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Monday, February 26, 2018

What Is Sensory Play? And Why It's Important? Plus A Great Sensory Activity!

What is Sensory Play Why it is important


The first time I heard the phrase "sensory play" is when I was working with children who had autism and had difficulty processing different sights, sounds, textures, and even different smells or foods.

I remember there was one child who was having major eating issues. And the sensory activities we would do with him is playing with different foods he was adverse to, with ZERO expectation of eating it. We had all sorts of fun with those foods trying to keep him engaged and interested. The first time that he touched some spaghetti noddles was just amazing!

So due to my past work experience, I always just thought of sensory play for children who had sensory difficulties. I'm embarrassed to say that it wasn't till after I had my first child that I realized No! Sensory play is so important for all children!!!

Yeah, I know I feel really silly that I didn't put that together earlier!

But let's forget about that and move on to why sensory play is so beneficial to all children.

So What Is Sensory Play???


Sensory play blocks


Simply put it is hands-on playing that engages the senses; Sight, Sound, Smell, Touch, and Taste.

By stimulating the senses you are helping your child's brain grow and develop. Research has shown that when engaging in sensory play the brain will lay down nerve connections that will help your child be able to complete complex learning problems.

Sensory play encourages language development as children will learn new ways to describe their world. In the sensory activity I did with my girls we played with snow inside, we spent a lot of time talking about the snow, how cold it was, how we could mold it into different shapes, and what was happening to it as it was inside for longer and longer.

Another benefit of this type of play is it will help in fine motor development. As your child explores they will be reaching, pinching, pouring and manipulating whatever they are playing with, all of that will help them when they are learning to do zippers, buttons, tieing their shoes and developing their handwriting.

Sensory Play aprons


Another amazing thing about sensory play it that is can be used to either calm or excited your child. I'm sure if you take a moment and think different activities your child enjoys you will be able to tell if they have a calming effect on your children or if it winds them up! For example, after a bath, does your child seem to be a little calmer? I think of myself as a child, I loved going on the swings, I could stay on them for hours and I always felt better afterwards. As a child, I just thought I was having fun and playing, but now as an adult, I know that yes, I was playing and having fun but also that the sensory input I was getting from the swings was calming and self-regulating. That sensory input and self-regulating can help your child overcome whatever internal discomfort they are having, whether that is boredom, restlessness, or some other type of agitation.

Sensory play a way a child can grow in creative thinking and problem-solving. It is also the way children discover and making sense of their world.

So now that you have learned a little bit more about sensory play and its benefits, let me share with you the simple sensory play I did recently with my girls.

It is was SUPER simply, I got two plastic bowls from my cupboards, went outside filled them up with snow, came back inside got a few bath toys put them in the bowls as well and then BOOM! A sensory activity!

Sensory Play with Snow

Now you do need to have snow outside but if you didn't have snow you can very easily use water and put a few ice cubes in to have it be a little more exciting then just water. And that way your kids will be able to see the ice cubes melt. Which for kids is pretty cool to see!

Anyway, now that you have your sensory snow bowl, all you have to do is play! I find just following my girls lead is best, they took me on some wonderful snow adventures where their little toys made new friends, had to go to the doctors, got lost, built a snowman and many more snowy filled adventures! My girls played with the snow for over an hour! I had to go out and get more snow a few times for them.

Toys for sensory play activities


In all honesty, I couldn't play with them the whole time, my pretend play skills are a little rusty and I just wasn't able to keep up! But thankfully they are super good at playing with each other and are able to keep the tears to a minimum.

So if you are trying to fill the day with fun activities that will keep your kids attention for more then 5 minutes, then give this a try! They will just love it!


If you liked this post and activity, then you need to check these posts out as well!




Click Here




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Thursday, February 22, 2018

A Great Activity To Teach Children Mindfulness Using Their Senses


This past Valentine's Day my sweet Husband gave our little girls each a gorgeous rose.

The girls LOVE them! They are always asking to see them and wanting to touch them. Any visitor we have over and the girls insisted that they come over and take a look at their beautiful flowers.

