I can’t think of a more stressed person than a parent. And rightfully so, as parenting is inherently stressful. You’re responsible for another human being’s growth and development and overall wellbeing! Not to mention all the stuff that comes along with having a life of your own (I hear you snickering…..what life?).
What’s a stressed-out parent to do? Try mindful parenting.
What’s mindful parenting you ask?
Mindful parenting comes from the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being happy with the simple things in life. Being mindful encourages you to pay attention to what’s happening right now without judgment. It’s about focusing awareness on the present moment and all the feelings that come with it.
So how can this help with parenting? The mindfulness movement encourages the use of mindful techniques for parents on a day-to-day basis as they interact with their children. It slows down the speed of the day and supports connection with your child. Think the journey over the destination.
I encourage you to remember back to when your child was an infant. Remember feeding your child? Did it work when you rushed through feeding time? What about rushing through those milestones like crawling, walking, talking? Chances are you were a partner to your child, waiting curiously as she moved toward the next step. You were there to support and guide. Somewhere between then and now, the world sped up, didn’t it?
So how can a busy parent like you incorporate mindfulness into your daily parenting routine?
Commit to these 5 mindful techniques every day, and watch your stress (and your child’s) melt away.Mindful parenting comes from the concept of mindfulness. Mindfulness is the practice of being happy with the simple things in life. Being mindful encourages you to pay attention to what’s happening right now without judgment. Click To Tweet
It’s tempting to hand over the phone to keep your child occupied. The next time you’re waiting around with your child (doctor’s office, McDonald’s, the line at Target) don’t hand over the phone. Instead, help your child’s cognitive and social-emotional development by encouraging her to observe the world around her. Focus in on an object in your environment, and describe it to your child. Doing this is an excellent way to help your child focus and attuned to her environment. What does your child see? What does she hear? How does she feel? Spending just these few moments together can also help strengthen your relationship. You’re building micro-moments of quality time.
Strategy: Remember the game “I Spy” you used to play on a long road trip? Who knew it was an exercise in mindfulness?! A reminder if you forgot: The person describes something they see in their environment, while the second person has to guess what it is. For example, “I see a man carrying a large tray of plates. It’s a waiter!” Take turns with your child.
Monitor your reaction before you commit to an action
Mindful parenting’s take on discipline is first to observe your feelings before you discipline your child. Why? Because your feelings influence how you act, sometimes against your better judgment. The more you can identify and acknowledge your feelings, the more control you gain. Having control during those frustrating moments can make all the difference in the eyes of your child.
Strategy: Next time your child does something that makes your blood boil, do a scan of all the sensations in your body. Are your fists clenched? Hands on your hips? Heart racing? Lips pursed? Your body loves to talk, so it’s a good idea to listen. Spend a moment recognizing these sensations, breathe deeply for a minute…. and then talk to your child.
Incorporate relaxation into your parenting routine
Identify times of the day when you and your child are the most stressed. Is it the morning rush to get to school? Homework hour? Target these times with simple deep breathing and muscle relaxation exercises designed to calm your child and relax you. How? Breathing is one the best ways to tell your body “Everything’s going to be ok.” Learning to relax muscles can soothe frazzled nerves too. The best benefit comes when you partner up with your child and do it together.
Strategy: Try out these great breathing and muscle relaxation strategies.
Nowadays meal times are just a check mark on that day’s agenda. Mealtimes are rushed and chaotic, your youngest child is kicking your middle child, and your oldest child is just plain refusing to eat. Yikes! What if you could slow it all down and enjoy the mean? Mealtime is a place to refocus that energy and channel it into a positive experience that sets up the rest of the day or evening for success.
Strategy: Talk about the meal. Describe it. Have your child use all her senses to focus and engage her in the meal in front of her, rather than the distractions around her. Your child might find this silly, but she’ll soon get a kick out it, as will the whole family. What colors does your child see? What texture is the food? Does the smell stir up a thought or bring up any memories? Carry this conversation to wherever it naturally goes.
Spend a few minutes every day doing…nothing.
I know, I know, even merely suggesting this seems impossible. But believe it or not, doing nothing can help you refocus, reenergize, and more efficiently go on with the rest of your day.
It’s tempting to use your child’s nap time or school day for errands, chores, cooking, cleaning, etc. I won’t stop you, promise. But what if you carve out a little time that every parent needs but doesn’t get?
Strategy: Find a place to unwind that you can go to every day. It doesn’t have to be for long. 2-3 minutes. Wherever it is, make it your space. Maybe it’s the little nook by the kitchen, the top step of the staircase, or the front seat of your car under a shady tree. It really doesn’t matter as long as you can claim it as yours and it helps you to relax.
The Bottom Line
Parenting is inherently mindful; it’s just that sometimes you lose your mind parenting! At a minimum, if you can learn to ask yourself on a daily basis “what are my intentions today with my child” that will help guide your actions and keep you more grounded and at peace.
It’s not easy at first; be mindful that you are just starting out. Forgive yourself when you notice you’ve lost focus on your goals, or you’re rushing, or not being the parent you want to be to your child. Give yourself permission to try again. Your child will thank you for it.
Please comment below: How are you a mindful parent? What activities do you do to stay mindful aware and connected with your child?