Three Tips to Parenting Mindfully
Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom. - Viktor Frankl
When we think about parenting mindfully and what that looks like, we imagine kids that are calm all the time, a partner with whom we never argue, and a household that is full of hugs and smiles.
In reality, mindfulness does not equal perfection. It does, however, lead to a shift in perspective that can be transformative.
Life doesn’t necessarily get cleaner as a result of mindfulness, but it does get more manageable.
Here are three tips I use to parent more mindfully:
Take a moment
There are many times when we react, then feel guilty about how we reacted. We are late and need to get out the door, but your child refuses to put their shoes on. So you yell. Your child has a meltdown because the dinner you spent time preparing isn’t cut the right way. So you throw your hands up. Your child tells you at 10pm the night before that a project is due the next morning. You freak out. We have all been there.
However, you don’t have to. You have the freedom to take a moment. Leave the room or the conversation if you need to. Just take a breath. Step outside of the situation, and realize that you have the ability and capacity to give them (and yourself) a little space. Need to get out the door? Take a breath, before you respond, then take a second to strategize and figure out where the missing shoe disappeared to. Still can’t find it? Make do and give yourself grace. So what if your kid goes to school with two different shoes! Then, afterwards, you can figure out a way to resolve the situation in the future (i.e. making sure both shoes are by the door before bed.)
Teach your kids to breathe.
Ages 5 and Under: Candle Breath. I love to do candle breath with my 4 year old. We hold out our candles, take a big breath in, hold it to “make a wish” and blow our candle out together.
Ages 5+: Count Your Breath. Inhale one, exhale one, inhale two, exhale two. Count up to 10 if you can, together. If you get distracted, just come back to the last number you left.
Everyday: The more breathing exercises you can do with your children, the better! The breath is such an amazing tool for mindfulness. Stay tuned for more on that later this month!
Give Yourself Grace.
Let go of the expectations you have of yourself as a parent. Accept that we are human, we make mistakes, and we fail. Although we practice mindfulness, stress can still occur. You might lose it every once in a while. Mindfulness is not a cure-all, but it can help us recognize these emotions and let go of the judgement and labels they might lead to (i.e. I got angry and said ____, so I am a bad parent.) Mindfulness can help give yourself a little grace.
When we let go of all expectation, there is peace." — Kim Eng