Family Time

Family Fun at Home

Rhythm vs. Schedule-11

Fun is one of the most important ingredients to family life and it is needed more than ever right now.   I know life is turned upside down but make sure you plan a fun activity for the end of every day.  This could be a simple activity like hopscotch in the driveway or something more complex like creating a family obstacle course or scavenger hunt. Remember to include the fun and these memories will be the ones that your kids think of when they think of this strange and difficult time.

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LEGO MASTER FAMILY CHALLENGE--Is your family watching LEGO MASTERS on Fox?  We LOVE it and we were inspired by my friend Claire’s  LEGO family challenges. We pick a topic for the challenge (Movie Sets, Holidays, Amusement Parks, Vacation Locations etc.) and then set a timer for 15-20 minutes depending on the challenge.  We put a big LEGO bin in the middle and we are off.  When the timer is up we each take turns explaining our challenge.  Then each person has to vote for the build they think is best (you can not vote for yourself).  If you are worried about hurt feelings you can skip this part or do a paper ballot vote.

FAMILY OLYMPICS–Another fun thing we like to do is set up a Family Olympics.  Each family member picks an outdoor and indoor activity for the competition.  We then go through the events and cheer each other on.   We have done events like bocce, races, boardgames and Mario Kart.  My kids love picking the events and we even have a silly medal ceremony at the end (we don’t have medals but do make a podium with furniture at different levels and play the National Anthem).  You could even go a step further and have each family member pick a country to represent in the Olympics and make a flag for your country.  Then do a Parade of Nations and play the national anthem from each country before the games begin.

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FAMILY GAMES--This is our go to when we are needing a little family time.  Each person comes to the table with their favorite board game.  If we can’t make it through all of them in one sitting, we will pick back up with the games we didn’t play the next time.  You could also have a family video game night.  My son is obsessed with gaming and loves when we agree to play along.  We will have a family Mario Kart competition, play Just Dance or break out the old school Mario Bros games.

VIRTUAL FAMILY GAME NIGHT–Our extended family has been getting together a couple of times a week for Family Game Night online.  You can use FaceTime, Google Hangout, Zoom or another service to come together and play.  We have done Name that Tune, Charades, 5 Second Rule, Yahtzee and we are working on a virtual corn hole tournament.  It is fun to come together to laugh and be silly with the ones we love.  We may not be allowed to be together physically but it is fun to connect in virtual ways whenever possible.

FAMILY TALENT SHOW--This is another gem from my friend Claire.  This year her family has started putting on regular talent shows.  They each practice an act during the day and then come to the show ready to present.  Some of the acts that they have done are magic, baking, playing their musical instruments and she and her husband did a Sonny and Cher act to I Got You Babe!  We are definitely putting this on our list of things to try.

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VIRTUAL TALENT SHOW–The Virtual Talent Show was created to help spread joy and cheer to senior citizens across the globe. Many seniors live alone or are in quarantine in their nursing home and assisted living facilities.  Let’s bring a little joy to their lives!  Post an act of your family or child to the Virtual Talent Facebook Group.  It could be comedy, dance, acting, magic, a musical performance…the sky is the limit!  Please keep your video under 2 minutes long.  Click HERE to join the Virtual Talent Facebook Group.

MINI-GOLF–My kids LOVE to create mini golf courses and they have spent HOURS building them both indoors and out.  Grab a few putters and golf balls and encourage them to create a 9 hole course that you can play together as a family.

VIRTUAL VACATIONS--There may be a travel ban but that doesn’t mean we can’t still “travel” to new locations. Have everyone in the family research a place they’d like to visit and organize a virtual vacation.  Dress up the way you’d dress if visiting that country (is it a beach location, put on your beachwear), play the music of the location, watch travel videos on YouTube, create a dish you might eat there, learn a few words if they speak a different language, play games or create artwork inspired from that culture.  Take pictures as you experience each new place and then put together a scrapbook or a family slideshow of your travels.  Who says you can’t travel while quarantined at home!

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FAMILY SERVICE PROJECT— It would not be Kids in Service if I did not encourage you to do a family service project while in isolation.  Click Here for some things that you could do while home with the kids over the next few weeks.

VIRTUAL MUSEUM TOURS--From the comfort of your couch you can go on a virtual tour of 12 famous museums from around the world.  Click HERE to learn more.

featured, Service Projects for Families

10+ Service Projects You Can Do While Social Distancing

Rhythm vs. Schedule-3

We are living in uncertain times right now and one of the best ways to combat feelings of anxiety and worry is to think of others. We may be social distancing but it is important to reach out and help people when we can.  Below you will find ideas for 10+ service projects that you can do as a family at home.  Many require very little materials and most are items you already have at home.  It is our hope to help ease your anxiety (at least for a little bit) while you work together to help those in need.

We’d love to see pictures of you and your family serving others while social distancing.  You can email us (communityserviceforkids@gmail.com) or share them on social media using the hashtag #kidsinservice. Thank you and stay safe!

