5 Things Young Children (and their Parents!) Thrive On

1. Simplicity - if you don't love something clear it out  - keep only favourites out - books, toys. Clear out, let go, share with friends. Create space in your home, schedule, life, mind, heart. The pausing and free unstructured time is something that we need to be intentional about for it to happen in our culture of busy. Pause is essential for our childrens' healthy development. I think of it like a savasana in yoga where all the work of the yoga series gets integrated ... free time/play is where they integrate their learnings ... they benefit greatly from time to digest their experiences in their own way.

2. Our presence - sometimes it's hard to be with our children without doing all the things that need to be done. We may be there with them physically but our mind is on our to-do-list or somewhere else.  If you are looking back at your days and realize you find it hard to be with your child try what one mom tried - set a timer (for 5 or 10 minutes or half an hour ... however long) and commit to being fully present with your child until the timer goes off... see what happens ... keep coming back to the moment ... let yourself enter their world of wonder ... be curious … who is this being in front of me … wow … (FYI - this can be difficult for many people to start … feel what you are feeling and find the delight in this)

3. Stories - tell stories - share your childhood, make stuff up. Honestly, anything goes and with young children and it can be pretty simple. Young children think in images so picturing the story as you tell it will help you really stay with it. One tip I tell teachers and parents who would like to learn more about the art of telling stories is, “As you tell the story, see it and feel it for yourself - the children will sense the presence that comes with this and more easily enter in there with you.” Story topic ideas include: things your child did when they were younger, what Christmas was like for you as a child, make up on-the-spot stories about animals or fairies or whatever they are interested in. Sing as part of the story (it might mesmerize them(!)) ... let your creativity flow and go slow … this will nourish you too!

4. Rhythm - keep a rhythm to keep sane - i.e. waking up time, outside time, times to eat, time to bed, weekly chores. Basically anything you do to put the things that happen regularity out of your mind and on a rhythm will help. It will simplify your life, build a sense of trust in your child and will impact your patience, energy, calm and creativity in ways that will surprise you (in a good way!). This is an essential piece of the work I do in clinic when supporting women with adrenal fatigue and hormonal balance. Remember children (ok all of us) need time to reconnect with ourselves daily so as make sure you prioritize ‘the pause’ and let go of those things that aren’t a ‘YES!’ … this season is short … schedule in free play and (as strange as this sounds!) unscheduled time to linger …

5. Warmth - essential for your growing child. If you think about it, warmth is key to many transformative processes and growth.

Think about how grounded, relaxed and open you feel when you are warm compared to when you feel cold. When you’ve got both hands around a cup of something warm and you are here and open. Children in the first 7 years are making that journey of coming into their bodies benefit from feeling safe, cozy, relaxed - warmth has that quality.

In Waldorf philosophy rather than children 'growing up', it is said that they are 'growing down'. They are coming into their bodies fully during the journey from birth to seven. A child goes from being this bundle of love who doesn't know their hands and feet are theirs to coming fully into connection with their physical body through movement, touch, balance and warmth. For young children under the age of 7 years it is important for us to bring in the warmth for them as they have not yet developed the capacity themselves to regulate their temperature efficiently. When  they are cold they use energy that ideally would go to organ development and maturation and by doing the work of keeping them warm we actually support their inner development. It’s a bigger deal than I had imagined …

There are many ways to bring in warmth: warm clothing and trying to keep that hat on and teas and soups, sitting by a fire, lighting a candle, slippers for them (and you!) if you have cold floors and then there is the social warmth of connection, laughs, snuggles, feeling grateful, heartwarming stories, feeling connected and the warmth of taking things a bit slower and not rushing as much....

What are your favourite ways to bring in warmth into your life? xo