Photo by Tycho Burwell
Children (just like adults) are faced with events and moments in their lives that are difficult and sometimes can feel almost unbearable. As a parent and a kids yoga and mindfulness teacher I try give my kids the tools to cope in these moments as it is often the ability to handle the ups and downs that allows us to find contentment and live life to its fullest. One way to do this is through the story of the Lotus flower. The national flower of India, the lotus begins its journey each day rooted in the mud and muck under water and travels upward. It breaks through the surface of the water to open clean and pristine with no sign of the dirt from which it arose. In the evening it closes up again often submerging back under the water into the dirt. The lotus flower presents a wonderful opportunity to give kids a concrete example of resilience and forgiveness and cultivating an ability to get through inevitable tough times. Here are some ways to use the story of lotus flower in your kid’s classes or at home with your own children.
What is your mud?
Perhaps it’s best to begin this conversation by describing the lotus and showing pictures of the flower to your kids. This alone will get their attention, as it is a beautiful specimen. You can explain to the kids that we all have mud in our lives like the lotus. We all have times that make us feel upset or stressed. Ask them to share a time when they have felt “muddy” prompting them to share an event in their lives that was unpleasant and the feelings that go with the mud. Sharing an example from your own life is a great way to get kids to feel comfortable talking about themselves in this way. It can be an argument, a loss, a moment of regret whatever you feel is an appropriate challenge to share.
How do we shake it off?
Once you’ve identified the “mud” meaning the challenges and the difficult emotions you can talk about the way the lotus is able to rise above the dirt and open up clean and beautiful. This image is a great way to get kids thinking about how to change their own perspective and their situation. Can they come up with some suggestions to shake off the dirt, handle the heavy emotions, change or approach the situation that causes them to feel stress and discomfort?
Again, using your own examples and your own ways of coping can prompt children to come up with some great ideas of their own. Maybe there are times to let things go and times to “do” something to change a situation. Making a chart with the children of situations and strategies can be a good way to have something concrete to refer to and remember when times are tough.
Guided lotus meditation
Once you have identified both the “mud” and the many ways to rise above it you can introduce a meditation exercise to help children imagine what it’s like to be a lotus flower and introduce the idea that we often need discomfort and challenge in order to grow and each day is a chance to start over. The children can either be seated in lotus or easy pose or relaxing in savasana. If at home this is a lovely way to wind down to sleep lying in bed.
The script can go something like this:
• Close your eyes.
• Place your hands on your belly and feel it rise and fall with your breath.
• Imagine you are a lotus flower, in the mud underneath the surface of the water.
• With every inhale and exhale you begin to make your journey towards the surface.
• As you grow you thank the mud for giving you what you need to rise above it. Past it.
• On your next exhale picture yourself bursting through the layer of water above you.
• Each of your petals unfolds, clean and beautiful.
• Once you have fully opened you feel yourself receiving the warmth of the Sun.
• Inhale and exhale as you feel warmer and more beautiful.
• Now imagine it is evening and your petals slowly fold as you make your journey back beneath the surface.
• Continue breathing slowly in and out, remembering that tomorrow you will have another opportunity to rise from the muck and open your petals under the sun.
There is also a lovely mudra or hand position children can practice in other poses such as Tree or in meditation while seated when they need to feel connected to their roots while they balance and expand their hearts.
Bring the heels of the palms together then bring the tips of the pinkies to touch each other then the thumb tips without touching your knuckles and spread the rest of your fingers open like the petals of a flower.
However you use it the lotus flower is a tool from the natural world that can teach so much to kids (and adults). To me the lotus is what we aspire to be and who we innately are.
Susan Verde is a yoga and mindfulness teacher, and author of the picture books
The Museum, I Am Yoga and the forthcoming
The Water Princess. She lives in East Hampton, New York with her three children.
Illustration by Peter H. Reynolds, from I Am Yoga
“P-l-e-a-s-e, can we stay outside for just five more minutes?”
If your child has been waking up before the birds and his homework isn’t getting done, such indicators could point to Spring Fever.