This got my brain turning, I could use their fascination with their Valentine's gift as a wonderful opportunity to teach some mindfulness practices without them even knowing!

Which let's be honest, is always the best way with kids, especially young ones!

Now for this activity you just need one item, we used our roses, but you could use a feather, a favourite stuffie, or even a favourite treat! Really anything that will engage your child will do just fine.



I had the girls sit down on the couch just because I knew that they would be comfortable there and that they would be willing to sit there for a little bit.

The first thing we did was focused on TOUCH

I had the girls put the flowers on their cheeks, and asked them how did it feel? Was it cool? Was it soft? I asked them about the steam, was it soft?

I asked them if the Rose felt heavy in their hands?

Then we focused on SIGHT

I asked them what colour was it? Did they see any shapes in it?

Then we focused on SMELL

Did it have a smell? Did it smell sweet? Did they like the way it felt?



Then the last few things few questions that I ask them was did they like there Rose? What did they like best about it? I asked them to remember how it felt when their Father gave them their flowers?

Doing this activity with the girls really did take that long, approximently 10 minutes give or take.

And the girls really enjoyed spending time playing with their flowers!

Now you may be thinking, "okay this sounds like a fun activity to teach kids about the 5 senses." (obviously, I did not go over all senses as I didn't want the girls to taste the rose. But if you were using a favourite treat or food, you could!)

But what does it have to do mindfulness!?!?!

Well, often we are going about our lives on autopilot. We rush around to point A to B so fast, our minds thinking about the 101 things on our to-do list. That we miss out on different moments of our life's. Sometimes they are simple things such as watching a bird tending to her young her nest, or maybe it is feeling the way the sun hits your face as you step out the door. Yes, they are simple moments and maybe seems unimportant but those lovely little moments add up, they help us see the beauty and richness of life.




Even more unfortunate when we are zooming around on autopilot we can miss cues from our friends and loved ones when they need us.

I feel ashamed to admit that sometimes that as I have been rushing around the house doing different chores or trying to finish a different crafting project. I fail to notice my girls or baby giving me cues that they are in need of some love and attention, till it is too late and I having a crying upset child on my hands.

Yes, I do have things I need and want to get done, but all I need to do is plan just a little bit better. The things that I need to focus on, have to wait till the children are sleeping so I can give whatever I'm working on my full attention, be present and mindful of that project or task.

 And when I do need to do a few things around the house while the childern are awake I need to be sure that they are projects I can stop and put down without any problems. So that I don't miss any of those cues.

So going back to our Roses! By doing that great activity with your children you are teaching them (and yourself) to get off autopilot! To enjoy life moment by moment, to see the joy in the simple things and moments of life. You are teaching them Mindfulness!

I would love to hear your tips and tricks to get off autopilot. Please let me know in the comments below!
Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Painless Blotto Painting Valentine's Day Project


You know sometimes you get in a funk and just can't think of new arts and crafts to do with your kids, which is fun, easy and keeps the clean up to a minimal.

Well, that happened to me recently, I just was feeling "blah” and my creative juices were just not flowing so I couldn't think of a preschool-friendly craft to do with my kids.

Thank goodness for good friends! No word of a lie, but the day I was feeling this way, a good friend sent me a message with a link to a super great painting craft for kids!



Not only did it look fun and easy but it looked like there would be a very minimal mess!

So I thought I would share how our experience went with this Painless Blotto Painting Valentine's Day Project went!

Items You Will Need;

Paper - I would recommend a thicker paper like card stock just because you will want the paper to be strong enough not to rip when it comes time to rub it.

Paint - Any and all the colours you want!

Painting Shirts - Just to help clean up quick and easy! I just used my husband's work shirts.

Garbage Bag - You don't NEED this but I like to spread it out over our work area that way when we are done our craft, I can just roll it up and then BOOM! All Cleaned Up!


Okay on to the craft!


Step One:

Cut the paper into a heart. 

I did this by simply folding the sheet of paper in half and then I cut half a heart shape along the folded edge.

