With many leading fast-paced and hectic lives, being a mindful parent (and meditation) can help reduce the time you feel either distracted or overly judgemental, allowing you to come back to what is happening in the immediate with interest and curiosity.
If you’re here for the first time, have a read of Staying Present: 14 Parenting Tips You Need to Know as you’ll get lots of value from that. To recap briefly, being present is simply about being engaged with your full attention with what is happening right now, in the moment, without wanting it to be different or with any judgement.
Tip #01 Forgive yourself
Often we can beat ourselves up when something doesn’t go the way we’d like, or perhaps it wasn’t your finest parenting moment. Look to acknowledge it didn’t work and recognise that it doesn’t make a bad parent. Certainly don’t let your mind wander to the past and all the ways you’ve messed up as a parent.
Tip #02 Turn off the Television
Or any device. Make the time to switch off and take a break from the tech. You could even label it as ‘quiet time’ or ‘no screen time’ so your child can recognise what’s expected.
Tip #03 Visit the library
Libraries continue to be a hub for the local community, offering parents and children more than book loans. Many can have dedicated child reading spaces where you can be undistracted.
Tip #04 Tell your child about the first week after they were born
Spend time sharing a memory from their early childhood. Children really enjoy stories especially about when they were younger and what happened in those early days of parenting. There first words, where they lived, what they did.
Tip #05 Go on a lunch date
You can keep it simple and perhaps go to the local coffee shop, it’s more about taking the time out from your normal environment and sharing it with your child.
Tip #06 Ask your child to help you with whatever you’re working on
Most children will leap at the chance of doing something grownup. Giving them the responsibility is a wonderful way to boost their confidence and to share with them what you do.
Tip #07 Catch your child doing something right
It can be easy to have strong feelings when your child does something that’s inappropriate or exhibits poor jusgemmet, yet it can be the case that we don’t show the same passion when we see them doing something right. Regaining some balance will greatly improve their own confidence and esteem. Just make sure it’s genuine and credible, make it mean something. It will also soothe you.
Tip #08 Use different voices when reading a bedtime story
Animate bedtime stories with different voices and actions. It really allows your child to see you as more than just a parent but also someone who is funny and can be like a child too. It will also make the bedtime story a lot more fun for you, deepening your connection.
Tip #09 Find ways to say “Yes” rather than “No.”
It may sound tricky at first, but once you’re in the habit it’ll become easier to reword those noes to yeses. Reply with a yes and you’ll find there’s a greater chance of cooperation even if it is, ‘Yes, we can do that. And we’ll do it Wednesday’. Also, consider whether it really needs to be a no reply. Are you saying no for a credible reason or more to voice engaging with what they want. It’s worthwhile just checking in with yourself before going, “no”.
Tip #10 Start again if a moment’s not going right. Call out, “Reset!”
There’s little to be gained by forcing a situation, event or activity to work when it clearly isn’t. Yet we can get so caught up that we just want to push through to its conclusion. But do we really have to? If things aren’t working out, look to reset the situation and start from scratch.
Tip #11 Reflect on what your child is doing at that moment
“You are standing on one leg. You are jumping up and down.” Don’t feel you have to praise for no reason; kids just enjoy the focused attention.
Tip #12 Under-schedule your children
Put value on hanging out and being bored. Creativity doesn’t arise when a child is scheduled and adult-directed but when a child is left to their own imagination.
Tip #13 Positive self-talk
Get in the habit of staying present with something like, “I can deal with this”, “This too shall pass”, “It’s not the end of the world” or “I’m having a hard time right now.” The one constant of parenting is that everything changes. Maintain the positive self-talk and give yourself the respect that you know you deserve because no one gets clear sailing on being a parent.
Tip #14 Stop yourself from catastrophising
Notice when you begin to escalate a minor situation to a major meltdown. Return to the moment and breath deeply knowing that this is just how things are right now and not how they will always be. Bring it back to the present.
OK, so that’s 15 things not 14 but this a universal parenting hack that will help you immensely in dealing with challenges. It will also reinforce the feeling of being present and not distracted when you’re in parenting mode. Everyone’s time availability is different yet look to have the target of meditating daily for about 15 mins. These little windows of mindfulness will help you focus on you and place you in the best mindset for a successful day. No, it won’t clear up the mess on the floor; or help get homework done; nor even get the evening meal prepared but what it does offer is to help you better manage these parenting challenges.
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