Everyone needs a pick-me-up from time to time. A walk outside in the sunshine, a cup of tea or a few moments of clarity can do wonders to keep your energy levels boosted and full of positivity.
Sometimes though, the days can be too busy to factor in enough of these ‘preventative’ measures or you may be facing a particularly difficult challenge where you need to quickly reassess or reset your mindset before reacting.
This is where I draw on my ‘mummy mantras’. These are quick phrases that I’ve identified with on my own journey as a mother and I find myself repeating them to myself often, depending on what situation I need to address at that exact moment: a challenge with upset children, exhaustion or simply feeling overwhelmed.
Mummy Mantras To Get You Through The Day
- The days are long but the years are quick
- I am enough
- All I have is right now
- I will not take this for granted
- He/she’s acting like a child because they are a child
- Limit behaviour, allow feelings
- What’s the “why”. (No ‘bad’ behaviour is without reason or cause. Hunger, exhaustion, stress, anxiety, illness, coping with change. Find the REAL problem and address that rather than just trying to constantly stamp out the symptoms)
- I’m bigger, stronger, kinder, wiser. I’m the adult
These sayings can help you keep your cool, even when you might feel like completely losing it. A simple thought can be powerful enough to change your entire perspective on a situation and bring your focus back to what’s most important in life.
Change your thoughts, change your world. – Norman Vincent Peale
Why is it that any child will swiftly seek out and plunge directly into the tiniest patch of mud in your backyard long before you even knew it rained? Because kids, being the little scientists that they are, don’t get caught up in thoughts about the future (clean up) or the set-up (the past), instead they tend to be completely immersed in the moment.
And if that moment happens to have a squish, squelch, slosh, plop sound about it, well – all the better!
Messy play has so many benefits for children. They’re active learners, they learn through play, in fact, play is their number one job. Messy play allows children to stretch their imaginations, make choices, solve problems, learn new processes and develop concepts. It also stimulates their senses and engages their learning in ways far greater than any structured activity.
So rather than another ‘activity’ to add to your already hectic schedule, which can sometimes be more hassle than it’s worth, not to mention costly, set up some messy play, make yourself a cuppa, sit back and watch your little ones get to it. Or better yet, join in!
Top 10 Messy Play Ideas For Summer
- Cloud Dough. 1 cup of baby oil to 8 cups of flour. Use a whisk or fork to mix, throw in some cutters, spoons, bowls or mini dump trucks and you’ll keep them happy for hours.
- Goop. I find this one A.M.A.Z.I.N.G. A fascinating mixture that has a consistency from another planet – it feels firm when you pick it up, but then turns to liquid and streams between your fingers. Mix 2 packs of cornflour to 2 cups of water and add food colouring for some extra fun.
- Mud. This one is easy but best done in the afternoon just before coming in for a bath. Simply find a patch of dirt. Turn on the hose or give the kids some buckets of water, some toys such as shovels, dump trucks, etc and let them go for it.
- Water Painting. Again, not so messy but kids will get wet so best done on a hot day. Fill buckets with water, add some large paint brushes encourage the kids to paint trees, bricks, fences.
- Soapy Slime. 1 cup of soap flakes to 3 cups of warm water. Add food colouring for interest. Beat all ingredients together in a large bowl with an electric mixer. Using a water table or simply different buckets and containers, let kids explore and help them use descriptive words to understand what they’re feeling (slimy, heavy, slippery, etc).
- Breadcrumbs and Trucks. Fill a large rectangular container with breadcrumbs and add mini cars or mini construction vehicles and let the kids loose in their mini sand pit work zone!
- Bubble Fun. Fill a large container or bucket with some bubble bath or dishwashing detergent and water (eco-friendly as some of these products can be quite harsh on kids delicate skin). Add some sponges and toy animals for some extra fun. Little ones might need some help to get started and supervision to ensure that they don’t just empty the whole lot out onto the grass straight away.
- Body painting. Find some child-friendly or eco paints and help your child get creative outdoors.
- HUGE Art. Find a large roll of paper from a craft store. Lay it out and provide some child-friendly paints in different pots. Add sponges, brushes, etc and let their imaginations run wild.
- Kinetic Sand. 98% sand and 2% magic, this amazing new product revolutionises indoor sand play. Soft and stretchy, the sand sticks only to itself, not to you, shapes exactly like wet sand and never dries out. Sold online and in most good toy stores, this is one product that I’ll be loving this summer!
