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

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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.

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Practice of Spirituality: 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.

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 alike use spirituality in their daily lives. IF they do, how do 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?

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.”

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.

So where can we find answers to all of these questions?

The workshop “Spirituality and Occupational Therapy” strongly affirmed the basic need for spirituality in the lives of both therapist and client. 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.

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.

Mindfulness and connection to spirit brings good days.

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

BUT do we engage with Spirit?

Do we allow ourselves this simple gift or do we see it as a luxury?

Are we addicted to stress and feel strange if we are centered?

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

Do we ask our patients what gives their day meaning?

In all of these questions I have a hunch that we do the right thing. 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. This type of self-care is an ever-present need for us to attend to, so we don’t burn out.

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!

And that is what Rebecca Austill-Clausen exemplified in her presentation. She showed us complementary techniques that brought her joy each day in her own life, that also spilled over into her work as an occupational therapist. Seeing someone be open about what brought them joy was inspirational in itself.

To tell you a little about what I do for a mindful practice, each morning I start my day with meditation. Honestly, without it, I don’t have very productive or calm days. I have noticed a true quantifiable difference. I have also recently cut down on my Facebook and web-surfing time so I can be less distracted from the moment that exists in the physical world around me. 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!

I have also tried to be responsible in decreasing chaos and clutter in my home and in my head. Less stuff, less shopping, less violent movies, less news feed.  This has allowed me to observe life around me for the gifts it brings and not all the distractions and things to accomplish. Finally, I have worked to reconnect with nature. 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.

Now, taking you back to the Duquesne University Celebration, with the >80% of therapists acknowledging that they had used spirituality in their daily therapy sessions, 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.

It’s quite simply a “feel good” challenge.

13 Minute “Feel Good” Mindfulness Challenge:

Try these simple mindfulness activities for 7 days. Stop. Enjoy. Repeat.

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

The “Feel Good” Challenge will run through the Spring of 2017. We are looking for feedback and your own personal stories. Please comment and let us know how this challenge worked for you!

  1. Stop 3 times each day and focus on your breath for 1 minute. Breakfast, on the train, in a meeting, anytime.
  2. 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.
  3. Limit device use. Reduce your engagement on social media by half.

These three activities will take a total of 13 minutes of your day. You may find that by reducing social media engagement you will actually have more time in your day to relax. Try it. See how you feel.

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.

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.

*To learn more about Rebecca Austill-Clausen, and her book Change Maker, click here. Living from a place of authenticity makes her an obvious example of spirituality in action.

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Yoga for Kids-Outside the Studio.

              Sometimes the yoga we need comes to us outside the yoga studio. My daughter and I learned this very lesson on our trip to Kripalu Yoga Center, experiencing each day, each new tree, each flavorful morsel, each fresh new experience with joy. 

Yoga Activities for Kids – Outside the Studio

Three years ago my family and I decided to visit Kripalu Yoga Center in the Berkshires of Massachusetts. We went so my husband could complete an in-depth study of Yoga nidra (the form of deep meditation that’s sometimes referred to as “yogic sleep”). I went to refresh my soul and bond with my daughter in any way the yoga center offered.  My husband was tired of long days at work, I was happy to be moving on from my position in the school system where I’d been for two years, and my daughter was ready to spend quality time with both of us. Once packed we hit the road already exhausted.

mindful travel with kidsWe took the trip slowly and stopped in Chautauqua, New York, for a day to enjoy the lakefront breezes, crisp air, and beautiful sunset. We were honestly so out of tune with the natural beauty all around us that we took a few hours to transition from “grumpy” to “calm”. However, once we were at ease it was smooth sailing. An ultimately non-gluten free meal (we are generally a gluten free family) of fresh baked pizza and ice cream, eaten lakeside, made for the very best end to our first day of travel. (For what it’s worth, I suspect Coppola’s in Bemus Point uses really high-quality ingredients, because no digestive or sleep issues were reported after our meal!)

