Being a parent is not an easy task. It can be extremely chaotic trying to balance the demands of work, household chores, and your child’s school activities. Mindfulness is one of the ways to make our parenting journey a less stressful one.
Research suggest that mindful parenting is linked to better outcomes in children. Children of parents who practice mindful parenting were observed to have less anxiety, depression and instances of acting out. By itself, mindfulness also helps us improve our personal health and well-being.
What is Mindfulness and Mindful Parenting?
“Mindfulness means paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally.”
– Jon Kabat-Zinn, Founder of the Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) programme
Mindfulness is the state of being fully present in the moment. When we are being mindful, we become fully aware of what we are experiencing in the present moment – our senses, thoughts and feelings. We recognize and accept our thoughts and feelings as it is, without judging them, or trying to change them.
The practice of mindfulness helps us break away from the stresses of daily life. Its other benefits include: having better concentration, less stress and anxiety, better emotional control, and better sleep. All of these factors help us become better at handling our parenting responsibilities.
Bringing mindfulness into parenting helps us to engage in more positive parenting behaviours. We become better at recognizing our own feelings when we have conflicts with our child. This allows us to pause before responding in anger or frustration.
This is all very useful in strengthening the parent-child relationship and raising children who are resilient and emotionally adaptable.
Five Ways to Help You Become a More Mindful Parent
Start your day with thoughts of gratitude. Get into the routine of keeping a journal of the people, things and experiences that make you appreciate your life. Then, think about how different your life would be if you no longer had access to these things. You may find yourself becoming increasingly grateful for the smaller things in your life.
Being a parent has its ups and downs. Cultivating gratitude for the small things in your life makes it easier when facing unexpected challenges, such as when you child accidentally breaks your favourite memento.
Don’t Worry – Be Happy
Learn to be a happy parent in the now. Keep away from mind chatter about the past or how you will manage in the future. Focus on doing the very best that you can in the present moment. Concentrate on savouring every moment with your child. This will make for more pleasant, memorable experiences and happier parenting.
Young children are very good at picking up and sensing our emotions. If we display more positive emotions to our child, he or she will likely mirror and display more positive emotions as well.
Be Mindful of What You Are Saying and Doing
If being a parent is difficult, so can being a child. Be mindful of what you are saying and how you are saying those things to your child. Put yourself in your child’s shoes and learn to feel what goes through their mind every time they are being ‘told’ to do something. Be especially mindful of how your child feels when you are communicating in different moods. Focus on meeting your children half way – this will help you find a better balance of love and discipline in your relationship.
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean forgetting who you are or losing your sanity – although some days you may just feel like you are. Therefore, it is imperative to make time to look after yourself. Get into the habit of prioritizing your sleep, eating healthy, exercising, getting some fresh air and having opportunities for social interaction. A healthy mind and body is essential not only for the children but equally important for the parents.
Meditation is the Key to Happy Parenting
Let’s face it, as busy parents, we are lucky if we remember to wear the same coloured socks in the morning. It is important that we intentionally set aside time to practice being fully present in the moment.
Mindfulness meditation is the formal practice of mindfulness and one of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness in our lives. A simple technique is to focus on our breathing. Take a deep breath, and hold it to the count of four, then breathe out slowly.
You don’t need to go to a class, get dressed in fancy sports attire or take out half an hour in your schedule to meditate. Look for moments in your day in which you have some free time, be it even for a few minutes a day. Once you start experiencing the benefits of mindfulness meditation, you won’t be able to live without it.
Becoming a parent is a beautiful experience but not without its difficulties. By adopting the practices of mindful parenting, you can look forward to creating a happier balance in your life for you and your family.
Sophia writes on topics such as self-care, work-life balance, and mindfulness. As a trained career coach, she also writes about career planning for women.