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  1. Hearts for Healthcare Workers--Make hearts to hang on your door to support Healthcare Workers and First Responders.  Let them know that you appreciate their hard work and sacrifice.  This beautiful movement was started by the Russell Family, one of our Kids in Service NH families.
  2. Send cards to the local nursing home–Local nursing homes are not allowing visitors and the residents would love some artwork and cheer from the outside. Contact your local nursing home to see if they are open to cards to cheer up their residents.  If you are sick or have anyone in your home who may be sick, please avoid this activity.  We would hate to spread germs through the mail.
  3. Virtual Talent Show–Many seniors live alone or are in quarantine in their nursing home and assisted living facilities. Let’s bring a little joy to their lives while keeping our kids busy. Post an act of your child performing a talent that they may have (comedy, dance, magic, musical performances…the sky is the limit). Please keep your video under 2 minutes long and let’s help spread some joy to the seniors who are sheltering in place right now.
  4. Do a Trash Pick Up of your street–Our streets are littered with trash, especially those of us who just had the snow melt.  Grab some gloves and trash bags and head out to pick up trash with your kids.  Please use common sense and do not bring your children out onto busy roads.
  5. Record an Uplifting Message for Make a Wish–Many kids are the most vulnerable during this time and many of their wishes have been postponed.  Consider recording an uplifting message for these kids as a family.  Click HERE to learn more.
  6. Sew Masks for Hospital Workers–Are you or your kids handy and have a sewing machine?  There is a much needed demand for masks for healthcare workers and the public is being asked to lend a hand.  Click HERE for more information on how you can help by making masks.
  7. Make a No Sew Fleece Blanket for Project Linus–Order a blanket kit (or two) from JoAnn Fabric or another online retailer.  Once it arrives, transform it into a warm and cozy blanket that can be donated to a child in crisis.  If you can tie a knot, you can make a blanket!
  8. Check in on your elderly neighbors and relatives-We may be quarantined but we can still use this time to connect with neighbors and loved ones.  Call them on the phone, FaceTime if they are able or send cards to let them know you are thinking about them.
  9. Paint Kindness Rocks
  10. Start making Christmas cards for the Military Holiday Card Challenge–The deadline to send in your cards is the end of October but there is no reason why you can’t get started on them now.  Put on some holiday music, get out the paper and markers and spread some holiday cheer to our military with a holiday card that thanks them for all of their hard work and sacrifice.
  11. Write a Thank You Note-Have you thanked your parent or care giver lately?  Have you thanked your teacher, your coach, bus driver or librarian for all they do for you? Did you recently receive a gift?  EVERYONE loves mail!  Bless one or more people in your life with a card or note thanking them for all they do to help and support you.  This is a project for all ages, as the littles can draw and adults can scribe the note of thanks and gratitude.

Other Ideas:

  1. Cut out Shoes for Sole Hope--Do you have old jeans laying around your house?  Order a shoe party kit from Sole Hope and turn those jeans into future shoes for children in Uganda.
  2. Kid Knits–Are you looking for a craft to keep your kids busy that supports others?  Kid Knits was started by 9 year old Ellie who wanted to find a way to help support women in Rwanda by purchasing their yarn to knit hats with.  Five years later she has a non-profit that supports women in Rwanda, Mexico, Chile and Kenya with her yarn and knitting kits.  Click HERE to learn more about Kid Knits.
  3. Start a Gratitude Project-It is important for all of us to focus on Gratitude during these uncertain times.  Click HERE to find some ideas of ways that you and your family and focus on gratitude.
featured, Mindfulness

10 Ways to Incorporate Daily Mindfulness with Kids

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-9

For the past two years my children and I have been working to include more mindful practices into our days. Practicing mindfulness is a lot like going to the gym.  People go to the gym to exercise their muscles so that they will be strong and ready when they need them.  Just like exercising your muscles, it is important to exercise deep breathing and being mindful.  When you do this, you will better be able to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes your way.

Today I want to share with you a few of our favorite ways to practice mindfulness.  We do not do all of these things daily but try to pick one or two each day to help us to center and focus. Practicing mindfulness daily has made such a big difference in our lives and I hope that it will help you and your kids too!

1. Mindful Jars

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Mindful Jars are not only fun to make but they are a wonderful tool for children (and adults) to use when they are agitated and upset. We have a few Mindful Jars around the house and they are great for those moments when you just need to calm down.  Give them a good shake and sit and watch the glitter settle to the bottom.  Click Here to learn how to make your own Mindful Jars.

2. Breathing Exercises

Over the past few years we have learned a lot of deep breathing techniques.  Many of our favorites were learned through the book by Kira Willey called, Breathe Like a Bear.   We put our favorites breaths on slips of paper and put them in our breathing jar.  At breakfast or dinner, we will take turns choosing one slip of paper and practice that days breath.  Lion’s Breath and Candle breath are two of our favorites.  Our daily breaths usually leave us in giggles but learning deep breathing techniques has greatly helped us in moments of stress.