I know, I know.  Pizza & Ice cream may not strike you as very mindful, but bear with me.  They are an infrequent indulgence, shall we say, but as a way for us to relax -and that’s including relaxing the “rules” and dietary guidelines we generally follow, at least for the evening – it hit the spot something terrific.

An early start the next day began with a quick trek to the Bemus Point playground. Our daughter was delighted to have the chance to move a bit before the six-hour drive to Stockbridge, MA, and the Kripalu Center. Little did we know that the tranquil lake would turn into a veritable sea of fast food, family-unfriendly food options as we crossed New York state via I-90. Several rest stops (and ice cream cones – milk is healthy, right?) later, we entered Massachusetts, ready to be done driving and to settle into our accommodations.

We’d rented a cabin in Stockbridge through an online service.  As we entered the scenic Berkshires, our eyes were filled with panoramas of green mountains and the pristine lawns of neighbors enjoying old time summer homes along the Stockbridge Bowl lake shores. Luckily for us, our cabin did us just right! Cute and cozy and filled with years of love from a history of summer family fun, the cabin set the stage wonderfully for a week of relaxing, bonding and rejuvenating.

Soon after we arrived, my husband got an early start to his conference at Kripalu and spent the next 4 days from 7 am to 9 pm learning about the practice of Yoga nidra. Although Yoga nidra feels like deep sleep, he was tired by the end of each day and ready to cozy up in the cabin by 10 PM. My daughter and I had the days to spend exploring, something we both enjoy.

Nature is an outdoor yoga studio.

Walking in nature allows for Mindful Parenting.

The first day we spent visiting the outdoor beauty of Kripalu. Huge willows provided a wonderful area for games of hide-and-seek and huge trunks for tree hugs. The flower garden provided a path to meet and greet many wildflowers and interesting trees. New seedlings provided conversation as we walked back to the center’s dining hall to enjoy our organic lunch! By the end of our first morning, I was refilled with inner warmth and my muscles began to relax and let my mind ease.

We took the afternoon to visit the quaint town of Lenox, just 1/2 mile down the road. We happened upon a bakery for a sweet treat enjoyed on the porch as French music played through the speakers above. My daughter played a game of “I’m going to eat it” as she ran back and forth between her pastry and the end of the deck. I took the time to enjoy my Birthday blueberry tart complete with pink box and white bow wrapping. We ended our visit to Lenox with a walk and the purchase of warm and cozy sweatshirts.

The next day was just as dear to us as we found the Kripalu lake for the first time, and met some of my husband’s fellow conference-goers, lovely women from Hungary and Iceland; wonderful souls, open to sharing their insights on deepening their practice of yoga and glimpses of their lives in far off lands. Equally as amazing was the crystal-clear lake water. I could walk out to my waist and still see my feet. It was the clearest water I had seen since visiting the Caribbean. It seemed to speak refreshment with each step I took….pure bliss.

Mindful parenting while my child swims in a clear lake at Kripalu.

A clear lake at Kripalu Yoga Center makes a great playground for the kiddo.

Getting into the rhythm of the week, it became a regular occurrence for my daughter and me to eat with my husband in the center’s dining hall. With the gluten-free pancakes the best I have ever had, eating together as a family was a chance to touch base and stay connected, as well as to satisfy our taste buds. We enjoyed rice milk, homemade teas, brown rice wraps, gluten free breads and a variety of culinary explorations – just a few of the menu items that helped my stomach smile from deep within. This was the experience of Yoga Eating for sure!  The center has a silent dining room available, to allow mindful and ‘aware’ eating, a practice I’ve been considering for my own home.

I think that of all the trips I’ve taken, the retreat at Kripalu ranks up there as one where I had the least amount of concern about the quality of the nutrition that my family and I were ingesting – and their dedicated staff really made sure that the nourishing foods were prepared with taste, texture, and quality in the forefront.

