The Art of Mindful Parenting
Mindfulness is a term that has been around for ages but has been gaining popularity in Western culture. For our purposes, we will refer to mindfulness as the act of being present in the moment. If we don’t practice mindfulness — especially when we’re with our children — we’re going to miss out on some very special moments that we will never be able to get back. Embrace every moment and make as many memories as you can. After all, they don’t stay little forever.
It’s hard to stay present in our modern world. We have handheld devices that connect us to everyone we’ve ever known or could hope to meet — and so many responsibilities that were often stuck inside our heads evaluating how we’ve done or mentally running through the tasks we have left to finish. It’s easy to get distracted. We’re all guilty of this from time to time but as Dr. Seuss once said, “Sometimes you don’t know the value of a moment until it becomes a memory.”
Now please understand that I’m not saying you’re a bad parent if you get on your phone when you’re hanging out with your kid or if you become preoccupied by work - you ARE human, after all. What I am saying is that we can’t truly embrace this time we have with our children if we’re checked out 24/7. They grow up fast and before you know it, they’ll be moving out of your house and starting a family of their own. Right now, they might be all over you but some day they might move hundreds of miles away — and when that happens, you don’t want to regret not savoring each and every moment. So, how does one become a mindful parent? Keep reading to find out!
Make eye contact with your child
Do this as much as possible. Holding eye contact with your child causes the brain to release oxytocin (the human love hormone) and is an amazing way to bond with your child. It helps you stay present in the moment and conveys a message of love and warmth. Eye contact shows that you are giving your child your fullest attention and will help strengthen the parent-child relationship.
Let yourself feel
Mentally scan from your head to your toes and make note of where you are feeling calm and relaxed when you are hanging out with your child. Focus on this part of your body and try to hold on to that feeling for as long as you can. Try journaling how you feel. Someday you’ll look back on those notes and you might be able to feel exactly the way you felt right in that very moment.
Pay close attention to your senses
Sensory information is a huge part of mindfulness. If you’re actively attending to your senses, you’re more likely to stay present in the moment. When you’re hanging out with your little one, pay attention to the way his or her eyes sparkle when they smile. When you hug them, breathe them in and focus on their scent. Memorize the sound of their voice or how they feel in your arms when you give them a hug. I cannot stress this one enough.
Don’t wish away a certain phase
Yes, certain behaviors or developmental phases can be rough – trust me, mama, I know – but remember, the bad times pass just as quickly as the good. A phase is just that – a phase! Keep this in mind and you’ll be able to make it through. Remember that every behavior serves a purpose.
Reframe your thinking
Instead of thinking of a challenging phase as annoying or unbearable, try reminding yourself that this behavior or phase is the means to some kind of end. For example, if you have a newborn that is feeding frequently, tell yourself that your baby needs nourishment to grow and that feeding is a great way to bond. If you have a bossy or strong-willed child, try reminding yourself that he or she is learning to assert themselves. Mindfulness is about accepting what is and using that acceptance to remain calm.
Do you have any tips or suggestions for increasing mindful parenting? Comment below and let me know what works for you! If you’d like more help becoming more mindful with your children check out Parent Coaching Services with Leanne Pilgrim!