Sometimes, Just Sit and Think
Give yourself a gift this season. If there is a child around that’s great, but really this gift is for you. Here it is: Take a Twenty Minute Holiday from being so darn grown-up!
Whether your gifts go under a tree, last for eight days, or you close your blinds and wait for all that nonsense to end, your friends at the Children’s Reading Alliance have got you covered with the perfect project that is free and takes only twenty minutes a day.
Be a kid again
If you have a child to do this with all the better, but, if not, indulge your inner child anyway. What does that kid like to do? Just do it. Yes, play for twenty minutes each day. Unstructured time provides your brain exercise it needs whether you are five or ninety-five.
Build yourself a fort out of couch cushions and a blanket. Cuddle inside with your most frivolous book or look at a picture on the wall and use your imagination to travel to an unexplored place.
Doodle, sketch, paint, play with clay, fill-in empty spaces with colors. The stores are stocked with adult coloring books right now. Treat yourself to one. Let your mind wander and your hands roam free.
Try something new
Puzzles are great for exercising your brain while taking a break from being in control.
If there is a teenager around who wants to play video games give yourself over to that. Turn off that judgmental adult self and be present in a teenager’s world. It’s only twenty minutes after all.
Tell Family Stories
Look at your photo albums. Let your mind wander and remember scenes from the past. Write down or sketch the ones that have meaning for you. If there are children around, tell them your stories. Your childhood memories will help your children deal with the challenges in their lives. Your stories can provide a boost to self-esteem and build that reserve of stamina everyone needs to bounce back from stressful events.
“Sometimes I sits and thinks and sometimes I just sits.” Thank you AA Milne for that reminder.
Don’t be afraid of boredom. Stop thinking and planning and second guessing yourself and give your brain some empty space. For twenty minutes a day, sit by the fire, take a walk or go to the window and look outside. Pretty soon you will notice something you haven’t seen before, the way the light hits an oddly shaped cloud, chirping birds, rain drops on your skin, the smell of wood burning, patterns of leaves blowing in the breeze. Don’t look for anything, just be quiet and wait.
Dance with Abandon
It is easy to over-schedule yourself and your family in a fury of holiday activity. But, too much amusement actually inhibits creativity and imagination. Give your brain time to explore and seek meaning.
Joshua Straub author of Safe House: How Emotional Safety is Key to Raising Kids Who Live, Love and Lead Well shares this story:
“I remember one morning when our toddler son was so excited looking out the picture window that he began to dance uncontrollably.
I joined him in the dance.
Had anybody walked by our house at that moment they would’ve seen a grown man stomping enthusiastically in the window. Creepy, I know.
But my little boy and I shared a moment, bonding in the only language he had for the excitement he was feeling. One of the most powerful ways to build the brain of a child is to uninhibitedly join him on the dance floor.
Two minutes later, my boy turned from the window, looked up at me, and babbled with joy. I was now on my phone. The moment was over. E-mails, text messages, and push notifications don’t care about moments, about your relationships, or your kids. They only care that you prioritize them right away.
Do your kids know you genuinely enjoy dancing with them more than staring at your phone? Be okay with being the creepy adult who dances in front of the window at seven in the morning. Parenting isn’t rocket science, it’s just brain surgery.”
Help yourself to a truly meaningful new year’s resolution: Play twenty minutes a day! Best wishes from all us at Children’s Reading Foundation of Dona Ana County.