After dinner the kiddo and I would either read books and snuggle in the cabin or play in the Kripalu playroom. The playroom itself was plain but exquisite in its simplicity…a highly ‘Yogic’ playroom, you might say. We played “mama” to little horses who needed mommies, we tickled the keys on the toy piano, and rode in circles in the big red Radio Flyer wagon. As evening drew near, we were sure to snuggle up with a book, whether at the cabin or in the playroom. Sometimes we read about baby whales, sometimes about wolves, and if we were really up for a fine time, we read our book on manners (one of my daughter’s favorites).

The following days drifted together in a relaxed haze with rain drops sprinkling our heads as we roamed between our wonderful cabin, the graces of Kripalu and the town of Lenox. We even happened upon the Berkshires Co-Op Market to get their very special offering of Vermont brewed Kombucha Tea. It was so potent I think I experienced a full detox from just one bottle, yet with comfort and ease. The market itself was oh so special with every organic item my mind could imagine!

As the conference wound down, I noted that husband began to look a bit sad, and in asking him he reported that his bonding with so many wonderful people had been so rewarding; it was leaving them that was to be difficult. I encouraged him to get his good friends’ contacts and even proposed a trip to Iceland to catch up with friends in the year to come. Hubs was thankful for the suggestions and encouragement, and was glad to hear I understood his feelings. He offered to look after the kiddo at mid-day, so that I could take a break and have some time for myself in the bookstore and whirlpool room and to take advantage of the Yoga Dance classes at noon on our remaining days. Who could turn that down? I looked forward to some wonderful R&R experiences.

Yoga Dance was the first luxury I enjoyed with other mamas. It was a heart-centered class, in which we were encouraged to move our body and limbs as part of the outer world that radiated from pure expression at our heart center. Being moved by the rhythm and the spirit deep within I let loose and took up my space on the dance floor. It was as though I was a winged bird set free for the first time. Following up with another amazing lunch, time at the bookstore and a trip to Lenox, I was in my element. The day ended with 30 minutes in the whirlpool and hot showers. My whole body had been restored.

We left the next day, after another Yoga Dance and whirlpool adventure, as well as one last yummy Kripalu lunch. My daughter hugged each tree and my husband made peace with his desire to stay in touch with his new friends. We traveled back to Chautauqua for one more overnight, with a sunset on the lake thrown in for good measure, before getting back to Pittsburgh late Sunday night. After unpacking only the essentials we all snuggled in for a long summer night’s sleep.

Kripalu is a unique place.  I enjoyed writing this as a ‘travelogue’, so to speak, but I also needed to emphasize that opportunities for mindful, meaningful experience for a kid and her parents can be found in many places outside the studio proper where we perform asanas; whether on retreat, on vacation, in the people you meet, and in the moments both memorable and mundane.

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Mindful Parenting: Don’t Lose Your Children To The Rat Race.

Summer play is an unknown ocean. wide and deep and exciting.

Play is an unknown ocean. Wide and deep and exciting.

Time speeds up when you have kids. We measure years in decades and we wonder what happened to our little kids. If you are a parent, thoughtful in your role each day, you may want to find out how to slow down time.

How a Mindful Parent Can Slow Down Time:

The book Free To Learn: Why Unleashing the Instinct to Play Will Make Our Children Happier, More Self-Reliant, and Better Students for Life written by Peter Gray gives parents the reasoning on how to slow down time. Through his real life he has found a way that kids can learn  and at the same time not lose themselves.

After reading his book I felt a resonance. Several issues brought up by Gray really made me think about how we are teaching our kids, and how I want to raise mine. It made me a more mindful in my homeschooling and parenting in general. Montessori methods bring out the beauty in children, and being a proponent of Montessori, I realized even more how important Montessori was in our kids life. I realized that the more organic a learning method was, often the more effective to instill a love for lifelong learning.

Mindful parenting allows kids the time to play each day.

Nature dispels anxiety, and brings forth true joy.

I also realized, most importantly that giving our anxious and stressed kids time to play is essential to their future happiness and mental health. Play is something we as parents need to be mindful of, and ensure our kids get a change to play each day.

