In my house, mindful activities are even more valuable on a rainy day to help me feel more grounded as a parent, to give some meaning and purpose and aid a calm atmosphere if it starts feeling restless or cabin fevered. Particularly during the covid 19 pandemic I find I’m always trying to be creative with new ideas or new twists on old ideas. So if anyone reading this has any of their own suggestions you could let me know in a comment here or on the Mummy ACT Facebook page.
Mindful garden gnome painting
For young children 3D painting might offer a new experience. When we tried this I let my daughter choose what colour to paint every part and also mix her own colours up on a plate. Due to the pandemic our paint supplies are running low, so we used this as an opportunity to get creative and learn about primary colours and what happens when you mix them. My daughter particularly enjoyed mixing blue and yellow to discover green. As we went I aimed to keep our focus on the painting, bringing our focus back to it whenever it wandered. All minds wander off, but this is particularly true for young children. It can be both frustrating and funny, but it is also an opportunity to help children notice their own mind at work. I also encouraged my daughter to notice details like the swish sound of the brush, the different marks made by a large Vs small brush and to notice the texture of the gnome before, during and after painting. We finished with a layer of glossy glue which I let her enjoy slapping on with the brush however she wanted – I usually try and finish mindful activities with some quiet free play to allow some experience with calm stillness with seeds of noticing recently planted.
I’d guess most young children would enjoy making Oobleck. In case you’re not familiar with it and want a practical guide, try this link https://www.eureka.org.uk/eureka-at-home/mix-and-play-with-ooblek/?gclid=Cj0KCQjwiYL3BRDVARIsAF9E4GeVio9rIeNuqjc4nMyFLkg2ykTGHBgBNn2nv6gFx2Z3JiJIH9kJG0QaAlONEALw_wcB As a mum of two, I found this particularly worked well for both my baby (9 months) and my 3 year old. My 3 year old enjoyed the process of mixing cornflour, water and food colouring and watching the shifts and changes between liquid and solid as she stirred. I let her choose the colour and she picked red, and was also interested that it turned out bright pink. Once stirred, she then enjoyed experimenting with touching it, making finger prints and hand prints that left no marks. My baby enjoyed the messy play of picking it up with his fingers and peering at it, cooing to it, painting my dress in it (luckily an old one!) and squishing it. From a parent perspective, I feel my children can often teach me a lot about how to just be in a moment, and to find wonder in ordinary every day experiences. Particularly now in the Covid-19 outbreak, being at home has given me a great opportunity to tune in more often with them to our mindful activities with less distractions and less of our busy “normal” life. I hope we can keep some sense of what we’ve built up now even once we can build more of a new normal.
Who doesn’t love baking? In my house Thursdays are baking day during the pandemic. We’ve become a lot more accomplished with the extra practice we’re getting, but I still like to keep the recipes simple and forgiving, with plenty opportunity for my 3 year old to get involved. Some favourites of ours are apple and carrot muffins, gingerbread biscuits and oat and prune cookies. To take the gingerbread biscuits as an example, my daughter helps measure out dry ingredients with a spoon, and enjoys watching the powder fall into the bowl. She also loves mixing the dry and wet ingredients together with a wooden spoon, watching the texture change and feeling it stiffen. As we add cinnamon and vanilla as well as ginger, there’s also a good opportunity to notice different scents. Kneading the dough is also a good chance to notice the feeling of softness, stickiness and smoothness on our skin. Rolling it out lets us watch it flatten from thick to thin. My daughter particularly enjoys the cookie cutter part – we have an expanding collection, the most recent being unicorns which are great from a mindfulness perspective as to get all the details like the horn right, we really need to concentrate only on that for a moment and be quiet for it to work out. There’s then the part where we watch them grow and change to golden brown in colour in the oven, and notice the sweet spicy smell filling the kitchen. During that part, we enjoy sharing the task of licking the bowl, noticing the flavours and texture of the dough. Arguably the best part though is choosing which still warm cookie to eat from the baking tray once they are done, and mindfully appreciating all the details – how does it look once it’s ready to eat? What colour is it? What shape? What size? How heavy? How does it smell? How does it taste – can we taste the golden syrup? the vanilla? the cinnamon? the ginger? Is it soft, crumbly or crunchy? Is it possible to stop at just one, or do we each want another one (or two, or three)? My husband’s test of a good batch of baking is if he wants more than three in a row. Unsurprisingly, baking does not last long in our house.