Mindful parenting is an essential part of being a parent. Mindful parenting is a lifelong practice. It is about becoming less attached to the outcome and more mindful of what is unfolding in yours and your children’s lives.
Some core characteristics of mindfulness are:
Observation – Being mindful aims to shift your focus of attention away from thinking to simply observing, observing your thoughts, feelings and the sensations around you.
Being non-judgemental – This is an important aspect to adopt as we all can relate to trying to control what we’re experiencing at times. When being mindful no attempt is made in evaluating your experience or to say ‘that it is good, bad or terrible, right, wrong, or a failure.’
“This takes time to develop because accepting all of one’s experience can be a challenge. But by bringing about a kind, gentle curiosity to your experience is one way of starting to become non-judgemental.” Quote taken from the Centre for Clinical Intervention.
Focus on one thing at a time, being present – We live in a fast paced world and with a young infant there can be so many different variables, breastfeeding every 2-3 hours, constant nappy changes, meet baby’s varied needs, babies wanting and needing attention, as well as affection, throw it altogether and life can seem more than a little overwhelming!
Being present will take ongoing practice. When you sense that you’re drifting away from either the task at hand, or you’re playing with your baby but whilst doing so you’re also thinking about the dishes that need to be done or ogling the sandwich and coffee yet to be consumed. Observe those thoughts, and let them drift away… Refocus on your baby, their giggling coos and sweet smiling face, stay present, your future you will thank you!
The early days of being a parent can be exhausting. Start your day by taking three mindful breaths; do this also throughout your day to help ground yourself in the present moment.
To do this breathe softly and deeply, expanding your ribs or belly as much as possible. Hold your breath for a few seconds, then let it go for two seconds longer than your inhaled breath. You are assisting your body to shift from a state of arousal and stress to one of calm and relaxation. This is a good practice to start whilst breastfeeding or soothing your unsettled baby.
Another beautiful way to ground yourself at the start of your day is to create a ‘ritual.’ This can be whilst your baby or toddler are playing, or baby might be sleeping. Make yourself a tea, coffee or a juice, grab your journal or notebook and start a gratitude list. This is as simple as starting with “I am thankful today for…. Coffee, sleeping baby, no tantrums from my little one (yet!!) etc.
This allows your day to start with a positive mindset, a mindset that is grateful and calm, as well as a feeling of being grounded within your unique present moment.
For parents with toddlers, being present whilst your connecting with them is a perfect way to practise mindfulness. Playing with playdough and focusing on what your creating with them, cooking with them and just being present in that moment, playing at the playground or the beach and focusing your attention on their movements, the way they’re interacting with you or in what they’re doing.
When you are fully present with them it’s amazing the things you notice, their different mannerisms or the way their eyes light up when they know and really feel your presence, connection IS mindfulness because you are only focused on them.
Another form of mindfulness is a walking meditation. It is a simple practice for developing a sense of calm and connectedness. It can be practiced at any time of the day. It’s a perfect meditation to practice for those middle of the night waking’s with an unsettled infant!
Take your three mindful breaths, whilst you walk, continue those deep, full present breaths, direct your attention to your feet planted firmly on the ground, then take a step, feeling the weight distribution under your feet, notice the feeling of your muscles holding both you and your baby up, letting go of any unnecessary tension then begin to walk slowly with full attention to your body and breath, whenever your attention wanders take your three mindful breaths and reconnect with your body whilst you move.
This sort of meditation can be done anytime! Walking around the block, “witching hour” with your unsettled infant, a beautiful beach walk the list goes on!!
Mindfulness is a beautiful practice to develop. One that is simple and effective. It is a practice that creates calm, and when you are our calm so are your little ones.
With Love, Nikki x