I resonated with Gray’s points deeply, as he recalled having gone through a system of education with his own child where evaluations and tests, monopolization of time, and decreased rewards for critical thinking were king. Once he changed his model to a much more organic one, his kid thrived. And so did he as a parent.

I am grateful to Gray for addressing the elephants in the schoolroom, the topic that resounded even stronger relates to how most recently, school life seems to interfere with family life. Gray states his case, saying “Schooling eats into the time that families can spend together, on their own activities. It also interferes with family harmony, as parents must be enforcers of homework, cope with the negative effects that schooling has on children’s moods and home behavior, and in some cases do battle with kids every day to get them to go to school.” It’s true that kids are ecstatic when summer break starts, as they are free once again!!….until camp, and gymnastics, and extracurricular intensive mania begins!

Do kids want all these activities? Don’t kids and parents want a break?

Rachel Macy Stafford, writer of “Hands Free Mama”, (handsfreemama.com) offers great insight into how parents can better connect with their kids. She draws attention to the idea of putting down distractions, including cell phones, pods, and TV.  She suggests that parents reduce texting and use devices only at certain times during the day, times when kids are not awake or are engaged in other fun, creative endeavors. Basically, putting the attention back on our kids! The resulting payback is a huge feeling of satisfaction in being there for your kids.

In essence, not letting your life pass you buy, the life you can’t get back.

We only get one shot at this parenting thing. Let’s make it marvelous. Let’s make it a thoughtful journey.

Don't Postpone Joy

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Mindfully Spending Time with Our Kids is Better Than Spending Money On Our Kids.

Chapter 3 in 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 helped me put together my own view of how we currently treat children, and how we teach them. The history of education as presented in the book, from hunter-gatherers to the present, explained how our culture, economic prosperity, or lack thereof, religions and political climate all interact to produce our societal treatment of children. Taking all these factors into account to create my own current snapshot of how we treat and teach children, I have become quite thoughtful. My thoughts have required some diligent observation of my daily life.  Here is a look into what I saw.

Kids have so much to jugle when it comes to money and messages that they should buy, buy, buy.

How Can Our Kids Be Mindful Of All The Messages They Receive About Money?

Parents Being Mindful: Buying Our Kids Too Much Stuff

As in the days of classic agriculture, when animals and kids were both “raised” and horses and children were both “trained”, I gather that kids are now “bought”. We buy our food, we buy our clothes, corporate is king, and our economy revolves around big business. And yes, I think we love our kids through buying too.

When agricultural lives turned into modern working families, at least in the cities, parents learned to buy what they need for the home and lost the skills to make things of their own at home. This would explain why we buy our kids so many things as well. What can we possible give them?

One day several years ago, I had the thought that I was a “good” mom because I bought my daughter a toy piano for Christmas. I now realize love is the best gift, but it was probably not that far off from what many parents raising children in the industrial world think.

Another day more recently, my daughter Gigi told me she would rather have time with me than more stuff. Looking around our house, I understood. We are filled to the brim with games, and paints, and books. We just don’t use them in proportion to the time we spend shopping.

We shop till we drop, and our children see it. This example is somewhat embarrassing for me, so I have decided to stop. No more TJ MAXX. Ouch!  By the time our kids are in their teens, our children make up the biggest demographic as cash consumers. They are whom the marketers market to. I no longer think this is a recipe for happiness.

On the flip side,  my daughter and I went to the grocery store recently, and after a long discussion on how the kids’ sports balls with super heroes were more expensive than the plain ones, how the hot dog buns were not actually a “necessity” since we already had some good bread at home, and how we couldn’t just go and buy baseball tickets given our current budget, I felt tired.

These conversations with my daughter were a sign to me, that it was time for a change.

It's time for a change if you spend little time being thoughtful with you kids.

Being Mindful of Our Kids Makes Sense.

Being Mindful With Money Makes a Difference To Our Kids

On the car tide home from the grocery store, our conversation continued. I told her that if I bought her all she asked for, I wouldn’t be able to pay the bills. She asked me, “Mama, do you love me that much, that you would buy me everything?” I told her I would love to buy her the world, or rather give her the world. Her immediate response to my generous words was “Wow, how could I have needed those hot dog buns so much! We already have bread!” A softer, more centered child for sure.

