Being a parent is exhausting. Some parents stay home full time, while others balance parenting with their careers. Whatever your situation, balancing everything is a challenge. Even more, according to mindful parenting experts Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn, "We live in a culture that does not uniformly value parenting as valid and important work." Parents have a huge responsibility: We are raising the next generation of change-makers. Yet we are doing so while cooking dinner, paying the bills, and worrying about how we can afford to send our kiddo to that really cool art enrichment class. Well, I'm here to tell you that there's something that can help!
Mindfulness is the practice of staying present in the moment. It's using the power of awareness to understand what's really going on in your heart, body, and mind. When you practice mindfulness, you tune in to the present moment and notice how your physical sensations relate to your overall well-being and the actions you take. Practicing mindfulness has scientifically proven benefits, including decreased heart disease, improved immune response, and increased psychological well-being.
So, how does mindfulness relate to parenting? Stacy McCaffrey, from Nova Southeastern University, quotes Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn when she states, "mindful parenting has been defined as 'paying attention to your child and your parenting in a particular way: intentionally, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.'" When you incorporate mindful parenting practices into your family life, you can enjoy your kids in the present moment, increase your connection with them, and stop that mind of yours from worrying.
Check out these three simple mindfulness practices you can start today:
Mindful breathing can be used to de-stress your life. Time: 5 minutes per day How?
Help your children verbalize body sensations when they are feeling angry, happy, sad, shy, or embarrassed. Explain that recognizing and talking through difficult emotions is a healthy practice and can lead to a better understanding of others and oneself. Check out the Five Finger Breathing practice for more ideas on how to incorporate mindful breathing at home. Parents often run on automatic. Taking a moment to pause can bring clarity, purpose, and connection to your day. Teaching your children about the importance of taking a moment to pause can support them in reacting to others with intention instead of their immediate emotional reactions (for example, thinking before you say something mean to a loved one). A minute or less As you practice pausing together as a family, you can ask your children to focus on their breath. Remind them that breath is life, and it connects all living things. Capitalize on this practice by completing the THINK for Kind Talking activity with your children. This activity can help us rewire our brains to focus on the positive instead of the negative. 3-5 minutes Extend your child's understanding of gratitude by completing the Make a Family Gratitude Jar activity together. Begin slowly by trying out one mindfulness practice per week. Remember that mindfulness is a journey, and it takes time to figure out what feels right for your family.