Mindful Parenting - 10 Tips to create ‘mindful moments’
This is not yet another thing to 'fit in'. A training course to complete or even a chore to tick off your very long 'to do list'. This is going to be a simple blog with easy to use tips on how to just enjoy the time you spend with your children. How to create Mindful Moments with your family.
Just grab a cuppa and spend a few moments having a quick read of how these 10 Tips for Mindful Moments can easily fit into any day.
For many, the idea of Mindfulness sounds daunting! You do not live in that calm, zen-like state that you see on Instagram - so no, it's not for you, right? Well, how about if it was just about how you could 'feel' in any given moment? What if it gave you headspace, a precious few moments that you could then share with your family? Does that sound more realistic to you?
Well, that is my journey. I love the practice of sitting down, no distractions and allow my mind space to just be. The reality for most of us mums though is rather different! When I became a parent, I realised very quickly that these moments to myself were going to be very rare. How then could I still have this all-important headspace and be a parent? The answer, as usual, is simple. I just brought my kids into the practice with me. Yes, it looks very different but it not only gave me that all-important mind break but also increased my connection to my children. We create our mindful moments, whenever and wherever we can.
Sharing the practice
For this, you do not need any special 'place' or setting. These little exercises can be done at home, our when you are out and about, some even in the car! This is all about ease - for you and for your family. You do not need to think of specific times that will 'suit you', just go with the flow. If they come back from pre-school or school and you have a few minutes before dinner, or you are walking the dog on a Sunday afternoon, maybe as they climb into bed. Just think of these as your shared 'moments of calm'.
10 Tips for Mindful Moments
- No pressure - My Number 1 Top Tip. This is meant to be time for you all to enjoy TOGETHER, not something anyone is forced to take part in. If someone is not in the mood for it that day, let it go.
- Time of day - It really is important that you find a moment that works for you all. Not as you are expecting a phone call or the dinner is coming out of the oven.
- Anytime, anywhere - Think about this, bring these exercises out with you. If your toddler is suddenly having a meltdown in the car, bring out the 5 things exercise (see below). Often, these can really change the mood with children and once they understand how to use them, they are happy to try them anywhere.
- Connection - These exercises are all about sharing. Working on the connection between you as a parent and your children. Once they know them well, you can, of course, get them to take part in other situations where you are not present. Between siblings for example, or maybe in the playground. Initially, though, it will need your participation and surely that is also part of the joy!
- Age and additional needs - If you have children of different ages, then feel free to adapt these techniques. You can use them with all age ranges from toddler to teen, however you will need to adapt your language to suit your family's needs. This also applies for any of your children with additional needs, for some children with ADHD or those on the autistic spectrum sitting for more than a few minutes might make them feel uncomfortable. So, if you need to, take it outside, or they can sit/ lie down but move any part of their body if needed. Again, you know your children, so as long as they are engaged then how they sit/ lie/ stand/ walk, doesn't really matter.
- Getting comfy - There is no need to get hung up on this. Traditionally meditation takes place sitting, feet connected to the ground. Or lying down, back against the floor. These are great, but especially younger children might be better off on their sides or just allowed to change position if they want to. Some of the best times to connect are just when taking a walk!
- Take a breath - In whatever position you find yourself. Standing, walking or sitting down. Close your eyes (if possible) and putting one hand over your heart just take a breath in and out. Feel the chest rise and fall with each breath in and out. See if you can make each breath last a little longer, exhale a little slower. Do not force the breath, just be aware of it. As you all get more used to the 'idea' of the breath and gain awareness you can then start making this into a longer exercise. Try counting the breath 1,2,3 (in) 1,2,3 (out). They can get up to the count of 5 but I would not go higher than that with children under the age of about 8 years old.
- Mindful Walking - When you next head outside think of somewhere you can go where you can take off your shoes and socks, a park, garden or even the beach. All standing together, have a spot in front of you maybe 10-20 feet away. Lifting one foot up, place it back down in front, slowly walking towards that spot. Be aware of your foot as it lifts, and then feel how each part of your foot connects to the ground when it lowers. Keep the eyes focused on the spot ahead or the feet. No talking (though there is often giggling), when you get to the spot, stop. Turn around and repeat.
- The 5 Senses - This can be done at home, out and about or in the car. It is a great way of getting everyone to really look at what is around them. Name 5 things you can see, 4 things you can hear, 3 things you can touch, 2 things you can smell and 1 thing you can taste. This works on engaging all of the senses and also enables children to really participate in everything that is around them. (We often used this instead of eye spy on car journeys!)
- Ending - One of the best things about any mindful moment is then having the time to reflect. This is especially so for children, it takes them longer for their brain to process new experiences so if possible allow a few minutes for them to discuss with you what happened, how they felt, what they liked or just to have a good laugh!
Most of all enjoy this time! Make these Mindful Moments a part of your day and share as many of them as you can! That is one of the joys of parenting that often gets lost when we are too busy with the juggle of every day to just, appreciate a moment. These are just 10 Tips for Mindful Moments that you can use, there are so many more out there! I hope that your journey into Mindful Parenting will create lots of amazing memories for you and your family. Do feel free to get in touch too! You can check out more in my latest book, written for all of us busy parents.
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