“The good weather, surge of vitamin D, and the sense that school is coming to an end, are all signs that the seasonal transition has hit,” says Susan Verde, kids’ mindfulness and yoga teacher and the author of I Am Yoga (Abrams Young Readers, $14.95). “Kids’ natural desire to move their bodies and get outdoors is put into overdrive.”
While such restlessness can disrupt the daily routine, making it more difficult to keep kids on task, a mindful approach to your youngster’s change in mood and behavior can prove beneficial.
“Chances are, as parents, we’re experiencing the same thing. We enjoy the excitement of the warm weather and everything blooming, and we also like for our kids to connect with nature, instead of sitting inside. Being aware of your own feelings, you can then understand how the outdoors and desire to frolic is calling,” says Verde. With such perception, “You’ll probably become less anxious and frustrated, and more patient and compassionate. Then, you can start a conversation about finding a balance together.”
Win-win deal-making suggestions include the opportunity to take mini breaks, says Verde.
“While they’re doing homework, allow them ten minutes to run around outside or play catch. After, they can come back and regroup,” she says. And as long as you feel your child can handle it, “By all means, let them tackle homework outside. If it’s not a distraction it can be a refreshing and inspiring way to get work done”
Kids yoga is a structured way for kids to move their bodies and calm an overstimulated nervous system, says the expert.
“Yoga is a way to give kids some fun and movement, while actually working to bring their attention inward and get their minds to settle a bit,” says Verde.
In Child’s pose, for example, “The focus is internal, and is a great way to center. It’s a fun starting off point too, as your child can imagine he’s a seed, which grows and becomes more expansive, just like what’s occurring outside this time of year,” says Verde.
While you’re already seated, moving to Flower Pose encourages timely talk about nature and growth. “Kids can roll back and forth to get their sillies out,” says the author.
Tree pose requires more focus and balance, by drawing both body and mind inward.
The calm, conscientious breathing and effort required is a way to cultivate what they will need to get through the rest of the day, and with their studies,” says Verde.
Attention and balance is also required in Eagle pose, which can sometimes feel awkward and uncomfortable. “Learning to move through and past such discomfort can strengthen the ability to work through responsibilities that may not be as pleasant as what is calling from outside.” says Verde.
End your sequence in Savasana or in an easy seat, for a breathing exercise. With one hand on the belly, “Count the inhale and exhale. Breathe in for one count and out for one count, then breathe in for two counts and out for two. Continue counting up, but as soon as your mind wanders, start back at one. It doesn’t matter how high of a number they get it’s just a great way to help children notice when their mind wanders and help them practice bringing it back. Again, it’s a wonderful way to calm the mind and help children bring their attention back to their responsibilities so they have more time to enjoy the season.
(Excerpted from I Am Yoga. Illustrations by Peter H. Reynolds)
Child’s Pose (Balasana)
Start by kneeling on the floor, with the tops of your feet resting on the ground, big toes touching. Sit back on your heels, either keeping your knees together or separating them the width of your hips. Bring your head down gently to the floor in front of you. Your hand can stay by your side or you can reach them out in front of you. Breathe in and out and hold the pose as long as it is comfortable. Use the pose as a chance to relax and rest.
Sit on the ground and bring the soles of your feet together. Dive your hands in between your knees and out and under your legs. Lift your feet off the ground, knees pointing out to the side, and balance in your flower. Your feet will most likely separate in the air. Breathe in and out slowly. What kind of flower are you?
Tree Pose (Vrkasana)
Before getting in to this pose, find an unmoving spot on the floor or something directly in front of you to stare at to help you balance.
Begin in Mountain pose. From your mountain, lift your arms and reach out to either side, like th branches of a tree, to help you balance. Lift one foot, turning your knee out to the side, and place your foot either below the knee of the standing leg or above it. Breathing slowly in and out, bring your arms up over your head and imagine yourself growing like a tree. Slowly lower your hands to your chest, place your foot down, and repeat on the other side.
Eagle Pose (Garudasana)
Stand in Mountain pose. Bend your left leg and cross your right leg over the left. Lift your left arm in front of you, bending at the elbow, and circle your right arm underneath your left, turning your hands so your palms meet, or just bring your forearms together from elbows to fingertips.
