Are your children suffering from ants in their pants? Are they starting to get more fidgety or having difficulty staying focused? Do you think this is because they've been in school for 9 months and they know summer break is just around the corner?
We all remember those last few weeks of school as somewhat tortuous, knowing that soon you and your family were taking off to a vacation near or far. You were ready for some fun in the sun, hot dogs, cotton candy, and ice cream – and all of it was just around the corner!
What can you do to help your children (and even yourself, you hardworking adult you!) stay focused, yet get through the next month without going completely bonkers? Here is my top 5 list:
1. Make sure your kids are sleeping adequately nightly. The more rest they get, the better able they are to handle the stresses, irritability, and – gasp! boredom – they may be experiencing at school.
2. All those ants in the pants are a sign of “heat” in their system. Help their bodies cool off by feeding them foods that are energetically cooling: avocado, celery, fennel, pea, peppermint tea, cucumber, watermelon, apples, cabbage, watercress. Conversely, minimize foods high in artificial sweeteners and preservatives like sodas, junk food, sugary foods, juice, and processed foods as these additives also generate “heat” in the body. Same with caffeine. If your kiddos are drinking caffeinated sodas and drinks, cut back significantly. Instead, give them wholesome fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, lean meats and protein, broths made from bones, wild-caught fish, and plenty of water or coconut water to keep their system hydrated, cool, and flowing.
3. Minimize exposure to TV, computers, tablets, and smart phones, especially if it’s not homework related. Even though watching TV, playing video games and surfing the net are easy ways to let them pass their time, these activities expose kids to a lot of electromagnetic energy and create heat in their little bodies. If not expended, it builds up and causes more ants in their pants, irritability, low frustration tolerance, and sleep problems.
4. Get them out of the house to play outdoors. Now that the weather is warming up with longer daylight, take advantage of the great weather and let kids do what comes natural for them: play, and play outside in nature as much as possible. If you recall my two previous articles on Spring energy (here and here), right now is the time when exponential energy is being generated internally in children as they sprout in height. Not only do the last few weeks of school stress the child, but spring season is innately geared towards moving, growing, explosive energy. Help kids let off steam by interacting in the refreshing energy of nature – visit a park or pond, go to the beach, visit a forest preserve, etc.
5. Engage in mindfulness practices like meditation, yoga, tai chi, and journaling, or mindfulness activities like walking, washing dishes, or folding laundry. These activities help to refocus and settle the mind by focusing on slow, even breathing and repetitive motions that allow the mind to be in the present, yet wander off and reset.
Last but not least, if all else fails, it's OK to say:
 When we acupuncturists say energetically cooling foods, it does not mean foods that are cold to the touch. In Chinese Medicine Food Therapy, we break down foods to the energetic qualities they contain, from flavors to temperatures. Ginger is a “hot” food, whereas cucumber is a “cool” food. Black-eyed peas are considered energetically a "sweet" flavored food, whereas millet, for example, is considered an energetically a "salty" food. By combining different temperatures and flavors of food, we can address health conditions and prevent disease. To learn more about Chinese Medicine Food Therapy and Energetics, please refer to: Tao of Nutrition, by Maoshing Ni.