26 January, 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?