Welcome to the second installment of our Holistic Holidays series! In this edition, we'll be focusing on the physical side of things - getting fit and staying in shape, and maintaining a healthy mind and body, so you can enjoy your entire summer at your best!
Onward to the goodness!
"Meditation?!" You cry, "I can barely get my kids to sit still!" Well, hear us out - there are myriad benefits of meditation and recently, it has become evident that the common thread amongst celebrities, the world's top athletes and many successful entrepreneurs are their daily practice of meditation.
While there aren't as many resources or in-depth studies into meditation for children as there is for adults, it's gaining traction and some schools have even replaced detention with meditation! Children are like sponges - they observe and take in everything around them, always exploring and experiencing. They also have fewer biases and prejudices than an adult, and this makes it easier for them to achieve a state of mindfulness that adults can sometimes have difficulty reaching.
Let's face it, growing up is really not easy! Definitely not with traumatic social epidemics like cyber bullying. Teaching your child how to meditate will not only make them better at focusing on something (like their homework!), it also helps in relieving stress, and boosting their self-esteem, since they are able to look within themselves for emotional stability. This process is also known as self-actualization - getting to know yourself and discovering who you really are.
Children are under constant peer pressure which many times leads to them making poor decisions. Self-actualisation enables and empowers children (or anyone for that matter) to think and act for themselves and not under external influences or negative pressures.
This practice when carried over to daily life, improving overall concentration, interpersonal relationships, overall happiness and provides a great way to decompress after a day full of excitement and intense activities.
Meditating together as a family also serves as a great bonding activity, and an enlightening experience to share with others. It's about finding inner peace, balance, and improving well-being - what better skills to impart to your child this summer than something that will empower them for life?
Click here to find out how to get started in teaching your child meditation.
Here are some beginner-friendly meditation exercises to practice with your kid.
This guided meditation by The Honest Guys is a great place to start.
Relax Like A Boss has a lot of great techniques that you can do together with your child as well.
2. Martial Arts
Does your child fancy themselves as the next possible Jet Li or Jackie Chan? Consider enrolling them for martial arts classes! The BJJ Informer has a great guide on the best martial arts for self defense for your child to choose from; some of them are: karate, boxing, muay thai, aikido, just to name a few.
There's plenty of upsides to letting your child take up a martial art - not only do they learn how to defend themselves against potential assailants, they also gain self-discipline, and respect as these two are core components of any martial art. It also builds confidence in your child, as completing each stage of learning awards them a new belt or ranking, and gives them tangible and realistic goals to strive toward. In addition to empowering them, your child also gets toned, flexible and fit, as physical fitness is a given when your kid does multiple jumping jacks, stretches, and other warmups in their lessons (along with the actual techniques!) Here's a great guide to your "first punch"!
For more classes, check out BookMartialArts which lists classes and camps from all over the world, and can be sorted by the specific martial art you're interested in.
3. Food and Nutrition
One of the first steps to wellness is being healthy. We're sure you've had battles with your kids on getting them to eat properly, and all they seem to want are chicken nuggets and cakes!
A good way to get kids interested in eating healthily is to get them involved in preparing and cooking said healthy food - if they get to have a hand in exploring and prep, they're more likely to want to eat whatever they've made. After all, if Masterchef Junior is any indication, kids can certainly cook up a storm! Just make sure to supervise them, so they don't hurt themselves.
Check out these recipes from Tasty, and let your children choose one that they can prepare together with you!
If your child would like to take it a step further, why not look into a cooking class? Click here for courses for budding masterchefs!
If you're located in the US, you can use this site to locate a culinary academy near you.
For additional reading, may we recommend this wonderful book on helping children to be more adventurous in food? It's called "Hungry Monkey", and is one of the recommended reads from J. Kenji López-Alt of "The Food Lab". You can get it here from Amazon.
4. Rock Climbing
Rock climbing is a serious all-rounder activity! Not only does it engage the body, it also engages the mind - kids must figure out the most efficient way to reach the endpoint, lest they end up trapped on a dead-end with no way forward. Each move to be made requires focus and concentration - they must plan ahead and figure out where to go, and how to conquer each obstacle.
In doing rock-climbing, kids build core strength and flexibility, and hand/eye/foot coordination, as they require dexterity to manipulate their hands and feet to continue their ascent to the top. They also develop trust and responsibility through belaying (managing the rope of another climber), where they quite literally hold another climber's life in their hands. They also set themselves goals, and in reaching those goals, a sense of achievement can be felt. Every goal is personal, but they are all tangible and gives kids a clear marker when they've accomplished it.
Kids also learn how to overcome fears - rock climbing can seem scary at first, but with each successful climb, they get stronger, better, and faster!
Here is a good read for beginners to climbing, and also includes a writeup on the more advanced form: bouldering.
If you're looking for something a little more advanced and adventurous, check out this training guide on mountain climbing.
Hiking a nature trail together with your kids is a great physical activity, and it allows you to immerse yourself in the beauty of the great outdoors. In addition, it provides ample time to bond with your kids - since there are no devices or extraneous sources of engagement, you and your kids will focus on each other, allowing for several hours of heartfelt sharing and communication. With each successful hike, your kids will develop more strength and stamina, which leads to better physical fitness.
When planning a hike, some factors to think about include:
- Bringing as much water as you can comfortably carry, because everyone will inevitably get thirsty while trekking through the trails.
- Pack snacks! They will fuel you and your kids on your long hike - fruits and nuts are great sources of energy. Make sure to plan properly depending on your hiking plans! Here's a recipe for some delicious homemade trail mix bars. Not a fan of trail mix? Take a look at these recipes instead.
- Extra change of clothes! Accidents happen - your kid may fall into a mud puddle, or get their socks wet while splashing around in streams. The less you need to worry about yourself and your kids getting dirty while exploring, the more fun you'll have. Check out this post for some great hiking gear made for kids.
If you're thinking about an overnight hike, here's some advice on how to plan for it.