Calming the Storm: Avoiding a Meltdown

This is a re-post from my article at Authentic Parenting which first appeared on Wednesday, June 22, 2011.

Relaxation & visualization techniques dressed in play.

It’s the end of a long, rainy morning; we have waited in lines and in traffic. We enter the house, damp and cold, jackets hit the floor and shoes fly. Small feet are running wild. The block tower in the middle of the carpet gets leveled with one precise kick and baby is startled. Cries, screams, whining – Three little creatures need me – now! It’s time to squelch the chaos.

How to reconnect with three little ones, at once, meaningfully and calm the storm? Time to pull out some time tested tricks; massage, relaxation and visualization all dressed up in play.

First I invite everyone aboard the massage train. This is a favorite with my three-year-old and five-year-old alike and something easily played while nursing. It is all about imitating massage moves and paying forward to the person sitting in front of you. We sit in a line, first me, baby in my lap nursing, the boys in front of us, ahead of each other. We play this often enough; we have names for various massage strokes.

We start with a simple circular motion with a flat hand, which I announce with “warm up.” We move onto “kitty-cat”, a light scratching in a vertical motion. Next is “circles”, which is making circles with finger tips and then move on to “hacking”, which is a light chopping motion with the sides of the hands and everyone says “aaahhh” including baby (while still nursing) which makes everyone giggle.

The boys ring a pretend bell by saying “ding-ding-ding” which means the person in the very front moves to the back of the line. My five year old is now leading. “Warm up”, then “poking” and “water fall” which is moving hands from the persons hair all the way down their back in a swooping motion. The bell comes again, my three year old is now choosing actions, baby has moved from nursing to sitting and happily being “spider crawled” upon.

Once each child has had a chance to lead the train, I invite them to lay down next to each other. I sit so I can reach their faces and hair for what we call a Reboot. I encourage them to breathe and imagine themselves being tall and still like the mountains, flowing like a river, soft like the fresh grass. Meanwhile, I stroke their hair and face, tug gently on their ears and continue with other gentle touches to their faces and head. Often, the boys will suggest other items to visualize like “say we are strong like gorillas” or “say we can be melted like popsicles.” Baby is laying down on one of my legs, discovering her feet and occasionally patting me and saying “hi mama”.

We breathe “big lion’s breaths” and we relax. The cold and damp has been replaced with warmth and giggles. The traffic jam and errands are history. We are in synch, connected and calm.

How do you reconnect after a storm?

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Ariadne is a happy and busy mama to three children. She practices peaceful, playful, responsive parenting and is passionate about all things parenting and chocolate. Ariadne has a Masters in Psychology and is a certified Positive Discipline Parenting Educator. She lives on top of a beautiful mountain with her family, one cuddly dog and "bluey" the fish.

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