Find balance first, then slowly lower your hips, as if sitting in a chair. Breathe in and out slowly, as if you are an eagle watching something far below. Unwrap your arms and spread your wings as you come out of the pose. Repeat on the opposite side.
Relaxation Pose (Savasana)
Lie down on your back with your legs straight and your arms by your sides, palms facing up. Let your legs separate naturally and your feet flop out to the side. Try not to talk or look around. If you are comfortable, close your eyes. Let every part of your body relax and sink in to the ground and be supported by the earth underneath you.
In a condo set-up for large families, sooner or later parents will have to address the issue of sibling rivalry when arranging rooms for their kids. If left unattended, sibling rivalry can lead to more serious problems such as deep-seated hostility and even physical violence. As a loving parent, you will do everything in your power to prevent this from happening.
Statistically speaking, sibling rivalry or conflict is normal. Most families with two or more children deal with it. But psychologist and anti-bully advocate Izzy Kalman argues that while sibling rivalry exists in many families, there is nothing healthy about it. If sibling rivalry is allowed to persist, it may cause pain not only to the kids but also to the parents.
Thankfully, there are ways to make apartment living with kids fun, comfortable, and healthy for all members of the family. For parents dealing with or planning to prevent their kids from fighting over rooms, below are five helpful and effective guides to rooming your kids properly.
Explain the Arrangement with Your Kids
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Allocating individual rooms to each of your kids can be an ideal setup if you are not limited by budget and space. But if necessity dictates that your kids share a room, it is essential that you honestly explain to them the reasons for such an arrangement. Is it because you’re downsizing? Or because you want your older kid to be more responsible in looking after his or her younger sibling? Whatever the reasons, it is important that you try to make your kids understand.
As your kids develop an understanding of why they are sharing a room, creating a condo set-up for large families becomes so much easier. According Susan Bartell, child psychologist and author of The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask, kids are more receptive to share a room than some parents may know. Kids like to share rooms because sharing is about inclusion and being together. Bartell furthers that many parents expect kids to want their own space above all. While this is true when kids reach a certain age (in most cases during adolescence), many children value the company of their siblings.
Experiment with Bed Layouts
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Each child must learn to establish personal boundaries in forming his or her identity. Conflict will likely arise when personal boundaries are breached. Experimenting with different bed layouts will allow your kids to delimit their personal space. The most traditional layout is the side-by-side. This formation provides an appealing visual symmetry that conveys to your children that their claim to personal space is equal. A side-by-side bed layout in condo rooms will also allow your children to see each other as partners, not rivals.
An adjacent bed layout is also gaining popularity because it allows more space for playing. This is ideal if you have younger kids who need space for their toys. If you have extra budget, installing bunk beds will also serve the same purpose. Having bunk beds or an adjacent layout will provide ample space for your kids to bond while playing.
Provide Multi-purpose Storage Space
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A shared room becomes breathable when you provide storage space for your children’s personal things. Toys and clothes are common items that kids fight over. One of the most helpful apartment room ideas to avoid this problem is to have plenty of small- and medium-sized storage baskets and bins. Having sufficient storage containers will make it easier and less stressful for your kids to keep their personal things and to maintain a tidy room. Another great idea is to have foldable storage box chairs that can also function as furniture. Multi-purpose storage items will help you realize your objective of avoiding heavy and cluttered rooms.
Storage space can also be customized to suit the needs of your children. For example, if your children are of school age, providing them with their own study tables will encourage them to study. If the room does not allow you to create separate desk areas, using one unit with designated sections is a great alternative. Most furniture stores have various desk systems with adjustable pieces to address your children’s needs.
Harmonize the Space with Color
Color is a simple design element that will help you realize your objective of avoiding heavy rooms for your kids. Color can create a cohesive environment that is cohabitation-friendly. Interior designer Mary Wadsworth advises the use of paint or wallpaper to create separate areas that are aesthetically attractive and complementary. For example, using harmonious shades of blue, white and beige can provide area distinction if your kids are of the opposite sex. While the color blue is largely associated with boys, balancing this color with beige and white will create a gender-neutral room while still allowing your kids to identify their own spot in the shared space.
