If you have recently started or already have an established self-care routine and you’ve been considering how to share the concepts of self-care with your family, you are not alone. Practicing self-care together is a great way to grow your relationship with your kids. You are probably doing it more than you know and starting is easier than you think.
Family self-care routines are created over time and are built with intention. Over time you develop activities that are fun, educational, and meaningful (think: traditions). Which, in turn, encourages mindfulness and helps you and your family recognize and define values that guide your day to day life.
OBSERVE AND REFLECT
- Begin by looking at your current day to day routines. As a family, what are you doing to take care of your bodies, nourish your minds and inspire compassion?
- Model and describe what you do and why:
- “I need to clear my head. I think a dog walk would help with that. Come join me.”
- “I see our neighbor hasn’t been able to rake up his leaves. What do you say to helping him? It feels good to help others out. And I bet he’ll appreciate it too.”
- Label the self-care you see happening around you. Your family will begin to see for themselves which will boost their self-awareness and flex their mindfulness muscles. “It was great to see you outside riding your bike. What a great way to stretch out your legs after a long school day.”
- Think through the three paths of self-care: The Body, The Mind, The Heart.
These are the activities your family does to care for their physical health and the ways in which you develop respect for your body.
- Basics like brushing teeth, eating healthy, and bathing come to mind. Maybe you want to start focusing on better oral hygiene for example. Start by modeling how you floss your teeth. This can ignite interest in your grade schooler to do the same.
- Maybe sleep is what your family needs right now. Try instituting a “Sleep-in Saturday” or take advantage of dark evenings and go to bed earlier.
- Consider adding activities to do as a family, such as going on walks or playing catch. Anything you do when you play with your children can be considered active care of the body.
These are all those things you do to nourish your mind, how you expand your knowledge or let your mind rest. This also includes the ways in which you bring more awareness to the present moment.
- Could learning a new board game together, or watching a documentary for family movie night work? You bet!
- Diving into a new hobby can be a refreshing vacation for the brain and will pique interest in learning something new.
- Nourishment could look like spending more time together in quietness. Or, intentional time away from screens and other busy activities.
These are activities that help connect yourself to your inner most self. They are activities that inspire you to act from a place of service and compassion for others. This also includes ways to develop understanding for what is different from you.
- A gratitude journal can have a line for each family member to respond.
- Activities that inspire kindness and meaningful time together are easy to find on the internet and in books on the topic. (e.g. look through books and websites that outline how to help the planet, find lists of ideas for random acts to kindness, or look up places to volunteer in your local community)
- Any type of act-of-service can be considered an avenue for building a heart of compassion. What are ways your family likes to help others? This is a great place to start.
- Starting a question and answer time once a month to dive into difficult topics is a beautiful way to share time together and grow understanding of others.
HOW TO GET STARTED
Family brain storm
Set aside a few minutes to come up with ideas under each of the categories: Body, Mind, Heart. Then spend some time deciding on one or two to try. If you like it and it sticks, keep on doing it. When it gets boring or too static, try something else. Maybe you’ll see something on the list you are already doing that you could be more intentional with.
Invite your family to join you
Already do yoga on your own? Try inviting your kids to join you on occasion. You may not get deep into your Zen, but you will stretch. Your kids get some physical activity. Added bonus = time together!
Ask what others are doing
Check in with your friends. Hearing what is working for others is a great place to start. Maybe you won’t go hiking like the family across the street, but perhaps your family would enjoy a walk around the block or a nature scavenger hunt at the arboretum.
Look for opportunities
What could your family spend more time doing? If quiet time is difficult in your house, ask how could you invite intentional ‘quiet’ into the day. A 10-minute read-alone time after dinner a couple times a week could work. If it is hard to get in physical activity, plan for or schedule times when everyone plays together.
FAMILY SELF-CARE TIPS
- Keep looking at what you are already doing. Try modifying a regular occurring activity to align with the concept of self-care.
- Be willing to fail. If it’s not working out, try something new. Model flexible thinking skills.
- Start small. Add on when your family is interested in doing more.
- Get everyone’s input. You may have a gazillion cool ideas but don’t be afraid to ask what your kids and partner think. Your family will have great ideas too!
- Start seeing when your kids are doing their own self care and label it. This will build their understanding of what it means to take care of their whole self with intention. It can inspire them to practice it more. And be sure to notice when you are doing self-care as a family. Remember, what you pay attention to, you see more of.
- Celebrate! This is about the journey to a better, healthier self and family – the body, the mind, and the heart. Any small thing you do today is an important step.
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Text: © Kids In Transition to School 2021
Image: © Monkey Business Images | Dreamstime.com