A few weeks ago I found myself, mouth wide open, trying to be patient while the sweet dental hygienist cleaned my teeth. I was focusing on my breathing and being as yogic as I could. Then it happened, I heard this thought, “I don’t have time for this!” There it was. Dental cleaning isn’t exactly what I think of when I think of self-care. But, it is pretty necessary for healthy teeth. And here I was, deciding I didn’t have time to do something that was necessary for my health!
I realized that so often that voice pops up when I would love to sit and slowly drink a cup of tea. It comes up sometimes (gasp) when my daughter wants to pretend we are going on a voyage to return the heart of Te Fiti. I realized that I am in fact rushing through a lot of my own self – care so that I can get on to more “important” things.
We know this. I don’t need to find fancy studies to show you how much better EVERYTHING is when we take care of ourselves. I have time for teeth cleanings, because I don’t have time for major dental work if I can avoid it. I have time to play with my daughter because I don’t have time to regret being to busy to enjoy her. I have time to do my practice, because I don’t have time to be frazzled, distracted and in pain.
But I know I need help. We all do. If we aren’t doing a self -care practice on purpose, it is unlikely to just happen.
For this Mother’s day Month I want to double down on self-care, and I hope you’ll join me. Here is what we are going to do:
1) Make a list of things that are truly nourishing to you – walks in the woods, tea with friends, doodling, dancing, singing, getting sleep… etc.
2) Make time to do at least one of these things EVERY DAY for the rest of May. I plan to start on the 7th of May. That gives us time to plan all that pampering in. Also, it still gives us long enough to really get a good habit started! If something each day is too radical (at the moment) for you, try every other day. You set your own goal! These don’t have to be long moments. A ten minute meditation will do just fine. Yes, your yoga practice counts! These just need to be moments that are all for you. Moments that are pure pleasure and nourishment.
3) Inspire us all, and hold yourself accountable by posting what you did that day on my FB page. I’ll post for that day and you can post your self-care goodness in the comments for that day 🙂
4) Have FUN, and notice what all that self-care is amounting to!
I’m not sure how this happened, but our family has planned two big trips involving air travel this month. As I write this we are right between the two journeys. Since I’ve been contemplating travel with my 4 year old. I thought I’d share what I’ve learned (mostly from other parents!). Please leave me your tips in the comment section! My hope, as always, is to increase ease and connection on these trips – and to decrease meltdowns, frustrations, and unhealthy behaviors. Here are my 7 tips:
In November I flew by myself for the first time in 5 years. I read the entire new Brene Brown Book, wrote in my journal and had revelations about my yoga practice while I gazed at the clouds. It was awesome. I don’t have to tell you that traveling with a baby, a preschooler or an older child (or all three!) is not the same scenario. If I manage my expectations about what the flight will be like I’m much less likely to be frustrated, and much more likely to feel great about spending the time in the air doing things together with my little one.
It’s worth the pay off to manage your little one’s expectations as well. You can read books about airplane travel or even better “play” airport and airplane by acting out the travel experience before you go. This gives our smallest children the chance to be prepared for the big travel day. Include, waiting in line, keeping belts bucked when the light is on, waiting for luggage etc.
Because of the great body of evidence that screen time is bad for our kids, we try to travel screen less. If you would like a great even-handed look at screen time and your child’d brain, check out Parenting in the Age of Attention Snatchers by Lucy Jo Palladino. It’s profound. So, what do you do with kids, if they aren’t attached to a movie or game? It is a bit of a lost art, but there is actually a ton of things you can do. You just need to pack for it. Here are some things we always have in our carry-on these days:
New books from the library,
pictures or information about where you are going
Sticker books, these ones are great.
Activity books of any kind
silly putty, or small containers of play dough
snacks that require some processing (clementines, pistachios etc.)
I tend to be on the look out for this kind of a thing year round. I keep a “for travel” bag tucked away out of sight so we always have some good stuff in store when we travel. The sale area in target often has some great things. I also love the Melissa and Doug on the go items. If you live in the Triangle, the Red Hen in University Mall in Chapel Hill has a ton of great stuff.
My advice is to not open any of these until you are on the flight. No need to do any of this in the airport! There is so much to do – including running, spinning and stretching since those little bodies will need to be still for so long in the air! Also, don’t forget to have enough so there will be some new things on the way home! The picture above is what I had in my carry on for one four year old to do during two two hour flights.
