Mindful Moms (and Dads)
As we navigate these months of work, home and school life all at once, we’re feeling both grateful for this time home with our families as well as a little burnt out at times from this balancing act. We asked our friend, Christine Soriano, LCSW, to talk to us a little about mindfulness & parenting and how we can use it to help us feel less stressed.
The words mindful and mindfulness get tossed around a lot these days. It is most often just used as a synonym for awareness, but mindfulness is so much more than that.
Mindfulness is the idea that we are paying attention to the present moment on purpose and without judgement. It is all about focusing on the here and the now. When we do this, we are able to find a sense of peace and calm that allows us to take action and make thoughtful decisions about how we are going to tackle whatever is in front of us. Parenting is the most difficult job any of us will ever have and mindfulness can help give you the tools you need to make it through.
Let Yourself Play
It is amazing how you can love someone so much while also be constantly tested. Learning to be present with your children is important. Especially during these times, when we are working from home, it is important to allow ourselves the time to be fully engaged with them. Put your phones down, and your work computer back on the desk; allow yourself to play and engage with your child in that moment. Remember what it is like to be a child and engage in the wonders of the world with them. Notice how you feel when you are fully present with them in those moments. The world is telling you to master multi-tasking, I am telling you to slow down, engage intentionally and take notice of how it can feel to allow yourself to do this.
Respond Rather Than React
No, I am not delusional by writing the above paragraph, parenting isn’t all sunshine and rainbows, you can love them more than yourself and they can drive you mad, all at the same time. Sometimes it feels like they know exactly where your buttons are and they are on a mission push them. Mindfulness can give you the key skill set of learning how to respond rather than react.
Your children push, you react. When we react, we are going to our default coping mechanism, regardless of whether it works for you or not, to deal with the situation at hand. When we learn to respond, we have the ability to be present in the moment to objectively assess and then respond with thought and intention. How do you make this happen when your children have you on the brink? A pause. There needs to be a pause between your triggering event and the response. The pause allows you time to take a breath, notice your feet on the floor grounding to the earth and respond in manner that will be best for you and your family. This takes lots of practice, so its ok if does not go perfect on the first try, the more you can practice, the better you can get.
Don’t Judge (yourself)
I have written about the importance of being present on purpose and have yet to touch on that pesky part of mindfulness which is “without judgement”. Do you mentally beat yourself up for hours and even days over the difficult situations you face as a parent? Judging yourself for actions and reactions is only sending us down a rabbit hole of further despair. It is important to recognize that you are a perfectly imperfect human and mistakes are part of life. I give you full permission to be imperfect. Part of parenting is making mistakes and pivoting to figure out what works best for your family. So, when you do make a mistake, and you will, you can acknowledge what transpired, notice how you feel about it (without judgement) and allow yourself to move on from the situation.
Christine, and more information on her therapy and life coaching services, can be found at @livingmindfullytherapy.