It had been a rough day.
My four-year-old had gone into meltdown because I hadn’t watched him build his Lego aeroplane for the 14th time that morning.
My two-year-old hadn’t slept through the night for … ooh, let me think … about two years.
In quiet time/nap time (with little of either forthcoming), I used up my precious minutes of ‘me time’ on important life-enhancing internet surfing.
An article popped up in my inbox. ‘Are you a mindful parent?’
Oh God, I thought. Am I? And if I’m not, am I a mindless parent?
The term ‘mindful parenting’ immediately made me feel judged. But, as I’m prone to grumpiness and occasional bouts of hysteria when sleep deprived, I took a deep breath and decided to read on.
A few paragraphs in I realised that mindful parenting may have a terrible name, but it’s a great concept.
Mindful parenting is simply about focusing awareness in the present moment – enjoying the journey rather than fixating on the destination. I say “simply”, but it’s when you have a toddler and a pre-schooler tearing the place up, practising mindful parenting is damn hard work.
As you can probably tell, I’m no mindful parenting expert. But here are a few tips that have helped me not put my kids on eBay this week (and have made my kids a bit happier too).
1. Embrace the moment
Your life is moments. Your kids’ lives are the same. By giving your children your full presence, you’re indicating that they’re important now. Life is hectic, so schedule in some time to be fully present with your small person. Start with a few minutes each day and build up slowly.
2. Multitasking is a myth
Get rid of distractions. Turn off the TV and put your smartphone away. Try listening rather than talking, especially when your little angels are being little devils. It’s amazing what you can learn (and what you can diffuse before it turns into an explosive tantrum – for either of you).
3. See the world through their eyes
What’s important to my four-year-old: Lego, lollies, the park, superheroes. What’s important to me: my writing, meditation, eating healthily, not being late. They are kids. They don’t share your adult dreams. Being aware of this allows you to take a moment to view a situation from their perspective, and to gain some.
4. Practise what you preach
Your kids look to you for an example of how to live. If you don’t place great importance on self-care, self-love and mindfulness, they won’t think these things are important either. Take time for yourself. Relax. Do what makes you happy. Surround yourself with loving people. Fill up your own tank and you’ll find you have much more to give to your kids.
5. The perfect parent does not exist
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. You will mess up sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Move on. Forgive yourself. So you yelled – so what? Your children will get over it in seconds. Say sorry, give them a hug and follow their example.
There’s so much judgement in parenting. So many opportunities to feel bad. People have strong reactions to the concept of mindful parenting, and it might not work for you.
Whether you embrace mindful parenting or think it’s as appealing as a dirty nappy on a hot day, the most important thing to remember is that it’s your family. You know best.
Right, if you don’t mind, I’m late. Lego aeroplane building waits for no woman.
Image credit: sborisov/123RF Stock Photo