One of the biggest struggles every parent faces is being present; being in-the-moment, and letting the little things go in terms of raising children. It's easy to get yourself all stressed out when the mornings are hectic, and it's easy to bark at your children when they interrupt your work. But the guilt isn't so easy. For a lot of parents, choosing to be more mindful has helped them overcome that guilt and made their home a happier, more relaxed place for their kids. But what is mindful parenting? Does it mean letting your children do whatever they want for the sake of peace? Is it like attachment parenting? Does it require a lot of extra work?
I know, you have even more questions. Look, choosing a parenting "style" isn't everyone's cup of tea. Most people just wing this whole parenting thing (including me) and do what works for their children. Whether you co-sleep or not, formula feed or not, it's up to you to decide how to raise your child.
But if mindful parenting can help ease some of the stress and anxiety of raising kiddos, then why not?
According to The Huffington Post, being mindful has become a trend in the last few years, but it's a trend that works. Simply put, it's an awareness that comes through paying attention to the world around you and being present in the moment. Because most people have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time or really taking in what they're doing, it's easy to become frustrated, anxious, or burned out.
Applying that to parenting? Well, it makes sense.
The Mindful Parent suggested that when you use mindful parenting to raise your children, whether you are separated from them or physically with them, you can enhance your sense of connection to them.
Sounds pretty simple, right? And it is. The Mindful Parent also noted that mindful parenting can take many forms. You can engage in mindful parenting when you are alone or you can make it a group activity, like when you're all at the dinner table or when you're helping your kids with homework.
According to Mindful, mindful parenting isn't just smiling and insisting on positive interactions with your kid. It's about being more mindful and responsive as a parent. Instead of angrily yelling at your little one when they knock over something they weren't supposed to touch, mindful parenting encourages you to think before you react, and notice your own feelings when you're butting heads with your child. Are you angry because they didn't listen or because something is broken?
A 2016 study in Journal of Abnormal Child Psychology found that parents who used more mindful parenting practices experienced more positive and less negative parenting behaviors which led to more positive behavior in their kids. Their children had decreased anxiety and acting out as well as depression.
The wonderful thing is, mindful parenting can make everyone in the family feel better. According to Child Mind Institute, being present in the moment can lessen the stress and anxiety of everyone in the house. You don't have to enjoy every second, that's not what being in the present enforces. It means when you are looking around your destroyed living room, your kids are crying, and someone has missed the potty in the corner and left a giant puddle, you don't react angrily or lose your mind. Instead, you stay in the moment. And what is that moment? Utter chaos. So you just remain present in it. You let go of your perfectionism, you let go of your worries and fears and anxieties, and you say, "You know what? This is so crazy right now." And you go from there.
Child Mind Institute also noted that by creating a safe space, like when you are calm despite the chaos, your kids will react positively. They know there's no reason to get upset or frustrated if you're also calm — you're the role model they are looking to.
Mindful parenting is about compassion, paying full attention to your kids, and being open. When your mornings are hectic, instead of lashing out, you take a mindful approach. What can you do to make it easier? How does this make your child feel? Are they rushed? Do they need to wake up earlier? Are you snapping because you're going to be five minutes late to school? How can you make this better for everyone?
By taking a deep breath, being present in the moment, and approaching every parenting moment with compassion and openness, you're engaging in mindful parenting. It's about waiting to react until you're focused and it's about being fully aware of whatever situation you're in and choosing to give it your full attention right there.
Honestly, it seems like a healthy way to live your life in general, but as a parent, your kids will remember your calm demeanor and the way you handled situations. It's not going to ruin anyone's day if the house is a wreck and kids are crying. But your harsh words or temper or anger might.