Whether your are a young couple or a single mom into condo buying, utilizing various color combinations is a creative way to add warmth and a homey feel to your kids’ room. You can also allow your kids to express themselves with their chosen color. Accenting walls in your children’s favorite colors will give them a sense of partial ownership of the room. For teenagers who may be drawn to bold colors, you can create a wall mural or install a cork board above their beds to give them their own special corner to express themselves.
Establish Ground Rules
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Rooms for kids can be creatively and smartly designed, but conflicts may still arise especially when infringements on personal space take place. Borrowing or moving something that belongs to the other person is a common reason for conflict. The solution? Set up rules and consequences should anyone break those rules. It is also a great idea to engage your children when creating house rules so they feel part of establishing order. Rules depend on your household, but one ground rule involves asking permission before using any of the other person’s personal item. A common bedtime policy can work if your kids are close in age, but it may not be effective when one child is of school age while the other is still a toddler. The key is to take into account the schedule and needs of your children when establishing ground rules. That way, you establish rules that are realistic and appropriate.
Room sharing teaches your children valuable life lessons. A combined bedroom can teach your kids the art of sharing, compromising, and resolving conflict. As kids, of course, they need your guidance as a parent. Rooming your kids while apartment renting has many challenges. But with creativity and love, you can effectively design a shared space for your children to help them become responsible and kind adults.
Patricia Evans is a part time interior designer and a full-time mother. She has worked in marketing, but quit her job to pursue her true passion: interior design. When she's not busy balancing her household and career, Patricia writes about lifestyle, travel, architectural trends, fashion, health, gardening, tea and cooking.
Hobbies are excellent ways for kids to personally develop, learn skills and techniques while enjoying themselves. Even better, productive hobbies keep kids away from the couch and keep them from becoming bored. In order to avoid racking up expensive bills to support these hobbies, parents should consider the following tips.
Photo by Fotolia.
Encourage Intellectual Hobbies
A good place to start is by encouraging children to pursue free or inexpensive hobbies. For example, intellectual hobbies, such as reading, writing and drawing, require minimal amounts of money, but can help increase IQ and competency.
As children grow older, they understandably become more obsessed with technology and the Internet. Rather than of allow them to spend hours gaming or wasting time online, encourage them to learn software programming—knowing how to develop websites or online games could turn into a lucrative career later in life. For those who enjoy writing and surfing the web, encourage them to start their own informative blog, podcast or YouTube channel.
Hobbies encompass more than just killing time or spending time with friends. Many hobbies allow children to develop skills, knowledge and craftsmanship. For example, a coin collector could easily become an educated expert in foreign currencies. A child who collects military medals can gain in-depth knowledge of historical wars, battles and events. On the other hand, there are hobbies that provide more hands-on skills. A child who enjoys cooking could be encouraged to explore different ethnic foods and actually develop diverse cooking skills. A child who enjoys dancing could be encouraged to learn more about the physics and mechanics of their own body. This may result in them gaining lifelong, valuable skills that will help them later in school and work.
Don’t Encourage Competitiveness
Many parents make the mistake of encouraging too much competitiveness. As a result, children expect and then demand the best supplies and equipment in order to surpass others. For example, biking and cycling are great hobbies that deliver plenty of exercise and fresh air, but the most expensive bikes will cost thousands of dollars. Instead, focus on the simplistic and straightforward benefits of the hobby. Have children bike with friends or family, instead of just participating in competitions. This will enable them enjoy the hobby while maintaining meaningful social connections and staying within the family budget. Be prepared to explain that their equipment is equally useful as high-grade, name-brand parts. If they truly enjoy and excel in their sport, take advantage of promotional codes for gear that offer savings to help ease your budget.
There are many easy ways to encourage inexpensive hobbies, such as guiding children to intellectual pursuits, encouraging craftsmanship and discouraging extreme competitiveness. With their interests in mind, have your kids try different hobbies that may lead them to a future career or lifelong skill.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information contact Brooke via Twitter, @BrookeChaplan.
