“Can we make room in ourselves to love them as they are without having them have to change to please us?” Jon Kabat-Zinn in "Everyday Blessings"
Mindful parenting is almost too good to be true. Implementing mindfulness in our parenting can 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 with our children.
In this article, I will talk about the best ways to help us start implementing mindful parenting in our daily lives.
If you find yourself saying, "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 challenges.
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. You can use your phone's timer. Take 5 minutes to sit down quietly. Follow your breath while counting to ten. Notice any thoughts that come up. Let them go. 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 and 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. Keep mobile devices out of reach when you are spending one-on-one time with your children every day for a few hours. Little peeks into our phone detach us from the boredom and stress we might be experiencing as a parent BUT they also detach our brain from the present moment.
6. 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? Also, getting used to sitting with boredom will strengthen your mindfulness practice. Next time you feel bored through a play you are playing with your child, try to explore your boredom.
5. Go out to nature. Taking a walk outside can become your daily meditation if you do it with awareness. When you are out in nature with your children, what throughs and feelings detach you from being present? Are their clothes getting dirty? Are they taking a bite of that little tree branch? What if you could let go of all these worries and just enjoy nature?
7. Find your triggers. Sometimes our children do and say things that push our buttons without even wanting to. In these moments we feel strong sensations turning into a build-up of frustration. An example from me: 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 it has to do with my triggers. Find your deepest triggers by asking yourself "why" at least five times in a row.
8. Learn to pause before reacting. When we get strong emotions, our brains enter a reactive state, disillusioning us from reality. In those moments we cannot use our reasoning because our sense-making brain routes are blocked. One way to unblock them is by pausing and breathing. Pausing and breathing brings us to the present moment and resets our brain. Only after that, we can come up with a rational response.
9. Watch your child with curiosity. 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? Even when she is having a tantrum, can you be curious about your child rather than wanting to change her? This exercise is called child as a raisin in mindful parenting.
10. Accept imperfections. Most of us are overburdened by the responsibilities of parenthood. We try to make everything right. But life with children is far from being predictable. Mess, tears, screaming 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. Find joy in what brings you true gratitude.
A healthy parent-child relationship starts with the right parenting mindset.
If you want to start building your own mindset by learning about parent and child brain, emotions, intellect, relationship, coping skills, and many other science-backed ideas, sign up for Apparent for free!
(Apparent is going to be forever free for our early access users.)