Step Two:

Add the paint! 

Depending on the age of your children, you can let them do this step themselves or if you have younger kids (like me) it might be best for you to add the paint. But if you are adding the paint you can still get your young children involved by getting them to tell you what colours they want. You can get them to show you where to put the paint and even how much! So there are lots of ways to keep this step fun and exciting for your younger children.



Step Three:

Fold and rub the heart all over to squish that paint all around! 

This is the best part! You can even turn it into a game! Have them rub it fast! And then slooooow. Get them to see if they can make the paint go all the way to the sides of the heart! That was a big hit with my girls they thought it hilarious to see the paint squish out the side and even on their hands! Yes, that made things a little more mess but to hear their laughter made it all worth it!



Step Four:

Open your heart and see your Beautiful Painting Masterpiece!

Ooooooh, Aaaahhhhh!

Yup! They will be that beautiful and most important it is that painless to do a great painting craft with your kids!


If you liked this Craft for Kids, you should go and check these out as well!


Simple Painting Activity For Kids

How to make adorable Love Bugs 

Thursday, February 1, 2018

Love Bugs and Beautiful Butterflies: A Lovely Valentine's Craft For Kids


How many sweet little pet names do you have for your kids?

I have about a million that I like to rotate through but lately, the favourite seems to be calling my sweet girls my little "Love Bugs". The girls think it is hilarious! Whenever I call them that, they will laugh and say "No! Mommy, you're a little love bug!" The best part is that then they will run over and give me lots of hugs and kisses!

So with that in mind, I thought it would fun to make some sweet little love bugs for Valentine's.

This is a great craft project for kids and one that has very little cleanup! Which is a must for me!

The Supplies That You Will Need;

Paper
Popsicle Sticks
Markers or Crayons
Stickers
Colourful Paper
Pipe Cleaners
Googly Eyes
Glue
Scissors

Art Supplies



Step One:

Draw out the wings aka Hearts! I used the Popsicle sticks as a guide to make sure I drew the hearts the right sizes.

Valentine's Day Craft For Kids


Step Two:

Cut out the wings!


Step Three:

The best part decorate the hearts! On the wings, I drew lines where I was going to glue the Popsicle sticks just so my girls wouldn't put any stickers there making it difficult later gluing it together.

At this point, I also coloured the Popsicle.

Valentine's Day Art and Craft Project for Kids



Step Four and Five:

I did these steps while the girls were decorating their heart. First, I glued the googly eyes on, let them dry for a bit. While they were drying I cut little pieces off of the pipe cleaner to make antennae for our little love bugs. When the eyes were dry, I used a hot glue gun to attach the antenna, just to make sure they would be really secure.

Art and Craft Project


Step Six:

Once the wings are beautifully decorated, glue them to the Popsicle sticks! But before you glue you need to decide do you want a sweet little Love Bug or a Beautiful Butterfly!?!?

For a Love Bug put the heart/wings upside down, and for a Butterfly put the wings right side up!


Love Bug Valentine's Day Craft Project


Valentine's Day Art and Craft for Kids



It is that simple!

I just know that your kids with love this Lovely Valentine's Craft just as much as my girls did.


If You Liked This Great Kid's Craft Project, Check These Out As Well!


                                 
Valentine's Day Activity
Click Here To Check It Out













Simple Painting Activity For Kids
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Wednesday, January 31, 2018

How To Give Your Love A "Heart Attack" This Valentine's Day



Have you ever received a "heart attack"? And just to be clear no I'm not talking about the medical condition.

What I'm talking about is the type of "heart attack" that is made from paper and leaves you feeling warm and fuzzy all over and most importantly loved. You feel lots and lots of love!


I thought it would be fun to give my children "heart attacks" this Valentine's season.

Here is the plan, (and what you can do with your own family!) every night leading up to Valentine's day I'm going to put a heart on their door sharing one reason I love them so much! Or something else super cheesy and mushy! 

They will love it!

In fact I knew they would love it so much that I thought it would be awesome to get them involved as well!

