“Can we make room in ourselves to love them as they are without having them have to change to please us?” Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn in "Everyday Blessings"
Mindful parenting is too good to be true. Implementing mindfulness in our parenting help us become:
- More aware of our feelings and thoughts
- More aware of and responsive to our child’s needs, thoughts, and feelings
- Better at regulating our emotions
- Less critical of ourselves and our children
- Better at avoiding impulsive reactions
- Better at our relationship with our children
There are some amazing mindful parenting books out there, and in them, a vast amount of high-quality parenting knowledge.
BUT most of us lack the time, tolerance, and specific methods to turn that knowledge into practice in our day-to-day experiences.
In this article, we'll go through the easiest ways to implement mindful parenting in our daily lives.
If you find yourself saying things like, "I lose my patience and ability to get through the day when I'm with my children," you will find some practical advice on how to overcome these.
1. Sit with your thoughts for 5 minutes every day. Meditation does not have to be a hassle. You don't need a meditation app, a set of headphones, or the perfect timing. Use your phone's timer. Take 5 minutes to sit down quietly. Follow your breath while counting from 1 to 10. Notice any thoughts that come up. Get back to counting. Notice any thoughts that come up. Repeat.
2. Stop multitasking. In parenting, we have so many to-dos that we often feel the urge to fit too many things together in unrealistic ways. Instead, decrease your expectations on what needs to be done. Try to find the absolute essentials. Simplify your daily activities accordingly. Focus on doing one thing at a time.
3. Slow down. Life with children can be hectic, but controversially it can also be very slow. Children have a different time perception than us. They truly live in the present moment. When we are in a hurry to get somewhere, they can stop to watch an ant for minutes. Take actions to slow down your life. Leave buffer times in between activities.
4. Have a few no-phone hours every day. Little peeks into our phones detach us from boredom and stress BUT they also detach us from the beauties of the present moment. Keep mobile devices out of reach when you are spending one-on-one time with your children every day for a few hours.
5. Explore your boredom. Next time you feel bored while playing with your child, try to explore your boredom. Boredom can become a surprisingly interesting experience when you explore it with curiosity. Where in your body do you feel the boredom? What does it feel like?
6. Go out to nature. Taking a walk outside becomes your daily meditation if you do it with awareness. When you are out in nature with your children, what thoughts and feelings detach you from being present? Are clothes getting dirty? Are fingernails being filled with sand? Try to let go of these worries that belong to the future.
7. Find your triggers. Our kids do and say things that push our buttons with no intention. In these moments, we feel strong sensations turning into frustration. Find your deepest triggers by asking yourself "why" at least five times in a row. An example: when my 1-year-old throws food, I feel like my hard work is being taken granted for. My kid is just being a kid, exploring the world and testing boundaries. How I perceive this has to do with my triggers and I can change it by working on myself.
8. Learn to pause before reacting. When we get strong emotions, our brains enter a reactive state, disillusioning us from reality. In those moments, our sense-making brain routes are blocked. One way to unblock them is by pausing and breathing. Pausing and breathing bring us to the present moment by resetting our brain. Only after that, we can come up with rational responses.
9. Watch your child with curiosity. Even when she is having a tantrum, can you be curious about your child rather than wanting to change her? Next time you spend time with your child, try to explore her with curiosity. What does she look like? How does she smell? How does she respond to the sounds? This exercise is called child as a raisin in mindful parenting.
10. Accept imperfections. Most of us are overburdened by the responsibilities of parenting. We try to make everything right. But life with children is far from being predictable. Mess, tears, and screams are all normal outcomes of raising a tiny human being. As far as your children are safe, let go of the things you cannot control. Embrace the imperfect.