Fun activities to do with your kids for mindful holidays.
It’s easy to fall into the trap of rushing around, getting fixated on gifts, and clinging to picture-perfect expectations during the holiday season. There’s nothing wrong with embracing the tinsel and glow of December. However, the busyness of the season can make it tough to maintain balance. Many parents worry that the flurry of activity that occurs is overwhelming for their kids.
It is possible to have a mindful holiday season. What’s more, mindfulness can feel fun and merry. Practicing mindfulness is one of the best things to do for the holidays. Take a look at these three mindfulness activities you can try with your kids this year.
Cocoa Night: Focus on Warm, Cozy Sensations
The month of December creates some fantastic opportunities for sensory exercises. You can turn a cozy night in to a mindfulness exercise. In addition to helping kids get in touch with their senses, this cocoa night exercise teaches them how to appreciate the small things all around them that can bring great joy. Here are the steps:
- Make your favorite hot chocolate at home.
- Focus on being fully present as you stir the cocoa powder into milk or water. Watch closely as the cocoa powder dissolves.
- Hold the warm mugs in your hands. Describe how the warmth feels as it transfers from the mug to your skin.
- Observe the ripples that form as you blow on the hot chocolate before the first sip.
- Describe the taste of the hot chocolate on your tongue.
- Talk about the feelings that you’re experiencing as you savor your cocoa. You might feel joyful, satisfied, excited, or warm.
You can consider setting a timer that creates a window of time for enjoying your cocoa. Bonus points if you do this while wearing cozy, festive pajamas. Some people find this helpful because it allows them to have start and end times. However, there’s no rule about how long you should take to savor your cocoa.
Mood Gingerbread Men: Express Emotions
This mindfulness activity puts a mindful spin on the time-honored tradition of making gingerbread men. All you need is your favorite gingerbread recipe and some decorative icing in at least three to four different colors. If possible, have your child shop with you for icing colors — allow them to choose colors based on the emotions they associate with each color.
Once you’ve established how each color correlates to an emotion, it’s time to decorate your cookies. Encourage your child to decorate each cookie based on the mood they are feeling at the moment. They can even decorate different cookies based on various emotions they’ve felt throughout that day, week, month or year. They can also use the icing to make emotion-based expressions on the faces of their gingerbread cookies. The best part is that your child will understand that moods don’t have to be merry just because it’s the holiday season.
Release the Storm with Worry Snowflakes: Release the Weight of Worries
This is a fun mindfulness activity to do on the last day of school, leading into the holiday break. Your child can decide on approximately how many snowflakes they will need based on how many worries are brewing within their “internal storm.” Make the process of making snowflakes fun by putting on anything from holiday hits to meditation music as you carefully and patiently cut out unique snowflakes. Have your child write all of the worries that are flurrying around in their mind onto individual snowflakes. They can even write some of the stressful events that have happened so far in the semester.
Have them gather all the snowflakes in their hands. They can take a moment to acknowledge all of the stress and weight caused by the worries. Next, it’s time to throw the snowflakes up in the air in a way that’s symbolic of letting them go. Have your child take a minute to look around at the scattered snowflakes as a way to symbolically say that the worries are now scattered around outside of their mind.
The last part is the most fun. Use a correction pen to erase all of the worries written on the snowflakes. Your child will now write down hopes for the new year ahead over the whited-out worries. This symbolizes the fact that the year ahead is like a field of freshly fallen snow that has erased the troubles of the past year to offer a fresh start.
Mindfulness Never Takes a Holiday
These three mindfulness activities are all very easy to incorporate into your holiday celebrations. They’re effective because they use classic holiday activities to bring in self-examination and renewal. The final thing to remember is that parents shouldn’t feel guilty when they feel themselves getting caught up in the hustle and bustle of the hectic holiday season. Always remember that it takes just a second to remember to step back into mindfulness.
Anthony Cupo is a Trained Mindfulness Facilitator (TMF) from the UCLA Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior. He is a co-owner of Stepping Forward Counseling Center, LLC and has been meditating for over 30 years. Our article is also published in ParentingOC’s Magazine!