Are you lost for ideas for things to do in KL with your family on the weekends? Are you finding that activities often overstimulate your kids, leaving them feeling hyper instead of calm? Then how about trying some mindful activities with them this weekend; or approaching some common and easily accessible activities in a more mindful way?
They need not be expensive and can even be done each week as part of a routine. Teaching kids mindfulness skills empowers them to explore new sensations and can decrease anxiety and promote happiness, all whilst you have fun as a family. Here are my top 5 mindful things to do in KL for families:
1. Cycling at FRIM
Exercising and mindfulness go hand in hand, and if you haven’t already made a visit to FRIM (Forest Research Institute Malaysia) then there is no better time to do it. The 545-hectare National Heritage site sits adjacent to the Bukit Lagong Forest Reserve in Kepong. Whilst there are a number of activities available ranging from trekking to treasure hunts to camping, one of the top attractions has to be cycling.
With bicycles available for rent starting from a meager RM4, or RM32 for a tandem, it makes it a very affordable and fun activity for all the family. Child seats are attached to some bikes or you could bring along your children’s bikes or trikes and enjoy watching them ride on the quiet inner-jungle roads and paths. Entrance for citizens is just RM1 and RM5 for non-citizens. For more information please visit their website
2. A ‘noticing walk’ in TTDI Park
A simple activity but one which often gets forgotten about. I’ve mentioned TTDI park for it’s convenience in terms of location but also for its diversity. With a lake, a mini hike, nature (monkeys, fish, turtles) and children’s playground. However, the best part about this activity is that almost any park would do the same trick. Merely being out in nature is so relaxing and a great way to get you and the family out and about.
Why not try a ‘noticing walk’, as you walk around the park ask your children to take notice of the sounds around them and things that they see? For older children you could take clip-boards and paper and ask them to take note or draw what they see, why not even take a picnic and make a day of it. The best part is that this activity is absolutely free and yet so so rewarding.
3. Reading at the Playcentre Library in Petaling Jaya
How often do we think about giving our children a boost in terms of their literacy, and how much time do we actually find to do it? Research shows that shared reading experiences are highly beneficial for young people. A New York Times Meditation for Real Life article I recently read suggests that, in order to make reading a more mindful activity “as you turn the pages, notice the quality of light, the color and even the smell of the ink on the page, the way that the spine of your book feels against the palms of your hands”.
If you’re looking for a good venue to get away from it all and have some focused reading time, or just to borrow some new reading material, the Playcentre Library in Petaling Jaya is located in a quiet residential area in PJ. This quaint, cosy library is celebrating 40 years since being set up in the 1970’s by a group of volunteers and expatriates in KL. The Playcentre stocks an incredible selection of books, both fiction and non-fiction in English and Bahasa Malay and each book is wonderfully categorised by colour codes and covered in plastic, indicating how much they value their books.
Membership is just RM15/year which allows you to borrow up to two books at a time. The staff are extremely friendly and dedicated, and I’m sure if you asked they would happily read-a-loud a book or two with you and your children. A fabulously mindful Saturday afternoon activity! For more information please visit their Facebook Page and check this list for more libraries in KL.
4. Batik Painting at the Craft Complex
Don’t underestimate the power of the paintbrush to create a relaxing and calming mindful effect on both you and your children. At the Craft Complex there are a number of outdoor huts with batik artists ready to explain the process of batik painting and to lend a skilled-hand in the application of this traditional art.
Due to the nature of batik painting the wax outline makes it easy for beginners and also makes it suitable for children as young as 18 months old, you really can’t go wrong and each piece of art will surely be worthy of being hung on the wall. There’s an array of pre-drawn canvases to choose from to suit most tastes, with prices starting from RM10 upwards, you can even have your name and date written in wax to keep as a memory or to give as a gift. This unique activity is bound to take up at least an hour, if not longer and is highly addictive. However, one thing for sure is that you will leave feeling relaxed and artistically fulfilled. For directions and more information please visit their website.
5. Eating out at your local banana leaf
Last but not least, there’s nothing more mindful than sitting down and sharing a meal together. Away from the distractions and busy demands of everyday life, it creates a space for kids and families to be present not only with their food, but with each other as well. Of course this is not restricted to one type of restaurant nor the necessity to eat out, however the attraction for us with the banana leaf is that it is a very relaxed environment and one which allows us all to be present and enjoy the food together.
We are not concerned about the time it takes to eat, the noise around us, nor the mess that our own children might make. For us, the fact that our toddler can happily be entertained by trying to get through his own coconut (about 30% of his body weight) and the simplicity of eating rice from a leaf with his hands, makes it a big win every time. Children are welcomed by friendly staff and our focus can be on the foods we eat and time we share together. The importance here is not the location of your family meal but simply taking the time to sit down as a family and eating together; find the place that works best for you and enjoy the moment.