As parents we are all running the same race: Get ready for work, drop the kids off at school, work hard all day in order to get back early for hockey or piano practice, make dinner, make sure the homework gets done and then crash on the couch once the kids are in bed.
It can be challenging to remain mindful and in the present moment when our daily routine can set us into a chaotic autopilot. In this post, Numinus’s corporate mindfulness program director, and mom of three, Jill Graham proposes 11 tips that you might find helpful in reducing stress and being a more mindful parent.
- Practice being present with your children. Science consistently shows that relationships with family is an important source of happiness. Try reserving just 30 minutes every day in which you give them your undivided attention by taking part of an activity of their choice. Set the intention to be fully present, but be patient with yourself if that is difficult to achieve at first.
- Unplug from time to time. It’s important to make clear but realistic rules about TV, video-games and smartphone usage in your home. Enforce these rules consistently and model tech breaks for your children. Try to lead by example as much as possible by taking breaks from technology yourself.
- Have a dedicated space for meditation. Find a place that is quiet, beautiful, and uncluttered – even if it’s a small corner of an otherwise busy room. To the extent possible, reserve that space for meditation and nothing else.
- Take breaks. Things can get chaotic with a house full of kids and taking a few mindful breaths to recentre yourself can make a huge difference. This will not only benefit you, but teach your kids how to respond to a conflict vs. reacting impulsively. You don’t need to go the himalayas to find bliss; even a minute in the bathroom or bedroom could have an impact.
- Practice gratitude. Expressing gratitude is one of the quickest and most powerful ways to feel calm and joyful. Modeling that for your children is a gift that they will benefit from for a lifetime. One simple and accessible way to do this is to establish a routine at dinnertime when everyone gives one example of something that went well that day.
- Teach resilience. Life can be full of challenges for our little ones. You can teach them to learn from setbacks and bounce back – instead of ruminate on failure. So really pay attention when they are facing adversity and help them make meaning from the experience through open and nonjudgmental dialogue.
- Meditate with your kids. Meditating together is a great way to connect with your kids and help them experience the benefits of meditation from an early age. If you have really little ones, you can invite them to watch their teddy bear go up and down on their chests while they breathe. As they get older you can have them sit in a circle and listen to a guided meditation for 5 or 10 minutes.
- Don’t judge. It is in our nature to make judgments and generalizations about everything in life, including how our children will react to situations. When you catch yourself having a predetermined idea of how your kids will respond try to take a step back appreciate each moment as it comes.
- See the world through your child’s eyes. Children naturally have a beginner’s mind, and often find beauty in simple things. If your child runs up to you with a ladybug they found in the backyard, for example, try to match his or her excitement and enjoy the experience through his or her eyes. . Not only will this enhance the connection between you, but you will surely feel energized and invigorated by taking in these simple pleasures.
- Don’t be afraid to break routines. We all know routines are good for children and help promote security. But breaking the routine every once and awhile is ok too. Some of the best memories your kids will have come from unplanned adventures with their parents.
- Self care. As parents we sometimes get too busy and overwhelmed to take care of ourselves. Most of us feel guilty when try to take some time off to do the things we enjoyed before we were parents. Try to let go of that feeling and recognize that a healthier, happier you will make you a healthier, happier parent.