Now, more than ever, it’s so incredibly important to be mindful. While mindfulness won’t necessarily wipe away all the stressors in life, it helps to make them more manageable. You’ll find that, once you learn how to pursue a more peaceful existence, that you’ll naturally build up the tools to help keep you strong (and sane) during tough times in life. And once moms and dads have that wisdom, they’ll be able to pass it along to their kids. That’s why it’s so important to know how parents can practice mindfulness with their kids.
Because, believe it or not, your kids are stressed out, too. They might not have the same worries that come with adulting (like paying the mortgage or dealing with a micromanaging boss), but they still struggle. And making a point to be mindful can not only help to create some calm into your life, but your child’s as well. It’s also an opportunity to build better bonds that you might not have time to do during the day-to-day craziness of life. “Our attention is a resource, and we can intentionally direct our attention toward the things that make us feel good in order to access a bit more inner calm,” says Dr. Nina Kaiser, PhD, a clinical psychologist in San Francisco, CA.
Make sure to practice mindfulness with your kids with these expert tips. You’ll soon find power (and peace) in the ability to connect with your kids and create calm in your family.
Write It Down
Writing is an excellent exercise to quiet the chaos and help achieve a more peaceful vibe in your home. So whether your kid is dealing with an issue or is stuck at home, give them pen and paper and let them write it all out. “This is a great opportunity to teach your children how to journal and breath,” says Dr. Melanie Ross Mills, a relationship and parenting expert. For example, you can ask them to write in their journals at the end of the day to see what they experienced and how they handled it.
In order to be mindful, you have to be aware of all the good things that are in your life. That, unfortunately, can be a hard task to accomplish. So help your kids to adopt and attitude of gratitude as a means to mindfulness. “Highlight their individual strengths that they exhibited that day,” says Dr. Mills. “Remind them that everything will work out, even though it might look different than they expected.”
Declutter Your Space
It’s hard to be mindful when your house is chaotic and cluttered. Clear some space (both physically and emotionally) so that your child can soak in the serenity. It might mean doing some cleaning up, but it will not only help your home feel better, but you and your kids as well, too.
Have An Honest Discussion
If you think that adults are the only ones who have stress, think again. Your little kids probably have some pretty big feelings, too. And that’s why it’s important to acknowledge how everyone is assimilating to the stressors in your life. So take some time to talk to your kids to find out how they’re really feeling. Having an open, honest conversation can be tough, but it can help your children to process their emotions and hopefully come up with solutions.
Be Mindful Together
While you can (and should) practice mindfulness on your own, there are times when you should incorporate the kiddos, too. “Teach your kids to be mindful as you are de-stressing with them,” says Milana Perepyolkina, author of Gypsy Energy Secrets: Turning a Bad Day into a Good Day No Matter What Life Throws at You. “When you are teaching your kids to get out of their heads and focus on their sensations, you are teaching them how to be mindful.” For example, if you’re taking a nature walk with your kids, ask them how the wind feels on their faces, or the grass under their toes. Those are all chances to practice mindfulness—and they’re everywhere.
Focus On A Single Sense
Sure, there are five senses, but sometimes, they’re not all necessary at the same time. That’s why you should slow things down by tuning in to one sense at a time. “Focus on one of the senses: it could be the sense of touch or smell,” says Perepyolkina. “Use a warm fuzzy blanket for the sense of touch or an essential oils diffuser for the sense of smell.” You might even use a Tibetan bowl for the sense of sound, and a plant for sight. Fresh fruit can be amazing for the sense of taste. Tuning in to each sense can heighten them, but also make you appreciate them more.
App To It
In order to practice mindfulness, you’ll need to turn off the tech from time to time. That said, there are ways in which technology can turn us on to the benefits of mindfulness. “As parents, we can seize five or ten minutes to use a meditation app in the morning before the kids are awake or after they are in bed at night, or even just sit in silence and savor our morning coffee or tea without our phones in hand,” says Perepyolkina. “We can try kid-friendly apps or live stream mindfulness or yoga activities with our kids.”
Turn Off The TV
Although it’s important to be informed, sometimes all of those alerts can feel like an assault. And it’s almost impossible to be mindful when there are all these things vying for your attention at the same time. If you want to be present, put a pause on technology—for a little while. “On a more manageable level, we can practice mindfulness just by turning off news alerts, setting down our phones, and focusing our attention on something good happening in the present moment,” says Dr. Kaiser.
It’s almost impossible to master mindfulness when you’re not taking care of yourself. “You have carve out time for yourself,” says Jacqui Blue, a certified hypnotherapist. “That may mean taking ten minutes to meditate.” Or it might mean locking the bathroom door and soaking in a warm bath after the kiddos are in bed. But the point is to do something for yourself that will reinvigorate you and help you to feel less stressed and more in the moment.
Tapping into your talents isn’t just a great way to express yourself, but it can also bring inner calm and peace as well. “Dig out the art supplies and get creative together,” suggests Blue. “As parents, we need to learn how to play again.” It might mean hunkering down on the floor and playing board games with your babes, or playing video games with your older kids.
While mindfulness means being in the moment, a key way to create that is through consistent routines. “The mind stays healthier and calmer when there is structure in the day,” says Jaya Jaya Myra, a meditation instructor. If it’s possible, try to wake up at the same time each day, get up (and get dressed!), and have a set time for meals. Says Myra: “All of this is extremely powerful for improving mental health.”
Lead By Example
It’s hard to boast the benefits of mindfulness if you aren’t experiencing them yourself. “One way parents can be mindful with kids is to lead by example,” says Myra. “Breathing deeply helps the mind calm down and distress, and smile as much as possible.” This can help to improve mood and also lower stress levels.
When you have the time, try to make a meal with your kiddos from start to finish. “Parents should prepare a meal with their kids, especially one with foods that contain antiviral properties, like sage, oregano, probiotics, Omega 3’s and much more,” advises Myra. Making a meal gives you more bonding time with your child, and opens the door to deeper conversation while you prepare food to eat and enjoy together.
Being mindful has never been more important than right now. So look for ways to create a connection with your kiddos—and yourself—as you seek out serenity in your life.