This week’s blog was written by April Brown. April is an amazing educator who specializes in mindfulness. Check out her great ideas!
Parenting is truly a full-time job. Some of us are privileged to be full time parents, while others embark on parenting in addition to their careers by necessity or because they find their careers fulfilling.
Whether you are a single parent, have a partner, or are married, there is no question that balancing work, home life, and emotional health is a constant struggle. You may ask yourself: How can I stay grounded in the midst of change and live a happy, present, and peaceful life?
Enter Mindfulness. Think of mindfulness as awareness. Mindful parenting helps us pay attention to our children and our parenting. It also helps us to be more intentional with our responses and actions. Mindful parenting reduces reactivity, increases patience, improves trust, increases connection, and decreases our stress!
So how can you use mindfulness in your daily life as you parent? Use these simple mindfulness practices to cultivate connection, compassion, and clarity during the beautiful (and chaotic) journey of parenthood:
1. Connect with Weekly Intentions
Setting an intention will help you focus your thoughts on a desired outcome. Ideas include: joy, creativity, love, gratitude, well-being, happiness, peace, kindness, empathy, and togetherness.
Time: 5 minutes (1x per week) and 2-3 minutes per day for check-ins
- In the morning, (once a week), gather your family to a peaceful area.
- Explain to your children that you will be setting intentions. You can explain setting intentions to your child by explaining it’s like using a map. Intentions help us look for a clear path to get where we want to go.
- For example, if our intention is to be kind, we can strive to be kind to others and ourselves. If we notice ourselves going “off the path of kindness” we can bring ourselves back to our intention by saying, “May I be ______”(kind, happy, cultivate togetherness, peaceful).
- Decide on a weekly intention as a family.
- Discuss how you’re focusing on your intention before bed every night.
- Encourage your kids to create a visual to connect to your intention that you can put up on your fridge or in an area that your family will see (e.g. for togetherness, your child might draw a family portrait).
- Discuss positive experiences and challenges with your family.
2. Cultivate Gratitude During Difficult Times
During challenging times, we can rewire our brains to focus on the positive instead of the negative. This means that positive memories will be active in our minds instead of the times we felt hurt or frustrated by the actions of others. By focusing on the positive, we can stop our mind machines from spiraling out of control.
Time: As long as you wish during challenging situations (e.g. your toddler screams at you because you didn’t give them a lollipop and it seems to last for ages)
- Take a few deep breaths. Close your eyes if it feels right.
- Repeat the phrase “I have many blessings for which I am grateful.”
- Pay attention to your physical sensations as you say the phrase. Notice that tenseness throughout your body may be replaced with a lighter feeling. Your heavy heart may feel lighter!
- Teach this calm-down strategy to your children to help them rewire their brains during difficult times.
3. Take Five to Breathe & Be
Deep connections to people can be developed when we’re present in the moment and aware of how our actions impact others. Mindful breathing helps us to see clearly and kick reactive responses to the curb!
Time: 5 minutes
- Establish a quiet time for five minutes every day, during which you turn off the lights, technology, and lie on the ground or sit cross-legged.
- Encourage your children to focus on their breath and try to let their thoughts pass, like clouds in the sky.
- Discuss body sensations and emotions afterwards.
Extensions: 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 healthy and can lead to a better understanding of oneself. Check out Curiosity Pack’s Feelings Pack to gain an abundance of go-to strategies for calming down!
Start slow by incorporating one mindfulness practice into your daily routine. Be gentle on yourself and remember; mindfulness is a journey, not a destination!
What other mindfulness practices do you use with your family? We’d love to hear about them!
April Brown is a learning designer and education consultant based in Austin, TX. She is passionate about developing inclusive practices, materials, environments, and mindsets. Check out her blog, Mrs. Brown’s Blog; a safe space to tell stories, reflect on best practices in education, and strive to parent from the heart.