As parents, how much time have we spent obsessing over sunscreen re-application, paid double for the organic grapes, or attempted veggie-concealing recipes? (I’m right there with you!) And, while each one of these is important, even we sunscreen-lathering, organic fruit-eating, veggie-hiding moms agree that there is much more that goes into creating healthy children.
Dr. Daniel Siegel of UCLA developed the Healthy Mind Platter, a depiction of optimal living during today’s “epidemic of overwhelm.” It’s no secret that our mental well being is at risk in a culture of fast-paced multi-tasking and information overload, preventing us from experiencing and appreciating life fully and in-the-moment; and our children, like us, pay the price.
The items on this “platter” include essentials of wellness that create deeper connections with others, better self-regulation, greater peace and overall happiness. Dr. Siegel points out that balance, the key ingredient for emotional well being, is not encouraged in our 21st century society: not in our schools, our workplaces or even in our homes. Our children return after a full day of school and, rather than having time to communicate and reflect, they are thrust into hours of additional schoolwork, only to start the draining cycle over the next day. In our professional lives, we are seldom encouraged to “leave work at work,” so we can fully connect with our families and return recharged the next day. Even at home, how often do we prioritize our mental well being, and walk away from the chores to go for a stroll beneath the stars?
There is no single prescription for emotional health; each individual needs something different, and these needs evolve. The key is to find a balanced, holistic approach to daily living.
So as we spray on the sunscreen, pack the organic lunch and shred the zucchini into microscopic bits, let’s be sure we are also sending them to the schools that support holistic growth, that we are creating sacred time for connection, and that we model for our children the importance of living a life of balance, focus and reflection.
Tammy Keces M.A. is the principle of Irvine Hebrew Day School and a Lead Certified Positive Discipline Trainer.