I know I am not the only parent that is about to lose all wits before 9:00am some days. Many mornings, I actually wake up refreshed as though I am a blend of Claire Huxtable and Mary Poppins.
But after the "getting ready" routine turns into a skipping broken record, and coffee is spilt on the floor while pants are peed and keys can't be found while children are fighting, I am pretty much the Wicked Witch of the (mid)West. Sound familiar?! If not... stop reading!
As a long time yogi, yoga teacher of five years, and former elementary school teacher, you would think I would have the tools to stay calm and follow the yellow brick road to continue on this parenting journey smoothly. I do! The problem is, I forget to pull them out of the box sometimes.
As a new season approaches, it is my goal to use my own tools that I have collected and used through the years. And to use them before I am melting, melting... melting (insert image of wicked witch). How is it that I forget to do it with my own family, when I do it daily with other people around me?! I find it true that we let our guard down most at home. If we can't do it there, where else can we let go, unwind, release, and have a freak-out-moment? We try our best and hold it all together while we are at our jobs and out in the community, home should be a safe place to throw it all down. I need to remember that for my children too...
So, as a refresher to myself, and hopefully helpful to other parents out there (and so my children don't hear a door slam), here are my top 12 go-to tools, tricks and tips to get us ready to take on our little humans who need us from when we wake up, through the intense moments, to the moments before bed.
1. Get up a few minutes early to do something that fills you up. Maybe its a cup of coffee, or a run, or meditation, or staring off blankly... you do you!
2. MUSIC! If we are all losing it at my house, we put on music. Sometimes it’s a random dance party. Sometimes I play the kids favorite songs over the stereo. Sometimes I pull out an instrument and sing. Our new favorite game is "name that tune" by humming a song we all know and have to guess it. Music is the answer. It changes the whole energy and vibe... for the better! It always helps.
3. Snack Attack! I will actually yell out SNACK ATTACK, and we will stop what we are doing, and have a small snack. It's a pause in the action. And if behaviors are high, sometimes it is because they are hungry. I am so thankful for snacks and food. What a treat.
4. Walk Away. I tell my kids "I need to walk away now because I need a break." I need a timeout. It is the truth. I need to gather my shit and pull up my bootstraps so I can handle it. Sometimes I silently scream, or hit a pillow, or rest in child's pose and breathe, or do a handstand against the wall to flip my perspective, or check social media, or text someone... it all helps depending on the day. Just walk away.
5. Throw, hit or kick something. For real, chuck a ball outside. Kick a ball. Hit a drum. Have a throwing, kicking, drumming contest to see who can do it the farthest, the highest, who can balance it on their head... it is a great release. Just don't throw, kick, or hit it at each other.
6. Yoga and Movement. For us, rolling out our mats and doing yoga poses, songs, and games helps immensely. Check out my Spotify (Charity Huot Benedict) for handfuls of kids yoga playlists to use. I also find that walks, bike rides, or any way to physically move your body boosts the endorphins and can prevent meltdowns (for all parties involved).
7. Balloons, bubbles, and breathing balls. Pull out the sticky messy bubbles and annoying balloons. Why?! Because it's breath work! Kids (and adults) are breathing and focusing and watching their breath move a bubble, or fill a balloon, or breathing along with a Hoberman sphere. It all calms the central nervous system.
8. BOOKS! SO MANY BOOKS! Books are always a tool, an option and available. Alone or with someone. Get out of your own thoughts and into literature. If one of my kiddos is freaking out, they always have the option to "go sit on your bed with a book." It is a quiet safe place to have alone time, redirect, reconnect or change a behavior. They're magic.
9. Change your tone. Whisper. Talk in an accent. Rap the words that need to be heard. Maybe yell, if you think it will work. But when you change up the way you communicate, it draws the kiddos in to hear you. To actually listen.
10. Alcohol! (for me, not the children) Purely medicinal. And in moderation, of course.
11. Bedtime Explorers and Dinosnores are my two bedtime saving graces recently. If you need a bedtime assist, try these calming audio meditation stories for the little ones! One of my kiddos has a terrible time going to sleep, with many meltdowns. We have tried everything, all the strategies. These stories have helped ease some of the bedtime stressors. They are awesome!
12. Talk to other parents and stay connected. Find your Dorothy, Lion, Scarecrow, and Tin-Man. Find your tribe to help you along the way. You all have gifts to share that will come in handy when you need them the most.
Charity is a familiar face around Blooma, not only teaching several of our kids and BYOB classes, but she often helps with special events, like leading the Tangletown 4th of July parade and playing alongside Sarah Longacre at Bellyrama. Check out Charity’s blog at https://lifeoutsideofthelunchbox.blogspot.com/.