Megali - adjective, noun - adjective 1. great or big in Greek -noun 1.. A nickname derived from my first and middle names

Friday, May 18, 2012

Breathe in the flowers, blow out the birthday candles

Photo Credit:
What stress can do to the body

Last month, Funky Little EarthChild wrote on her Facebook page,
"My 5 year old son is a bright ball of energy, naturally. Sometimes, he gets himself so wound up that he has a hard time bringing his focus back to Earth. It can be frustrating for me when he is acting like a little tornado in the house, but it's upsetting for him, too. You can tell he wants to relax at some point but his little mind is on go-go-go. So, I started teaching him some basic yoga - specifically sun salutations. Just 5 minutes of breathing, moving and concentrating so that he can regain his focus and relax just a little. He really enjoys it. We'll see if it helps him."
Not all of what she says is identical to how my five year acts and reacts, yet the outline of him is evident. It's like looking at yourself in a funhouse mirror, all your features are there, but distorted slightly.  You still recognize the person when you see them. 

Slim is responding to my high stress over the move in a, well let's just call it a non-optimal way.  I feel challenged by his behavior and it doesn't seem like he wants to be so tightly sprung.  I'm anxious, he's anxious, we're a barrel of anxious monkeys over here!  It has always been my practice to allow my sons their emotions, yet guide them in a socially acceptable manner of expression.  So, I am or will be trying three things to help him.  And help me too.   My stress release methods could certainly stand tweaking an overhaul.  I may be the adult in this relationship, but with my increased yelling, I'm not a good role model when it comes to how I've handled the crappy last few months.

I know that when I am no longer a temporary single mom, when R and I are reunited, and when we are living together, in the same state, as a family, my usual calm down tactics will be functioning again.  In the meantime, I am living at my wit's end and counting down the days.  It's wise to keep a toolbox stocked though and it wouldn't hurt to rotate in some new tools.  What keeps you from pulling out your hair?

As for Slim, I want to work on:
  1. Breathing exercises 
  2. Yoga
  3. Making and using a mind jar
When the boys took Gymboree Play & Music classes, one of the sports teachers was fond of ending the class with stretches and a simple breathing exercise.  She encouraged the kids to hold their hands cupped up near their nose and, "breathe in the flowers" then lower their hands perpendicular to their mouths and, "blow out the birthday candles."  I want to lead him in this and some other breathing exercises for relaxation.  One I plan to implement was something a dance instructor of mine from childhood used to close out the class.  I welcomed the moments of calm and control over my body as we were told to tighten our toes, ankles, calves, and on and on up to the hair growing out of our heads and then to release in reverse order.  I hope Slim gains as much out of it as I did.

Creekside Learning, a homeschool blog, outlines four ways that kids benefit from yoga: body, breathing, mind, and peace.  It builds on the breathing exercise goal and is something I think will soothe Slim's soul and focus his frantic energy.

A book that I read to my guys sometimes and have used twice in different storytime & craft days I've hosted is My Daddy Is a Pretzel: Yoga for Parents and Kids by Baron Baptiste.  It is an engaging introduction to yoga.  The story is based during a class circle time, in which children are sharing what their parents and guardians do for a living.  Every career relates back to a yoga pose that the narrator's father can do.  "Samantha's mommy is a baker, sometimes my daddy is a pretzel"   Easy to understand instructions are accompanied by a step by step illustration of the pose. 

Thanks to a Plum District deal and a friend's thoughtfulness in suggesting I check out Romparoo, I have Curly enrolled in a few weeks of Summer camp.  They also offer yoga for 5-7 year olds, as long as there is sufficient interest (so please, if you're in the area, sign up your child!) and I have expressed interest in getting Slim involved.

I first learned about mind jars from my time wasting on Pinterest.  Following are some of the best posts I've read on the subject:

Juggling with Kids - Although she made hers later, this was the first one I discovered on Pinterest and sent me down the rabbit hole searching for more.

Here We Are Together - Juggling with Kids links to this blog as the source and Here We Are Together links to still life with circles who indicates the idea derived from the book Moody Cow MeditatesThere is a printable available here to affix to your mind jar should you so choose.

still life with circles - Discusses guided meditation ideas and has a picture of what the mind jar looks like before it's all shook up.

Sun Hat & Wellie Boots - I find solidarity in this post because she was led to create a mind jar for her daughter because of being overwhelmed by a move too.

The premise of the mind jar is to serve as a time for reflection and meditation to ease a child's mind in those moments when they are a human twister.  It's not meant as a punitive time out.  If you practice time ins or are familiar with Montessori peace tables and education, it is akin to those philosophies - a chance for regrouping.

Although the mind jar can be made from a plastic container, I would prefer to make ours from glass, as in the examples.  Given that, the project will be completed post-move.  In the meantime, we have one of those glittery seek-and-find magic wands that I'll have Slim use for practice as I discuss the mind jar plans with him.

Above, I asked for me, but I also want to know what coping tools you've provided your children?  Have you used any of the three things on our list to try successfully?


  1. I'm going to send you a link to a page about Quijong: Healing Sounds for Children. You may like that as well.

    Have you read my post about making butter. You just put heavy cream in a jar and shake it for 20 minutes until it's butter. It's easy and sometimes I let my son help shake the jar to get some energy out and focus. Having the final end product of a food that he made is also helpful. :-)

  2. I'm trying to recall how I happened on your blog. I think via The Feminist Breeder when you posted information about birth plans being dashed and why it's okay and expected to feel frustration over that despite people's "well-meaning" (air quotes so deserved there) proclamation of a healthy baby is all that matters.

    So, long story short, I'm relatively new to your blog and went back to read the butter post. Here it is for anyone interested:

    As for me, I love butter, so I can see us giving this a try!