Mindful Family Vacations

Staying mindful with your family, you can get more out of family travel than you ever thought possible!

Are you planning a vacation or short get away? It is important to stay mindful to the experience. Encouraging family bonding and creating lasting memories are just two of the many benefits of family travel. Here are a few simple ways to work mindfulness into your next family trip.

Redefine what “travel” means for your family.

While a week at the beach or an adventure in Costa Rica are awesome family travel experiences, even quick weekends away, whether you’re camping, skiing or visiting friends and family, also count as a family trip.

In fact, frequent and shorter breaks recharge the mind and body more effectively throughout the year than a single long break. Why? Research suggests that anticipation correlates with more intense and satisfying emotions than remembering the past. Begin to anticipate even small and local family adventures and you’ll reap the benefits of travel.

Some ways to do this include letting your children help pack, do grocery shopping and plan some of the smaller activities on family trips. Getting children involved is the easiest way to help them begin to anticipate family connectedness and benefit from this anticipation.

Plan to Get Active

While movement and physical activities are just plain good for you from a health perspective, getting active together as a family is also a way to stay mindfully connected. It’s difficult to be distracted by outside thoughts when you’re skiing a black diamond ski run with your kids, taking a family surf lesson or zip lining through the jungle in Central America!

These activities will help you connect via a shared mutual experience while eliminating distractions so you can better connect and enjoy travel time with your family. Staying in the present moment is key to fulling appreciating the experience.

Just Listen.

Family travel offers a unique opportunity to just listen deeply to your family without judgment or distractions. Perhaps these conversations happen while sitting on a flight or while waiting for dinner to be served. Be curious, ask questions, and stay engaged without letting your attention drift. There are plenty of opportunities to just have a conversation while you’re traveling as a family.

Also, creating space and time to tune into yourself can have a huge impact. Use plane rides or “no-service” cell phone areas as an opportunity for stillness and mindfulness practice. Need some guidance? Download these tracks to guide you. Including items such as a book or journal can help encourage moments of self-reflection.

Investing in family travel is so much more than just stamps in a passport. By removing your family from the daily grind and making a commitment to stay present and experience new destinations and activities together, your time spent traveling together as a family will be meaningful and incredibly rewarding.

And remember, you don’t need to get on an airplane in order to have a meaningful and mindful family travel experience. A day spent hiking with a picnic lunch can be equally as memorable and impactful for your family! Spending time together and staying present is what matters most.

How do you incorporate mindfulness into travel? Please leave a comment!

Sarah Fazendin is a family travel designer, specializing in family trips to Central America, Mexico and the Caribbean. Learn more about planning your perfect family vacation at A Family Travel Blog and contact Sarah at sarah@afamilytravelblog.com.

Back Drawing

Countless scientific studies have proven that touch helps regulate stress responses.

Human contact is vital for the facilitation of growth and development. Our cultural space bubble seems to be growing exponentially as people become increasingly disconnected. Teachers are on high alert with touch protocol and are even coached to turn to the side and extend an arm, Heisman Trophy style, if a child were to approach wanting a (gasp) hug!

Back Drawing is a Yoga Calm® activity that offers a safe and easy way to integrate touch into your instruction.

It is important to begin this exercise with the disclaimer, “If you chose not to be touched today, you can sit outside the circle and draw on your own arm or hand”. This allows for students to still participate and obtain kinesthetic input, while operating in their comfort zone. For the first introduction, I had three students opt out. By the end of the week, all were voluntarily participating.

To start, get the students familiar and comfortable with touch by using one finger to explore appropriate pressure. From there, move the finger around the back to spell words and draw pictures. For an extra social-emotional component, try writing compliments at the end of your Move Mindfully® Meeting. I found that it was pin drop quiet. Everyone was fully engaged. Giving and receiving healing touch.

class sitting in back drawing

Once students are comfortable with this activity, you can add in an academic standard. This Polygon Sort helps students identify the characteristics of a polygon.

polygon sort

Polygon Activity

Start with students sitting in a circle, as they are for the back drawing activity. Hand out a card to each student and instruct them to draw the shape on their partner’s back. Their partner guesses- “polygon or not a polygon” and explains why. “It is a closed figure with straight lines” or “It is an open figure with curved lines…” etc.

Students need opportunities and instruction around appropriate touch. If we frame the conversation from the beginning, students will have their physical needs met with socially appropriate input.

students draw polygons on each others back

Have you used back drawing? How did the students respond? Have you tried to teach geometry with partner touch? Leave a comment!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly

Parents and Move Mindfully®

These strategies transcend the classroom.

