Mindfulness – If Not for Yourself, Do It for the Kids

I caught up with a dear friend over lunch yesterday. A fellow meditating mom, she also happens to be my first Mindfulness meditation teacher and someone for whom I have a great deal of respect. We chatted about our lives, our kids, our work.

I talked about my recent adventures with social media (see previous post) and she shared her favorite guided meditation apps. She mentioned how after a recent guided meditation she organically felt more loving towards her preteen daughter; how by the end of that particular day, despite recent cantankerous interactions, she recognized they had not squabbled once – a mother-daughter coup in adolescence if ever there was one.

As Busy Moms we have, with society’s encouragement, convinced ourselves that we don’t have the time to stop, that it is selfish and self-indulgent, that our kids need us more than we need those few precious moments to ourselves.

We need to flip those beliefs on their persuasive little heads.

The necessity of putting on our own oxygen masks first is a cliché for a reason and the research bears this out. Kristin Race, author of Mindful Parenting, writes about the epidemic of stress in both our generation and in our children’s and the important realization that stress is contagious. I have experienced this firsthand many times over. You probably have, too. Our kids sense and pick up on our moods and our level of stress, whether we try to keep it under wraps or not. They feel our anxieties, our worries, our joy, our sense of ease.

Looks like joy to me…

Looks like joy to me…

All parents want their kids to be happy, to be at ease so that they can enjoy, and live up to their greatest potential in, life. As parents, we are typically willing to do whatever necessary to ensure our kids are given the best we can provide, neglecting our own sense of wellbeing as a vital component to their success.

Think about it – on those days when you are calm and relaxed, aren’t your interactions with your kids also more peaceful? This is not a coincidence – we can cultivate a sense of calm and ease in our homes.

What a gift to our kids. What a gift to ourselves.

Begin by stopping,  just stopping to take a few breaths periodically throughout your day. Wake up five minutes early to meditate or simply sit quietly. If this a new practice to you five minutes can feel like twenty. With so much to be done, we wonder, why am I just sitting here?

This is normal restlessness- notice it and stay put – it gets easier with practice and will pass. Do this every day for a week and see what you notice. It is not magic. It may not be dramatic, but over time, you will notice subtle changes in both your attitude and interactions with your family.

A little Mindfulness practice – if not for yourself, do it for the kids.