Mindfulness and kids are a great match, even if you’re not somebody who loves schedules and organization. In fact, mindfulness is especially great when you don’t love detailed schedules!
Mindful morning and evening routines can help your kids learn mindfulness, and start and end each day on a great note.
Our best tips for helping kids be successful with routines are:
- Be consistent
- Keep it simple!
- Make it fun
- Connect mindfulness habits to what you’re already doing
Ready for more great info on how to incorporate mindfulness into your children’s routines? Keep reading!
The Counterintuitive Secret to Starting a New Mindfulness Habit
Every year, millions of us make resolutions to begin new habits: working out, reading more, eating better…but most of us have fallen off the wagon by February. Habits experts tell us that the best way to start a new habit is actually to make it tiny, and to attach it to an existing habit.
For example, a gratitude practice. You could resolve to write five reasons you’re grateful in a gratitude journal every morning, but if you’re not already writing or journaling every morning, the minute you oversleep or life gets hectic, your habit will be forgotten.
A Better Way to Start a Habit: Start Tiny
Here’s a better option: think of five things you’re grateful for every time you brush your teeth. You’re brushing your teeth anyways, and after a while, your new habit will be so ingrained that you’ll find yourself feeling grateful every time you see the toothpaste (don’t ask me how I know ;).
This habit technique feels counterintuitive because it feels too small to be effective. But the other thing we know from habit experts and science is that those tiny changes are the ones that really impact peoples’ lives. Afterall, five reasons to be grateful doesn’t sound like a lot in a day or a week. But in a year? That’s 1,825 reasons to be grateful.
And that’s a year that could change your life.
Help Your Kids Start Small, Too
The same concept works for kids: if you try to totally change their lives with a complicated morning or evening routine, your new schedule will be exhausting and hard to stick to.
But if you add one or two simple new mindfulness activities to existing routines, and build slowly, you’ll find that you’re still practicing mindfulness in a year. And that it’s changed your lives.
By the way, the mindfulness evening and morning routines for kids printable we’ve created for you is just that: super simple. Many of the activities you’re probably already doing, and we have a few more suggestions for specific mindfulness activities, tips, and tricks you can try below!
What Makes a Routine Mindful?
Mindfulness is really just about being aware. We rush from activity to activity during the day, and so do our kids. Mindfulness helps us slow down, and be aware of what’s happening in our hearts, minds, and bodies.
A mindful routine is just a thoughtful routine, something to anchor your morning and evenings and help create a calm, peaceful environment in the midst of a busy day.
It’s a way to prioritize what really matters in life, and live out your values, so that in a year or even in ten years, you find you’ve spent your time and emotional energy on the things that truly matter.
Why Mindfulness + Kids = an Amazing Match
Mindfulness helps our kids, but it also helps us. Even as we teach them to slow down, we practice slowing down, ourselves.
Mindfulness can also help you and your child connect. After a night in bed, children often benefit from a hug, eye contact, and verbal encouragement. It sounds so simple, but it’s so easy to forget in the rush to start the day!
Mindfulness reminds us that people are the most important parts of our lives, but it also helps children process, name, and understand their feelings. This emotional intelligence helps them better process stress, and it also helps them to become more independent.
Mindfulness Techniques to Add to Your Kids’ Routines
Any of these mindfulness activities can be added to routines you’re probably already doing: you can add an affirmation to a morning hug. You can practice deep breathing just before tucking in to bed. You can add a book about mindfulness to the books you normally read at night.
It’s also fun to try new things! Mindfulness is about learning and practicing, which means there’s no way to do it wrong. It’s also flexible, and great for changing and adapting as your children grow and their needs change.
Here are some great mindfulness techniques to include in your children’s routine:
1. Deep Breathing
There’s so much amazing science behind deep breathing. It can help lower anxiety, help with sleep, help with stress, and so much more. Taking deep breaths from the belly tells the brain that there’s nothing to fear or be worried about.
There are lots of great breathing exercises for kids, but it doesn’t have to be complicated: sit with your child and take long, deep breaths with your belly, and then blow out your breath gently until it’s all gone. Do this for a minute, or for several breaths. You could do this in the car on the way to school, or as you lay in bed.
