Keeping Kids Happy and Healthy During Vata Season
I hardly have to look outside to know Vata season – with it’s dry, airy, cool and rough qualities – has returned to bless us with its signature blazing burst of red, orange and gold as we let go of the summer heat and make our way into the chilly grip of late Autumn. Kids’ chapped lips, stuffy noses and short tempers (seemingly as short as the dwindling hours of sunshine) mark Vata season as the time you need to double down on keeping their doshas balanced to fend off all the seasonal viruses and the mental stress of being back in school.
Kids are the ambassadors of Ayruveda. They live the science of life without being aware of their proximity to nature, except, perhaps, while they complain as you scrape the earth from beneath their fingernails each night. Their fluid connection to nature’s cycles is one of the joys of childhood. And luckily we can help you become equipped with the knowledge of Ayurveda to keep them healthy enough to continue enjoying this time.
Vata Season and Your Kids
If your kids are anything like most, it’s a struggle to keep a jacket on them, no matter how cold you feel looking at them playing outside through the window of your warm house! Kids seem to value parents’ endless advice more when they understand why things are important.
Tell them Ayruveda is like walking on the balance beam when the floor is lava. If they go too far to one side, they lose their balance and they’re out of the game, at least till the next round. Wearing a jacket during Vata season is like that. When it’s cold outside, we balance the temperature by wearing a jacket.
Kids are more likely to ignore things like their frozen hands, their sniffles and their grumpy exhaustion. It’s important for you to take extra care during Vata season to ensure you counteract the dryness with moisture, the cold with warmth, and the shorter days with extra sleep.
Vata Season Diet for Kids
When I was a kid I knew my warm days had come to an end when I’d walk into grandma’s house and smell her potato and cabbage soup simmering in her kitchen. Hopefully your kids will have the same happy memories of welcoming this time with a moist, warm, rejuvenating bowl of root vegetable soup to balance the dry, rough, cool current of Vata season. Also, try the following:
- Start the day with a warm glass of water to rehydrate the organs and get the digestive fire, or agni, energized.
- Aim to serve food as fresh as possible.
- Breakfast should be heavy to balance Vata’s lightness. Oatmeal with a warming spice like cinnamon is a great option. Or how about Sweet Rice Porrige? Mmmm.
- Cooked food is more balancing during this time. Using seasonal foods like root vegetables, kale and cauliflower packs even more benefits.
- Make good quality herbal tea that contains herbs like holy basil or turmeric to reduce inflammation. However, always check with your doctor beforehand.
- Snack ideas include avocados, nuts, seeds, cooked apples and stewed fruits.
- Focus on all the possibilities, rather than any restrictions.
Importance of Sleep for Kids
My own mom often joked she never loved her kids more than when they were sleeping. But the peace you enjoy during their slumber is a vital commodity in an age when the overstimulation of television and iPads can too easily override nature’s call to rest.
Insomnia caused by anxiousness and restlessness is a sure sign of Vata imbalance. But again nature cues us to steady ourselves by matching our circadian rhythm to the hours of daylight. This can be next to impossible to implement without slowly easing yourself and your kids into a supportive routine.
Vata Season Routine
When Vata season demonstrates its rough unpredictability, you offer your children the dependable comfort of a stable routine. Children thrive on knowing what’s going to come next. For example, try the following:
- Wake up and go to bed at the same time every day.
- Get the blood moving in the morning with light exercise like a few yoga poses.
- Get sunshine for a few minutes before 10 a.m.
- Wind down from the stimulus of a fast-paced life by turning the TV off early, practicing massage therapy using warmed sesame oils and doing meditation together.
- Utilize chromotherapy by following Mother Nature’s lead and dress your kids in warm burnt oranges, reds, yellows and gold.
- Leave the Metallica to the neighbors and fill your home with soothing, uplifting music like Gandharva Veda music, also known as music therapy.
- Diffuse calming essential oils like lavender throughout the day in your home.
Making it Happen
Whether you’re new to Ayurveda, or you are a veteran, the wealth of knowledge seems inexhaustible. It’s important not to get overwhelmed. Choose a few things that appeal to you and your kids and start there. As Julie Andrews suggested in The Sound of Music, “Let’s start at the very beginning, it’s the very best place to start.”
Knowing your child’s specific dosha is the first step to implementing these Ayurvedic principles, as the principal dosha increases during the season it governs. Discover their Dosha by taking our short dosha quiz.
Of course, it never hurts to treat you and your kids to the Vata-specific lollipop Goodness Grapecious when the anxiety of this Vata season creeps up on even the calmest of parents!