The Gift of Relaxation for Families

Motherhood is many things:  inspiring, frustrating, humorous, gross, heartwarming,  heart wrenching… honestly, our families FILL our lives with emotional and physical extremes and everything in between.

After many years of marriage, I craved having a child because I knew my life would never be as full without at least one (no, husbands don’t count, no matter how much they consider themselves still a child.)  And having children has brought me countless joy, as well as so much personal growth.

Nevertheless, Motherhood is stressful.  Let me back up:  LIFE is stressful, and families just add lives that multiply the stress.  It is not a bad thing, stress promotes positive actions in many cases that are needed.  On the other hand, we all know that continued stress over time, without a way to disperse it, is NOT good for your body or mind.  AND, a relaxed, focused mom is the BEST way to approach parenting.

So my gift to you today is some ideas to help relieve stress and relax using your sense of hearing.   There is a different focus for each of the following blog postings – please read them all and try at least ONE right away.   Got 10 minutes?  That’s all it takes !

First, try them by yourself, and feel the relaxation that begins to flow through your whole being.  Eventually, try them with your children with some of the ideas given. 

 

For as a mom, helping your child learn to relax is, by far, one of the best gifts you can give them.

GOT  10 minutes?

Let your sense of hearing help you release your stress & relax your body.  

1.  The Sound of Silence

2.  The Sound of Nature

3.  The Sound of Music

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Motherhood Relaxation with Sounds of Nature

Relaxation Activity 2 – Sounds of Nature                   (link to intro.)

                For yourself:    This exercise proceeds much the same as the Sound of Silence one, yet occurs outside, in a place where the sounds are limited to those of nature.  It could be as close as your backyard – but if there is too much noise from traffic, find a better place.  (Could there be a peaceful park along your drive home from dropping your child off at school or an activity?) 

Instead of focusing on the silence, let your mind pay full attention to the sounds you hear. It doesn’t matter if your eyes are open or closed – whichever helps you relax the most.  Consider the source of each sound, and try to picture it in your mind.  Don’t try to find it with your eyes.    Let the beauty of nature help you remember how beautiful life is.   Let the rustling of the trees rustle that stress out of you.  Let the bird songs lift your spirits to soar among the clouds.   In your mind, connect each sound to a desired response from your body.  After 10 minutes, stretch, and mentally express appreciation to mother earth for her bounty.

                With your child:  In order to promote relaxation, let the child choose ONE object from nature to hold that is the “connection” to the world around him.  Then find a nice comfortable place to lie back, placing the object near the heart.  Some children can close their eyes, but for many, that is stressful to try.  These children can focus on something above them, like clouds or leaves (if under a tree).  Just like some children can simply hold the object still, while some children NEED to manipulate it with their hands while listening – that’s OK.  

 Actively listening to nature with your child does not require 10 min. of silence, but rather moments of silence while listening balanced with brief verbal identification of sounds, and short discussions about what may be happening, or connecting the sound to something the child is familiar with.  You may also invite them to pair these sounds with desired responses in the body.  This discussion can start with parent, continuing to focus MOST of the time on listening. 

Then after a few tries, start asking open ended questions that will help the child focus on some of the aspects already discussed, OR use this opportunity to match the sounds to concepts.  Try to find high pitched sounds, medium, or low sounds.  How about choppy or smooth sounds?  Nature has excellent examples of the concepts of opposites.  With a gentle voice, smoothly continue to direct the focus on relaxing and listening with intent.  Please keep in mind that the time span for such an activity may need to start by being just a minute or two, yet can build over time for some to be even be longer than 10 minutes.

Does anyone have recommendations for local places where JUST the sounds of nature can be heard?

Motherhood Relaxation with Sound of Music

Relaxation Activity 3 – The Sound of Music           (link to intro.)

                For yourself:  So often, music just flows around in the background of life.  This is the opportunity to let your mind let go of everything else for a few moments, and simply focus on the music.  Find a comfortable place where other noises will not interfere.   A good set of headphones is a good investment, and helps block out miscellaneous noises, and makes the music feel much more personal.  I recommend instrumental music that does not include melodies that make you try to think of the words to the song.  (Please see below for recommendations and free music downloads.)   Let your mind focus on what you are hearing.  Do you focus on the emotion?  Do you focus on the whole of what is being played?  Do you listen to identify which instruments are playing?  Does your mind create pictures of what it seems like the music is portraying (That’s ME!):  Is it a beautiful place?  Does it seem like a story of something happening?    If you are not sure, try to focus each of these ways, and see what type of listening works best to help you relax.  Be aware of your muscles, let go…

Young Child students actively listening to music

        With your child:  Again, choose instrumental music, but start by choosing a piece that is just 2 – 3 minutes long.  Together, FIND or MAKE a Cloak of Listening for each of you, a large light-weight see-through scarf to be placed over the entire body, or a favorite blanket upon which to lie down and wrap up in.   Either can be a good prop to use that gives a child something to feel the effect of what I call “All Over-ness” which helps them lie still.   Let them know the “cloak” is their connection to the music – it allows them to listen to the music with their whole body, but they need to keep every part of their body within it, and lie still to make it work.  (Don’t be too strict about no movement, as long as it is calm.  And some children will NOT want it over their face – that’s OK.)  Encourage them to take THREE deep breaths, then breathe normally while you start the music. 

 This may work differently with different children.  Some children may benefit from having you gently glide your hands over the cloak along their arms and along their legs as they listen.  Some will enjoy just listening.  Some will enjoy hearing your calm voice describe what is heard.  Some will enjoy telling you about what they hear.  Be open to learn how this works best with your child.  When finished with one short piece of music, as if they would like another, or if they would like to start a new activity.  Continue as long as they like, but have a fun dramatic removal of the Cloak of Listening to finish off the activity.

At every age, Kindermusik classes offer opportunities to develop active listening skills, as well as promoting relaxation skills through music.

If you are looking for relaxing music, you might try downloading some from the PlayKindermusik website, http://play.kindermusik.com.  When you initially Sign In, it extends you 3 free credits, which will allow you to download THREE songs for FREE!   I strongly recommend three of the songs from the Album “Sailing to Dreamland”:   My Little Boat, Suo Gan, and Skye Boat Song.  That would give you approximately 10 minutes worth of some of the most relaxing music Kindermusik has to offer (without taking a Kindermusik class.)  With your children, this might give you a way to start with one song, and build up to the full 10 minutes.

If you are open to purchasing 8 more credits (.89 each – total of $7.12), you can download the full album of 12 beautiful songs (getting 12 songs for 11 credits).  Each song is beautiful and relaxing – I actually had a hard time choosing just three.

Of course, I have many more suggestions for relaxing music for both adults and children.  Let’s spark up some comments here, or on Facebook about YOUR favorite musical selections for relaxation.