3 mindfulness activities to help you slow down and connect with your children this Christmas
As we get closer to Christmas, life gets busier. We get caught up in the hustle and bustle of the holiday season and all of the “doing” it requires. We sometimes become so focused on creating fun Christmas memories for our children that we forget to slow down and be a part of those memories ourselves.
But practising mindfulness with our children is a great opportunity to slow down, reconnect, and truly focus on what matters at this time of year.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is about noticing. Noticing what is happening inside you as well as around you, by using your senses in a non-judgmental and intentional way. And when you are able to notice the sensations within you, as well as the smells, sights and sounds around you, you are able to simply “be” in the present.
You are able to let go of worries about the future, and thoughts of the past that keep you feeling anxious, stressed and overwhelmed, and just enjoy the moment you are in.
Why practice mindfulness at Christmas time?
When we get busy at Christmas time, we tend to miss opportunities for connection with our children. And this creates stress. Stress for us, as we overschedule and overcommit ourselves. And stress for our children, who, feeling increasingly disconnected and overwhelmed, may display more challenging behaviours or more frequent meltdowns. Not exactly a recipe for Christmas fun.
But practising mindfulness together will help you slow down, release stress, and reconnect with your children this holiday season.
3 Christmas mindfulness activities to try with your children
Make some gingerbread playdough
Playdough is a fantastic mindfulness exercise because it engages so many of the senses – especially when we add a delicious gingerbread scent!
- 1 cup plain flour
- ½ cup salt
- 1 tbsp oil
- 2 tsp cream of tartar
- 2 tbsp allspice
- 1 tbsp cinnamon
- 1 tbsp ground ginger
- Pour all dry ingredients into a saucepan
- Add water and oil to dry ingredients and mix together
- Cook your dough over medium heat, stirring constantly until it begins to come away from the sides of the pan and stick together
- Turn it out onto a clean surface and knead into a smooth ball (but be careful – it will be very hot!)
As you and your child roll, squish and squeeze the playdough, use your senses to focus only on what you’re doing. Talk to your child about what they notice too. How does the playdough feel? Does it squish between their fingers? Does it make a sound? Does the smell remind them of anything? Do they like the feeling of playdough in their hands? How do they know they like it? These questions build your child’s self-awareness as well as their sensory vocabulary – an important first step in the development of self-regulation!
Christmas Calm Down Jar
Calm down jars are a fun and easy mindfulness activity as well as an amazing calm down tool for children.
What you’ll need:
- A jar or plastic bottle with a lid
- Christmas confetti, stars, coloured beads, bells, pom poms or other small craft supplies.
- Fill your jar about 3/4 way to the top with water
- Add a few scoops of glitter or glitter glue in your choice of colour – try red, green or gold
- Add your Christmas extras – try Christmas themed confetti, pom poms, small bells, stars, snowflakes, or colourful beads.
- Top your jar up with water and if you like, hot glue the lid down so it doesn’t spill!
When your child needs a break, take them to their calm down space or a quiet corner of your home with their jar. Explain to your child that when we get upset, our thoughts get a bit swirly, just like the glitter in the jar when we shake it. But if we sit quietly and watch the glitter, it will calm down and settle at the bottom. And so will our thoughts!
Now have your child shake their jar and set it down on the ground in front of them. Together, focus on the jar until the glitter settles. Be sure to have a chat with your child about how they are feeling when they’re done. This activity is great at helping children understand the relationship between thoughts and feelings as well as the temporary nature of feelings.
Go for a mindful Christmas walk
For this activity, gather up the whole family and get your walking shoes on! You’re going to head outside for a mindful family walk. This means you get to practice mindfulness and spend some lovely family time together at the same time.
As you walk, use your senses to notice the environment around you. Pay attention to things you can see, smell, touch and hear. And if you happen to be eating or drinking anything on your walk, pay attention to things you can taste also!
How you do this activity is entirely up to you. You can pay attention with all of your senses, or you can choose just one to focus on. You can use your sight to notice all the beautiful Christmas lights in your neighbourhood. You can use your touch to collect pine cones or interesting looking leaves. You can listen out for Christmas music. You can keep count of how many different smells you notice on your walk. And if your neighbourhood is anything like mine at Christmas, you can grab an ice cream from the Mr Whippy truck and notice the taste and texture of your soft serve as you eat it!
However you choose to practice mindfulness this year, we hope it helps you feel truly connected to your children and to the magic that Christmas brings when we slow down and savour the little moments!
Some other posts that might interest you:
- What’s in a poem?Learn how poetry can help your child to interpret the world around them understand the playfulness of language.
- Is your child really misbehaving?Let’s explore stress behaviour with Sarah Conway from Mindful Little Minds.
- Reconciliation Week 2022 – Be Brave, Make ChangeFind out more about how SEEC encourages families to ‘Be Brave, Make Change’ for Reconciliation Week 2022 and how you can support your family.