So I decided to have them help me make hearts for their baby brother and Father!





Now for because life often throws a loop in my plans, I thought it would be best to make the hearts ahead of time. But you could very easily make hearts each night up leading to Valentine's day instead.

I'm having the girls colour them for me and help me come up with what mushy things we can write for our "heart attacks" for baby and Daddy. 

My girls love to colour so they were super pumped to help with that part.

It was so sweet to hear them express how much they loved their little brother and how much their Father means to them.

It was also a little bit funny to hear what they came up with,
because with some of them I had no idea what they were talking about! 



I made the hearts for the girls after they went to bed so it will be a surprise for them.

Now I just have to wait for tonight to put them on their bedroom doors! 




Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Simple Painting Activity For Kids

painting with kids


As much as I love doing arts and crafts with my girls, I hate cleaning up afterwards!!!!

Just thinking about the clean up and I start asking myself, "Do I really want to do this craft with my kids!?!?" The answer usually depends on how much sleep everyone has had and if my kids have their "listening ears" turned on. And just how messes my kitchen is already...... what can I say, that is just my reality.

So with having said all that I was super excited about seeing a great idea to paint with q-tips!

Just think about that how awesome that is! One, because the q-tips are a lot smaller than a paint brush you don't need as much paint which that in and of its self will lead to less mess!

And by using a q-tips it is a great way to work on your child's pincer grip without them even knowing because they will be having so much fun painting!

It is a win-win for everyone!

I found some great printables from the website from abc's to acts, to find the printables for yourself you can go here!

The set up for this craft project is so simple,

You Will Need;
Paper
Paint
Q-tips

And really that is it!



painting supples


My girls were so excited when they learned we would be painting with q-tips! They really got into it!

Like I said above we used those printable as well as the girls just let their imaginations run wild and painted whatever their heart fancied.

painting with kids

fun and simple painting project

We had a great time painting!

Okay just one last thing I have to tell you about.

I made a little recycled paint palette! I thought it would help use less paint and also make less mess with the paint. And I feel like it really worked well. And it was so simple to make, all you need is a bunch of lids! I used a sour cream lid on the very bottom than just glued some pop and juice lids to to it and ta-da!!! You got your self a perfect little paint palette to help have less mess and stop the paint from running into each other. 

Simple, great and the girls thought it was so cool to use! 

recycle paint palette

I would love to hear your tips on keeping the mess to a minimum 
when doing an art and craft with kids!?!

Happy Painting Everyone!

Tuesday, January 23, 2018

9 Months with Baby #3

Well, I think that I meant deserve a mommy pat on the back! Because after failing to post this on time for two months in a row! I finally got one up on time! WooHoo!

This past month you finally started sitting up all by yourself without leaning on your hands at all for support!

When I saw you do this for the first time I got so excited and starting yelling to your Father,

"Look! Come Look! He is sitting without leaning on his hands!!!" 

Your father looked at me funny and said: " He has been doing that for a while!" 

"WHAT!?!?" " And you didn't tell me!?!?"

"Well, I thought you knew.... you are with him all day."

" Have only ever seen him leaning on his hands! You have to tell me these things!"

Sooo As you can see, there might be slight changes that you started sitting up on your own last month! But I feel like because I first saw it this month, it is okay to mark it as happening this month!

You have to turn into a speed racer crawler! It feels like to can from one end of the house to the other in less than a second! It really has kept me on my toes and I have been putting up make sift baby gates to try and ensure that you stay out of trouble at least for a few minutes!

And thankfully I have taught your sisters pretty well and they help keep a watchful eye on you, taking away toys that they feel is not safe for you or that they want to play with!

Speaking of your sisters, you already have such a great relationship with them, your eyes just light up whenever you see them. And they make you laugh and laugh as they play with and tickle you. You will squeal with delight as they crawl around on the floor with you! It is so sweet to see it just melts my heart.

You are doing great in the sleep department all except about a week or so you decided that 5:20 am was a good time to start waking up so that has been fun! I'm hoping that it is just a phase.

