Mindfulness and ‘being in the moment’ can really change the way that you feel about parenting. I know that is a big claim, it is based on my own experience so I hope that by sharing some of the ways I am being more mindful it may rub off on you too! Life is busy and parenting is demanding. It feels as though there are so many things that we need to consider before making every little and big decision as parents, does anyone else feel that pressure?
I suspect that a lot of it comes from the abundance of books and advice and experts available to us in this modern age of technology and accessibility. I actually feel a bit hypocritical writing that .. I am adding to this abundance! The difference is that I am not an expert, I am another parent who shares in the most genuine, supportive and non-judgemental way possible, and that is a little different to a lot of the ‘advice’ we are bombarded with as parents.
It is no secret that mindfulness has many benefits, if this is new to you, I find this post really helpful to learn a little more about the concept. In my experience, being mindful is about being focused on the present moment without going too far backwards or forwards in my thinking. It does take time to master this, with some commitment and practice it tends to become easier and more natural. I find that focusing on the breath, and the other sensations in my body and the things around me helps to bring my focus back to the present moment.
Being a more mindful parent is about bringing your attention to the moments, tuning out the noise and the distractions that come at us from every angle, and being more focused on your role and relationships as a parent. I have gathered some of the ways that I believe I am being a more mindful parent, I hope that you find some ideas here:
♡ Weekly mindful dinners
It has been tricky as a single parent to create a somewhat peaceful routine in the evening, I am juggling so many things on my own! I have also learned to put a lot less pressure on myself to create the ‘perfect’ routine. If there are a couple of nights a week when we eat our dinner on the daybed that is OK. If there are a couple of nights a week when my son eats his dinner in front of the TV while I am finishing up some work or doing something else that I need to get done, that is OK too. I have made a commitment to having at least 2 dinners a week at the table together, and we have a notebook we use to share our thoughts about the day and other themes such as what makes us happy, what makes us sad and how we can be more kind.
♡ Less activity
I find that having less scheduled activity creates the space for being more mindful and present together. It is difficult to be in the moment when you are rushing around from one activity and commitment to another. My son has not had any regular extra curricular commitments in his life yet, he started school this year and to me that is enough daily commitment for a 5 year old. I absolutely believe that activities like sport, music and other creative pursuits are really enriching for children, for us though at this time I am the one facilitating these types of things in a less structured way.
♡ Learn to say no
Following on from the theme of having less activity is the hugely powerful skill of learning to say no with confidence and grace. If you are invited to something that does not excite you or that you hesitate and question then it is worth thinking about why that is the case, and would it be best to say no. As your priorities in life develop and mature it becomes more important to make wise decisions about how you spend your precious time. Learning to say no creates the time and the space to spend more quality and mindful time with your children.
♡ Sitting in stillness
It is so valuable to be able to create the space for sitting with your children in stillness. It will depend on the age of your children as to how this might work, very young children are not so great with the stillness part! I have some ‘quiet’ spaces in our home that we often utilise for sitting in stillness. The ‘balcony sanctuary’ is set up with lots of chairs and spots for reading, and the daybed is perfect for sitting together listening to music or reading too. It is such a simple yet beautiful and mindful chance to connect deeply by sitting together quietly, even if only for 10 minutes.
♡ Drawing together
Recently I introduced my son to mandala drawing and colouring. He is such a little artist and this is a really lovely thing for us to do quietly and mindfully together. It could be any type of art for you, painting, sketching, taking photos, craft, scrap booking or anything creative that you enjoy.
♡ Charity projects
Mindful parenting can also be achieved through inspiring your children to look outside of themselves and their own lives. I believe that this is a hugely important and powerful way you can influence and educate them to make the world a more beautiful place. Starting school is the perfect time to bring this type of awareness into their lives and to create some mindful rituals around being charitable together. I support several charities financially as well as through volunteering my skills and time, my plan is to create a charity folder that my son and I review and add to regularly together, researching the charities that we want to support and deciding on the ways we want to do that.
♡ Getting out into nature
It is important to balance out all of the screen time with some fresh air and nature! There is nothing more powerful in bringing mindfulness into your parenting than a walk together on the beach or in the bush or anywhere immersed in nature. If you can do this for 30 minutes at least once a week with your children it will make such a difference in how peaceful and joyful you all feel.
♡ Meditation / “calm space”
I love this post by Gabby Bernstein about teaching meditation to children. My son has watched me meditate on many occasions and he actually started doing his own little ‘oms’ with his eyes closed and legs crossed over the past couple of years, which is super cute! He has pretty much learned about the concept organically and I find this is such a powerful way to lead by example because ‘your children will become who you are, so be who you want them to be.” I have introduced him to the concept of having his own imaginary ‘calm space’ too, and this is somewhere he takes himself to with closed eyes when he is feeling yucky in any way.
♡ Yoga and stretching
I start each day with some stretching on the living room floor, some days it is only a few minutes and other days it is longer. For as long as I can remember my son has joined me on the floor, as a toddler he was simply climbing all over me, now as a 5 year old he does his own little routines! It is a really lovely few minutes together, often it is filled with giggles and silliness rather than the perfect type of zen, and that is perfectly OK!
Do you feel that any of these ideas might help you to be a more mindful parent?