It goes without saying that parenting is a tough gig. Of course it can be joyful, satisfying and one of the best things you can do. But it’s also lots of hard work, dedication and effort.
There are pressures from family, friends, colleagues, teachers and other parents to make sure everyone is raising their children the “right way” and whilst there is obviously no one way to parent a child (how boring would that be?!), there is something to be said about mindful parenting.
Mindfulness is the capacity to be fully present with one’s actual moment-to-moment experience with kind attention, so basically, it’s nothing new but it’s all about being present in the moment and being a mindful parent extends to being present with your little ones.
It's easy to fall into a trap where everyone is running on autopilot trying to get through the days, and not actually paying attention .... always just thinking about the next thing that needs to be done. The saying “the days are long but the years are short” rings true so it’s with this in mind that being a mindful parent is more paramount than ever.
One thing that we always refer back to is that when a child tells you something, it could mean the littlest thing to you but it’s the biggest thing to them. With that in mind, there are few things that experts recommned we do to ensure being a fully present and mindful parent:
MAKE TIME TO BE PRESENT
This may sound a bit ridiculous but with most of us living such busy schedules, factoring time in to just “be” with children is incredibly important. We've had many parents share with us that they literally block out time in their diaries as non-negotiables, regardless of what might come up. Even spending just half an hour every afternoon or evening doing art and craft together or playing outside can have a tremendous impact.
TURN OFF YOUR PHONE
Whenever possible put your phone onto airplane mode to ensure that your attention is solely on them. Sounds a little drastic, but the experts suggest you think of it like this: imagine if you went on a date with someone and they spent the whole time on their phone? It’s the same thing. (eeeek. Point made!)
Easier said than done, right? What the professioinals mean though is that kids pick up on your mood so if you’re feeling stressed and anxious, they will feel that too. Of course almost no one can be stress free (if you are, please tell us your ways!), but they say it’s important to stress less around children.
We recently heard a parent say that every evening when they pull into the garage at home, they stop for a minute and think exactly about what kind of energy they will be giving out to their family when they walk in the door. And even if they've had the worst day, they will choose to leave it all in the garage and walk in the door energised with a positive spirit. And that over the years they saw more and more the impact this would have on the kids. We loved this story so much, we've adopted it in our own lives too.
Do you have any tips for mindful parenting? Or any activities that you love doing with your little ones that creates a sense of calm? Please let us know in the comments!