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Feng shui, meaning wind and water is the ancient Chinese philosophy, which is used for designing a home for the success of its occupants. It has evolved in northern China since as early as 4000 BC. At the core of feng shui is the quest for balance between yin and yang, where all things are either one or the other. For example, being relaxed is yin, but being alert is yang. This concept is applied to home furnishings, where fabrics are the most yin, but glass is the most yang, and wood falls in the middle of the spectrum. All things possess the chi energy, which is broken down into five core elements - tree, fire, soil, metal and water. Each element influences how the energy moves around your home. Each element has direction, color, shape and a material associated with it. For example a tree is associated with east, green, tall and wood, while the water is north, black, curved or wavy and glass, respectively. As a result the shapes, colors and materials in your home decor can be manipulated to influence the chi energy of the place - to make it more relaxed and cosy, or more vibrant and energizing.

As a parent you can utilize feng shui principles to make the chi energy in your children's rooms support their growth and development, and improve the conditions for a restful sleep. The more natural the materials the more relaxed they will feel, and have better sleep and behavior. Avoid artificial materials, which give off subtle fumes and build up a charge of static electricity. Replace furniture made with MDF (medium-density fibreboard) or veneered wood with solid wood. Choose pure cotton or linen over synthetic fabrics. Reduce the EMF (electromagnetic field) by storing electrical toys outside the bedroom. Reroute the wires away from children's beds. Do not put the computer and the TV in the bedroom.

The challenge is to create a playful atmosphere during the day and a relaxing one at night. Ideally the bedroom should be used only for sleeping and relaxing. The playroom should be free of clutter and have an open space for the chi energy to flow more freely and encourage play. Murals and wall decorations encourage imagination. If you don't have the luxury to separate the playroom and the bedroom, make sure the toys are put away at night. Use shelving to provide accessible and functional storage. Use boxes and baskets for little pieces. A good idea is to use a cotton sheet to put the pieces on for play, and when done the child can fold the sheet and put all the pieces away at once. Encourage your children to play with one toy at a time. Put rarely used items in a cellar or a garage. Regularly give toys away to charity. Add healthy plants with floppy leaves near the bed to promote relaxation. Use full length curtains and soft lighting to subdue the flow of chi energy at night. Store books near the bed to help your child settle down, and ease into the night with a quiet story time. The bed should be placed so that the head points in the easterly direction, but away from the window to feel more settled. East carries the energy of growth and is the strongest in the morning, helping your child 'wake up' with the sun and feel more energized.


Suggested reading: 'Feng Shui in a Weekend' by Simon Brown

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