I used to think Mindful Parenting would be like living on a few acres of land with two children running barefoot in the grass. Realistically, chances are your children are immersed in after school activities, both parents in your home work to some capacity, and by bedtime, it feels like you’ve run a marathon. In 2018, what does it look like to be a Mindful Parent?
The three parts of Mindful Parenting that resonate with me are breath as my foundation, equanimity, and a open heart. Today’s blog post will focus on the first part - the breath.
If you have read any of my other blog posts, you know that I am a huge advocate of taking six deep breaths when you feel overwhelmed with your children. In fact, it is scientifically proven that deep breathing calms the body.
Just a few days ago, I had a power struggle with my daughter that made me feel frustrated and angry. I could feel myself wanting to yell, “STOP!” Instead of yelling, I sat in the hallway and took six deep breaths. When I opened my eyes, I felt like a new mom. I saw my daughter's sweet smile and gave her a big hug. In pausing to breathe, I changed my attitude, which changed our dynamic. That is the power of the breath!
Mindful Breathing is as simple as observing your inhalations and exhalations. As you breathe in and out, don’t try to control the breath or judge yourself. Simply breath in … and breathe out …
I start and end my day sitting on a cushion in my room to practice Mindful Breathing. This daily routine instills the power of breath in my mind, so when intense emotions surface, I use my breath as an immediate tool. Taking six deep breaths early each day, I find myself breathing while I drive, at the park with my children, or in the grocery store. When I feel strong emotions rising, it is my reset button. If your children are challenging like mine are, chances are this breathing tool will ease your frustration.
Try Mindful Breathing anywhere and anytime. You may be surprised how it helps you find your calm!
Learn more about Mindful Parenting at my website www.mindfulninjamom.com
Have you ever felt so frustrated with the chaos of family life that you wanted to scream?
If the answer is “yes” or “Heck, yes!”, then you have found the right website and, better yet, you are not alone!
Being a parent can feel utterly overwhelming at times. Just when we think we are on the other side of a tantrum, or our child is finally sleeping through the night, or she has the bathroom thing down, we discover we are mistaken. It is exhausting indeed. In the words of John J. Plomp, “The only thing kids wear out faster than their shoes is their parents.”
Being a mother is one of the greatest joys of my life. Each day I am thankful for the two amazing beings that I'm raising. Each day I fall more madly in love with them. Nevertheless, it is hard sometimes. Christmas was a spectacularly glorious day, which turned into a hard night, a series of events, really. My daughter decided she didn’t want to eat dinner after I spent most of the day preparing our holiday meal. She had a huge tantrum after dinner while I was trying to have an adult conversation, and she fought with her brother over the Christmas present they both wanted to use just then. The culminating event was long wailing when it was time for bed.
As a Mindful Ninja Mom, I intellectually understood that my three-year-old was exhausted from a stimulating day and missed her nap. I knew I couldn’t make her eat her dinner. When she had the tantrum, I invited her to scream in the other room. I navigated her fight over presents by listening to both children's concerns and offered them limited choices. I also understood that before bed, she had "flipped her lid". See http://www.drdansiegel.com for more information on the science behind Flipping Your Lid, when the prefrontal cortex shuts down and no longer works with the rest of one's brain.
Nevertheless, as I walked away for a moment to compose myself, the idea of screaming felt like a nice way to release my own steam. I felt like a crimson red balloon bursting with helium. Luckily, I spend a lot of time talking to my kiddos about the power of breath. Did you know that scientists have studied the breath and have concluded that taking just 6 deep breaths can calm your body down? Here's how I explain it to my children: Think of your body as a car, racing around and using 'lots of gas. Your breath is just like the brake of a car - it can slow your body down and make you feel better. (The explanation for adults is much longer, dealing with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous systems).
Because I talked to my children about taking 6 deep breaths, I incorporated it into my own Mindful Ninja Mom Tool Kit. Instead of screaming, I sat for a moment and took a deep breath. I took the first deep inhalation through my nose. As I exhaled through my mouth, I instantly knew I was on the right track. Like a bird released from a cage, my breath became my wings. As my frustration moved from a burning ember to a rowboat on a summer pond, I continued my breath:
Soon, I became aware of softer noises in my house that I couldn’t hear when my mind spun with angry thoughts. My arms started to feel like jello as they relaxed into the moment of rest. My heart slowed to a thump, thump, thump. I took a moment to think about my daughter's smile that lights up the whole room, the morning kisses I give her that make her belly-laugh, the way she snuggles into her pillow at night when I sing her favorite songs. In an instant, my whole perception changed because I took a moment to ground myself.
Again and again, this is my experience as a Mindful Ninja Mom. When I am empowered with tools to change my own reaction to a parenting situation, I am able to change my reality. Kids are designed to develop autonomy from their parents. Kids are going to rebel, yell, scream, and argue (but we don’t have to; after all, we have a fully developed prefrontal cortex!).
After I took deep breaths to calm myself down, I was able to start over and have a really nice evening. My daughter sat on my lap as we counted chicks in her favorite bedtime book. I tucked her into bed with her favorite stitched quilt. I helped her take deep breaths and say calming words when she was scared going to sleep. We had a lovely evening due to the tools in my Mindful Ninja MomTool Kit.
In short, don’t let your kids wear you out faster than their shoes. Become a Mindful Ninja Mom (or Dad) and empower yourself with easy tools that make a world of difference.
If you would like to learn more about Mindful Ninja Mom Tools, please visit my website at www.mindfulninjamom.com and subscribe to my email list for tips emailed to your inbox. I also offer one-to-one parent coaching services.