It seems everywhere you look these days someone is touting the benefits of mindfulness — by paying attention in a particular way; on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally. Research shows that people who practice mindfulness are less stressed, more focused and better able to regulate their emotions.
But, if you’re a busy working parent, how do you build mindfulness into an already-packed day? Those of us with kids and jobs often feel tired and rushed. We’re constantly multi-tasking, juggling personal and professional responsibilities, and feeling stressed about all we can’t get done. I can certainly relate to this!
Here are 7 tricks to help you:
1. Mindfulness helps you to be more aware of our own emotions without letting them trigger us into knee-jerk reactions. Gradually you will discover how to notice and feel the body sensations associated with stress, anger or irritation, without having to act them out by shouting at your child or children. You will also notice that when irritations and unhelpful impulses come up, you can feel them without judgement but you don’t have to act on them. This training can help you respond more calmly when your child presses your buttons throughout the day or you face pressures at work!
2. Don’t become aggravated or annoyed right away, tempting as it is. So if they spill something, don’t go into an immediate rage; remember, accidents do happen, and spills are not the end of the world—annoying, yes, but not debilitating. If you do find your blood boiling for any reason, remove yourself from the room for a few minutes to cool down.
3. When asking your child to do something make sure you get down to their level and ask them for their help, I find I get a much better response by doing this rather than nagging and giving orders.. I get ignored! A child is a person, try to treat them as equally and as respectfully as possible, it does make a difference to their behaviour.
4. Don’t forget that your child needs you far more than you realise and it can sometimes be incredibly overwhelming, by pushing them away or overly encouraging them to be independent you can sometimes get the opposite. When a child feels secure they will become more independent and confident by themselves, so sometimes you will need to be there to reassure them.
5. Ask engaging questions and when your child is talking to you, make eye contact, smile, be welcoming. Sometimes we don’t have to say anything at all for our kids to know we are listening. Children do love to talk and tell stories, and it pulls at your heart strings to watch them speak of things we often can take for granted.
6. Allow them to express their emotions because you are where they feel the most safe, and children, just like us, will have not so good days and need to know it’s OK and that you’re there for them. It sometimes it feels silly to explain emotions to a child or describe what you are seeing but over time they will pick up on your words and use them to talk to you. This communication is so important as it can diffuse major meltdowns and frustrations, your child will be calmer towards you if they know you understand them.
7. As I mentioned communication is key and be honest but not aggressive in your approach. Say things like “I understand you’re frustrated” or ask “What is making you upset?” or “How can I help you?” Alternatively, be excited for them when they’ve reached a goal for themselves. Always tell your child how much you love them. Tell them you love them no matter what—even when you’re upset with them. It’s crucial they know this.
Children are extremely mindful by nature so observing them and learning from them can really help you to be mindful. Being a parent is chaotic, by accepting the chaos you may actually feel a lot calmer!