Parenting is one of the biggest challenges and also one of the biggest responsibilities we will ever face. Mindful parenting is about being fully present, open and connected with our children and our values as parents. Practicing mindfulness can help us regain the inner stillness needed to connect with our children in this way.
In our work with clients Ilze and I always try to highlight that mindfulness is not just about sitting in a quiet place and meditating for 15 minutes or longer. Yes, that is one aspect of practicing mindfulness, but mindfulness is a lot more than that. Mindfulness is a way of living. Every moment of every day can be spent mindfully or unmindfully. As such also parenting is a task that we can engage in mindfully or unmindfully and where we can make mindful or unmindful choices every moment of the day.
As a new parent to be, I am, at times, equally terrified of the difficulties and challenges that are lying ahead of me and (probably) blissfully ignorant of how hard parenting will be sometimes. Yes, I’ve read books, talked to parents, did research online, but what becomes clearer and clearer is that nothing will really prepare me for this journey.
In their book “Everyday Blessings. Mindfulness for Parents.” Jon Kabat-Zinn and his wife Myla describe parenting as ‘the full catastrophe’ because parenting challenges us like nothing else before has. They further say that ‘mindful parenting involves keeping in mind what is truly important’ and indeed coming back to this question again and again in the midst of life, of chaos and of our needs clashing with the needs of our children. Mindful parenting then means to be able to become still and to bring attention, openness and acceptance to what is going on in the present moment without judgment.
Being able to become still and not immediately react to the often very challenging moments of parenting is really what matters when we talk about mindful parenting. Meditating for a specified time a day might help you to achieve that, but ultimately it is about connecting moment to moment with your children and being fully present with them as much as you can.
Having said all that I would now like to invite all mothers on this mother’s day to just take a few deep breath, become present and to remember what is truly important for you in this moment.
HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!
Kabat-Zin, J. K. and Kabat-Zin, M. (2014). Everyday Blessings. Mindfulness for Parents. Hachette Books. UK
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