DISCLAIMER: This post may contain affiliate links. This means after trying a particular product, I love it enough that I am willing to recommend it to others and the company will pay me a small commission, at no extra cost to you, if you decide to purchase from my affiliate link. I will only recommend products and services that I have tried myself and love. Please click here for my full disclaimer.
As busy parents who work full time, my husband and I are very aware that life is flying right by us. I mean, our baby girl is almost 4 and my second pregnancy has flown by. It all comes back to ‘living with intention.’
But it got us wondering. If we have to consciously remind ourselves to take some time to appreciate what we have and the world around us, how can we instill that same mindfulness in children? How do we encourage ourselves and our kids to live with intention?
More often than not, you see kids spending less time in this beautiful world and more time with their head in a screen. How do we inspire them to appreciate the simple beauty of the world?
Related post: How ditching minimalism saved my sanity?
But first of all – what is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is a lot of different things to different people and cultures. But for me? It’s the conscious awareness of our world as well. It’s also about ‘living in the present.’
Too many of us are stuck in the past or worried about the future. How can we encourage our kids to stop and ‘living in the present’ while they still have their childlike innocence?
Here are some ideas we’ve used with our daughter to increase her awareness and appreciation of the world around us.
#1. Watch the sunrise or sunset
Something as simple and as beautiful as watching the different colours of the sky is a wonderful way to inspire mindfulness in children. Admiring the changes during a sunrise or sunset is not only educational for children but reminds them of the beauty in our world.
We often get caught up in the daily grind that we overlook something as simple as a sunrise or sunset. By regularly taking 5 minutes to enjoy the beauty in the world, we can inspire this same mindfulness about the world in our kids.
#2. Spend 5 minutes looking for the moon and stars.
This is the same concept as watching a sunrise or sunset. Learning about the beauty of our world is a beautiful way to inspire mindfulness in children.
#3. Stop and smell the roses.
They don’t even need to be roses. But appreciating a blooming plant and inspiring thought on the changing seasons. Remind your children of the effect that changing seasons has on everything around us will resonate with kids for years to come.
#4. Use imagination to look for pictures in the clouds.
Look up at the clouds. Ask your child to explain what they see in the clouds. After a while, encourage them to change their position and see if their ‘picture’ in the clouds looks different.
I found this very useful in explaining ‘perspective’ to both my daughter and my 12-year-old sister as a way of showing how everything looks different to different people. It doesn’t mean their view is wrong, just because they see something different.
Inspiring mindfulness in children isn’t just about appreciating the visual beauty in the world. It’s also about the encouraging them to see the beauty of our minds.
#5. Get your children to help you declutter.
Have you ever tried to get rid of old toys only to find that suddenly it’s the most important thing in your child’s life? Children are natural hoarders. Inspiring practical mindfulness in children might be one of the hardest jobs as a parent.
Rather than sneaking items out when they’re asleep, provoke your child into thinking about why it’s important.
What meaning does it have? And if they haven’t used it, ask them why?
I’ve found with Ella that asking her to explain her perspective helps her realise that it’s not as important as she thought.
We also use the ‘keep, donate and sell’ method to inspire mindfulness about physical possessions.
#6. Call or visit an elderly relative.
By instilling a strong sense of family in kids from a young age, they’re less likely to become too self-involved later as teenagers or adults. Empathy is another way of consciously instilling mindfulness in children. It inspires consideration of their actions, the value of time and the feelings of other people.
My great-nanna who is 93 (and has recently had a hip replacement after losing her husband of 74 years) lives with my mum. Mum has my daughter two days per week while I’m at work as well. While she’s at mum’s, my daughter often sits with nanna and just chatters away to nanna.
We caught the most adorable moment of my daughter reading one of her books to nanna before bedtime. Not only does this uncomplicated, simple interaction make Nanna happy, but Ella enjoyed spending time with her. My beautiful, thoughtful girl told me all about how she reads to nanna and she likes making nanna happy.
By inspiring mindfulness about the importance of family, not only are you making someone else happy by giving them your presence, your child is learning to be mindful of others and the time they have with them.
#7. Meditation, yoga or breathing techniques for children.
This is fantastic for young children who are still learning to regulate their emotions.
It’s hard when little ones have such big emotions. With the hustle and bustle of everyday life, it’s very easy for them to become overwhelmed and susceptible to ‘explosions of feelings’ that they have trouble articulating.
Taking 5-10 minutes to sit down and think about life, their day, or perform some yoga poses is a great way to diffuse an overwhelmed child.
It doesn’t even have to be regimented. Just something as simple as focusing on mindful breathing techniques is a wonderful way to inspire mindfulness in children.
Asking them to breathe in and breathe out, focusing on mindful breathing distracts them from what was making them feel overwhelmed. Then move into questions about their feelings will help your little one understand their feelings a little bit more.
Emotions are big for little kids. By providing with tools of relaxation, we’re also inspiring them to think about what emotion they are feeling. And as they get older, they may be able to understand why they feel that emotion and how to deal with it.
#8. Ask them to pick up their belongings.
From a young age, this will inspire children to be mindful of their activities.
Packing away as they go creates less of a chore later for them. It also inspires mindfulness in encouraging children to ensure all the right pieces to the particular activity they are playing with are packed away to prevent missing pieces later on.
This also inspires children to learn to live with other in a functional way as they grow.
Is it worth it?
You tell me?
Trying to inspire mindfulness in children is one of the most important things you’ll do as a parent in today’s society.
It might take an extra five minutes out of your day, but the pay off being that you’ve raised a self-motivated, mindful, creative and considerate child is well-worth the investment of your time, even if you are busy.