This piece follows on from these articles Staying Present: 14 Parenting Tips You Need to Know and 14 More Ways to be a Mindful Parent. You may want to return to them to get some further ideas on how to be a more engaged, mindful and present with your child. For now these are action plans about how you’re going to bring this ‘must’ into your life. Some quick approaches which are more to do with your mindset than specifically how you do it.
As always, find what works for you and discard what doesn’t – parenting is bespoke so discover your best blend.
● When you start an activity with your child, are you thinking about the mess you’ll have to clean up? The tantrum that hasn’t yet started? The activities you should be doing instead? Or are you focused only on the activity at hand?
Question yourself: what am I assuming to be true? What has to be true for this to happen? The tantrum, the mess, these are all assumptions that you’re believing to be true. If you can begin to question these assumptions, perhaps you’ll notice that they aren’t serving you or your child.
Set a timer and set an intention. Fix the time you can spend with your child; and set the intention that you’ll dismiss all other distractions until the timer goes.
● Pick one activity or part of your day that you wish you could find a way to enjoy. After taking a step back, is there a way to involve your child in this activity that could make it more enjoyable for you?
● Do you feel you’re missing out on your son’s or daughter’s childhood? Or that you miss the time behind you more than you’re excited for this instant that you are with your kids?
If so, take it easy on yourself. You really are doing the best that you can. That these questions are in your mind is recognition enough that you want improve what you’re doing. You’re aware. That’s a great start.
Next, notice that parenting has far more to do with quality than quantity. Some of our happiest memories with our children can last mere moments. Think back to when you remember the last amazing thing your child did. How long did it last? Seconds?
Rather than focus on what you’re missing pay attention and reward yourself for when you are present and engaged as a parent. Savour it and enjoy it.
To continue your path toward being a more mindful parent, consider taking the following easy steps this week:
● Set a half hour block each day where all technology (remotes, telephones, tablets) go on a shelf or in a basket and instead spend that time committed to taking part in whatever you are doing with your kids.
● When you’re next out, make a point of talking to your kids about what you are doing and everything you see around you. Listen to their feedback● Pick your least favorite activity – nappy/diaper changes, homework time, an argument about dessert—and see if there’s a new way to approach it. What causes this distress? Is it something that can be changed by paying closer attention to the cause, or being more present in the solution?
● Find a notepad and write down one sentence each night before bed about something that happened that day that made you smile.
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Ben Jackson is a registered counsellor, coach, and lecturer with nearly 10 years of professional experience. He helps clients with stress and anxiety, anger management, self esteem, confidence, and depression.