Practicing Mindfulness in Parenthood

 

by Lisa Dion, LPC, RPT-S

Mindfulness is something we hear a lot about, but what does it really involve? In simple terms, it’s the act of being present in the moment (not merely physically, but emotionally and mentally too). It’s about acknowledging your feelings, your thoughts, and your sensations without reacting to them.

Why is this important? Because mindfulness reminds us that every moment matters. And they can matter in big ways, especially when it comes to parenthood.

When we become mindful, we increase our ability to not react.  We are able to see more clearly what needs to happen in any given parenting situation.  We are able to listen better.  And, most importantly, this means that our children can actually feel us.  They sense our presence, which is the number one thing that children want from their parents.  It helps them feel safe and connected.

So how do you practice mindfulness when you’re a mom or dad? How do you find moments to meditate or contemplate when you’re busy with t-ball practice and ballet recitals? Learning how to stop time would be ideal, but until science discovers a way, try some of the following instead:

Practice in motion:  That is correct!  Mindfulness and meditation don’t have to take place while you are sitting still.  You can meditate while you are doing the dishes, on a phone call, sitting with your child while they do their homework, and even getting them ready for school!  Take some breaths and feel your body.  Notice what is happening right there and then.  If you notice that you are spinning off into story or getting distracted, just take another breath and again, get present and become aware.

Meditate in the morning: Meditating in the mornings isn’t a requirement, but it makes it easier. You might try it before your children awake or after they’ve left for school. Doing this prevents the day from getting away from you. It’s the same reason why an a.m. workout routine is easier to stick to –  get your run in and get it over with!

Set a routine: Routine isn’t only better for your child (remember, a kid’s brain likes to know what’s going on!), it’s better for you too (yep, your brain is also nosy!).  Some moms and dads find that routine makes parenthood a better-oiled machine – it allows things like bedtime to be a bit more automated.

Be fully attentive: It’s impossible to give your child undivided attention at all hours of the day, but aim to do it regularly. Give this attention on their terms and strive to ignore everything else for an hour or two. Kids will know if your attention is authentic or if it’s not.

Pass on perfection: Somewhere, the perfect parent is having tea with the Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy – three entities that don’t actually exist! In short, it’s impossible to be a flawless father or a mistake-free mom. We’re all human, even those of us with children.

Engage in self-care: Self-care can sometimes have a reputation for being selfish, yet it’s anything but! When you take care of yourself, you’re better able to take care of others. So, book that massage, take a trip to the spa, go for a nature hike. Do whatever’s needed to put your oxygen mask on first!  And, while taking care of yourself, give yourself permission to feel it and fully experience it.

Remember, mindfulness doesn’t have to become another item on your to-do list.  It is always just one breath away, no matter what you are doing.