We could all use a few moments of zen right now...and that goes for our kids too. As the new school year approaches, everyone is feeling the stress of the new and unknown. I know that personally, spending time outside is important to my mental state, and I see it in my kids as well.
A simple, free, and accessible activity that you can work into the daily routine for your family, is to find a "sit spot". This is some place outside where you can just sit and observe, for 2 minutes, 5 minutes, 10, 20...whatever works for you. Your "sit spot" should be somewhere accessible that you can easily visit on a daily basis. Whether you have a tree in your yard to lean against, a sunny front stoop, or a wide open meadow...the most important criteria is that it is outside and easy to access. If your kiddos are really young, sitting with them in your lap to get started might work best (then you can go back and get your own zen later :) ).
So what do you do once you have taken your seat? You sit quietly and watch. What animals do you see? Bugs? Trees? Sounds? How do the leaves look and sound when they are blowing? Are there bees buzzing? Birds carrying grass or twigs? Chipmunks or squirrels that maybe come into view now that you are being still?
For the kids - you can extend this activity by having them draw or write about what they observed. When using the same sit spot each day (or a few days a week), it becomes easy to notice even the smallest changes.
This is a great activity to calm the mind and give your brain something simple to focus on. I struggle with quieting my thoughts enough for meditation, but I can observe the heck out of nature! Since I walk the same routes through our neighborhood, sometimes I will do a similar activity while walking. Our environment is ever-changing but usually we are to hurried to notice.
Stay Wild and Free!