You can also encourage your child to note what she’s feeling, hearing and seeing as she takes deep breaths.
2. Routine Charts
Believe it or not, routine charts can be great mindfulness tools for kids. Some children become stressed by the unknown or anxious about what comes next. Even if they’re not, almost every kid benefits from some sense of structure.
Routine charts help kids become independent, as they learn what comes next and prioritize the things that are most important. You can grab our free routine chart printable right here!
Yoga is so great for kids, and an awesome mindfulness practice to add into your routine! You can make it part of your morning routine, or your evening wind-down.
Mindfulness is about awareness, and one of the best ways to become more aware is to practice observing. And nature is a great teacher (it’s also a terrific stress-reliever)!
You may not be able to talk a walk or play outside every day (though, it’s great if you can), but here are two nature-mindful activities to add to your routine:
- Observe the weather (is it hot? Cold? Cloudy? Sunny? What are the trees doing? What are the birds doing? How many colors can you see? Is there anything special happening outside today?)
- Caring for a plant (make sure you ask it how it’s doing and check it for new growth, droopiness, changing colors, etc.)
Timers are a caregiver’s secret weapon: you can use timers for brushing teeth, playing before bed, reading, and more! You can also use timers for yoga and breathing exercises; like the other mindful routines here, timers help kids establish a sense of time, structure, and independence in their lives.
6. Affirmations & Intentions
An affirmation is a positive “I am” statement (I am kind, I am helpful, I am strong), while an intention looks towards growth and the future (I persevere, I work hard).
But it doesn’t really matter what you call them; these brief statements can help your child grow in confidence, and rewrite the negative scripts that are probably already in their minds.
The trick with affirmations and intentions is consistency, which makes them perfect for mindful routines. We also love pairing affirmations and intentions with essential oils and crystals (more on that below)!
Here are a few more affirmations and intentions we love:
- I have lots of feelings, and that’s a good thing!
- I am loved and accepted
- I am loved no matter what I do
- I am a great friend
- I try again even if I fail the first time
7. Essential Oils
As part of a mindful morning and evening routine for kids, you can diffuse essential oils or you can roll them on (or–genius!–do both). We have tons of great DIY recipe blends for kids in our book Beyond Lavender, but you can find tons more great blends right here.
And, for some of our favorite roller bottles, check right here!
Crystals are really great tools for teaching kids mindfulness in the midst of their routines, because they’re so beautiful and fun to hold and play with (kids LOVE crystals, and we cannot blame them at all!!!).
We created this set of crystals for kids, and it comes with tons of great information on each stone included. But you don’t need a set. Here are some ways to use crystals as part of a mindful routine:
- If you have an easily-distracted child, he or she can hold a crystal like a fidget spinner. Its natural energy can help calm and soothe your little one.
- An older child can picture a crystal keeping him or her safe from stress or worry.
- Any child can pair a crystal with an affirmation. This can be really powerful; the rest of their lives, when they see that stone they’ll remember their affirmation.
9. Mindful Books
There’s a good chance you or your kids are already reading books every day. Adding a mindfulness book or two into your routine is a really simple way to start thinking about and practicing mindfulness in your own life. You can start with a book like I Am Peace, or there’s this lovely Zen Pig book we love!
You don’t have to read specific mindfulness books, either. It’s also great to simply talk about what you just read. You can talk about your feelings, and invite your child to talk about her feelings, as well!
Journaling doesn’t necessarily mean writing, though if your child is old enough, that’s definitely a great activity. Journaling can also mean drawing or painting, or it can even mean just talking about your day. You could even use playdough to “talk” about things!
As you’ve probably already noticed, lots of these mindfulness habits can be layered, and that’s especially true of gratitude. You can combine gratitude with journaling (“here are 5 things I’m grateful for”) or yoga (say a gratitude every time you try a new pose) or essential oils (every time you roll on an oil, list something you’re grateful for) or breathing (“I breathe in gratitude, I breathe out negativity”).
Gratitude is also a great way to turn a tough day around; there’s always something to be grateful for!
What are your favorite ways to incorporate mindfulness into your kids’ routines? We’d love to hear in the comments below!