By Jennifer Halter
We often hear about the importance of self-care as parents. Whether it’s getting a massage, attending a yoga class, or even taking a trip to the store alone, self-care takes many forms. There’s never a wrong way to invest time in taking care of yourself. As important as this time is for us as caregivers, it’s also important to encourage children to take time to slow down, relax, and do things that allow them to recharge. As school is back in full swing and our kids are busier with homework and extracurricular activities, it’s more important than ever to encourage children to incorporate their own favorite self-care activities into their routines. Here are a few ideas to get them started.
Create a Self-Care Journal
Journaling is an excellent way to get thoughts and feelings out of your head and onto paper in a safe, non-judgmental way. Encourage your child to write in their journal daily. Have them share how they are feeling
physically and emotionally. They can also write about things they would like to do or about people, places,
and things that bring them joy. You can ask them to share with you about the things that they write, but
allow them to keep things private if they choose. This is an opportunity for them to express themselves and
Use Daily Affirmations
Affirmations are great to read and recite at any age. They can set the tone for your day and help feed your mind with positive thoughts. Some examples of kid-friendly affirmations include, “I am smart, “I am important, “I believe in myself,” and “I am kind.” Write affirmations on sticky notes or index cards, and place them where your child frequents, such as in their backpack or even in the bathroom. Finding these little reminders of how amazing they are will brighten their day.
Do a Solo Physical Activity
Playing with friends and family members can be fun, but sometimes doing a solo activity can help your child clear their mind and focus on how they feel doing something they love. Taking a walk, going on a bike ride, and dancing are good examples of solo activities. Moving their body will help release the natural “feel-good”
chemical endorphins and help improve their overall mood.
Meditation and Breathing
It can be difficult for many adults to take time to slow down. It can be even more challenging for overly active, busy kids. Slowing down and having focused time, even if it’s just five minutes a day, can help your child feel calm and centered, something we all need to feel. Start small by doing short breathing exercises, such as slow breaths in through the nose and out through the mouth. If your child is ready to meditate, start with guided meditations specifically made for children. A quick Google search will provide you with many free options. Breathing exercises and meditation time can also become part of their nightly bedtime routine to help them prepare for a good night’s sleep.
When we think of kids being pampered, we typically think of tasks such as getting a fresh haircut or being
treated to their first professional manicure or pedicure. However, there are many fun ways you can pamper
them at home for little to no cost. Plan a spa day where you can do simple activities such as painting fingernails or toenails or giving hand or foot massages. You can even do face masks. Find fun varieties of face masks at major retailers and even dollar stores. When choosing a mask, be sure that it is gentle enough for young skin.
If you want to avoid using store-bought masks, you can make your own using all-natural ingredients.
For a DIY option, try a honey face mask. Have your child mash up a half of a ripe banana in a bowl until it
turns into a smooth paste. Add one tablespoon of warm honey and mix until you have a firmer, but still smooth, paste. Apply mask to a clean, but damp face and let sit for approximately 30 minutes. Remove with warm water and a washcloth. This is a great recipe if your child has overly dry skin (perfect in the winter months!).
Plan for Nothing
Sometimes the best self-care is not having anything on the schedule at all. Plan for some down time each
week/weekend. Let your child choose if they want to do anything or nothing. Give them an opportunity for quiet time to read, watch their favorite show or movie, or take a nap. Whatever it is that feeds their soul and allows them the chance to recharge their batteries, encourage it!
Jennifer Halter is the Publisher of Macaroni Kid Woodbridge and Macaroni Kid Gainesville/Manassas,
free online calendars and resources to help you find your family fun all year round.