Why ‘mindful parenting’ might not be as dumb as it sounds

mindful parenting2Before I start, let’s get one thing straight. I am not a ‘mummy blogger’. I’m a writer. Who blogs. And I am also a mum.

But a few parent-related things happened to me this week that bridged that gap between what I blog about (mental health and wellbeing) and being a mum:

  1. My four-year-old had a meltdown because I was too busy to watch him build his Lego helicopter for the 15th time that day.
  2. I read this quote: “Meditation teaches us that there is no greater joy than putting the happiness of others before oneself. There is no greater opportunity to practice this than in parenthood.” NO, I inner yelled. No! Don’t make me feel shit for putting my happiness at the top of the list! I’ve just started to be ok with that.
  3. I read an article on ‘mindful parenting’ — a term that initially got my back up. Does that mean that I’m currently a ‘mindless’ parent? But then I read the article. And it made a lot of sense…

Mindful parenting. Crap name. Great concept.

Mindful parenting often gets a bad rap (probably because the crap name makes it sound judgemental). But mindful parenting is simply about focusing awareness in the present moment — enjoying the journey rather than focusing on the destination. I say “simply”, but it’s when you have a toddler and a preschooler tearing the place up, practising mindful parenting is also bloody 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. Be in the moment
Your life is only lived in moments. Your kids’ lives are the same. By giving your children your full presence, you’re indicating that they are important right now. I know you’re busy, so schedule in some time each day to be fully present with your small person.

2. Stop multitasking
Turn off the TV. Put the smartphone or iPad away. Get rid of distractions. And try listening rather than talking, especially when your little angels are being little shits. It’s amazing what you can learn (and what you can diffuse before it turns into an explosive tantrum — for either of you).

3. Try to see the world through their eyes
What’s important to my four-year-old: Lego, Octonauts, the park, lollies. What’s important to me: my work, meditation, a tidy house, not being late. They may have your genes but they don’t share your dreams. Being aware of this allows you to take a moment to view a situation from their perspective, and 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. Meditate. Relax. Do things that make you happy. Follow your dreams. Surround yourself with loving people. When your own tank is full, you have so much more to give.

5. Remember you don’t have to be perfect
There is no such thing as a perfect parent. You will screw up sometimes. Don’t beat yourself up. Your kids need you to be human. Move on, forgive yourself. Your children will get over it in seconds, so say sorry, give them a hug and follow their example.

One last point: if it doesn’t work for you and your kids, don’t do it.
This is crucial. There’s so much judgement in parenting. So many opportunities to feel bad. Some people think mindful parenting is setting parents up for failure. Some think its “ancient wisdom”. Whatever. It’s your life. It’s your family. You know best.

Right, if you don’t mind, I’m late to watch a Lego helicopter being built. I’ll be back next week and I promise I’ll be back to more ‘blogger’ and less ‘mum’…

If you like this post (or at least like the usual Wellbeing bites blog fodder), please take a moment to follow WB by email. That would be just marvellous. 

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