Keeping The ‘Mess’ In Messy Play Contained
- Cover up – use an old adult shirt or you can buy plastic kids coveralls. This way, when kids have finished, you can simply remove a layer and they remain ‘relatively’ unscathed underneath.
- Go au-naturel. If the weather permits, remove their clothing which will mean less washing up and a quick bubble bath or even a hose off at the end (making it part of the fun) is all you need to have them looking spick and span again.
- Use a table kids can stand around and containers to keep things off the floor.
- Hose off the mess into the garden – again this is the importance of using eco-friendly products to protect the plants and groundwater.
- Keep a towel handy to wipe any hands or deal with any accidents, such as soap going into the eye.
- Protect your surfaces with newspaper, plastic, old sheets and use washable paints.
- Do messy play outdoors if weather permits, but if not, pick a suitable indoor location. A bathtub or kitchen floor isn’t that hard to clean up at the end.
- Supervise! Little kids are easily distracted. Let them lead their play but make sure that you keep an eye on things.
- Have fun, keep your camera handy and relax. Enjoy the creativity that comes with messy play and try to stay in the moment with them, rather than worrying about how you’re going to clean it all up afterwards.
What are YOUR top tips for messy play?
Life with children is often a contradiction. It’s beautiful and magical while at the same time being incredibly noisy and chaotic. You’re always being told ‘Enjoy these days, they’re gone all too fast”. And it’s true. It’s gone all too fast.
But in the world we live in, a world that’s evolving faster than ever before, how do you do that? How do you step back and enjoy the time you have with your kids when your ever growing list of things to-do just keeps getting longer and longer by the minute?
How do you bring yourself back to the present? Right back into the moment that counts the most? By practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness is quite simply a state of being, a technique derived from Buddhism that can help counter the stresses and ‘constant-state-of-busyness’ that many people face. It’s the intentional state of being with an accepting and non-judgemental focus on the present – your emotions, actions, thoughts and feelings.
Mindfulness can lower stress and is one of the keys to allowing you to be right in the moment with your children, so that when your time comes to reflect on your own years as a parent, you’ll be able to say with confidence that you were really there for them. That you were present.
Ten Steps To Mindfulness
- Put down the iGadget. Yep, the iPhone, the iPod, iMac, iPad. Because while you were on it, your child likely iPoo’d, iPee’d or iDrewOnTheTV’d. Life isn’t inside the little rectangular screen, it’s right in front of you.
- Take a deep breath. Focus on your breath going in and out.
- Do one thing at a time. Ouch. I know, I feel you. As a serial mutli-tasker, this is a tough one for me. But I guarantee that you’ll achieve more if you focus on one task, one moment at a time, rather than getting lost in a flurry of thoughts and activity. There is a time and place for multitasking, but it doesn’t have to be how you live every minute.
- Focus on the present. When you find your mind wandering and worrying, bring yourself back to the now and make a mental note to create a time later that day to deal with whatever is bugging you. Allow cooking and cleaning to become moments of meditation. Rituals performed every day that can become a source of inspiration, rather than frustration.
- Take your time. Look around. Enjoy your surroundings and who you’re with. You miss so much in life by rushing: that gorgeous smile your child is giving you, the picture that they are trying to tell them about. Rushing won’t change the amount of time you have. It just means that you’ll enjoy it all a lot less.
- Do less. Set up systems. Prioritise. Delegate. Do what’s important to you, not just what’s urgent.
- Spend a few minutes every day doing nothing. I love the early morning and get up before my kids. There’s a stillness and freshness about that time of day that really energizes and inspires me.
- Don’t overschedule. There are so many things available to you these days that it’s easy to get caught up in the hype with that new awesome kids activity being offered. Give your kids instead the gift of freedom and allow them the space to ‘get bored’. It switches on their imagination and safeguards them from developing a need later in life to fill every minute of their day.
- Enjoy your food. Many mums often eat on the go, standing up or try to swallow quickly so they can get back to ‘parenting’ or averting whatever crisis may be about to occur. Try to set up a space that encourages mealtimes to be enjoyable and work on instilling good habits in your kids to do the same. Food is one of the true luxuries in life so savor every bite.
- When you’re with someone, be present in your conversation with them. Especially when you’re talking to your kids. Look them in the eye rather than speaking over your should and make sure you’re actively listening rather than just rehearsing what you want to say next.
Mindfulness and modern motherhood IS possible, but it’s most definitely a choice. It’s something simple that with a little practice, can become completely integrated into your routines, lowering your stress levels and gently encouraging more beauty into your day-to-day living.
Life is there to be lived. How do you find ways to ground yourself back into the present during your day-to-day routines?