The Art Of Mindful Parenting

Words: Sharon GARRO

When you instil mindfulness to the challenges of children it can help parents to better enjoy the precious early years.

Parents can struggle to enjoy the present. Children fill parental minds with lists of things to do and challenges to overcome. Many mums and dads struggle to enjoy the moment they are in, even as they know this stage won’t last forever.

Mindful parenting brings the concept of mindfulness to our experience as parents.

When we practice mindfulness, we tune our thoughts into what we’re sensing in the present-moment rather than living in the past, or imagining the future. This simple-sounding approach has been shown to have many benefits. Psychological research suggests it can relieve stress, anxiety and depression.

How To Be A Mindful Parent 

Imagine you are juggling your children’s homework with cooking the dinner. You are longing for that time of the evening where you can sit on the couch for a few hours before you go to sleep, and it all starts again.

If you can practice mindfulness and be in the ‘here and now,’ rather than trying to multitask, or get through your immense ‘to-do’ list, you may find that you can enjoy even these routine daily tasks.

You might choose to sit down with your child while they’re doing homework and look at this as a time for you to connect with them and give them your attention. You might also enjoy a cup of tea while being fully present with your child, taking the time to be there for them and for yourself. Following this, you can turn your attention fully to the task of cooking. But, rather than rushing the process and being on auto-pilot, you may be better able to enjoy this task too: the smells, the creativity, and the enjoyment of making a nutritious meal for your family.

When my little ones used to ask me to read to them before bed, I would often skip a few pages to hurry the process. I was tired and desperately wanted to get some time for myself. Once child number four arrived, I became more aware of how fast the time goes. Now, I am the one who starts story time and loves to sit with my little boy and smell his hair, feel his soft skin and touch his warm body. I now find these times to be a blessing and enjoy being in the moment. Reading no longer feels like a chore.

Practice Makes Perfect 

Mindfulness improves with practice, and it can be challenging for those starting out. But, while mindful parenting doesn’t magically make things easier, it can help us to get more enjoyment out of things we often take for granted. This, in turn, can give us more of that energy we so desperately need.

SHARON GARRO, MAPS, a Registered Psychologist, works with children, adolescents and young people in the areas of well-being and learning. Her passion is to bring a strengths’-based approach to helping young people realise their unique identities, both in character and their learning. She works as a private consultant for Redirection Psychology in Melbourne and mentors’ schools in the areas of learning differences, well-being and Positive Education. Garro is also the National Convener of the APS Positive Psychology Interest Group and she has recently completed a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology at the University of Melbourne. This article was first published in Psychlopaedia.org, under a Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial No Derivatives 4.0 International License. Sharon Garro lives in Australia

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