Otherwise, you are just perfect in every way!

I can't wait for the next month and all the joy you will bring us!







Monday, January 22, 2018

8 Months with Baby #3

*** Special Note Again!****
***I realize that I'm super late in getting this posted, but thankfully although I may take my sweet time get this written up for the blog, I have still been able to take the picture and write in my journal right on time! So I guess I'm not doing that bad! ;) ***

Once again we have hit another month mark. And once again it has come upon us all too soon!

The biggest new thing this month is that you are now crawling!

It started slowly and wobbly but once you started moving there was no stopping you!

Now that you are moving you are doing your very best to keep up with your sister's! They love to crawl on the ground with you and play chase with you.

Also now that you are crawling I have become paranoid about you getting a hold of any of the girl's small toys and putting them straight in your mouth! So I have been telling the girls over and over no small toys on the floor! I feel like they are starting to understand, sort of!

With you now crawling you get to explore any part of the house you would like and one of your top "go-to" spots is the dog food! Thankfully you have yet to taste any of it, and heaven help me I'm going to make sure it stays that way!

The other new thing this month is that you had your front two bottom teeth come in. For the most part, you seemed to handle it well. There were one or two days where you were a little more fussy than normal so your teeth might have been bothering but it is kind of hard to say.

Like always this past month has been wonderful! And I'm so very much looking forward to the days to come and continue to watch you learn and grow.


I'm so happy that you are a part of our family!

That goofy grin melts my heart every time! 

7 Months with Baby #3

*** Special Note****
***I realize that I'm super late in getting this posted, but thankfully although I may take my sweet time get this written up for the blog, I have still been able to take the picture and write in my journal right on time! So I guess I'm not doing that bad! ;) ***


7 months! Here we are! Time like always is passing much too quickly!

To celebrate your 7-month mark we got you your new head-shaping helmet! I was worried you would be bothered by it. But you don't seem to notice it at all! Thankfully!

With each passing day, you are getting better and better at moving around. You are rolling and rolling every which way and you have even started to do an army crawl and you have even got up on your hands and knees! Crawling is just around the corner! I just know it!

Sleep is continuing to go well, thankfully! Let's hope that continues because everyone is a lot happier when we have all had a good night sleep!

Naps are still a little hit or miss and that is because of all the appointments we have so you don't really get the routine during the day that you need. Luckily you are pretty flexible and will fall asleep on the go.

One of my favourite things about you is your infectious laugh. When you get going one cannot help themselves and laugh and smile right along with you!

You are such an important part of our little family! You bring so much light and love into our lives!


I love you so much!

I just can not get enough of that smile! 

Friday, January 12, 2018

Guest Post: Meditation 101: The Basics of How to Meditate

Meditation is a big part of practicing Mindfulness, and yet I have felt so intimidated to start or even knowing where I should begin so that is why I feel so very fortunate to introduce Jen O'Neil from Buddha Belly here on Pursuing Delights. Her wonderful post has really helped me feel much more confident in start my own meditation practice and I just know it will help you as well!

Meditation 101: The Basics of How to Meditate  




Meditation has made a huge difference in my life and I want to share that with all of you. Are you interested in learning about meditation, just starting out or an old hat at finding the quiet in your mind? Well this post on Meditation 101 is for you. I’ll break down the basics of meditation and why you should be meditating. So if you’re a newbie you’ll gain a lot of basic information and if you’re more experienced a brush up on the basics is always good and you may learn something new!

Before we get into the basics of meditation let’s take a quick look at why you should be meditating!

Research has shown that meditation:
·         Increases positive emotions
·         Increases satisfaction with your life
·         Boots your immune system
·         Decrease your response to pain
·         Help you cope with what you can’t control
·         Can reduce loneliness
·         Increases memory and attention
·         Decreases anxiety, stress and depression
·         Gives you perspective
·         Improves emotional stability

If you want more in-depth information on why you should meditate and the different forms of meditation check out my mediation series here.




