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 your parenting journey a less stressful one.
Research finds that mindful parenting is linked to better outcomes in children. Children of parents who practice mindful parenting are observed to have less anxiety, depression and instances of acting up.
Mindfulness is the state of being fully present in the moment. When you are being mindful, you become fully aware of what you are experiencing in the present moment – your senses, thoughts and feelings.
You recognise and accept your thoughts and feelings as they are without judging them, or trying to change them.
What mindfulness and mindful parenting is all about
The practice of mindfulness helps you break away from the stress 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 you become better at handling your parenting responsibilities.
Bringing mindfulness into parenting helps you to engage in more positive parenting behaviour. You become better at recognising your own feelings when you have conflicts with your child. This allows you to pause before responding in anger or frustration.
This is very useful in strengthening the parent-child relationship and raising children who are resilient and emotionally adaptable.
Here are five ways to help you become a more mindful parent:
1. Practise gratitude
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.
2. 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 your emotions. If you display positive emotions to your child, he or she will likely mirror and display more positive emotions as well.
3. Be mindful of what you are saying and doing
If being a parent is difficult, so is being a child. Be mindful of what you are saying and how you say 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 told to do something.
Be especially mindful of how your child feels when you are communicating in different moods. Focus on meeting your children halfway – this will help you find a better balance between love and discipline in your relationship.
4. You matter
Becoming a parent doesn’t mean forgetting who you are or losing your sanity, although some days you may feel like it.
Make time to look after yourself. Get into the habit of prioritising your sleep, eat healthy, exercise, get some fresh air and be socially active.
5. Meditation is the key to happy parenting
As busy parents, you are lucky if you remember to wear the same coloured socks in the morning. It is important that you set aside time to practice being fully present in the moment.
Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to cultivate mindfulness in your life. A simple technique is to focus on your 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 from your schedule to meditate.
Look for moments in your day where you have some free time, 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 it is 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.
This article first appeared in The New Savvy.
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