Parenting in the moment is not only the ultimate, loving gift you can share with your child, it’s also a wonderful skill to teach them as well.
Here are five simple mindfulness habits that you can begin incorporating into your parenting life today!
2. Practice Mindful Awareness
So, what exactly is mindful awareness? According to UCLA Mindful Awareness Research Center: "Mindful Awareness is the moment-by-moment process of actively and openly observing one's physical, mental and emotional experiences."
I interpret mindful awareness as maintaining a close gauge on my thoughts and feelings according to what’s happening in my surrounding environment.
As mentioned earlier, the turning point in how I learned to embrace the at-times mundane rituals of motherhood was when I consciously decided to relish the many facets of parenting. For example, for years I would wake up to several babies wearing wet, soiled diapers. Diaper changing at 6AM is not exactly the most inspired way to start a frigid, January morning. But by choosing to practice mindful awareness, it became a very sacred part of my daily routine.
Instead of dreading dirty diapers, I entered my babies' nurseries with a full heart knowing how excited they would be to see me every morning. Their adorable arms and legs would be happily flailing in their cribs the second I poked my head through the door. I learned not to take even an unpleasant job like diaper changing for granted but instead counted my blessings that I had healthy children to care for, had access to disposable diapers, and that my kids were happy and thriving because I was doing a darn good job providing for their very basic needs. Still makes my heart melt to this day!
This very simple change in mindset filled me with gratitude rather than drudgery and definitely enhanced and improved my entire approach to all areas of my parenting experience.
3. Listen With Your Whole Body
One of my few pet peeves is when I'm speaking to someone (children, coworkers, my partner, or even my mother) and they are half-paying attention. I realize we are all inundated with a great many distractions, but frankly I find it rude and disheartening to be ignored.
This goes both ways. Think about how our kids feel when they are trying to talk to us about an issue important to them, and instead of making eye contact and paying attention to their needs, we only occasionally glance up from our smartphone glued to our hands and barely connect with them during the conversation.
One of the most important habits you can incorporate immediately into a more mindful parenting regimen is to begin listening to your family with your undivided attention. Or, as I like to say, listen with your whole body.
In 1990, Susanne Poulette Truesdale created the concept of whole body listening which she describes in her article Whole-Body Listening: Developing Active Auditory Skills. Truesdale argues that active listening is more than simply hearing with our ears. We also listen with our brain, eyes, mouth, hands, and even our feet.
When a family member needs to share something with me, no matter how inconvenient the timing might be, I try to stop what I’m doing and quiet my body so that I can pay full attention to the conversation. This means putting away all electronics, stopping the dicing and chopping of dinner preparations, not pacing around the room watering plants or throwing laundry into the dryer, and certainly not talking while they are speaking.
Listening with the full array of our senses tuned in to the conversation is the equivalent of hitting the mindful parenting homerun!