Parents: Stop Losing Your Mind(fulness)!

Being a mindful parent is about taking moments to pause before reacting, and forgiving yourself when things don't go as planned. It's about learning to be aware of and managing your stress to help alleviate the stress in the sometimes chaotic world of raising a family. Less stress leads to both healthy parents and babies!

healthy parents and babiesI always expect this time of year to be relaxing. The holiday whirlwind is over with and the kids are back at school. The snap of the cold winter air invites me to stay inside with a hot cup of cocoa and a blanket, with no obligations and no rushing around in the forecast. Peace. Tranquility.

But that's not reality. There's no period of reflection, no catching of breath. There's just the chaos of packing lunches, getting kids ready for school and the frantic dash to get to work on time. Let’s not forget Valentine's Day is around the corner and those cards aren’t going to buy themselves! Barbies or puppies? What’s the trend this year?

“Mommmmmmmy!!! I can’t take Barbie cards. I took Barbie cards in Kindergarten!” Puppies it is.

Last summer, she decided she was going to put on a mermaid play. She wrote out invitations (on paper plates, because they look like clams) and picked a date. I had no idea she was serious until she actually wrote the play.

Sure, I didn’t have to throw together costumes and invite three mermaids and their parents over on an otherwise calm, sunny Sunday afternoon. I could have told her no. But could I really? How many six-year-olds decide to write a play, and actually follow through? Of course we were having a play.

These are the kinds of things that sneak into our lives, stealing the calm. They create amazing memories, of course, but in the thick of it all, it’s still stressful.

The experts always tell you to schedule your exercise as you would any other appointment. At our house, we schedule relaxation time as we do our exercise, because without it, I am not a mindful parent. I am a giant ball of stress ready to unravel at any moment. All it takes is one little tug of that last frayed strand and I come undone.

“Go to your room! Did you hear what I just said? Did you make this mess on the couch? I don’t want to play I Spy right now, I am trying to relax!”

Mindful parentingAt six, my daughter still wants to spend time with me. Soon, that will not be the case. I will have all the Facebook time in the world but I won’t have my little girl begging me to put down the phone and pay attention.

“Mindful parenting” is more than a trend. It’s about connecting with your child and paying close attention to the moments that matter.  It’s about managing your own stress to help alleviate some of theirs, and accepting the fact that you’re not a perfect parent, just like you don’t have a perfect child. There will be mistakes and you’ll just have to accept that. Forgive yourself and move on. Even if you’ve come undone, there’s always another day to practice.

Here are a few ways you can reduce stress by incorporating mindfulness into your day:

  • Practice mindfulnessPractice deep breathing. In addition to getting a big dose of oxygen to your brain, it also forces you to pause. When you are able pause for a moment, you can think about your response instead of just reacting emotionally.
  • Designate a time when your whole family can “pause” together in silence. No one has to say or do anything, just be quiet together. If you need a little more structure, have everyone count “in” breaths in their head for about a minute.  
  • Treat yourself with kindness and care . I know, it’s easier said than done, but taking a parenting “time out” to take a hot bath or go for a walk will do wonders for your interactions with your children.
  • Keep forgiving, keep practicing. Tomorrow is a new day!


What’s your mindful parenting moment? Share your story with us!

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  • I like the idea of a parenting "time out."  I need to do that more.

  • My 15 year old has been driving me bonkers -- making so many dumb decisions about when to start homework, how much sleep he needs, when and what he eats, etc. I've trying to remind myself that he is SUPPOSED to be making bad decisions right now... and learning from them before he leaves home. My guess is he'd learn faster if I stop lecturing him for 5 minutes and let him deal with the natural consequences. My new mantra is "loving acceptance" even when what I'm feeling on the inside is, "really? what the hell!"

  • You know how they say whatever you did to your parents comes back threefold? Yeah. I dread the teen years. :) I like "loving acceptance" - good job keeping your cool!

  • Forgive & let go. I'm not a perfect parent, nor is my child perfect. Awesome article!