It's so hard to stay calm when your children are pushing you to the limits and I am speaking from a mother of 3! Amber Hatch, author of Mindfulness for Parents, has some expert tips on how you can become a calmer parent by bringing more mindfulness to daily family life.
When our children are clamoring for our attention, or shouting, or whining, it can be difficult to stay calm. At other times we find that we are not really engaged. We might get to the end of a storybook and find we can’t even remember what happened! When errands and the millions of other things parents need to do are occupying your mind. It’s normal, you are normal and an amazing parent if you took time to read this article.
Mindfulness can help us to keep calm and stay connected. It can help us parent the way we intend, and allow us to experience the deep joy that our children can bring us. Yet, too often when we spend time with them it’s spent thinking about something else, or reacting knee-jerk to them in ways that make us all feel bad.
Here are some ways to introduce more mindfulness:
Earmark particular activities for mindfulness practice. For example, when you read your child a story, or when you bathe them take it the moment of this short precious time. Remind yourself how dearly you are going to miss these moments and staying in the present will be much more fulfilling for your life. Give yourself a 25 minute break each day to think about everything your concerned about and worried about completing and try your best to keep these thoughts for when your kids go to bed or when you have more alone time during the day.
When we notice our breath, it means that our attention is anchored in the present moment, rather than going over the past or planning for the future. By continuing to come back to the breath, every time we remember, we are increasing our ability to raise mindfulness. It’s a bit like exercising a muscle. This means that we can access mindfulness when we need it throughout the day.
Find a “bell of mindfulness” something that reminds you to be mindful whenever you hear it. Such as when a scheduled event occurs or when you have a short coffee break, maybe after you drop the kids at school or just before you go to bed.
Even if it’s only for 5 minutes, try to find a period of time when you commit to being mindful without doing anything else. You may like to do this sitting down with your eyes closed. Doing this every day helps you to “top up” your levels of mindfulness.
It’s really important not to add mindfulness to a “to do” list and then feel guilty about not doing it. Mindfulness is something that can help you – it’s not something to beat yourself up about. Just start doing it right away – whenever you remember. Mindfulness helps us respond to our family thoughtfully, helping us see what is needed in that moment. The more the better, but even a single mindful moment may change the course of the day.