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While many women approach the beginning of pregnancy with excitement, the joy may begin to wear off when troubling symptoms, such as morning sickness and extreme fatigue, take over the body. Some women may begin worrying about other potential problems, such as hemorrhoids, high blood pressure, diabetes and weight gain. While every pregnancy has at least some discomfort, following these four tips can create the most problem-free pregnancy possible.
Although some women believe that eating a healthy diet is sufficient for nutrition, this is not the case during pregnancy. The baby will be taking many of the vitamins and minerals from the mother’s diet as they grow and develop through the months. Mothers should choose prenatal vitamins over regular multivitamins due to their increased levels of both iron and folic acid.
Prenatal Medical Care
According to the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, early prenatal care is vital for healthy pregnancies and for the reduction of preterm birth. Prenatal care should begin in the first trimester and should include routine lab work. Women should also receive at least one or two ultrasounds by a professional with a bachelor’s degree in medical sonography.
Pregnancy can seem like a great excuse for dropping an exercise routine. However, physicians recommend continuing to exercise during pregnancy in most cases. Of course, women should check with their doctors first, but exercise can keep off excessive weight gain, keep muscles toned in preparation for childbirth and even help with postpartum health.
While many doctors focus mainly on physical health during pregnancy, a woman’s emotional health is not to be overlooked. Because of wildly fluctuating hormones, women’s moods may seem like a turbulent roller-coaster ride. However, stress hormones can travel to the baby, affecting development. Women are encouraged to take time for themselves, have a massage or a warm bath or talk with their doctors if they feel that their emotions are out of control.
Because pregnant women are caring for both themselves and their unborn child, they must take care to treat their bodies and minds with compassion and wisdom during this time. What they put into their bodies greatly affects the unborn child, and even their stressors can affect their own minds as well as the growth and welfare of the baby. The possibility of having a mainly problem-free pregnancy are heightened by following these healthy body and mind tips.
Anica is a professional content and copywriter who graduated from the University of San Francisco. She loves dogs, the ocean, and anything outdoor-related. She was raised in a big family, so she's used to putting things to a vote. Also, cartwheels are her specialty. You can connect with Anica on Google Plus.
The time has come to transfer your little bundle of joy out of their bassinet or your bed (if you’re co-sleeping), and into the crib in their own room. Since the nursery is where your baby will spend a great deal of their time moving forward, it’s important to make it feel as cozy and welcoming as possible. Here are a few key factors to help guide you while adjusting your baby to their new environment.
Photo courtesy Davenport Public Library.
A room that’s too bright will hurt your baby’s sensitive eyes, so be sure to choose a lightbulb with a lower wattage, or just stick to lamps. Even better: Install a dimmer switch to simplify your life and provide the right amount of light with just a turn of the knob. Another great lighting option would be to use blinds or plantation shutters to keep the room dark during nap time.
Infants tend to be very sensitive, so it’s a good idea to make sure any bedding you have picked out won’t irritate their delicate skin. A good rule of thumb is if you find the material uncomfortable, so will your child. Stick with fabrics you’ve used before and make sure after they’ve been washed and reused a lot, you can switch them out for new ones.
No one wants to sleep in a room that’s either too hot or too cold, so ensure that the temperature is comfortable for your baby. Of course, blankets should be nearby if you need to swaddle your little one, but the thermostat should stay fairly consistent. If you have large windows, make sure the sun isn’t overheating the room, or cooling it down too fast if it’s on the shadier side.
The way a nursery is decorated can either aid in helping your baby drift off to sleep peacefully, or engage them. Using muted colors and patterns goes a long way towards a good night’s rest. Mobiles can be helpful in calming a fussy baby, and a crib that allows for easy grabbing can be good for perfecting their motor skills.
First time parents usually have questions about how and when to make the change. While information from friends, family, and even your doctor is helpful, the best advice is to trust your own instincts and listen to your child. Usually once your baby can roll over on their own, it’s a safe to assume they’re ready to move into their own room. But don’t be afraid to take it slow. The adjustment can be a little nerve-wracking for both the parent and child, so here are a few tips to help make it as painless as possible. Once you’re certain the nursery is prepared for your baby, try using these simple instructions.