Meditation looks so simple that most people discount all the growth you can gain from it, but it’s actually much harder than it seems. We spend a lot of time learning the go, go, go mentality. Most of us as kids had to fit in sports, chores, school work and were expected to excel at each. As adults we then have to balance work, physical health, a social life, kids, etc. We spend very little time just sitting, breathing and being. Challenging that mentality of needing to get it all done as soon as possible can be extremely difficult, but like anything else new you just have to start with small steps.
If you want to learn how to meditate just keep reading!

Make a peaceful spot for yourself.
Even people who have been meditating for years can have a difficult time focusing when their surroundings are less than peaceful. I’m a huge advocate of making a special spot in your house for your meditation practice. I have a special cushion that I bought for meditation that is bright, colorful and makes me happy to look at. I get my diffuser going with mint, let everyone know not to bother me for a bit and make sure that I’m in a comfortable position. Most people prefer to be seated with their legs crossed, their booties on a cushion and their backs supported, but if that’s uncomfortable for you then you can do your meditation laying down or in any other comfortable position. The main objective is that you are just in a comfortable place and are actually trying to meditate. If I know I’m going to have a busy day I have been known just to meditate in my car.

Figure out what method of meditation you want to start with.
There are so many different types of meditation out there it can be hard to figure out which one is the best one to start with. I’m a fan of starting with guided visualization because I personally have a hard time simply sitting still and being. For me this is easy mode for meditation, but everyone is different. Guided visualization for some could bring up a lot of feelings they aren’t quite ready to deal with. Guided meditation is basically a meditation technique that uses the imagination to help you visualize different things. If you think guided visualization might be a good place for you to start out just type it into YouTube and find a video that looks interesting!
You may be more comfortable with simply concentrating on your breath instead. When I’m doing breathing meditation I get comfortable on my cushion and do square breathing. I breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, breathe out for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4 and repeat. Thoughts will come in and out. Let them drift through your brain, acknowledge them as thoughts and then send them away as you focus back on your square breathing.  For me this is the hardest form of meditation because I have a terrible time just sitting and concentrating, but it’s also been the method that’s been the most beneficial to me in my life.
Some other types of meditation you may want to look into is walking meditation, affirmation meditation, transcendental meditation, mindfulness, and many more. I like to shake up how I meditate each day because it constantly challenges me and keeps me from getting comfortable in my safety zone.

Start out small.
There is absolutely no need to start out meditating for an hour a day. You can reap benefits from just a small amount of time. I would stay start at 5-10 minutes daily and increase from there. Meditation is less about the amount of time and more about making it a habit and finding that place in yourself where you’re at peace so that you can continue to tap into that even when you aren’t meditating. I try to meditate in the morning and in the evening, but when I was first starting out I would just do it on my lunch breaks. You want to make meditation something you enjoy and not another chore on your to-do list.

Keep a journal.
It can be so hard to notice slight changes in yourself or see how your perspective has shifted. I highly suggested keeping a journal where you monitor your happiness, anxiety, depression, etc. with numbers. 0 being the lowest and 10 being the highest. You can choose whatever you want to monitor. I also write about how I’m feeling and I can see how meditation uplifts my mood and helps give me temperance, but for some quantitative date is easier than qualitative data.

Don’t judge yourself.
Some days you are going to slip right into that easy, meditative place and other days you’ll feel itchy in your skin and want nothing more than to just stop. Stick with it! You’re human and no one is perfect at anything at any given time. Allow yourself the ability to have bad meditation days and let them go. End your practice with telling yourself that you simply did a good job just by meditating today. Those days where you want nothing more than to get on with your day are just as important, if not more so, than the days where you are on point. Those are the days where you learn patience, focus and humility.

Find someone to keep you accountable.
This may work for some or may be torture for others. Find what works for you. If you’re someone who finds being held accountable makes you more likely to succeed then find a buddy who can check in with you once in a while on your meditation journey and see how you’re doing. You can also look for a class or group that is all about bringing together others who want to meditate. However, this may also make meditation feel like a chore to you which is not what we want. If you start getting that feeling than it is best to walk this journey on your own.

