Five Steps to Mindful Mothering
Meditation and personal mindfulness is a very trendy concept among modern parents. A mindful approach to living attempts to live and be in the moment. Put simply: living fully in each moment and being emotionally and physically present as life unfolds each minute. Applied to parenting, being mindful is making a conscious effort to enjoy each moment with your child as they grow up before your very eyes – experience each moment as it is happening in front of you and being completely focused on what is happening right now.
According to the Child Development Institute, mindful parenting teaches parents to become less reactive to the trials of parenting and be more aware of personal thoughts and emotions to respond proactively. In doing so, parents have the opportunity to approach a child’s mistakes or missteps calmer and more in-control.
It’s a good idea, in theory, but when it comes to practicing mindfulness as a mother juggling a smartphone, appointments, email, a Netflix series binge, soccer practices, spring concerts, work, and everything else, being mindful turns into an art form that takes a lifelong commitment of time and effort to perfect. If being a mindful mother means focusing on your child 100 percent rather than thinking about what you’re making for dinner, when you might have time to take your next shower or who is signing up your child for lacrosse season, it’s going to be a challenge for many. How do you stop the mental list-making? Here are a few tips for being more mindful (remember, practice makes progress):
- Manage your stress. Set yourself up for successful mindful parenting by managing your own stress. Take care of yourself and your own emotions before getting to a baseline where you can practice being mindful with your children. Don’t be a hero. Have that cup of coffee before you get started. Your kids will mirror your actions and ultimately if you don’t take care of yourself by eating well, sleeping more and worrying less – neither will they.
- Unplug. Cut back on using your devices when you’re working on being in the moment with your kids. Create some personal boundaries for yourself and your children on technology use so you can focus on the moment. Checking your email every 10 minutes, or scrolling mindlessly as you double-tap through Instagram is not going to help you be more mindful.
- Look for opportunity. Find new ways to interact with your family after school or on the weekends. Start a project together or start a conversation. Ask your child, “what was your favorite part of today?” and see how they respond. Often the smallest conversation starters can make way for the most memorable discussions with little ones.
- Be realistic. Remember that we are all human and no one is perfect – even when it comes to being mindful. Being a parent is an emotional, demanding job that can push you to the limit. Practicing mindfulness 100 percent of the time is just unrealistic. Give yourself a break if your mind starts to wonder about the groceries you need to pick up when you’re in the middle of watching your child host a puppet show.
- Tag team. As with any parenting activity, it helps to have a partner with whom you can tag team the job. Try tag-teaming a mindful moment with your child every other day so each partner gets a break during the week to be alone or spend time with another child or family member. The old adage, “there is power in numbers” applies to mindful parenting as well.