Mindfulness is being aware of the present moment, without judgement. When it comes to parenting, being mindful is means to be fully present for your children and accept them for who they are. Why wouldn’t any parent want to be mindful?
But it’s not as easy as it seems. Our minds are constantly busy with financial worries, the task on our to-do list and encounters we had last week that didn’t quite go as expected. Have you ever reacted to your child’s seemingly innocent request with unkind words? Or listened to them talk just to realise, when your child asked you a question, that you had no idea what the conversation was about? Here are a few tips on how to turn this around and bring more mindfulness into your parenting:
Get more sleep
Most of us are not getting nearly enough sleep and this is affecting our ability to enjoy the present moment. If just keeping your eyes open is a mighty effort, then it’s nearly impossible to give your attentions to anything or anyone else. When you haven’t had enough rest, you’re much more likely to make mistakes, rush or snap at your children.
Allow more time
We often allow our schedules to run our time and being late is a trigger for many of us. Children, on the other hand, have the natural ability to be mindful and curious about the world around them. If we make it a habit of leaving a few minutes earlier for school and appointments, we can allow our children to be children while at the same time avoiding the unnecessary stress of running late.
Practice keeping your work separate
This is particularly true for those of us who work from home, or bring our work home from the office. It helps to have separate time scheduled for work, when your kids are looked after by someone else. When you know that you will get time to do your work (as opposed to trying to squeeze in some work everywhere you can), your mind can relax and stay present when you’re not working.
Leave your phone behind
Do you reach for your phone as soon as you feel bored or worried? It’s so easy to let this habit get out of hand. You think you’ll be on the phone for a moment and next thing you know, it’s been half an hour and your children are not even in sight any more. Practice leaving your phone behind (or at least putting limits on how often you look at it) when you’re spending time with your kids.
Be gentle with yourself
The chances are, you’re not going to get mindfulness perfectly worked out, ever. Just as you’re trying to be there for your children without judgement, do the same for yourself. When you find yourself reacting in an angry way or thinking of your next vacation while playing hide-and-seek, just notice and come back to the present moment.
Mindful parenting is an amazing gift we can give to our children, who crave to be seen and accepted just the way they are. But, as you can see, being able to parent mindfully is not about your children. It’s about you. It’s about creating space, love and acceptance for yourself before you can give it to others.
Image by Vera Kratochvil via PublicDomainPictures.net
By Tatiana Apostolova