Do you often feel like you never stop moving? Like you run around all day and never have the chance to breathe?
Let alone sit down and relax for five seconds…
Perhaps you have heard of mindfulness, but you have no idea how to build mindfulness into your day. How the heck are you supposed to be present and connected with your kids if you don’t even know half the time if you are coming or going?
Great question right?!?
If your hand is way up high- you are not alone!
When you are on screech mode, so are your kids. Children pick up on our energy, our emotions, and our behaviors. If we are anxious and stressed out they will feel it and many times their mood will escalate to match ours. The reality is, kiddos have enough of their own stressors.
Now, more than ever, they are being pulled out of their routines and forced to adapt to ever changing and often less than ideal situations.
Being forced to sit at a computer for hours a day virtual learning with little actual connection to their peers or teachers. Feeling like a burden to a parent who is also doing their best to work from home, juggling meetings and zoom calls, while simultaneously trying to be a patient and gracious teacher. Seeing you struggle to put on a smile and be yourself after a long day at work.
It’s exhausting to even think about.
Rates of anxiety and depression are rising among our youngest population and it’s imperative that we as adults do everything in our power to help get things back on track. Giving them the tools to develop self-awareness, to regulate their emotions and to make decisions from a less reactive place will not only help them to feel more satisfied but will make your day to day life easier as well.
But what does that even mean? That seems like an awfully tall order to fill when you’re barely keeping afloat yourself.
Mindfulness may be a hot buzz word these days, but the truth is this concept of paying attention, on purpose, to the present moment, is taking hold because it really works. The research is clear that this idea of pausing to tune in and observe our thoughts, emotions, or surroundings without judgement can help children, and adults alike, to release anxiety and to improve focus.
I know, the thought of adding one more thing to your list of things to do for the day feels completely overwhelming. But here’s the good news! Mindfulness is a free, easily accessible intervention that, with practice, can easily be incorporated into what you already do during the day.
Building mindful moments into your day is a crucial step in making it a realistic goal for your family.
No one has time for one more thing on their plate. But if there were a very real, tangible strategy that could help both you and your kids stay on track wouldn’t that be great?
3 Tips For Building Mindfulness Into Your Day
1. Keep It Simple (and Fun)
Incorporating mindfulness into your routine does not have to be scary or overwhelming. The key is keeping it really simple and fun! No wordy explanations, special props, or complicated processes needed. Any activity that offers you and your child the opportunity to pause and check in counts as a mindful moment. For real!
One of my biggest barriers when I first started practicing mindfulness with my daughter was making it way more complicated than it had to be. Worrying that I was doing it wrong or that it wasn’t good enough. We Moms are good at that.
Don’t let that worry get in the way of starting.
I’m going to give you some quick and easy resources so you can dip your toes in, just a minute or two at a time. Check out this list I’ve created of 15 Simple Mindfulness Activities For Families or download this free Mindful Moments for Kids Album by Kira Willey. Kidding Around Yoga also has some great free and easily accessible resources on mindfulness for kids.
No matter what it is you choose to start with, don’t stress, just jump in and begin.
2. Be Consistent
If one minute of effort made your trip through the grocery store fifty percent less stressful would you be in? Would you be committed to making it happen every (or at least most) of the time? Being consistent with these practices is really important in setting a tone and ultimately seeing success. Using something that you already do as part of your everyday routine like going to the grocery store, brushing teeth or sitting down to the dinner table can be an excellent time to begin to incorporate short moments of mindfulness.
The time that felt natural for my family was as part of my daughter’s bedtime routine. Things were already winding down for the day and it felt reasonable to add in just a few moments of present moment awareness. Whether it was a quick and easy breathing exercise, a few yoga poses, or a one minute guided song or meditation. I set the expectation very early on that right before bed was the time that I would begin to introduce mindful awareness.
Just one or two minutes of concentrated effort can greatly reduce your (and your child’s) stress response and set a whole new tone for the activity to come. It will seem like work at first, but ultimately, setting the standard that before certain activities you all take a purposeful moment to chill out and connect can work wonders in the long run.
3. Do It With Them
Whether we like it or not, we are teachers and children look up to us and imitate our behavior. Taking your own advice and committing to joining in these practices with them is one of the best ways to gain their trust and participation in the process. The great news is you will be sure to benefit as well!
Again, I know how painful it might feel to breathe like a bunny when the reality is you have a list of things a million miles long that needs to be done. The timetable in your head feeling completely disrupted when you pause for that one minute to notice your thoughts on a cloud or listen for the birds as you head into daycare. I get it. I really do.
But, telling your kiddo to relax, to calm down, or to sit still and pay attention is not enough. We need to show them. To lead, guide, and model for them what this actually looks like. We say these things to our kids all the time, but now we need to take it a step further and we need to teach them what this looks like and how it feels in their body.
Reaping The Benefits Of Mindfulness
Committing to a regular practice of mindfulness within your family unit has the potential to provide your child with benefits that reach far beyond the walls of your home. Research supports that children who practice mindfulness have better behavior in school, improved empathy and kindness and higher levels of resilience during challenging times.
Who wouldn’t want that right?
Remember, mindfulness does not have to take a lot of time and doesn’t have to feel like an extra chore on your never ending list. Beginning to incorporate small moments of mindfulness into your already established routine can have a profound impact on both the mental and physical health of you and your family.
Once you feel comfortable with the concept and your child gets used to the idea, it becomes a way of life. Pausing intermittently becomes a natural part of the way you move through your day. Without having to always stop and think “ok, I’m being mindful now”. I promise, it gets easier and before you know it your family will be experiencing mindful moments together without even trying.