If you are interested in the next Mindful Parenting Series at Artemis Yoga led by parenting coach and educator, Amy Behrens – please download this flyer – MindfulParentingSeriesFeb2017 or click here to register for 4-class series which starts on February 15th. This popular program sold out last fall.
Mindful parenting is a hot topic right now, reporters are writing about it, we are hosting workshops on it, parent magazines are highlighting it. There is a lot of information from which to glean ideas, and I am sometimes not sure where to start. So I dig down to the basics, down to the core of it all, my kids.
Mindful parenting centers on compassion, kindness and consideration. I tend to be at my best when I am able to slow down the moments I’m with my kids. I focus on living the memory, not just capturing it for Facebook or posterity. Whether we are playing a game, baking cookies or just driving to and fro, being totally present and curious about my kids helps me to connect with them. It’s as simple as the instructions to cross a street: stop, look and listen. When I add in “and breathe,” I find my own stress level melting away.
Those are the happy moments in our days and perhaps the easier ones to dive into. But what about the not-so-happy moments? The times when the stress and stimulation overwhelms us all? Those are the times when tensions run high, emotions are sensitive, and we all tend to break down. As an adult, hopefully by now, I can manage it: measuring my feelings, taking a deep breath and focusing on the positive help me to maintain a sense of composure and calm. This type of self-care helps me to be sure that I am fully there for my family and friends and not simply caught in the vortex of the season.
But for the kids? They’re still working on those skills, and as parents and caregivers, we can help by understanding the iceberg of emotion that is submerged beneath their outbursts, tantrums or withdrawal. We can try to slow ourselves down and take time to listen to their words, offering them understanding and compassion and the sense that we hear their voice. At this time of year, for young children especially, their emotions take charge literally and it takes work to figure out what is really going on underneath it all. So if I pause and take 90 seconds to stop, look, listen and breathe before I respond to my stressed-out kids, I’m probably going to be better able to help them navigate their emotional waters successfully and melt the iceberg.
Practically speaking, cutting back on devices and screen time can help, too. And I’m not just talking about for our kids. Have you ever tracked how much time you spend on devices? A recent Common Sense Media survey I read said that adults spend an average of nine hours each day in front of screens. Nine hours, while many of us try to set limits for our kids closer to the one or two hour mark, at most. That’s something to think about.
After sifting through all the ideas about mindful parenting, I try to focus on a few important things: being present, being kind and being compassionate. Hopefully that will help us navigate our way through the next few months and beyond!
This post originally appeared in our weekly column in the Belmont-Citizen Herald.