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  • Merrily Hope

What, exactly, is mindful parenting?

Everybody is talking about mindfulness. Everywhere you look, or listen, you will hear this popular buzzword. What does it really mean, and how does it apply to parenting?

Mindfulness is the practice of awareness, and clarifying that awareness. More challenging, it is learning how to respond to that awareness.

Mindfulness is knowing your mind and discovering who you are, without judgement, by observing your thoughts, feelings and reactions. For example, if you walk into the kitchen and go, “UGH! This is such a mess!" You are creating a physical response of stress and judgement. If, however, you say, “This kitchen needs to be cleaned,” there is no emotion attached. It is merely a statement. If you take it a step farther, you will notice that complaint about the messy kitchen actually elicited a negative physical response. By noticing your thoughts, you may learn about something about yourself too, that will coax you into making subtle changes about how you do things. If you realize that you get crabby whenever you see the dishes piled in the sink, you will be more inclined to tweak some things...maybe set some new rules, or shift your mindset to make clearing the sink a time to reflect on your day.

Mindfulness is training the mind so it is less vulnerable. If you know your thoughts, and pay attention to your reactions, (and define your values, as we discussed earlier,) you are less vulnerable to outside influences and can make your own decisions that align with your highest self. We are less likely to be influenced by the media and strong personalities when we ask ourselves how we truly feel about something. As a side note, especially pertinent right now, if we have a vulnerable mind and fill it with too much exposure to the news, we may begin to have doubt in humanity as a whole.

Mindfulness frees the mind. It allows us to stop clinging to people, ideas, and crap in our minds, leaving room for new skills like better concentration, relaxation and creativity. We may think we have to do things in a certain way, or think about things a certain way, because that is what we have always done. However, mindfulness helps us to realize that we may have actually changed our minds...perhaps opening it up to newer, more informed ideals.

Ok… so you have a general idea of what mindfulness is. You realize the importance of being mindful while parenting for self-awareness and to control your reactions. But how do you apply this? How do you redefine your resting state to one of calm, rather than strung out? There are literally thousands of ways! I will continue to share more in this newsletter down the line, but here are a few I spoke of in the latest Podcast to get you started.

First...When you have a strong reaction to something, take a quick pause and ask yourself why? Remember, reactions come from emotion. Identify what that emotion is and don’t judge it. There are no wrong emotions, but knowing what they are triggering, can help save your kid from getting yelled at!

Second...start some practices that will help you live in a calm state more of the time. Perhaps a gratitude journal, meditation or other calming activities.

Third...slow down. Be mindful when you are doing things. Trust me! I know this is hard, but I also know it is insanely valuable, not only for your sanity, but for your relationship with you kids.

Fourth… get to know yourself. Know what triggers you and why, know what brings you joy, know what your values are...know yourself.

To subscribe to my newsletter to receive journal prompts and other regular information on mindful parenting, click here.

To listen to the Podcast on this topic, click here

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