The Target shelves are full of back-to-school supplies – in July – prompting the question “Where did the summer go?”
Our commercial culture has us constantly looking forward to the next thing we need to prepare for. This “you need this now” mentality can create a sense of urgency that can prompt anxiety about missing out or not being prepared. We can lose sight of being present in moment. Parents are tasked with balancing the need to be prepared with the benefits of helping themselves and their children be in the present.
Slowing down and paying attention to the present promotes a healthy mind. Learning to not look too far forward helps to limit anxious thoughts and prevents depressive thoughts when learning to not look too far in the past. Being present helps children (and their parents too) learn more about the relationship between their thoughts and feelings. So, how can parents promote a practice of mindfulness for their family? Parents, your actions and choice of thoughts and behaviors set the tone for your family and influence your children.
Creating a summer bucket list, or a bucket list for any season is a great way to focus your family on slowing down and being mindful about time. This conscious activity will force the mind to pay attention to where time is devoted. Sit with your family and identify a list of activities that are realistic for the family to accomplish in the summer school break. These do not need to be huge, expensive activities. Choose to go for a hike one afternoon, plan a picnic, or go to a county fair. Make sure each family members ideas are represented on the list and hang it somewhere everyone will see the list, such as the kitchen fridge. Then make plans to do them!
Mindfulness is the practice of accepting the present moment without distress. A mindfulness practice such as a bucket list can help to create a new relationship with experiences. Help create that connection to behavior, thoughts and feelings to bucket list activities by talking about the experience. At the end of each week, talk about everyone’s favorite summer bucket list activity and why they liked it the best. Reflect on emotions experienced to promote greater awareness between the connection of the intentional behavior of time together and the feelings they have. In other words, make a memory.
Time will fly by. Our culture pushes time forward faster it seems all the time. Practicing awareness of managing time and experiences will promote greater emotional health through intentional choices about our behavior.
Vice President, CCBHC