3. Gratitude Journals

When my children were small we kept a Family Gratitude Journal.  Each day we would record the things we were grateful for in the family journal.  Now that they are older, we each have our own gratitude journals to mark the things we are blessed with.  Focusing on gratitude forces you to live in the moment, be more present and research shows that gratitude leads to greater feelings of happiness.

4.  Mindfulness Apps

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There are so many mindfulness apps and programs that can help kids and parents to learn to breath deeply and self-regulate. Many of the apps offer guided meditations for both kids and adults.  Our favorite apps are Mindful Powers, the Mightier Program and Headspace.  Check out this post from Parenting Chaos for more apps that will help your children with practicing mindfulness.

5. Blowing Bubbles

When my kids were small, blowing bubbles was a regular activity.  When energy levels were high or moods were cranky, I’d grab our bottle of bubbles and we’d head outside (or to the garage if the weather was not favorable).  Watching bubbles is a fun way to practice being mindful.  Bubbles are mesmerizing and kids can’t help but be present as they follow and try to catch them.

6. Body Scans

This is one of our favorite ways to practice mindfulness.  Have your kids lie down and allow their bodies to sink heavy into the floor.  Have them take a few deep breaths and encourage them to make their body feel heavy.  Next have them squeeze all of their muscles tight.  Have them squeeze their hands, their feet, their face, their toes…and squeeze and squeeze.  Then after a few seconds have them release EVERYTHING and feel heavy.  Ask them to pay attention to their body, how do they feel?  Have them scan each body part and see how it feels.  You can repeat this a few times or have them isolate muscles to squeeze from head to toe.  It is such a great way to relax and help them learn to pay attention to the signals of their body.  There are many guided meditations that will take you through a detailed body scan if you want to do it along with them.

7. Gratitude Walk

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Take a quiet walk as a family and as you walk encourage each person to think of things that they are grateful for.  Have them use their 5 senses to explore their surroundings as they walk and observe things in nature to be grateful for.  Spend a few minutes in quiet and then take a break (maybe with a snack) to share all of the gratitude that was felt and everything that they noticed.

8. Coloring or Painting

My kids love to listen to audio books or classical music and color in coloring books or paint.  There is something so relaxing about this process and it is a great way to encourage your children to be present.  Children who struggle to stop moving to listen to a story or music, may enjoy the act of coloring, drawing or painting to help them focus on the what they are listening to.  There is something about art that allows children to truly listen to the book or music that is being played for them.

9.  Finding Your Heart Beat

Teach your children how to find their pulse (either in their neck or on their wrist).  Have them count the beats in 10 seconds.  Put on music and have them dance around for a minute or two.  Have them check their pulse again.  How much faster is their heart beating?  Now take 5 deep breaths in and out and have them check their pulse again.  How long does it take to return to a calm heartbeat?  Explain how powerful breathing can be for our bodies.

10. Solo Sits

Have your children spread out around the house or yard and sit quietly for 30-60 seconds.  You can add time on to the solo-sit each time they practice this activity.  I love to do this on a hike in the woods and have the kids sit for 3-5 minutes.  While they are sitting quietly, have them pay attention to the noises around them.  Ask them these questions when they return.  What sounds did you hear?  Did you struggle to focus on listening for sounds?  What were some loud sounds?  What were some quiet sounds?  How did you feel as you sat there silently?  

 

Other Ways to Practice Mindfulness with Your Kids

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Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-5

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-3

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-4

featured, Mindfulness

Mindfulness with Kids

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Teaching children to be mindful is an important step in helping them to be kind and compassionate human beings.  What does it mean to be mindful?  Jon Kabat-Zinn says that, “Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way; On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”

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Learning the art of mindfulness can give children (and adults) the tools to deal with daily stress and anxiety.  When one is mindful, we are more compassionate, calm, grateful, present and better in control of our emotions.  There is so much research out there about the benefits of children learning mindful practices.  These practices can help them to be open to learning new things, have longer attention spans, regulate their emotions and be more productive.

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I have been on my own mindful journey for the past few years.  I have to be honest, it has been difficult for my type A, high-strung personality to learn these new ways of dealing with stress and anxiety.  I can tell you first hand that I am calmer, more patient and a better mother and wife when I practice mindfulness. I am still a work in progress but on the whole I am calmer, more present and engaged in my life and not as tied to my to-do list.

www.kidisn-3

A year ago, I knew that mindfulness was something I had to teach my children while they were young.  I thought that if they could learn these important skills early on, they would enter adulthood with a toolbox of skills to help them battle the stresses that come their way.  We have worked mindful practices into our daily lives and I am excited to share all of that with this community during Mindful March.

There are many ways to teach our children (and ourselves) to be more mindful. Check out the resources below to help you and your children practice mindfulness.

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Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-5

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-3

Mindfulness isn't difficult. We just need to remember to do it.-4