You know those mornings where the kids are fighting in the car on the way to school, someone gets out crying, and everyone feels terrible? Those are the worst! I do everything in my power to send my kids off for the day feeling centered and ready to tackle the world.
One of my favorite tips for doing this is to practice what I call “morning mindfulness” with my kids. In the car on the way to school we all take three nice, long, deep breaths, think of something we are grateful for and set an intention for the day. This way I am confident that they are getting out of my car with a calm nervous system, and a full heart.
Creating a positive mindset in the morning can help kids deal with social anxiety, nerves before a big game, or worries about a test. Kids can get anxious and psych themselves up leading up to something, sure that it is going to be horrible, when in actuality the real experience isn’t so bad. When kids learn to recognize their patterns of worry, they can catch themselves in the act, and use tools such as mindfulness to regroup as they begin a new day.
Morning Mindfulness can be done in the car, at the breakfast table, walking to the bus, or during a morning snuggle session. Your kids may get into the habit of doing this on their own if they are on the older side, or you can keep it a family affair.
Our intention for the day should be based on how we want to feel. I often set the intention to feel joy in everything I do. There is no way to mess up intention setting because it is so very personal. We can talk to our kids about what our days would look like if we felt confident, supported, or proud.
Intentions can also help us to choose our thoughts and actions for the day. We begin to understand that we can become an active participant in shaping our reality by putting our awareness on what we want to become bigger in our lives.
Practice setting an intention for yourself every day, and after a few days or a few weeks (you’ll know when), introduce the concept to your kids. To start, I would make it more of a conversation, and once they get the hang of it everyone can set their own daily intention, silently if that feels best. You can ask your kids questions like:
What good do you want to bring into your day today?
How do you want to feel at school?
How can you best love yourself today?
Intentions are different. A goal is to go to the gym five times this week. An intention is to feel healthy and to love your body. Intentions can be what we want to bring into our life, or something that we want to let go of. Intentions are heart-centered, and evoke a feeling. Here are a few examples:
Great ones for mom:
I intend to use time productively today.
I will not take things personally.
I intend to deepen my relationship with ________.
I intend to release all judgment of myself and others today.
Great ones for the kids:
My intention is to think only kind words about myself today.
My intention is to take my time and answer all test questions without rushing.
My intention is to not feel pressure about how to act around my friends.
My intention is to take three deep breaths when I feel frustrated.
Once Morning Mindfulness becomes a habit, mornings won’t feel the same without it. Teaching our kids to begin the day with deep breaths and a bit of reflection is truly a gift that will keep on giving. We cannot expect them to automatically understand how to practice self-care in this way, but we can model and make it a fun part of the day.
Ali Katz is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, self-care coach, and a meditation expert. She is known for her brand “Hot Mess to Mindful Mom” which encompasses books, live events, a blog, and a booming online community. Ali’s uncanny ability to make the concepts of self-care, mediation and mindfulness feel relatable, and downright fun, truly sets her apart from the traditional self-help crowd. For more information visit hotmesstomindfulmom.com