As parents we have so much responsibility, both in and outside of our home. Throughout the day we are pushed and pulled in so many directions. Keeping up with the demands of our fast-paced culture can make it feel like we must always be busy, on the go, or working to accomplish the next goal.
In the thick of parenthood it can be easy to lose our footing, our minds constantly in a flurry, our bodies often tense and stressed. We might find ourselves edgy and with a lack of patience for those who we truly love and want to share our best selves with.
I get there too. But, I try not to stay there long.
Over the last several years, I developed a strong interest in researching and applying mindfulness strategies to both my personal life and in my teaching profession. I have found that there is strong evidence that practicing mindfulness can help both children and adults build emotional resilience, and practicing mindfulness can be an effective strategy to help manage stress.
Practicing mindfulness is also a way to set intention to spend meaningful, undistracted time connecting with the ones that you love.
Related: 5 Mindful Tips to Strengthen Your Family - Mothering
When we practice mindfulness, we make an effort to focus our energy and attention to who we are with, what we are doing, or what feelings we are experiencing at the present moment. Whether this is consciously tuning out the distraction of media or recognizing that my emotions are getting out of control, being mindful in my parenting journey has been empowering.
Using mindful strategies when you are parenting can help you increase your awareness of your own feelings, thoughts and bodily sensations, helping you develop habits of emotional self-regulation, rather than reactive responses. Mindful parenting can also help you be more present and aware, strengthening your relationship between you and your friends and loved ones.
I recommend the following strategies to help you become a more mindful parent:
A great resource that I recently came across is: Mindful Parenting: Simple and Powerful Solutions for Raising Creative, Engaged, Happy Kids in Today's Hectic World by Kristen Race, Ph.D.
In the book Race offers practical advice, insight and knowledge for families to recognize the harmful effects on the body from stress, to minimize hidden stresses, and to practice mindfulness as a family. According to Rice, "When we practice mindfulness regularly, we feel happier, healthier, calmer, less anxious, less stressed, and it is easier for us to concentrate and think clearly."
In her work, Rice emphasizes simple yet powerful activities including, mindful breathing, mindful listening, and practicing gratitude as strategies to strengthen healthy brain functions and contribute to overall well-being. If you struggle to find time to read, make time to view Dr. Kristen Race's TED TALK, where she shares practical tips to help women balance work, life, and family and become more resilient to daily stress.
Another way to delve into mindfulness is to have the guidance from a app. I recommend exploring the following three apps to help you gain an understanding and develop a habit of mindfulness:
Related: Learning to Surf: Why Mindfulness in Parenting is Important
- Stop, Breathe & Think helps you get acquainted with mindfulness first. A section called Learn to Meditate explains what mindfulness is, why it's beneficial, and what to expect when you press play on your first track. It even covers some of the neuroscience of mindfulness and the physiology of stress.
- Calm app has free meditations, a smaller selection than several of the apps above-16 in total, some of which come in different lengths, from 3-30 minutes. You can start off with 7 Days of Calm, or try their sessions on Loving-Kindness, Forgiveness, or the Body Scan. Plus, like many other apps, you can set a timer for silent meditation or meditate to intermittent bells. For nighttime relaxation, Calm features four free "sleep stories": bedtime stories for adults on everything from science fiction to scenic landscapes to help you transition into slumber.
- Headspace: Guided Meditation and Mindfulness is a meditation app for both adults and kids. During the 10 Day free trial you will gain an understanding and work to develop a habit of mindful awareness through guided meditation activities.
3. Keeping a Mindful Parenting Journal.
I recently came across the The Dailygreatness Parents Journal: A Practical Guide for Raising Conscious Kids and Creating a Happy Home and found it to be a lovely tool for accountability and action for mindful parenting. The book is designed to be used daily throughout your year, the pages guide you in being the best parent you can be through the practices of mindfulness, conscious communication, playful parenting, meditation, gratitude, planning, and self-care.
Related: A Morning Meditation for Mothers
Each quarter guides you through the daily pages, weekly check-ins and weekly family planners complete with checklists and tools for personal and parental growth.
4. Find a Mindfulness Mentor.
I have been personally inspired by the work of Hunter Clarke-Fields. Through her work she offers tools and resources for conscious parenting, and mindfulness & yoga fundamentals through her courses, writing and videos. Check out some of her free mindful parenting resources here.
Kim John Payne, author of one of my favorite parenting books, Simplicity Parenting, reminds parents to think back on the moments in their childhood that they value. It was not likely endless amounts of soccer practice, or the trips to Disney World. Instead, "it's sitting on a rock, watching a river flow. It's making a connection to nature, a connection to friends, and a connection to oneself."
Reflect upon your life and be selective of what you are inviting in. Can you elevate stress by letting some things go? Work to create a balance of enrichment and activity grounded with simplicity as strategy for incorporating mindfulness into your life as a parent.