Whether you’ve heard about it from a book, blog, or your circle of friends, “mindful parenting” is a hot trending topic these days. But what does it look like in practice you may ask? This approach to raising children is all about slowing down the family current, connecting with your family, and staying focused in the present moment.
In a culture where we’ve become so dependent on our smartphones, we’re often in two places at once. It’s not unusual to see parents physically on the sidelines at their child’s soccer game shouting advice to their kid whilst simultaneously checking email on their phones, as well as the weather, and their stock portfolio. In our hurried attempt to constantly multitask, we seem to have decided, as a society, that doing many things poorly is more important than doing one thing attentively and well.
Mindful parenting tells us that in order to parent effectively, we have to slow down the process in which we make deliberate decisions. So for example, when you’re spending time with your children, if you want them to feel that you are present, then your energy must convey that’s all you need to do at that very moment. If you’re playing together in your garden, think about the way the sun feels as it hits your face. Think about how the grass feels between your toes. Think about your child’s laughter, how it makes you feel and how sweet a sound it is. Concentrating on now, this moment as it is happening— not what your boss said to you at work or what you have to prepare for dinner — will make your life at home richer in quality.
As parents, the time when mindfulness counts most is when we’re feeling challenged by our children. Take a few seconds to breathe and calmly assess a situation rather than yelling, bargaining, or threatening. Jo Frost talks about this and it is called the S.O.S. technique. This approach will let your child open up to you without fear. You can then listen to what they’re really feeling and help them through it instead of creating a tense dynamic that shuts down the lines of communication. Once you’ve modeled this type of mindful behavior, you can help your children do the same. Teaching children to take a few seconds to breathe and articulate their problems can turn them into more open and empathetic communicators in the long run.
You don’t need loads of free time to start on your journey toward a more mindful parenting experience. The Jo Frost Nanny on Tour show has taught many a family how to be guided through 10 minutes of mindful meditation. During this time, each member of the family is encouraged to close their eyes, focus on their breathing, and tap into their inner self. The chaos of everyday life will still be there when everyone’s ready to get back to it.
Being mindful is so much more than just showing up — it’s being truly present with purpose.
“Be happy in the moment, that’s enough. Each moment is all we need, not more.” — Mother Teresa.