Figure out your best time.
When are you most likely to fit in meditation? When do you seem to get the best effects from it? For me I love meditating in the morning because it gets my day off to a good start and I love meditating in the evening because it helps my mind from being a monkey brain filled with my to-do list for the next day. Meditation is a very individual journey so don’t be afraid to change things up.

Challenge yourself.
Just like anything meditation can get boring or your practice can stagnant. Push yourself out of your comfort zone by meditating in a new spot or with more distractions around you. Try a new type of meditation or a new class.



Here’s a quick and basic meditation for your first try! 

Set a timer for 10 minutes and put it in the other room so it doesn’t startle you when it goes off. Find a quiet place where you won’t be bothered or distracted for 10 minutes. Take a cross-legged seat on a pillow and support your back if necessary. Take a deep and cleansing breath feeling your stomach expand as you sit taller.

Scan your body for tightness or tension starting at your feet and moving your way up to your head slowly. If you feel any tightness or tension take the time there just to breathe and relax that area. Keep moving your way up and make sure to drop your shoulders and let your jaw be slack.

Now just be still. Focus on your breath. Breathe in slowly and feel your abdominals expand with the air and as you breathe out really focus on your out breath as your abdominals sink back in and you let more and more of your tension sink out of you. Breathe in while visualizing yourself taking in a golden light of good and when you exhale see yourself letting go of all your tension and bad thoughts through black light pouring out of your mouth.

Your mind will wander, but just keep bringing it back to your breath. Don’t beat yourself up when your mind drifts. This is normal. Just focus your thoughts back on breathing in the good and exhaling out the bad.

When your alarm goes off slowly wiggle your toes and fingers and open your eyes slowly.

As you become more practiced with meditation you will have a sense of calm and slowness that will allow you to have better focus and better mental health. Both a win in my book! I encourage you to make meditation a part of your daily life and reap the benefits that I have. Science is backing me up!




Jen O’Neill is the author of Buddha Belly, a wellness and lifestyle blog focusing on her journey to wellness and looking stylish while doing it! Helping others learn to be their best selves is her greatest passion right after coffee and Buffy the Vampire Slayer. You can find her hiking with her boyfriend and Husky around the Chicagoland area, taking pretty pictures for her instagram or nerding out on the latest scientific studies in the wellness community.
Sunday, January 7, 2018

How to Make S.M.A.R.T. Goals and Keep Them!




The end of a year brings reflation on the days and months that have passed us by, it gives us a moment to contemplate on what type of person we were and how we treat those around us.

We can ponder and ask ourselves, how did we use all our time? Did we focus on areas that were important or meaningful to us? Did we take the opportunity to learn and grow from difficult moments and events that occurred this last year?
With this reflation comes the hope of a new year and of a new you!

The start of a new year means a new outlook, new opportunities, new lessons to learn, new growth within ourselves, new friends to make, new habits to create,  or to put it simply, it is a new beginning.

So one of the best ways to start this new chapter in the book of our life is to set some goals.

And as I know all too well, it is so easy to come up with goals for the New Year but it is much harder to keep them past February. 

So let’s work together and set in place the best plan to make our new goals and keep them all year long!

Step number one; we need to set some S.M.A.R.T. goals.



And I would also like to add, that whatever you pick, make sure you are truly motivated and excited about creating that new habit. Because there are going to be days that you will find it hard to keep your goal or there may be times when you revert back to your old habit, so you need to be motivated and inspired to pick yourself back up after those bad days and get back on track to completing what you set out to do!

If you haven’t heard of SMART goals, it is a way of setting a goal that is robust and motivating goals.

Now there are some variations of what SMART stands for, but basically, this is what it comes down to;

Specific

Measurable

Attainable

Relevant

Time Bound

Let’s break it down a little bit more so that we can increase the likely hood of completely our goals.

Specific

When choosing a goal this is no time to be vague, to set yourself up for success set clear and precise goals. An example would be instead of saying “I’m going to get in shape this year” you would say “I’m going to run a 10k  this year” Just by setting a precise and specific goal you are already one step closer to that new you in this new year!

