Welp, here we go again! We’ve embarked on yet another one of the most challenging years in recent memory. The world has transitioned into a new multi-layered kind of chaos, where each layer seeks different efforts from parents.
Mom to a preschooler here; my world turned upside down when I had to opt for homeschooling for my daughter. I knew it was just for six months. I knew it was the right thing to do. But gaaah my brain wasn’t catching up to it!
I’m a planner. I hadn’t planned for this to happen. Nobody did. And that’s when my journey to becoming a mindful parent began.
One year later, a wiser mom, a mindful parent is sharing the tips and strategies used to help make things go from bearable to beautiful.
My Path to Becoming a More Mindful Parent
As a digital marketing strategist and visibility coach, half of my day was finding virtual solutions for clients. So, naturally, when it came to my daughter, I also used to rely on the internet to find information about her milestones, aches, and tantrums.
I kid you not, and this might be relevant – but has your search history ever looked like:
“What book should a 3-year-old read?”
“Tummy ache relief”
“Building a healthy routine for stay at home mom”
“Building a career as a stay at home mom”
“Healthy meal recipes for kids”
The problem arises when we’re constantly bombarding ourselves with information that is over-stimulating our brain – it tires out without taking any inspired action.
As an informed and mindful parent, I now trust my brain enough to make decisions relying on my instincts and making use of tools I’d discuss in this blog post. Let’s dig in.
Morning Pages for the Mindful Parent
First introduced by Julia Cameron, The Artist’s Way and spin-off, The Miracle of Morning Pages. Here’s how she explains the practice: “Morning Pages are three pages of longhand, stream of consciousness writing, done first thing in the morning. *There is no wrong way to do Morning Pages* – they are not high art. They are not even ‘writing.’ They are about anything and everything that crosses your mind – and they are for your eyes only. Morning Pages provoke, clarify, comfort, cajole, prioritize and synchronize the day at hand. Do not over-think Morning Pages: just put three pages of anything on the page…and then do three more pages tomorrow.“
Cameron suggests you don’t read what you write in those three pages, at least not for the first few months – you might even tear up and throw them away or burn them.
The purpose of this practice is to allow you to dump everything that has been weighing you down on pieces of paper with a non-judgemental outcome, that is, you don’t have to read what you wrote. Again, you have the freedom to write, draw, color, or mind-map your way to the end of those three pages.
If I could tell you in a single [slightly long] sentence: Morning pages have helped me break the loop of negative self-talk, you know the things we repeat to ourselves without realizing it’s the seven hundredth time you’re telling yourself that you’re a lousy, not so mindful parent for choosing a different daycare or not reading to them at bedtime because you had a ton of work to do to pay hardcore bills – but yeah, consciously writing your mind makes you realize you talk a lot of crap to yourself…
Also, notice how I didn’t use a period because I promised earlier I’d finish this in one sentence?
According to Masterclass, “Writing in a journal is an act of self-expression that is done periodically to record feelings and inspire ideas. Morning pages serve a deeper purpose. This type of journaling is a cathartic, ritualistic writing process that clears your mind, builds confidence, and creates a path for greater creativity.“
No harm in trying, right?
Achieving Mindfulness with Tapping
I’m so excited to share this one because I had no idea what tapping was until introduced by my mentor. (God, I love her.) Tapping or Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT) is an alternative treatment for anxiety, stress, pain management, manifestation, and emotional distress.
Similar to morning pages, tapping helps break the pattern of stories we tell ourselves by creating a different narrative. Much like affirmations but paired with methodic tapping movements across nine meridian points.
Watch this video by High Vibe Honey to see what it looks like: Tapping For Beginners. Tapping starts at 14:40.
Here’s another tapping for anxiety video to get a better idea. This is the one I did just last night, and my energy has shifted from desperation and anxiety to calm and knowing.
According to Gary Craig, the developer of this technique, a disruption in energy is the cause of all negative emotions and pain, and treating that imbalance can help restore your emotional and physical distress.
However, as a parent plus business owner with self-diagnosed ADD and high functioning anxiety, tapping once or twice a week helps put me in a calm state, which leads to becoming a mindful parent. In full disclosure, I’m not the most consistent person in the world. But I’ve learned to make progress over perfection, any day.
Un-Learning and Relearning
I had to do a lot of un-learning, shedding down layers of what I’ve known to be “normal” vs. what’s not in the past two years and it has been liberating.
I’ve been too stuck inside a mental vision that I created years ago (or what had been instilled in my mind as I grew up) around who I was, what I wanted to do in life, certain things that had to be accomplished by a certain time and so on…
Again, it all comes down to the stories we’re telling ourselves about being a parent and unlearning that narrative along with those behaviors.
Most of what we’ve learned so far is through modeling behaviors. But we’re leading with a different survival response post-pandemic.
I don’t want to sound like a bore, but what was working ten years ago isn’t working today. Children expect us to be upfront about taboo subjects. They want to talk about uncertainty, pain, demise and overcoming all of that with strength. So what do we do?
We unlearn the need to not learn anything new. We unlearn the narrative that you “automatically” become a mindful parent. Instead, we learn that becoming a mindful parent takes time. We learn that educating ourselves to be able to talk to our children to make them informed, aware, and enlightened is an important aspect of parenting.
Meditation for the Mindful Parent
I struggled with meditating on my own for 26 years, and just last year I thought, forget that, I’m going to start listening to guided meditations. TOTAL GAME CHANGER.
I started listening to this one right here: Sleep Reprogramming Meditation. It’s 8 hours long, but I only listened till I got really sleepy (around forty-five minutes) and then cut it off.
I kid you not, this has helped with:
- Getting rid of sleeping on my Instagram scroll
- Calming my mind
- Becoming a mindful parent, because the stress levels go way down when you wake up restful the next day.
If you’re struggling with a mental health issue, it’s best to seek professional help because these practices can help control the symptoms, but they’re not a replacement for treatment.
Becoming a More Mindful Parent by Listening
When your child speaks; listen. And don’t just listen with your ears. Listen with your eyes. Observe their behavior. Notice their body language. A child can show so much just through their actions. Listen with your touch; reciprocate warmth in conversations with hugs. Ask questions that allow them to probe into their feelings.
A conversation around “he pushed me the swings” can be followed by: What did you feel? How did you react? How did you want to react?
Before you jump on schooling them on playground manners or telling off the other kid, let them describe their feelings. Being a mindful parent is not just about you being an aware, present parent, it’s about raising mindful kids.
Before you start any new mindful parent practice, make sure that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. You might try one thing and feel icky until the other one comes along and sits well. Don’t bust yourself and force something that feels unaligned or out of your capacity right now.
Sometimes we need to parent ourselves too. And a part of that includes becoming aware of who you really are. What is your purpose? As a mindful parent, as a human being. Who you are and who do you want to become? Be gentle and kind in becoming that mindful parent version of yourself.
WANT TO READ MORE?
On your path to becoming a more mindful parent, check out Mindful Fitness in 30 Minutes.
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