Although mindfulness has become a buzzword in the wellness community in the last few years, its roots go back centuries. If you are not familiar with the concept, it is basically using practical tips to train yourself to really live in and experience each moment. All too frequently we dwell in the past emotionally or anxiously consider the future so much that we miss what is happening right in front of our face. The benefits of practicing mindfulness include stress reduction, improved mental health, and a deeper sense of peace.
Here are a few simple ideas to get you started implementing mindfulness in your home with your kids!
Look at your kid’s face when they are talking. It sounds so straightforward but when your preschooler is asking you their 400th question of the day it is tempting to scroll through social media. When having a conversation (verbal or non) with your child, give it the same level of importance as though they are a renowned adult.
Encourage your child to breathe deeply when they are flustered or frustrated. A great deal of anxiety and frustration can be avoided when kids are given a moment to calm down. These mini meditation sessions balance a child’s mind and body the same way they do in grown ups.
Designating family time from other work or household tasks creates the kind of quality time where families thrive. “For the next 20 minutes I will play with my child and do nothing else.” Turn notifications off, hide all screens, and dive deep into the world in your child’s imagination.
Allow times you and your children are eating to be peaceful. Ask your kids about their food. “What do you taste?” “What does that feel like in your hand?” In adults, mindful eating aids in weight loss and higher satisfaction during meals. In kids, it promotes healthy eating habits and positive views of food and nutrition.
Allow them to daydream.
This one is particularly pertinent with babies. Once we adopted Janet Lansbury’s parenting method it completely took all the pressure off the time I spent with my newborns. She teaches that infants learn by observing and sometimes will spend long periods of time simply looking around or feeling a new texture. Basically, whatever is entertaining your child at that moment is the priority to them and does not to be interrupted by their parent to do another activity. This promotes creativity and longer attention spans.
Take time to chill.
In between activities and destinations take a moment to reflect on what you just did and what you are about to do. This can be done in the car, moving from room to room, or anywhere you are about to experience a transition. It starts with simple questions or processing of what just happened then moves into explanations of what is next.
Crying about the wrong sippy cup color… Screaming about having to share a toy.. Losing their minds over the seemingly tiniest little things… It is helpful as parents to remember that every meltdown your child has is an opportunity for development. “You are feeling frustrated because you wanted to have popsicles for dinner.” “You are sad because you were not ready to get out of the bath.” As you comfort and problem solve for your son or daughter help teach them what it is they are experiencing. This builds the necessary emotional intelligence to help them become a functioning person of their own.
The single best purchase I ever made as a new mom was a floor chair. It allowed me to get on the ground with my baby and comfortably enjoy our time together as they did one of the millions of things littles do on the floor. The same concept goes for regular seats. Instead of sitting on the end of the chair ready to hop up – try leaning back and allowing the moment to fully exist.
Put on your tennis shoes or grab your jogging stroller and head outside! If your child is old enough to be on their own two feet encourage them to feel the ground as they go. Play “I Spy” and have conversations about the world around. “Do you feel that breeze?” “How many birds to you count flying by?” “I just love the colors in this sunset.” Plus, exercise and connecting with the earth has endless health and healing benefits.
Study their faces.
We all know it goes by quicker than you can imagine. You will never great taking that extra few seconds to notice how your daughter’s nose scrunches when she smiles. Or how your son’s eye’s light up when you walk into the room. Memorize every detail of their precious littleness.