Mindful Parenting: Put Your Mask On First
Mary Ruth Cross, MFT, NCC, RPT-S
CEO/Owner Treehouse Family Counseling Services
“Mindfulness” is a word we often see used today. I find it curious that it has been embraced in so many different ways, but what does it mean really? Mindfulness, seems like it would be self-explanatory but actually there is a lot more to it than meets the eye.
Some people think of mindfulness as having to go into a deep meditative state. Whereas that is one way of practicing mindfulness it is not necessary to get some well needed positive effects that help you feel calmer and less stressed. Mindfulness requires an awareness and a slowing down of the chaos of daily life. When you are parenting children and teens it can seem like the days just zoom on by and there is barely time to breathe let alone slow down and be aware. As the kids have gone back to school Treehouse Family Counseling Services invites you to take a minute for yourself. Sometimes the smallest changes can create a big effect.
Here are some ideas on small changes you can make to increase your mindful parenting.
1. Breathe – Just like in the airplane where the instructions are for the adult to put their air mask on first then the child’s in the event of an emergency the same is true for parenting. We have to be aware of our needs so that we can be more present to the needs of our family. While you are waiting to pick the kids up at school, arrive 5 minutes early so that you can sit quietly and breathe deeply, allowing your body and mind to be calm and regulated before going on to the afternoon activities.
2. Listen – listen to soothing, calming music – on the way home from work, while making dinner, sitting for a few minutes outside, while the kids work on homework.
3. Write – journaling is a simple and effective way to release feelings and become aware of what it is you need. You don’t have to write every day, just as often as you need to clear your mind.
4. Be Grateful – an attitude of gratitude is very healing and focuses our attention on what is positive and good rather than giving energy to the negative. Research has shown that a little gratitude brings relief from stress.
5. Release – release relationships that no longer work. A relationship that is one sided for example is a relationship that is draining. Ask yourself, is this a relationship that fills me up or drags me down? The relationship can be one with ourselves. Is there some way you might be hurting yourself that needs to be released? When was the last time you heard “I love you. I value you.”? Now is the time to turn your ability to love on yourself. From this well of love and gratitude you can be more present to yourself and your family.
6. Play – go play! Whether it’s riding a bike, playing catch, board games or cards – play with your children. They love to be with you and it is so much fun to play with them.
Treehouse Family Counseling Services helps the entire family grow and thrive. We use play to work through tough problems. If you find that you are struggling with tough problems please give us a call, we are here to help.