfulness. Am I really providing a good example? Can my kids be calm if I am not?

This chapter really challenged me to think deeply about education, or “cultural transmission” as Gray calls it. “Cultural transmission” means that each new generation of human beings acquires and builds on the skills, knowledge and values of previous generations” is content dependent.

This means that what we show our kids is what they learn. We are in the position of great influence because to our kids we are their heroes.

As a parent, such an understanding can be unsettling. No one taught us how to be parents, and our only lessons come from our own childhoods growing up in our own families. Only one source to reference.  For the next generation, being truly mindful of our actions is so important because as parents their are often things we would like to do differently than our own parents.

So what lessons are we teaching our kids?

What example are we showing them in order to be Calm Kids?

Our children model our daily actions as parents. Calm parenting results in calm kids.

Your Kids Watch What You Do Every Day As Their Parent. You Are Their Hero.

Stressed Mom vs Calm Mom

Once I started looking at my own day-to-day schedule, I was shocked at my lack of awareness. I felt like I never had time to sit down and regroup. I felt as though less achievement and commitment would be a breath of fresh air. Slowing down would be bliss. And I wondered how it must feel to actually be quite and still.

I also felt like becoming a bit more low tech. I have to say “lower” tech, because the idea of not being on near my device sounded a little scary. Still, it might be worth it as long as it I was calmer.

As a challenge to myself to really look at what goes on in my day, I stopped what I was doing one afternoon and watched my thoughts. What I found was shocking! I found quick thoughts running thought my head, meal plans for the next day swimming in my head, all while wondering where the garden should be placed this year in our backyard. Yikes!

Not Quite the Calm Mom.

Once I saw my high paced thoughts, I understood why my body was always in motion. It was just doing what it was told to do.

So how could I slow down and be more mindful?

Usually I get things done with a list, so I decided to make a list of things that would calm me down. Maybe even calm my kids! Here’s what it looked like:

Top 10 things To Do to Be A Calm Mom

1. Get rid of the lists-they are always too long and make me angry when I can’t get them done. (OK, so much for that………)

A walk in nature can help calm moms remember that we really do have all the time in the world if we are mindful of how we spend out time.

Disconnecting to Reconnect

All The Time In the World

All That Time In The World is a movie that changed me for the better, at just about the time I got rid of lists. It was great timing to say the least. My husband heard about it from a podcast he was listening to and we got so curious we bought ourselves a copy to watch.

Suzanne Crocker, from Vancouver, Canada was asked to make this documentary as a wasy to “disconnectin order to reconnect” with her family of 5. And how she set out to do this was nothing short of a super hero effort. She embarked with her family into the Yukon Wilderness for 9 months, part of which was in the dead of winter. Check out the trailer for All The Time In The World here.

Suzanne Crocker and her husband bravely took their family on a journey to a cabin in the deep woods without running water and  electricity, one so remote that the only way to get to it was by boat or snowmobile. A place that has bears and temperatures that dip well into the -40’s and -50s. A place where there are no modern conveniences.

Setting out, she thought her kids would want to strangle each other by the end of it all, but she found the exact opposite to be true. Despite all the wood chopping, homemade fires and food, and just plain work, they bonded. They bonded so much that they didn’t want to leave.

However, Crocker’s movie made a huge impact on me too!

Seeing what it means to take time with each other, to have nowhere to go and nothing to do, was eye-opening. Having seen the movie gave me some real life ideas on how I could create some down time for me and my family in our very own suburban bungalow.

Finally, daily choices like putting the devices away, not making plans, cooking meals together, not going shopping, and taking a walk in nature all made sense.

Being mindful of our family means taking time to be with them in a connected way. Nature walks help families bond.

Walking In Nature Can Help Kids To Be Calm. That Helps Mom To Be Calm Too!

I had always imagined I would cook more food at home, take walks in nature, and spend long days of quality time with my kids. I just never saw a real life example of it so I didn’t know how to be a calm mom. Now I did. I knew enough to get started, even without trekking to the Yukon Territory in Canada.

Being mindful of how I spend my time with my family became a driver for me and I did begin to feel like I had All The Time In The World. We took 4 days of park walks over the Christmas holiday, we spent a whole weekend indoors in January, and cooking began to be more fun than going out to eat.

Life began to feel more orderly.

I began to feel like I just might be a  Calm Mom.

 

 

 

Want Calmer Kids? How Being Mindful Parents Greatly Reduces Mental Health Risks For Our Children

A kids asking for love.

When We Are Mindful, Each Day Is A New Adventure Unfolding Just As It Should Be.

I asked my daughter, who is very interested in creating fairy characters and drawing them, to write a story. I told her I would post the story on Swami Mommi, and quickly she was headed for the drawing table. I asked that she show me “how fairies learn”. I was really asking her how kids learn, or how they think of learning. 

Her drawings and story taught me how to love more deeply and give up control as a parent. Not what I expected!  This is what my little five-year-old up-and-coming author told me.

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