“In today’s rush we all think too much, seek too much, want too much and forget about the joy of just Being.” – Eckhart Tolle
Back to school is an exciting time for parents and children. The new school year brings new challenges, new friendships, and the exhilarating feeling that the year ahead is limitless.
But September can also be one of the most hectic months of the year for families. We’re often ‘plugging back in’ after summer vacations and it can be hard to get back into the swing of things. Parents have household tasks that need to get done, emails that need to be answered, school orientations to attend, and long workdays. For kids, September means the return of busy schedules, less playtime, homework, and extracurriculars too.
When life feels like a windstorm, it’s important to stay grounded, to manage stress and overwhelm because they can eventually lead to burnout. This is true not only for us parents but for our kids as well and we parents we need to stay as grounded as possible for them, so they don’t feel so overwhelmed.
Here are a few things that you and your kids can do to stay balanced, healthy, and happy this month.
Try a Tech Curfew
We can almost feel the impending eye rolls as we write this, but instituting tech-free time at home really does work. It’s one of the most common tips psychologists recommend to combat stress and anxiety.
Anything that takes our focus away from the present compromises our sense of groundedness and our ability to be in the moment, and tech is inherently distracting. Too often we are addicted to it and, when “left to our own devices” we simply can’t help but look for notifications, unopened emails, or just get lost in an endless scroll.
But think of all the things we could be doing if we weren’t looking at a screen. Talking to our kids, taking ten minutes of quiet to decompress, reading a book or listening to a podcast. Whatever helps you to center yourself, release the weight of the day, and rekindle your inner fire is more important than anything that you could find online. So we encourage you to at least try tech-free time in your own home.
What does this look like in practice?
? Avoid looking at your phone for the first hour of the day to increase focus and mental clarity.
? A basket by the entryway means that your family can leave their devices at the door when they get home and creates a distraction-free zone at home.
? Many devices have Do Not Disturb settings that automatically turn off notifications in the evening to make it easier to avoid temptation.
? And, if you absolutely have to check your tech outside of work and school hours, set an alarm for a specific 15-minute window to do check-ins, and use dark mode to avoid blue light exposure after sundown.
The first thing our body will do when it’s stressed is increase the heart rate, and for good reason. Faster breathing and more oxygen to the blood wakes the senses so we can combat threat. But when it comes to our bodies, all stress is the same. Our nervous system can’t differentiate between a fight or flight reflex and a tight deadline.
This is what makes controlled breathing so powerful with respect to managing stress and staying grounded. When you breathe slowly and with intention you send a psychological cue that you are at peace.
So take a breath. It takes just one to change your perspective – to release the overwhelm and give yourself a much needed rest. Following this breath into your body allows you to gain just enough distance to re-evaluate whether your mind and body are aligned with your current intentions and greater purpose, the very definition of groundedness.
What does this look like in practice?
? Give yourself five extra minutes in bed each morning. Instead of getting up right away, take a moment to envision the day that lies ahead or listen to a short guided meditation.
? Make journaling a daily routine with the Five Minute Journal, there’s even one for kids!
? Meditation, yoga, and even just taking quiet moments when you can are all great ways to maintain a sense of calm not just for yourself but for kids as well.
Get Some Fresh Air
A connectedness to nature and the physical world around us is essential to our wellbeing, but the demands of modern life put us at risk of becoming totally disconnected from the natural world. As digital natives, it can be challenging for children to rediscover and reconnect to what is truly important in life, and to simply be. And with the popularity of social media, we can sometimes spend far too much time focusing on things that don’t really matter.
As parents, you can lead by example, and you too can benefit from taking intentional time away from the distraction of social media, and devices in general, to remain mindful and grounded. These precious moments can strengthen the bond between you and your child by focussing on the present together, turning away distractions, reconnecting with nature and your emotions, your heart, and your authentic selves, and feeling engaged in a life of meaning. Making outdoor time a daily practice sounds trivial, but it has the power to change how we connect to ourselves and those around us in profound ways.
What does this look like in practice?
? If you have outdoor space, use it! Enjoy the warmth of September by having dinner outside or take time to unwind on your front porch (or balcony!) and watch the world go by.
? A family walk after dinner improves digestion and helps to maintain blood sugar levels.
? Instead of going straight home after picking up the kids, stop at the park for some family time.
Have Some We Time
Getting back into the swing of things after summer holidays means busy schedules and packed calendars. With so much focus put on the many obligations parents and kids have this time of year it can be hard to make time to simply connect. But 15 Minutes is all it takes to reconnect with your kids in meaningful ways and keep everyone firmly anchored to the shared sense of unity that is a family.
? Make ‘we’ time a daily ritual, whether it’s bedtime chats, the walk to school or a shared meal at least once a day, make time to give each of your kids undivided attention for a few minutes every day.
Groundedness at The Clover School
At The Clover School, mindfulness is an important part of our Signature Curriculum that incorporates daily practices like meditation, gratitude, journaling, and intention setting in the classroom. We understand the incredible contributions these can make to the overall health and wellness of a child, and that when children are their most grounded and authentic selves, they grow into joyful and conscientious human beings.
We have a mindfulness coach on staff whose knowledge and experience helps students grow into the most happy, harmonious, and authentic versions of themselves as they follow their unique path in life. With guidance like this, our students learn skills that help manage stress and maintain groundedness as they strive to become kind, patient, confident and compassionate individuals.
We hope that these suggestions are valuable to you and your family this September.
If you’re interested in additional reading for groundedness this month, check out Haemin Sunim’s book “The Things You Can Only See When You Slow Down: How To Be Calm In A Busy World”
If you have any questions or would like to share your own tips on groundedness, we would love to hear from you!
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