Between cooking meals, handling household obligations, running errands, working, and taking care of children, it can become easy to check out mentally. We get so exhausted, overwhelmed, and depleted, our energy levels plummet, while our stress levels soar. When you're running on empty, mindful parenting tends to drop to the bottom of your priority list.
But, what if practicing being a more mindful parent actually helped you restore those lagging energy levels? What if mindful parenting made you an even better mom? And, what if doing so wasn't as hard as you might think?
How many times have you found yourself nodding and saying "uh-huh," to your child as you wash dishes or pluck away at Facebook? Don't worry, momma, we've all done it. After about 20 minutes of non-stop chatter, we often tend to tune out our kids.
Usually, this stems from other emotions and our physical state, which is typically exhausted, frustrated, and just plain done. We let these emotions take over, putting them in the driver's seat without even knowing where they're taking us.
But, mindful parenting is when you actively decide to put yourself back in the driver's seat. You don't allow your emotions to decide where you're going or what you're going to do. Instead, you stay aware and focused on the present, handling things as they come your way. You do so without blowing them out of proportion because you're in control, not your emotions.
Practicing mindful parenting helps you tackle the many challenges of momlife without burning out. You become less reactive and more proactive, which helps you feel more in control, diminishing your stress level.
Let's face it, the more out of control we feel, the more stressed we tend to get. This is because we start to feel like everything is happening to us instead of with us.
You might feel like you're on the outside looking in, just having to watch as things happen and then figure out what to do about them. Then, you're so wound up and burnt out; you let your emotions lead the way, often with dire consequences for you and your kids.
But, mindful parenting helps you learn to control your emotions, process them in a healthy way, and see the situation more clearly. Then, you're better able to respond to various challenges more positively, without losing your cool.
The good news is, no matter how tightly wound your emotional spring is or how wild the roller coaster is, you can become a more mindful mom. Mindful parenting isn't something you're born with; you can learn it.
Are you ready to take the first steps toward mindful parenting? Here are 7 ways to practice being more mindful throughout your day. Hint: You don't have to conquer them all at once; choose the area that would help you see the biggest benefit right now and start there.
Anger is a powerful emotion. It can make us do and say things we would never normally do. It clouds our judgment and can completely take over.
If you constantly yell, slam doors, or bang things around, learning to work through your anger can be life-changing. Training yourself to stop and think before you react is a big step, but even simply stopping yourself is huge.
You can do this with a distraction technique. Some people close their eyes and count to 5 or 10 as they breathe in and out. Others will do the 4-7-8 breath, breathing in for 4 counts, holding for 7, then breathing out for 8. You might even find closing your eyes and singing a few lines of your favorite song is what does it for you.
The common thread of all these techniques is they distract you at the moment, diffusing the rising anger in your brain and redirecting your thoughts elsewhere. Sure, when you're done, you might still feel angry, but now you won't react in anger. You'll be able to look at things and respond to them more rationally.
Have you ever found yourself getting frustrated with your child or mad at your spouse because of something they did ages ago? Maybe you still haven't forgiven your partner for forgetting your last anniversary. Or you're still peeved about the time your 5-year-old wrote over your favorite dress with a magic marker because they were the world's top fashion designer.
Letting feelings and thoughts bubble up from the past is a surefire way to miss out on the present. You can't handle today's challenges if you're still caught up on yesterday's troubles.
If you struggle with forgetting about what happened weeks, months, or even years ago, try our Mindpower Session, ‘Release the Past and Let Go’. Forgiving others does more for you than the people you forgive and letting go of resentment relieves a tremendous burden from your shoulders. You'll be able to breathe easier. Then, you can focus more on what's right in front of you and stop glancing in the rearview mirror, which is a big part of what mindful parenting is all about.
"I never lose my patience," said no mom ever. It's hard to maintain patience after you've answered the same question 20 times, wiped up spills from the same cup 10 times, and lost your car keys--again. Low patience fuels anger, outbursts, and stress.
So, if you can focus on upping your patience levels, you'll find your anger wanes by default. Plus, it's a cycle--when you have more patience, you don't get as angry, and when you have less anger, you stay more patient.
Try to keep things in perspective the next time you feel yourself losing patience. Focus on the big picture and keep breathing. You can listen to ‘Reduce Anger and Improve Patience’ for some extra encouragement and get started on the right track.
If anger and losing patience are roadblocks to mindful parenting, then guilt is a giant sinkhole.
Guilt doesn't just stop you in your tracks; it swallows you up. No matter what anyone tells you, nobody does this whole motherhood thing perfectly. And if you keep trying to perform to the level of some impossible phantom dream of #momlife, you'll end up wallowing in guilt.
Stop feeling guilty because you made a mistake, whether it was one second ago or one year ago. Don't focus on everything you haven't done. Instead, remind yourself of the things you have done, your accomplishments, and the things you have. Keep a gratitude journal, tell your kids something you love about them, tell yourself what you love about you.
But, whatever you do, ditch the guilt. Because if you keep fretting and regretting the past, you’re not mindful of the present.
Our kids do not see things the same way we do, which means they often don't understand why we react the way we do. When our kids do something that makes us want to scream, the odds are good that wasn’t their intention. More than likely, they made a decision out of not-so-good judgment, thinking it was no big deal at the time.
If you can stop yourself in those moments and try to see things through your child's eyes, it will help you refocus. You can then match your reaction to your child's emotions rather than amplifying it to the extreme.
Practice empathy, work on understanding your child more, and talk with them. When you can see things from your kid's point of view, it can help you adjust the way you respond to different situations.
Of course, talking with your child is vital, but listening to them is even more critical. This helps you understand your child and why they do the things they do. When you can understand the why behind their actions, you can better control your response to them.
Celebrating the past is important, like birthday parties, anniversaries, and memorials. We also enjoy celebrating the future with baby showers, bridal showers, housewarming parties, and more.
But we also tend to dwell a lot on the past and plan a lot for the future. This leaves little time to celebrate the present. If you find yourself constantly worrying about tomorrow, making to-do lists, or wondering what if--it’s time to stop and recenter.
Focus on the now. See the colors around you, feel the textures, listen to the sounds, smell the different scents. Gaze into your baby's eyes, hug your child, stroke their hair, and kiss their cheek. Take it all in and relish in it because that exact moment, just like it is, will never ever happen again.
Becoming a more mindful parent won't happen overnight. But it's not as long a road as you might think. MamaZen has insightful tips and resources to help you work on the things that challenge you most. And you can start with just a few minutes a day. You will become a more mindful and happier mom, loving the present and taking every day one step at a time.
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