Measurable

This is the step is where you make your action plan! You will break your goal down into exact amounts, dates, smaller goals and so on. By doing this, you will be able to stay of course in making your new habit, it also helps if you do steer off course a little you can very easily look at where you need to be and adjust your timeline.

Attainable

For me I think of this step as walking a tightrope, if you lean too much on the “too easy” side you will fall off and not really experience any true personal growth or learning. But if you lean too much on the “not realist” side again you will fall as you have just set up yourself for failure.
So you will need to do some personal self-reflection and be honest with yourself, are you challenging yourself but it is still reachable.

Relevant

Whatever goal you set it should be relevant to your life and what is important to you. If you keep your goal aligned with your dreams for the future you will be more motivated to keep at it and make the changes you need to complete your goal.

Time Bound

Goals must have a timeline otherwise they are just a wish that will fade away with the raising of the sun. By setting a timeline you will be able to see how far you have come and where you need to go. And you will be able to celebrate each milestone along your journey.

Setting SMART goals will give you a solid start to all you want to accomplish. 
But there are a few other things that you can do to make sure that you make your dreams a reality.


Tip #1 - Make goals that motivate you

You need to feel inspiration and excitement when you think of your goal and what it will mean to your life when you complete it. Because if your goal holds no value to you or you have little interest in the outcome, when it starts to become a struggle to keep true to the changes you are making in your life, you need to be able to remember that excitement you felt and get inspirited to keep on going!

Tip #2 – Tell Someone

Where it is just a few close friends or family or you share it with everyone and anyone, by telling someone will increase the likelihood that we will stick with it. They will help hold us accountable, and motivated to keep going!

Tip #3 – Identify the Obstacles 

There will be obstacles that you will need to overcome to reach your goal. Sit down, identify what they are and then make a plan to overcome them. Here is an example, if your goal is to run a 10k race this year, one obstacle that will most likely come up is the weather! On days you have planned to train it may raining,  too cold or maybe too hot depending on where you live. So what can you do overcome this? You will have to think about what is best in your life but you could run indoors on a treadmill, or maybe already have appropriate workout clothing for whatever weather you may experience. Maybe you will have to have a few backup workouts planned that may not be going for a run but will help strengthen your muscles. 

By identifying obstacles that may come up and make plans to overcome them you laying another strong stone in your solid foundation to self-improvement and just one step closer to reaching your goals.

Tip #4 - Don't be afraid of failure

We should not be afraid of failure as it is often an inevitable step on the journal to reach one's goal. To quote the great master Yoda "The greatest teacher, failure is." When we fail or have a setback we need to see it for what it really is, an opportunity to learn, to be wiser and begin again stronger and better than before.

Tip #5 - Use Mindfulness to support you reach your goals

When one practices mindfulness you are aware of your actions and how they affect your life instead of just living on autopilot.  This is a great way to help you reach your goals because as you become more aware of your action you will be able to recognize when you are moving closer to your goal or getting off track. As you are truly present you will be able to get the resources you will need to achieve your goals. Any other great thing about practicing mindfulness is that it will help you get over any negative feelings that you may feel is you do get off course. It is good to learn from one's mistakes but it is not good to wallow in those negative feelings. When one practices mindfulness, you learn to recognize those feelings and where they are coming from and why but then you move on, taking only the lessons you learned with you into the present moment.   

Tip #6 – Write it down

Just the simple act of writing your goal down makes it real and tangible. You are also less likely to forget it. When you are writing your goal down, be sure make sure to use strong and powerful language like “will” “commit” and “determine” instead of soft words like “I’ll try”, “I would like” or “might”. Once you have written them down place your goal in a visible spot so that you are reminded each and every day of what your goal is and how you are going to get there!

I have helped you with this last tip by creating some wonderful free printables where you can write down your goals and keep them somewhere as a daily reminder.

 Goal Printable

 Go HERE to get them! 


I would love to hear any tips or treats you use to help stick to your goals!