In my curriculum this month, we are focusing on creating a warm environment for our families and the children in our care. Warmth is important both physically and emotionally for every human being. As caregivers, we work hard to provide a loving and nurturing environment for the children in our care. We must work just as hard to create an environment and practice that gives our own soul the warmth it desires.
Physical Warmth – Warming the Body
Keeping our body temperature comfortable reduces stress and promotes good health. We must be especially mindful of keeping young children warm and dressed properly. Layers of clothing that can be easily added or removed are the best choice for both children and adults. When choosing clothing, try to choose natural fibers whenever possible. Cotton, wool and silk materials allow the skin to breathe and feel softer on the skin than synthetics. In the winter months, wearing long underwear helps children to move freely while retaining their body heat. Suggest that each member in your household has a special pair of indoor shoes or slippers that they wear during the day.
Human beings need whole, organic, nourishing foods to promote optimal health. In the colder months, warm soups and breads can be served. Make tea time a daily event by serving the children and yourself herbal or decaffeinated tea in the afternoon after time spent outdoors. We have created seasonal childcare menus to help you serve the children warming meals each day. Visit our website http://www.littleacornlearning.com for more details.
Bedding and Cozy Places
Wool blankets, sheepskin rugs, natural bedding, oversized pillows and comforters are just some of the ways that you can create a cozy bedtime place for each child and adult in your home. If you have a woodstove or fireplace, take the time to wake up early to start a fire. This time can be your time to relax, meditate and enjoy a warm cup of tea or coffee before the rest of the household wakes up. If you are using our childcare program, you can use this time to do your caregiver meditation each day.
Look at the colors that surround you. The color on your walls, clothing, and other belongings all contribute to your mood. Are they warm and inviting? Deep reds, oranges and yellows work well to create a warm feeling when the temperature is cold. Cool colors create a calming effect. Blues, greens, light colors and neutrals are great when the weather is very warm.
What type of lighting do you think of when you think of a warm environment? Beeswax candles create a beautiful flame, are safe and smell wonderful. The sight of a natural fire instinctively warms us with its beauty. Is there natural light flowing through uncovered windows, sunbeams hitting the walls and mirrors and pretty sun catchers to admire? These are all the simple pleasures that create beauty in our homes.
Living, breathing things need to be surrounded by nature to feel whole. It is important to make sure that we are surrounded by green plants, fresh flowers, animals and other living things. It is also important to bundle up and take the time to go outside to appreciate nature in all types of weather. Let the sun hit your face each day and breathe in the fresh air.
To allow space for warmth in our environment we must create an uncluttered home filled with the things we love. Sound impossible? Do your child’s playthings engage healthy imaginary play? Are there too many of them? Are you displaying the good books, collectibles, crafts and cookbooks that bring you so much joy? Keep what you love and get rid of the rest.
Emotional Warmth – Warming the Senses
If you were to tape record a day in your home and play it back what would you hear? Loud noises, negative talk, background music or television create a stressful environment. How can you ensure that the words and sounds in your home are filled with love and warmth?
Sharing special verses, poems and fingerplays throughout the day not only creates a predictable rhythm that children can depend on but also helps create a peaceful home. When you must redirect a child, choose your words wisely… be firm but come from a place of love and warmth. Singing or humming, playing instruments, children laughing, kind words and other happy sounds are what a warm home should be filled with.
What images surround you and the children throughout the day? Real work, cooking, baking, painting, hiking, playing, cleaning and other hands-on activities will nourish your soul. How much time is spent in front of computers, televisions, video games or other ‘screens’? The flashing images, content and lack of physical interaction drain our bodies and souls and take up our precious time.
Look back on your day each evening as you would a movie reel played backward. What do you see? Which parts need adjusting, deleting or repeating? When a child watches their caregiver tend to the day with love and reverence it creates warmth and security deep within their innermost self.
Research shows that physical touch is absolutely essential for the healthy emotional and physical development of children and the ongoing health and well-being of adults. “We have established a solid foundation of results, including the understanding that touch triggers physiological changes that help infants and children develop,” said Dr. Tiffany Field, Professor of Pediatrics, Psychology and Psychiatry, University of Miami School of Medicine and Director, Touch Research Institutes.
Gentle head rubs, hugs, foot massages, soft places, natural fabrics and fibers, kneading dough, splashing water, applying lotion, warm clothing are only a few of the ways we can find warmth in touch.
Scented bubble baths, natural incense, foot massages, lavender spray, herbal drinks, beeswax, fresh bread baking, home cooked meals and wood burning. What are some other smells that come to mind when you think of the word ‘warm’? In the morning you can light a special candle or incense to create a peaceful feeling.
When my children feel sad or stressed in any way, we often return to peace by spraying a small amount of lavender spray or using our herbal eye pillows. A simple way to bring in a natural scent and add beauty to your table is to fill a special vase with fresh flowers each day.
When we put the time and energy into making our home a place that warms us both physically and spiritually, we benefit by both the process and the result of our work. Spend time this week meditating on how you can create a warm environment for yourself, your family and those you invite into your home.
Eileen Foley is a work-at-home mother to four daughters and three stepchildren. She writes and publishes early childhood, childcare and homeschooling curriculum for parents and caregivers of children at http://www.littleacornlearning.com/ and has many ideas and activities for parents on the Little Acorn Learning Blog.
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