In today’s fast paced society, we almost exist on autopilot. The days can disappear within a
blink, and often we are bogged down with external stresses, anxieties and worries which cloud and detrimentally impact our time with our families, and most importantly, our children.
Mindful parenting uses the core teachings of mindfulness practice to enable us to pause, slow down, and assess. It nurtures our presence, encouraging us to be hyper aware of separating our external days from our family life. It teaches us to address things we may feel we have had no time for, and enhances our kindness and compassion.
If you are new to the art of mindful parenting, or mindfulness, here are five easy tips to help you transition this parenting philosophy into your day to day parenting.
1. Be in the moment every day.
In the retrospective scope of things, our lives exist solely in moments. Each one of our memories is a moment we’ve captured because of the range of emotions we were experiencing within it, and because we were present within experiencing those feelings.
Mindful parenting encourages us to nurture this awareness of being present and teaches us that one of the most priceless gifts we can give our children is our full presence and attention. In a world full of distractions, anxieties and stresses, mindful parenting teaches us to turn our phones off, to close our computers, to shut the door behind us, and to enjoy just being in the family home, connecting with our children.
If the art of mindfulness practice is completely new to you, start by establishing a daily routine. One of the best ways to do this is to simply meditate. Whether you have five minutes to yourself, or thirty five, sit in a quiet area with your eyes closed and make your primary focus your breathing. As and when your mind wanders, be aware of these thoughts, feelings or distractions, concentrate, and then bring your focus back to your breathing. This helps you “let go”, and maintains the connection between mind and body.
Eventually, this practice will seep into your daily routine and you will find you are able to let go of
distractions to give more of your time and presence to your children.
2. Be mindful of your stress.
Mindfulness practice can also help in one of the most important areas of all: Our stress. When we find ourselves in the middle of conflict, or facing a challenging, or difficult scenario, it can be easy to be overwhelmed by negative emotions which quickly spiral out of control. This makes us lose sight of ourselves and our reactions, inflicting damage on our relationships.
Mindful Parenting provides a solution for this issue by using that self-awareness. By pausing, and looking inward, we can regulate our emotions and triggers. By being mindful of what is causing our reactions, and why we are feeling this way we are able to stop, assess, and from within that moment, use our knowledge to react differently, from a place of better, and calmer understanding.
3. Appreciate what is, not what isn’t.
In today’s vastly digital society, it can be easy to draw comparisons against someone, or a family, you perceive to be acting or parenting, better than you. Such comparisons are detrimental and only create unfair expectations that will never be able to be reached or achieved. These expectations damage every moment you spend with your family, as they taint them with a false paradigm.
In mindful parenting, we revert back to this concept of letting go. Detrimental comparisons and negative expectations, or “what if’s” must be let go. Instead, focus on what is directly in front of you. Your family.
Embrace your child’s uniqueness, from their likes and dislikes, to their talents and hobbies. Their individuality is irreplaceable as nobody is the same! Be present in enjoying what makes you and your family unique, and let yourself fully embrace that which makes us
4. Be aware of boundaries.
In parenting, boundaries do not just extend to a form of discipline and regulation. Instead, there are other boundaries that allow our children to embrace themselves, and to not be burdened by the weight of unfulfilled dreams or desires of their parents.
A significant portion of being self-aware is to look inside us as parents and to be aware of our unmet desires and unfulfilled dreams. A real life example of this self-awareness failing to be comprehended, understood and then released is that of a child who has been led into a career path by their parents, because their parents feel they can live vicariously through their child.
This is unfair.
What makes a mindful parent is understanding, seeing, loving and valuing our children for the people they are. This must begin with us working to abandon any paradigms, wishes or expectations that could be unfairly, and detrimentally, projected into their personalities.
5. Cultivate Compassion
Within mindful parenting, compassion is a key component that is encouraged to extend to all scenarios and situations. Due to the external stresses of daily life, it can be all too easy to selfishly prioritize whose complaints, needs and wants are greater than others, but this outlook fails in empathy.
Whether our children have what we perceive to be a whimsical issue compared to a scenario we may have faced in our day, we must be compassionate of their viewpoint and emotions regarding the situation and seek to respond from a place of empathy and presence.
This cultivates a more loving, understanding discourse and works to heighten our connection and communication between all family members. Our children learn from our practice, and therefore this kindness can reach into their interactions with peers, colleagues and the world around them, only making them better, wholler people.
By incorporating these five tips into your parenting practice, you will naturally increase your self-awareness, allowing you to enjoy being present and to feel more responsive and connected to the needs of your child, as well as the family.