3 Positive Habits to Develop This Summer
Right now, I can hear Alice Cooper wailing in my head, telling me that school's out for summer.
Most kids I know dream of long, languid days full of lounging and laziness. Most parents I know are planning summer camps, sports, summer school, tutoring, or other activities to keep their kiddos occupied. Hopefully you're finding the right balance.
I'd like to throw something else into the mix: this is the perfect time to start some positive routines that will benefit your child (and you) not only during the summer, but well into the school year and beyond.
This could look like a lot of things, but I'd like to focus on three particular routines that can create positive change: journaling, nature time, and mindfulness.
I've kept a journal since I was seven, so I'm definitely biased on this one. Why is journaling so great?
1. It can help release pent up emotions (great for tweens and teenagers)
2. It creates a space for you to solve problems when you hash out the different solutions in writing
3. Journaling is a way for you to clarify your thinking
4. It is fantastic writing practice
Journaling can work for everyone, even young kids. You might ask your first grader to write a couple sentences and then draw a picture or make a collage about her day. Or paste in a flower from the garden or a leaf found on the sidewalk. For the younger set, journaling can be a record of daily life, and as children grow older, it can become a safe space to write about what's bothering them, what they're proud of, and what questions they have about life.
I know one mother and son pair who both journal each evening as a regular practice. This routine has helped him gain confidence with his writing, and it's a relaxing activity for them to share.
A journal can be a cheap three-ring notebook from the drug store or a fancy handmade book with Japanese rice paper. You choose. Have your child decorate it and encourage them to use it for not only writing but doodles, drawings, and artwork.
In 2010, I conducted research that demonstrated the power of intentional time spent in nature. I asked participants in my study to spend at least five minutes in nature daily, observing and simply being. Some chose a spot in their backyard, while others spent five minutes watching the clouds or visiting a favorite tree.
Across the board, participants stated that they sensed a change in themselves and in their lives with this simple exercise. Some felt more relaxed. Others felt more in touch with themselves. And all gained a deeper connection with nature.
Summer is a great time to start this practice because there is so much light! You can take your five minutes on your front step in the morning, smelling the air and noticing the chill of the fog or the warmth of the sun. Or, you can take it in the evening with a short stroll in your neighborhood. Pay attention to what is different, what you interact with, and what you see, smell, hear, and feel.
I highly encourage you to do this with your child. See what opens up when you intentionally take time to be outside.
I've written a few times about how mindfulness benefits us. A regular mindfulness practice creates better attention, less reactivity, and less stress. What's not to like?
Without the stress of homework and the crazy daily routine, summer can be a great time to establish a mindfulness practice. Find a time in your day when you can sit quietly for five or 10 minutes, listening to your breath and clearing your mind of the relentless parade of thoughts. This is particularly powerful when families make this a priority and practice together.
Need support around starting these routines? I'd be happy to set up coaching sessions with you and/or your child to help build in these habits and stay on track.