Adding Mental Health Check-ins to Morning Time
Like moms across the country, I’m balancing kids, work, everything. Honestly, I really like it. I block out a section of my morning for schooling then head to the office my husband build in our backyard to I can log in and see clients. I had a break in clients this afternoon so I went back in the house for poetry tea time then grabbed my dog and went back to the office while the kids went off on outdoor adventures. It’s a good kind of chaos most days.
This year, we’re doing a new curriculum called A Gentle Feast that I’ve been swooning over since last spring. It’s Charlotte Mason inspired so we start our school day with morning time: a slow, connecting ritual of read alouds, art and recitations. And, because my kids have a therapist for a mom, they get a quick mental health check-in too.
Here’s how it works in our family. Each child has a morning time menu. These are actual menus like you would find in a restaurant that I grabbed off Amazon. They have our readings, the songs they’re learning, and the poems they are practicing reciting. For our first six weeks, I’ve added an emoji emotion sheet. Each morning, we go around the table and everyone picks an emoji that describes how they are feeling in that moment. They share that emotion and, if they are able, how that emotion feels in their body. I make sure not to ask why they are feeling that way or to try to change the feeling. Right now, we are simply working on noticing what we’re feeling. The process typically takes 2-3 minutes total and then we move on to whatever chapter book we’re reading through together (currently the Penderwicks.)
Taking just a few moments in the morning encourages everyone to get in the practice of checking in with themselves. Plus it teaches the whole family that we can have, and handle, all the emotions on the spectrum. As humans, we’re allowed to be excited or cranky or whatever else the day brings on. There’s also some amazing research showing that when we name our emotions, we’re better able to process them. That’s because putting words to a feeling gets more sections of your brain involved. Just choosing an emoji each morning, is helping my kids manage daily emotions and is teaching them to handle hard things down the road.
My current plan is to continue with the emojis for the first six weeks then switch to working on a ew simple coping skill, like deep breathing or visualization, each six weeks. One of the great things about homeschooling is the ability to tailor what we teach to what our kids need so I’ll make sure to choose mental health exercises that fit for them.
You can download your copy of the emoji emotions sheet I found below. Let me know how it works for you or how you choose to add a mental health focus to your morning times.
[aesop_document type=”pdf” src=”https://1000hillscounseling.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/08/emoji-emotion-chart.pdf” title=”Emoji Emotion Chart” caption=”download and print a copy for each family member at morning time” download=”on”]
Just FYI, this is a blog post, not therapy so please don’t take it as medical or mental health advice. If you’re a parent interested in individual or couples counseling, I would be happy to offer you a free consult to see how I can help. You can schedule one here.