On the walk home from school, however, I realized we had "gorgeous" weather by November standards and I insisted we stay outside for a while. I half-heartedly asked the kids to help me with raking the leaves and, to my surprise, they were all for it. Of course, it didn't hurt to bribe them with the prospect of large piles they could jump in afterward, which my five year-old took full advantage of.
But I was most impressed with the leaf-raking stamina of my seven year-old. He really had little to no interest in jumping in leaf piles but, rather, raking the leaves! As I watched him, I thought "This is just the kind of mindful work that is especially good for active kids after a long day of sitting in a classroom and following the rules."
Educators and occupational therapists often refer to this kind of work as "heavy work" because it is supposed to keep the kids preoccupied and busy while tiring them out all in one shot. It can also help to center them and calm them, because it is one simple task that they can direct all their energy to easily.
And it worked! My seven year-old was the most focused and organized I've seen him with his homework all year after we came in from raking leaves and had a snack!
What kind of mindful work can you and your family do to unwind at the end of the day?