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January 26, 2016

On Being a Mindful Mama

Building Lego together = On being a Mindful Mama | Callaloo Soup
On Being a Mindful Mama - 12 Ways I practice Mindful Parenting - Callaloo Soup

I recently read an article about a new research study that shows that children whose parents are mindful, experience less stress in life. My first thought was that I wasn’t in the least bit surprised.

I’ve been practising mindful parenting for a number of years now, and as I keep saying my son is one of the most even-tempered and well-adjusted kids I know. (Yes, I know I am biased).

Part of this is no doubt due to his built-in temperament, a trait that he most likely inherited from me and my father before me, but he is still a kid like other kids, and is still learning how to behave in the world, and how to deal with his emotions.

Mindfulness might sound like one of those buzzwords that everyone is throwing around, but I am convinced that it works.

The professor behind the study explains:

” It’s about being present and giving each task your full attention,” she said. “Taking the time to listen and understand your child’s problems, promotes trust and emotional connection leading to a richer and more authentic relationship.

“It also teaches children how to be open and aware of the whole situation including their own thoughts, feelings and sensations, which in turn makes them less stressed.”

So what does being a mindful mama look like for me?

Here are some of my best mindful parenting practices.

  1. Making sure to fill my well first by scheduling in me time, getting enough sleep and pursuing my passions. I don’t parent well when I am tired or feeling unfulfilled!
  2. Setting regular routines and sticking to them as much as possible
  3. Taking a deep breath to calm myself before reacting forcefully to a situation
  4. Reminding myself that my son is a little human who has only been on the planet for six years, and is still learning.
  5. Trying to understand the motivation or reason behind a particular behaviour
  6. Making sure to spend time connecting with him, doing what he wants and giving him 100% of my attention
  7. Allowing him to have and feel his emotions
  8. Being fully present during meals and care giving times
  9. Speaking respectfully to him and modeling over behaviours (like manners) that I want him to learn
  10. Asking his opinion on activities and other things that concern him directly
  11. Not interrupting him when he’s engrossed in an activity, or expecting him to immediately change course (to leave the house, come to dinner etc.).
  12. Giving him the autonomy to do the things I know he’s capable of.

Of course I don’t keep my cool 100% of the time! I’m only human, and do lose my temper at times. or there are the days that I am totally distracted because I’m thinking about work, or the times when our routine gets all out of wack. But what is so critical about having a mindfulness approach is that you understand that people, children included, make mistakes, but that we can learn from those mistakes and move on.

And that’s why I refer to it as a practice, because if I falter, I can wake up the next day and try again.

Do you bring mindfulness into your parenting?

  • Interesting topic! My son is even-tempered by nature too, I’m SO lucky. I do most of the things on your list but I really should try at the others and be more mindful overall – thanks and you’ve definitely given me some things to think about!

    • You’re welcome! I am also trying to be more mindful in general, even things like blog posting for example. I used to try to post every day, but twice a week means I put lots more thought into what I am writing.

  • linda spiker

    Mindfulness is important in every aspect of our lives! I am so glad you are talking about mindful parenting. Such a great topic!

  • Christine

    I love this and this is a great topic. I am pinning this because I need to remind myself to be more mindful. I am really trying this year to be more mindful and I have a little year old boy as well. I truly needed this. Thank you!

    • You are very welcome! Ahh I remember the one year old days. šŸ™‚ Feel free to hit me up to chat anytime!

  • This was a great read,Francine. Really, everything you mentioned is true even for a teenaged child.

    • Thank you Christy. I agree, that these are things I’ll keep on doing as he grows.

  • This is such a great post! I’ve been trying to be more personally mindful in life, but I didn’t think about how it affects my son – sounds like only good things! I’m working on getting more me time, so I can feel refreshed and can be fully giving back to him. He’s still small, so he wouldn’t understand this yet, but I also admire when moms let their kids know how long they have to play or finish up an activity, instead of rushing them off to something different, like you said. I think it’s important not to blindside them with something new when they’re absorbed in something! Thanks for sharing šŸ™‚

    • it’s extremely important! How old is your son? For little ones, you can start by simply letting them know what’s about to happen )like if you need to pick him up for a diaper change for example). But I bet you’d be surprised at how much he does understand. šŸ™‚

      • He is 16 months. That is a good tip! I haven’t been doing it on purpose, but I’ve kind of been working that in. I guess as a SAHM I get a little stir crazy and talk to him a lot even though he doesn’t really respond, ha ha šŸ˜‰ So it’s encouraging that maybe he gets a little bit of that!

        • I had the opposite problem! lol As an introvert I was happy to say nothing all day, and had to almost force myself to talk to him, ha ha! I think 16 months is around the time I started using 5,3,1 with my son. Basically 5 minutes, then 3 minutesmthen 1 minute notice for stuff. It worked pretty well for things like leaving the playground šŸ™‚

  • Great insight. In the days of social media and everyone being “plugged in” all the time, it’s so hard to stay mindful and in the moment. These are great reminders. Cheers!

    • Yes it really is! We have a no smart phones at the table rule now šŸ™‚

  • Awesome post! I have been struggling with this for most of my life. I’m a great multi-tasker, so I have to constantly remind myself to be present. It was really easy when my kids were little – I wanted to soak in every moment. Now that they are teens, I’m finding that mindful parenting is harder than ever.

    • Thank you šŸ™‚ I bet it does get harder as they grow, especially as they become more independent.

  • This is pretty amazing! I loved this post. It’s so good for mama’s to learn these techniques. Especially “Making sure to spend time connecting with him, doing what he wants and giving him 100% of my attention.”

    Beautiful!

    • Thank you Taylor! That bit is one of the hardest parts, since what he loves to do is play with cars. lol

  • Emily Humpherys

    I love it! Especially for someone who lives so much inside her head, thinking of this as a practice is beautiful.

    • Thank you! I’m a member of that “live inside her head” club too, so I completely understand!

  • What a beautifully written and thoughtful post! I’m excited to share this…