Friday, November 22, 2013

Older children need chill time too

In this fast paced, technological world we live in, how do we make time for our children to just chill? How do we all just tune out and really tune in to each other? Now that my children are older, I have to think of more innovative ways to keep that connection going with them; encouraging them to feel relaxed and at ease after the business of the day. While they are past the dinner, bath, story and bedtime routine to an extent; I still attempt to maintain a level of consistency with our evening time together.

Gone are the days when I would play soothing lullabies for my girls to settle them down for the evening; I now play artists we all enjoy and can vibe to. I sometime allow the girls to play music from their favorite artists as well; it gets them talking and I love to have dialogue with my kids; it's a great way to spend quality time; to find out what they are thinking. It usually is a win win situation. We also read together, especially after dinner but not necessarily at bedtime. We read poetry, geography books and chapter books to name a few. In fact we just finished a book titled "Cousins" by Virginia Hamilton. We really enjoyed the suspense of what was happening in the story, sharing our thoughts together and talking about the conclusion of the book. Books usually prompt questions and this is yet another way to utilize the opportunity for dialogue together. Some children may not be into books as much and that is okay; children can be met where they are and their likes and dislikes taken into consideration. 

Most children love to get outside but are not getting out enough or at all. We all need fresh air and exercise; especially after work and school has kept many of us inside buildings most of the day. Sometime after picking up the kids from school, instead of rushing home to do homework and watch the clock to ensure we are on task, we take an impromptu trip the beach or the park, or even a nature trail to have a few moments for unwinding. Often, we'll take walks in our neighborhood together; giving us time to talk about our day together. If I have noticed that one or both of the girls are exhausted after school, I usually suggest a "rest" before homework so they can relax their minds before jumping into completing their assignments. Afterward they feel refreshed and are able to complete their work with less anxiety if they have taken some time to rest first. I don't mind the extra time we use in our day to do things that will help my family to have a more peaceful evening. I light candles, play jazz in the background, and we talk while having dinner together.

Towards the weekend, we have "movie nights" or "game nights" together and it's a great way to bring in the end of the week with something fun for us to do. Of course, kids will be kids and even the best intentions for "chill" time can fall by the wayside. What is most important is to realize that even older children need down time. Adults need down time, we all need down time.