What does it mean, really, to be a mindful parent? We hear this term thrown around a lot these days (I'm guilty too) but what are we really talking about?
To be mindful, is pretty simple. To be mindful is to be aware of the present moment without judging what is happening. In addition there is also the underlying mindset of having compassion or loving kindness around what is happening.
How can this mindset and intention support you in your parenting journey? Here are 5 ways that it helps me on a daily basis in my role as a mom.
1. When I am mindful I am really in the moment with my kids. I watch them playing and really see them. I breathe in their yummy, musty smell, I get a little hug, I kiss them goodnight and each time I am fully present. Sometimes it is only for 15 seconds but any amount of time being present is totally worth it.
2. When I am mindful I don't respond mindlessly. Do I get frustrated and overwhelmed with my kids. Yep, all the time. Do I yell at them and say things that I don't mean or will regret later. Rarely ever. This is because I am choosing to parent consciously and choose to take a breathe and a pause or some space before I respond to the BEHAVIOR that isn't working. When I take this space I am able to respond with love and compassion to the soul that is residing in my little humans.
3. When I am mindful I am less anxious and depressed. Do I still feel panic sometimes, Yes. Do I feel sad or lethargic at times; yes. I accept them. I love myself in spite of the feelings. I make choices to shift my energy and my moods shift accordingly. The more mindful and mentally healthy that I am the healthier my kids are. They learn that their moods and feelings can shift too and they become more resilient.
4. When I am mindful I take better care of myself. When I pay attention I notice how my body feels when I haven't gotten enough sleep, or drank enough water, or moved my body enough. Once I notice that I am not feeling great I have the opportunity to make different choices. After I became aware of being nutritionally depleted after having my 3rd baby I took action to 1)figure out what I was missing nutritionally and 2)invest in a high quality supplement to replace what I was lacking. It all started with non-judgemental awareness. The healthier my body is the more I am able to be mindful.
5. When I am mindful I love myself more. I can look in the mirror and smile. I can feel proud of my accomplishments AND the things that I didn't finish. I can believe it when I say during my tapping exercises, "Even though I have a jiggly belly I deeply love and accept myself.". When I have compassion for myself I am able to expand my compassion for my kids and what they might be going through.
It sounds easy right? It is not. It is a daily struggle to be present and compassionate and forgiving of myself and others. I forget, but I set my daily intention to remember.
You don't have to be perfect or mindful 100% of the time. The most important thing is that you just do your best. You are amazing!
Want to learn about mindful living? You are invited to check out Thriving Mama Quick Start; we'd love to have you in our community!
Jennifer Bronsnick, MSW, LCSW is passionate about supporting moms to be resilient. As a mother of three daughters under 8 and a survivor of postpartum depression and anxiety Jennifer knows exactly how challenging motherhood can be. She also knows that there is hope for all of us and with accurate information, support and inspiration that mothers and families can thrive.
Jennifer’s years of clinical experience as a social worker and her own personal journey gives her the unique ability to guide other moms on their path to health and wellness. You can also learn more about Jennifer, the services she offers and purchase her books on maternal self-care at www.themindfulfamily.com/jennifer.