Preparing your Baby
A good first step in making the transition would be to do a trial-run during the day. Participate in non-sleeping activities, such as reading a book or playing with a toy, to help gradually ease your child into their new space and will introduce them to their new surroundings, so it will be less of a shock later.
Try laying the baby down in his/her crib for short naps. The decision to move forward will depend on the success of the step above. If your baby is still struggling to transition, especially if you’ve been co-sleeping, a good suggestion is to bring along an item with your scent on it. Babies tend to feel more relaxed when the familiar scent of their mother or father is nearby.
Once baby is napping in their nursery, sleeping overnight in their crib is the final step. When transitioning, remember to go at whatever pace is best for your family. There’s no true right or wrong when it comes to parenting choices.
It can be mind boggling, as a new parent, to try to figure out the right time and way to transition your little one. But by utilizing these tips you just might find that it takes away some of the confusion and stress.
Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most her time hiking, biking and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Twitter @BrookeChaplan.
Children’s most formative years are from birth to the age of five. This is when they begin to develop their intellect, personality, and social skills. It’s also a time for children to be surrounded by positive role models and learn how to enjoy living a healthy lifestyle. All adults are socially responsible to inspire every new generation to be fit, healthy, and active. When we think about the future, we often wonder which came first, the chicken or the egg? Or in this case, the healthy adult or the healthy child?
Children are surrounded by adults from the moment they are born until they, themselves, become adults. These are the people who will influence your kids during their most important years of developing their preferences. As parents, we have the opportunity to be the foundation for our kids. Once they are in the hands of others, we begin to allow others to shape their way of thinking. This is the time to be great role models and to constantly remind our children of positive lifestyles. As a fitness professional and the co-founder of a preschool fitness program, I’ve put together a list of ways for YOU to be positive—it will rub off on the kids as they watch you enjoying life. Try this fun, comprehensive guide on how to become a positive role model for your kids.
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Make fitness fun. I’m here to tell you that if you don’t love your fitness activities, you won’t enjoy the journey to health and your kids will interpret fitness and exercise as a negative word. So, go out there and find what makes you happy! You can try group fitness classes at a large gym, in a boutique fitness studio, or even at home with a DVD. Maybe you prefer outdoor activities like biking, hiking, surfing, etc. As the primary role model in your child’s life, it is your responsibility to learn to enjoy exercise, make it part of everyday life, and share your fitness with family and friends.
Stop counting calories. When we talk about kid’s fitness, we never mention words like, calories, weight loss, fat, thin, etc. As fitness professionals, enthusiasts, parents and teachers, we want to always practice what we preach. Can you imagine a four year old counting calories in their lunch box? No, and neither should you. Kids eat when they are hungry; they stop eating when they are no longer hungry. They move when they want to have fun; they sleep as long as their bodies require them to sleep. We should learn from our future generation and stop beating ourselves up about the number of calories we’re consuming and instead enjoy our meals and enjoy our fitness.
Avoid negative self-talk. Do your best not to degrade yourself with comments like, “I’m not skinny enough. I shouldn’t have eaten that. I hate exercising. I’m too upset to look in the mirror today.” Your kids are absorbing every negative and positive thing you say out loud. They can even interpret your body language. Crazy, right? It’s time for us to overpower the negativity that we see around us, especially in the media and to start talking in more positive ways. For instance, we can teach our children that going to the gym allows us to be strong and healthy, instead of skinny. We’re eating healthy to prevent disease and to enjoy what our bodies can do for us instead of dieting.
Kids are so intuitive and we’re often missing clues that they are modeling our behaviors. Wouldn’t it be so wonderful if your attitude was healthier and you got excited every time it was time for the gym? Or you cooked healthy meals at home with your kids, letting them participate?
Ethel Baumberg has an MPH in health education and behavioral sciences and is the business director and co-founder of FLYAROO Fitness, the first nationwide customizable preschool certification fitness program created for children ages 18 months to 6 years old.