Parents: Stop Losing Your Mind(fulness)!

Parents know that plans don’t always go as planned. Being a mindful parent is about taking moments to pause before reacting, and forgiving yourself when things don't go as planned. It's really about learning to be aware of and managing your own stress to help alleviate the stress in the sometimes chaotic world of raising a family. Less stress leads to healthy parents and babies!

healthy parents and babiesI always expect this time of year to be relaxing. The holiday whirlwind is behind us and the kids are back at school. The snap of the cold winter air invites me to stay inside with a hot cup of cocoa and a blanket, with no obligations and no rushing around in the forecast. Just peace and tranquility.

But that's not reality. There's no period of reflection, no catching of breath. There's just the chaos of packing lunches, getting kids ready for school, the frantic dash to get to work on time, and don’t forget to pick up Valentine's Day cards. Barbies or puppies? What is she into this year?

“Mommmmmmmy!!! I can’t take Barbie cards, I took Barbie cards in Kindergarten!” I guess I have my answer.

Last summer, she decided she was going to put on a mermaid play. She wrote out invitations (on paper plates, of course, because they look like clams) and picked a date. I had no idea she was serious, until she actually wrote the play.

I know what you’re thinking. It’s not like I had to throw together costumes and invite three mermaids and their parents over on some otherwise calm, sunny Sunday afternoon. I could have told her no. But could I really? How many six-year-olds decide to write a play, and actually follow through? Of course we were having a play.

These are the kinds of things that sneak into our lives, stealing the calm. They create amazing memories, of course. But in the thick of it all, it’s still stressful.

The experts always tell you to schedule your exercise as you would any other appointment. At our house, we schedule relaxation time as we do our exercise, because without it, I am not a mindful parent. I am a giant ball of stress ready to unravel at any moment. All it takes is one little tug of that last frayed strand and I come undone.

“Go to your room! Did you hear what I just said? Did you make this mess on the couch? I don’t want to play I Spy right now, I am trying to relax!”

Mindful parentingAt six, my daughter still wants to spend time with me. Soon, that will not be the case. I will have all the Facebook time in the world but I won’t have my little girl begging me to put down the phone and pay attention.

People hear “mindful parenting” and may think it’s a passing trend but it’s not. Being a mindful parent is simply connecting with your child, paying close attention to the moments that matter.  It’s about managing your own stress to help alleviate some of theirs, and accepting the fact that you are no more a perfect parent than you have a perfect child. There will be mistakes, and you have to accept that, forgive yourself and move on.

…even if you’ve come undone.

There is always another day to practice.

Here are a few ways you can start to reduce stress by incorporating mindfulness into your day:

  • Practice mindfulnessPractice deep breathing. In addition to getting a big dose of oxygen to your brain, it also forces you to pause. When you are able pause for a moment, you can think about your response instead of just reacting emotionally.
  • Designate a time when your whole family can “pause” together in silence. No one has to say or do anything, just be quiet together. If you need a little more structure, have everyone count “in” breaths in their head for about a minute.  
  • Treat yourself with kindness and care. I know, it’s easier said than done, but taking a parenting “time out” to take a hot bath or go for a walk will do wonders for your interactions with your children.
  • Keep forgiving, keep practicing. Tomorrow is always a new day!

Do you have a story about a mindful parenting moment?

Comment

SIGN IN to share your comments or REGISTER today to become a Connect member.

  • We just incorporated a "pause" time in our household and it has been amazing! We each get to do an activity for ourselves--my husband works with his hawks, I exercise, and our son "reads" or plays with cars in his room. We all have something to look forward to and it helps our routine transition smoothly from everyday chaos to bedtime.

  • I am attempting to implement the parent "time out" again.  It seems that it is just too easy to have the "go, go go" ALL THE TIME.  That as a single parent, I end up last on the list.  I know I feel much better and have so much more patience when I do take some "me time" however there are only 24 hours in a day and I struggle to find the time.  2015 family goal--give all of my family 'time or pause' with no electronics!!

  • It really does help, but it's not always the easiest thing to do. @Bhauf: Good luck with your goals! :)