If you are flying for a long time, like over 6 hours, maybe a Mr. Rogers in there or two is not a bad idea. But keep in mind that you can do lots of other things together! Screen time does not have to be the default!
You can spend several hours just playing together! Tic tac toe, I spy, and even rock paper scissors are great ways to connect while having this blessing of unplanned time to spend together.
One game that has gotten our family through many car trips is “I’m thinking of an Animal.” To play, one person thinks of an Animal, the other people playing have to ask yes or no questions of that player until someone guesses it right. Then that person has a turn. Alternatively you can take turns being the person thinking of the animal. My daughter never tires of this game. We also play “I’m thinking of a thing.” Any thing! And “I’m thinking of a plant.” The variations are endless!
Another possibility is the memory game. Take four or 5 of any objects and put them on the tray table. Have your child investigate them. Then have them close their eyes or turn around. Take one object away. They have to guess which one has been taken! This is a great memory builder, and a great vocabulary builder!! And it’s fun. If it is too easy, try more objects. For advanced players, instead of taking an object away you can switch the order of the objects and then the player has to put them back in order.
Give your child healthy snacks that give him the sustenance to make it through a long travel day. That means plenty of protein. Nuts, cheeses, beef jerky, edamame are all great choices. Try to avoid empty calories like crackers, and for sure do him the kindness of keeping all sugars our of his body for the trip! You can’t give him fruit juice, flavored yogurt, white chocolate pretzels and then expect him to sit quietly for the flight!
I flew a lot as a child. I remember spending hours just looking at the clouds. Take a moment to explore this world with your child. Talk about what you see in the airplane and also out the window. Get curious together about everything!
I always add an extra 30 minutes or so to what I think I need to get through the airport. IT can be the difference between a delightful ramble to our gate with lots of conversation and curiosity and a meltdown on top of major frustration. Kids are little, they just need more time to get places. And we want them to take the time to investigate and be curious!
In your carry on, pack twice as much food and activities then you think you will need. Now a days, it’s a blessing if you get anywhere without delays!
Here it is! This little recording is my gift to you. It is a Yoga Nidra. Yoga Nidra is an ancient, deep relaxation technique that means Divine Sleep. The good news is you don’t even need a yoga mat, or a change of clothes. You just need a cozy place to lay on your back with no interruptions, for 30 minutes. Yes, that means silencing your phone. In fact, I invite you to put your phone in another room. Let your family members know you are unavailable. If you have pre-teens or teens you can invite them to practice with you.
This practice is the uncontested FAVORITE activity in my middle and high school classes. This recording was made during one of my high school classes. Thanks guys!
If you want to get extra luxurious about it (which I hope you do) grab a blanket, some cozy socks and/or an eye pillow. The practice is designed to help you feel rested, whole, present and more aware of your interconnections. If you have the time, and your body needs to move a bit, do a few sun salutations or a full practice first.
Ready to go? Skip to the bottom and enjoy! Want to geek out a bit? Keep reading.
In yoga we see that all things have a rhythm, a pulsation. Everything that is alive, has a cycle of activity and rest. As modern day humans we are doing everything we can to step out of that rhythm. Our world is organized in opposition to our ability to follow our bodies natural need to rest. It is increasingly hard in today’s world to actually tune in and line up to the slower rhythm of nature. And our body, as part of the earth, craves that slower rhythm. So as a society, we are in a huge deficit of sleep and restful activities. And our need for rest – because of the sheer pace and stress of our lives is at an all time high.
We value sleep, play and restfulness so little, that these things seem like the perfect sctivities to cut out of our busy lives. And we are suffering for it. Brené Brown in “The Gifts of Imperfection” states that “According to the Centers for Disease Control, insufficient sleep is associated with a number of chronic diseases and conditions, such as diabetes, heat disease, obesity and depression.” I don’t know about you, but I’d rather make time for some delicious rest, than make time for doctors appointments and the suffering created by these illnesses! While I encourage you to actually sleep sleep. This practice of Divine Sleep can also be a huge support in finding deep rest.
It’s been a rough week, and a rough few years in the news. Especially when we are grieving, angry, scared or frustrated, it’s vital to take a break. This practice, with it’s guided imagery, is intended to give you a “thought vacation” so you can come back to your life with freshness, support, and new found creativity and clarity.