My kiddo and I have a living room that basically looks like a gym. We’ve got our mini trampoline in one corner, an inflatable punching toy in another, and a huge crash pad for jumping from the couch to the ground and back again.
While it might look a little surprising to guests when they first walk on, this sensory space is crucial for both of us. My son just can’t be cooped up inside; he’s far too active for it. He has to jump around, get his jiggles out, and feel the impact of his body against firm surfaces.
To this end, we have several rituals we go through (on a daily basis when I’m really good) to keep him integrated and regulated in his own body.
1. The Inside Obstacle Course
Creating an obstacle course inside the house is a lot of fun for both of us. I get to be creative and play coach while my son gets to “win” races with himself–he loves winning.
I’ll set up something like the following;
- jump from couch to cushion on floor
- jump from cushion onto soft chair
- jump from chair and roll-land on crash pad
- 10 jumps on crash pad
- grab full laundry basket, carry it down the hall
- army crawl back down the hall and repeat
A couple of rounds of this and my kiddo is beat. It helps him to get not only the exercise he needs, but to do the heavy work that helps him regulate his senses.
2. Making A Burrito
My kiddo really enjoys pressure, so I often roll him up into a “burrito” with our blanket and do a bit of joint compression and massage. He insists on keeping his arms out, because while he enjoys pressure he hates being restrained.
I start by rolling him up, then “tenderizing the meat” with gentle, firm fists. Next, I “chop the lettuce” with a karate chop massage up and down his body. Next comes “mixing in the lettuce”, in which I use my whole hand to grab and squeeze as if I’m kneading dough. Finally, I “sprinkle on the cheese” with little fingertip tickles.
We usually have a blast doing this, plus he is getting a lot of different types of pressure and stimulation. We also add variations, like shrimp tacos or extra sour cream and salsa; whatever the moment calls for.
I add in the joint compression at the end by gently pressing in his wrists and ankles.
3. Suit Monster
My son and I love to play a game called “suit monster”. This game involves us taking turns chasing each other around using our sensory sock.
We run back and forth playing tag or hide and seek, and usually we end up in the sock together and rolling around on the floor. The resistance of the sock gives him some proprioceptive input. By the end of it, we’re usually both sweaty.
4. Acro Yoga
This one is getting harder as my kiddo gets older, but it’s still lots of fun to whip out our acro moves. It builds a sense of trust between us, gets me a legit workout, and helps my son understand how to use his core and balance his body better.
We typically learn our moves from videos on YouTube, and you can also make up your own.
These activities go a long way toward getting my little guy the action and stimulation he needs to self-regulate. He’s often calmer, less reactive, and more cooperative after one of these sessions.
Try them out and share how it goes, or share your favorite sensory diet activities in the comments.