I have been working on healthy classrooms as a part of my professional career for close to a decade. Now, with my third grader, this work hits home. I have spent a lot of time trying to convince teachers in districts across the state that mindfulness is a positive addition to classroom routines.

I feel fortunate that my daughter was able to experience Move Mindfully® in her third grade classroom.  As a parent, I feel so lucky that my daughter is part of Ms. Kennelly’s class.I also knew that my daughter, in particular, would benefit from from these practices. She has struggled academically because of ADHD, and I have always known that breathing, stretching and moving helped her stay focused on her work.

Using Movement at Home

As part of our daily homework and reading routine, we take breaks every 10-15 minutes. I find balancing poses, like Eagle and Tree featured in the Focusing Routine, are especially beneficial. This helps her make it through her homework in a calm and peaceful manner. Sometimes I can even see that taking that time has re-energized her to finish reading a story that we otherwise would not have been able to complete.

Breathing in the classroom

Mindfulness Practice

Since starting third grade, Maggie has become MY teacher. She talks about the importance of getting at least 15 minutes of mindful minutes every day, and models that behavior by sitting on her bed and looking out her bedroom window quietly every morning before she moves on with her day.

morning mindfulness

She has also shown me that taking time to be calm after a lot of activity, helps to move us peacefully to the next activity. One time she encouraged me and her brother to find a peaceful spot to slow down and ground ourselves after leaving a playground. She sat on a rock calmly for 5 minutes and then was ready to move on with our activities that afternoon.

mindfulness break at the playground

I was pleasantly surprised this holiday season when topping Maggie’s Christmas list was a yoga mat, chime and breathing ball! We now have a family yoga routine that we can do together. Her enthusiasm for movement and mindfulness is helping our whole family incorporate healthy practices into our routines.

How do you incorporate mindfulness into your parenting? Do you use similar strategies with ADHD learners? Please leave a comment!

Jessica Boyer Smith can be reached at jboyersmith@gmail.com.

Warrior II

We don’t want to be stuck in the past, or too far into the future. Stay balanced in the present moment.

As we move into a New Year, many of us are working on resolutions. Reflecting on the past and setting goals for the future is important for personal growth. These skills can be taught to young children, and using mindful movement helps facilitate these life lessons. I recommend using the Yoga Calm® curriculum and the Past, Present and Future activity as a launching pad.

Past and Future Reflections

I began by having the students take two post-it notes (different colors) and write a positive word or phrase about the past on one and the future on the other.

Here are some examples:

Past: Learning to ride a bike, my baby sister, being on a football team.
Future: Learning multiplication, summer vacation, the Super Bowl (I have a lot of football fans in my class).

Then, we crumpled the pieces of paper in to tiny balls.

Students setting goals
See Warrior II from our Move Mindfully Card Deck for social emotional language on how you can cue the movement. Better yet, have students read the card and be the leader!

I personally struggle with Warrior II. For some reason, in my personal yoga practice, it always seems to creep into the flow when I feel I have momentum. Then, the instructor stops us in our tracks. Challenges us to stretch our arms. Bend our leg. Pause. Notice. The gravitational force weighing on outstretched arms and thigh burn combine for a one-two punch of total discomfort. However, the inner fire always seems to ignite a deep place, and I leave the pose feeling stronger.

Bring in the Movement

Back to the Post-Its. The students crumpled up the post-its, with the future and past phrases, and held one each hand. In the back hand was the past, noticing its effects on us and being grateful for where we are today. In the front hand was the future, eyes looking forward, dreams yet to be realized. However, where do we find the balance? Right in the middle. In the present moment.

warrior II in the classroom

After  intense physical and emotional exertion, we brought it back to the present moment. We took our crumpled up paper and had a “snow ball fight”, based on a Responsive Classroom greeting. After a few throws, students picked two pieces of paper (since they were all mixed up, no student picked up their own). We sat it a circle and went around, reading the word or phrase on the post-it we recovered. This is an effective sharing technique because the writer can stay anonymous.

Later that day, when we came back into Warrior II, I posed a series of questions while they held the pose. What does it mean to be present? What keeps you grounded? How can you stop and notice?

My students loved keeping noticings and observations in their journals. Keeping a journal is a fantastic way to increase present moment awareness. Check out our store for the 1000 Petals journal and commit to a journaling practice today!

moon noticing resolutions   noticing the good
How can you bring present moment awareness into your life? What activities may you try with your students? Leave a comment below!

Be Well,

Stephanie Kennelly