Children have worked very hard over the school year and rightly deserve some time off to enjoy themselves. The summer holidays are a great time to refresh and recharge.
With a careful bit of planning it can also be a great time to help develop key habits that will allow them to thrive when they go back to school in September.
I love allowing downtime for me and my three daughters as much as possible. Remember, it is OK for your child to be bored. The school year is so busy and our days are filled with school, work, activities, sports, clubs etc. that it leaves very little time to even think what we ‘want’ to be doing. Sometimes our children need to feel bored to come up with creative ways to spend their time.
Activities could include cycling, walking or learning a new board game, but they can also include some powerful and simple activities that will stimulate your brain and help you and them get in touch with the inner self.
Here are my top 10 strategies to boost your and your child’s physical and mental wellbeing:
Teaching our children the importance of self-care is vital for their development and a great building block for their adult life too. Allow your child to tell you when they need to rest, when they want to read or offer them a bath in the middle of the day if they’d like to relax. It is vital that we are connected to our gut-feeling, which is usually overridden by our schedule and to-do list. Learn to give your body and mind what it needs as often as possible.
A weekly family meeting brings many benefits. Set a time and arrange a place for your family to gather. No phones or other gadgets allowed. No TV either. You can either set a topic that you would like to discuss (like the next family holiday or which rewards chart you want to get started) or allow anything to come up. You could start by asking everyone to tell each other how their week has been so far. Practice listening and teach your child not to interrupt either. It is a very powerful experience when you actually feel listened too.
Get into geocaching
Everyone loves a scavenger hunt. Families and groups of people can search for hidden ‘caches’ using the GPS on your phones. You can choose from easy to tricky and you can even choose how long you want to be on the hunt for. It’s like your very own treasure hunt and such a great way to get little ones walking much further than you would have ever imagined!
Make ‘cool stuff’
Mum or dad, can we make a lightsaber please? dadcando.com is a great site full of crafty ideas that brings adults and kids together to spend quality time. From paper planes to dream catchers to quirky things it offers ideas on how to make stuff out of mostly inexpensive or recycled materials.
Whipping up treats in the kitchen can do more than just create yummy comfort food, according to a growing range of sources in both the culinary and mental health worlds. In fact, by setting some time aside baking can have a positive effect on your and your child’s relationship too. Smaller children can learn to measure out ingredients, older children can take charge of almost everything. By enjoying the end result (which is hopefully tasty!) it will leave you feeling super satisfied; emotionally and physically. But watch the sugar – how about making healthy versions of your favourite treats?
With hopefully a little more time at hand and longer summer evenings to be enjoyed it can be lovely to talk with your child about their goals and dreams. Allow your child to dream big! Then set a realistic goal that your child can achieve over the holidays. It can be as little or big as appropriate. From drawing a picture for each family member to learning a new skill like roller blading. Setting a goal, working towards it and achieving to meet it is an empowering and positive experience.
Borrow or purchase yoga cards
Yoga cards are a fun way for you and your child to embark on a journey that will be as exciting and varied as your child’s imagination. Each card shows a yoga pose and the colourful illustrations inspire hours of exploration, movement and creative play. It allows your child to become your teacher which is something they will love doing. You can never be too young or old to practice yoga. Now is a good time.
Try forest bathing
Most of us are aware that spending time in nature helps us to de-stress. A walk on the beach or a stroll in the countryside can make us feel so much better. But do we know why? The Japanese practice of ‘forest bathing’ is scientifically proven to improve your health. Forest bathing—basically just being in the presence of trees—became part of a national public health program in Japan back in the early 80s. So, go outside, surround yourself by trees and improve your immune function!
Have a go
At something new. Discuss with your child what it is that you could try out that is new to you both. Pick something age and budget-appropriate. This does not need to be a bungee-jump! You could order some clay and try yourself at making a vase. Try out a new healthy recipe, which you could let your child pick out of a magazine. Or head to your nearest car boot sale and have a go at selling some old toys.
Go on an adventure
Turn a normal day into an exciting adventure and see if you can take a train, a bus and a boat to get to your destination. We often go somewhere for a day out, may it be a zoo, a museum or a restaurant. But why not turn the ‘getting there’ into an adventure in itself?
Dani Binnington is a cook, yoga teacher and wellness warrior dedicated to providing practical steps for physical and mental wellbeing for the whole family.