Just taking the time to discuss money and how we might not need all the things that were being sold to us, helped Gigi to be more mindful about money as well. Talking about money is one way to take our minds off the obsession to buy, and spending that time with our kids will influence them in the long run.

Parents AND Kids are Told to Buy, Buy , Buy

When young families move into a new town, the real estate agent is sure to point out the schools in the area, if they are good. Blue ribbons hang down the entry way doors of these good school districts, voted “best school 1000 years in a row”. What everyone knows, and some sometimes say, is that the best and smartest thing you can do is to buy a house in that blue ribbon district. Buy the house, buy the school, buy the education, buy the right clothes for the children to wear, by the right enrichment programs, buy the right sport shoes for soccer……gosh darn it, just buy it!

These messages erode our kids ability to just be happy with what they have. A family, friends, healthy food, laughter, and joy, just to name a few.

My friend, a mom to 4 kids,  sent out an e-mail this week that read: “Spending time with kids is better than spending money on kids.”  If we spent more time with our children, which I believe is all they really want, I wonder if they would stop craving “more and more” things. I wonder if we as parents would stop buying so much as well.

Being Thoughtful With How We Spend Time With Out Kids

After all these ideas hit home, I decided to stop shopping. I would still get the essentials, but not the extras. After seeing The True Cost movie, it was easy to stop looking for clothes for myself as a weekend get away from the monotony of the home grind. If you don’t know what is going on with fast fashion, the movie might move you to do the same.

The True cost left the  image of the mom in India that just about broke my heart. She was leaving her young daughter a day trip away with family so she could go work in the factories to make fashions that sell for cheep in the United States and Europe. The chemicals are bad in the factories, and all kids can do is lay on a mat next to their mom’s day after day. I realized I had enough clothes for a lifetime once I understood what was going on.

Being mindful of how we spend our money as parents, and how we teach our kids, effects kids all over the world.

Every Child Deserves a Good Future, No Matter Where They Live.

The idea that fast fashion in taking advantage of women on a global scale (80% of sweat shop workers are women) made me generalized the lesson to all things made in China, India, Vietnam, Mexico and South America. This cut out 90% of my favorite shopping venues. I felt free and much better about no contributing to the sweat shop culture. Kids, no matter where they live deserve care and the possibility of a good future. So do their moms.

Without my regular stores to provide what I needed for my family, I started visiting re-sales and rummage sales. To get the essentials, I bought clean, gently used item. They were headed to the land fill otherwise, and if some woman made the item in a sweat shop, and it never even got used, that felt unbearable to me.

Rummage sales were my way of taking action and still get the basics for my family. I was able to value what was going to be thrown away. I was able to at least communicate across many millions of miles that I would be mindful of what those moms in sweatshops did each day and nod a “Thank You” in their direction.

With all my free time, I started sitting around the house more, being more available for my family. I pulled out board games, and puzzles, and old books. In essence, I was thoughtful about how I spent my day, talked to may kids, and actually started using all the stuff I had bought and stored over the past years. I didn’t so much as plan my day in excess, but took it slower.

Gratitude Finds Parents That Are Mindful of Time With Their Kids

When I didn’t go shopping very much and started being available for my kids, honestly, I got uncomfortable at first. I felt a little silly and then just totally unproductive. Nothing to achieve. No where to go. How could I feel like I accomplished anything? How much time could I really spend with my kids? AND when I wanted to have down time for just me, where in the world would I go?

And this is where you find me now, a little lost, but more comfortable, and satisfied with more time overall.

Time has slowed down, and for that I am ultimately grateful.

By the way my daughters took ease this weekend when I spent quality time  at home, I am pretty sure she is grateful  too

Kids are grateful for parents who are mindful of the time they spend with them.

Mindful parents encourage their kids To be mindful in life. And they are!

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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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