It's the Easter holidays & the children are off school. We're having a lovely time enjoying simple pleasures & it's given me time to reflect on how stressed I used to be during the school holidays.
I wanted my children to have every inch of energy I could muster so I used to do all that
I could to be with them as much as possible.
I was obsessed with routines & wanted to know as much as I could about their development so I was addicted to books like The Contented Little Baby & The Contented Little Toddler.
These books helped me to feel like I was prepared & able to cope. The reality was that I wasn't prepared & wasn't coping very well at all. I'd had SPD when my son was born & was then diagnosed with under active thyroid soon after. My daughter was a toddler & my husband & I were trying to run a business together. It was a really difficult time & we were both really stressed & anxious.
It was around this time that I discovered meditation. I used to grab a minute whenever I could (generally in the bath) to listen to guided meditations on You Tube. My passion for meditation developed when I began to feel the relaxing impact it had on me.
4 years later I studied Mindfulness & now continue to practice mindfulness daily. Mindfulness & meditation have totally changed my life. I really wish I'd known more & done more when the children were younger but unfortunately I didn't prioritise my own wellbeing at that time.
One of the best pieces of advice I can offer parents is to make time to meditate as much as you can. If you're calm & relaxed the whole family will benefit.
I've come to realise that we have to look after ourselves to be the best parent & person we can be. If we're constantly distracted, worried or stressed we're not able to be fully 'present' for our children. As my kids are growing up I can see that all they really want is attention, love & time. In this crazy, busy world we live in, this moment is all we really have.
My Top 10 tips For Mindful Parenting:-
1) Balance work & play.
If you're feeling distracted by the washing, ironing, tidying or cleaning just give yourself an hour to do what you can then try to let go. You can always come back to it later. After an hour of tidying give yourself an hour off to be with the children. Everything doesn't have to be tidy in order for you to play & there's no point tidying twice. If you don't get all the tidying, cleaning or washing done today there's always tomorrow so be kind to yourself & be realistic about what can be achieved whilst looking after children. The early childhood years go so fast & you'll soon be able to have everything in it's place when the children are older so try to let go just for a moment. Accept that you're going to give yourself 1 hour of tidying time & then 1 full hour of playtime when you're going to be fully 'present' with the children.
2) Stop checking your phone or emails.
Allocate time in the evening to catch up with social media if you feel you really have to but otherwise switch off from checking your phone during the day.
3) Make time to be 'present' with your children once a day.
If you notice your mind wandering or you're getting distracted whilst being with your children just catch yourself & say "STOP. In this moment i'm choosing to be fully present for my children." Practice this a few times & it will get easier to be in the moment.
4) Give yourself permission to enjoy the moment.
Accept that you are doing a great job & your children just want your time & attention. You are being the best parent you can be by offering them this as it's helping them to develop a feeling of safety & belonging which is essential for long term wellbeing.
5) Keep things simple & have realistic expectations.
If you know you have an event or holiday coming up try not to complicate things by doing too much beforehand or setting unrealistic goals for yourself. Give yourself time to plan ahead & just do a small amount towards it each day. Trying to do too much in a day will tire you out making it harder to relax during the event or holiday. Prepare as much as you can but decide that there will be times when you can "go with the flow". Accept that you can't control everything so try not to strive too much for a certain outcome.
6) Don't compare yourself to other mums or people on social media.
Just do what feels right for you & your family. Everyone has different lives, different demands & different help available. There's no-one else with exactly the same life as you & you are unique. You're doing the best you can so enjoy the moment & try to let go of the need to compare. Other people will have their own issues that they're dealing with & their social media accounts probably won't reflect their real lives. If you like following succesful people view their accounts as inspiration but don't get caught up in comparing.
7) Remember that time is precious.
Years fly by so fast & all that really matters is this moment. In the blink of an eye it will be gone so try to make the most of it in anyway you can. Give yourself some time each day to reflect & pause. Acknowledge that the past has gone & the future isn't here yet. All you really have is right now so it's worth making it as good as it can be.
8) Create a gratitude list or memory box that you can add to each day.
Look for something that you're grateful for or want to remember about each day. This helps you to be mindful with the children & can become an activity you do together. Ask your children what their favourite thing about the day was as part of the bedtime routine....you might just be surprised by their answer :-)
9) Develop a habit of taking one photo a day for 21 days that captures the moment.
Think about the moment you want to capture as if you're creating a hashtag for it ie: #makingmemories #noticethemoment #nothingisordinary #luckyme #feelinggrateful #simplepleasures #mindfulmoments #purposefulmoments #livelifeonpurpose #mummytime You can then save them in a folder, print them out for an album or post them on social media as a special place to store memories. Remember the reason you're doing it is to capture the special moments, not to impress anyone or to gain a following. If you create a habit of doing this you'll be looking for special moments to capture each day.
10) Think about the purpose of your actions or thoughts.
Make time to be with your children 'on purpose' because you know it is benefiting their cognitive behaviour, their sense of belonging, their safety or your relaxation. If you're having a negative thought or feeling distracted just ask yourself "what is the purpose of this thought or action?" If the thought is going to bring you some happiness or peace continue with the thought process. If the thought is going to bring worry or doubt choose to let it go. A negative thought process has no purpose to it. If you're feeling tempted to check your phone or follow up a distraction just ask yourself what the purpose of the action is & check whether it has any merit before proceeding.
The key to mindful parenting is to give yourself permission to enjoy the moment. Be kind to yourself, be realistic & look for moments to be grateful for every day.
If you'd like to try a mindful meditation click here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ztXqHfPfdy4&t=2s
I hope that helps & I wish you many lovely moments of Mindful Parenting