7 Tips for Mindful Parenting
On March 6th 2016, Inspiration Space, the UK’s wellness hub for conscious breath and yoga events, will celebrate Mother’s Day with the launch of a #presentmum campaign.
The latest research shows that we are increasingly distracted by modern technology, with the majority of us checking our phones over 100 times a day. Recent Harvard research reveals we spend 47 per cent of our time being somewhere else other than the present moment. That’s nearly half of our lives distracted with the happenings of yesterday or the planning of tomorrow. Cultivating moments in the day when you are truly engaged with the present moment has proven to have positive benefits.
Breathing together is the best way to feel totally present with your child. Sit comfortably with your child on your lap or lie side by side. Get them to place their hands on their bellies, place one hand on top of theirs and one hand on yours. Ask them to imagine their belly is like a balloon, as they breathe in through the nose feel the belly rise - balloon inflates and as they breathe out through the nose the belly softens and balloon empties. Do this for at least a minute, noticing and watching. This will encourage healthy diaphragmatic breathing which can help your child feel calm and relaxed. If the children are old enough, ask them if they can notice the difference in themselves, before and after breathing in this way. It’s great to do at bedtime to help them unwind and feel relaxed before sleep!
2. NO PHONE FRIDAY
Checking emails, Facebook, texting, tweeting has become so habitual it’s hard to think back to before we had mobile phones. To some it’s an addiction, to others a necessity, to most a habit that’s tricky to break. One day a week - leave your phone at home. You will be more relaxed and your child will be happy to have undisturbed time with you.
3. PLANTING SEEDS
Planting veggies and flowers with your children is a great way to connect to the wonders of nature. Let them play with the soil, put the seeds in the dirt and water them. Your children's curiosity will grow in leaps and bounds. Ask your children how their plants are coming along and you will see their sense of pride and curiosity. They will learn how the soil, weather and insects affect their plants.
4. YOU TIME
Choose something you love doing that is also easy to do together. Taking a walk, running together, yoga, swimming, drawing or reading. If you are enjoying yourself you will naturally be more present and your children will sense this and they will be happier too. Not all of the things you enjoy doing are going to translate as fun with a toddler or child - swimming can be a battle and doing yoga with them near impossible at times but try and find something you both enjoy. If you haven’t been on a swing for a while, hop on! If you like being outdoors and they love games, chose a place you love and play their chosen game.
5. SLOW WILDTIME
Nature draws upon all our senses and is probably the easiest place to be present. Slow down to your child’s pace. We are often telling them to ‘hurry up’, but if we join their pace, even for a short time, we will learn so much. We will see what they see; ask them what they hear and notice how they move in nature. Asking your children some simple questions about the birds and the land along any given trail you will open your children's eyes and make them curious. They will soon be asking questions that even you will have to research to answer!
6. YOGA FOR YOU BOTH
Children love yoga and child’s pose is the most relaxing. Ask your child to rest in sitting on their heels, forehead on the floor and hands resting by the heels, palms to the sky and place your hand on their lower back. Ask them to breathe with the belly inflating like a balloon and ask them to feel both the belly raise into their thighs and their lower back gently rise into your hands. This will bring them to the awareness that their whole body breathes and will be instantly calming, maybe you can even join them too!
Ultimately, the more relaxed you are as an individual, the calmer and happier you will be as a parent and the more present you will be with your child. Looking after number one should be the first port of call here but realistically our individual needs as busy parents often slip down the forever growing to-do-list. Schedule in time off and stick to it. Take some ‘time out’ and do what you know will make you return home feeling better than you left. Take yourself off to a yoga class, meet your friends, have a massage, go for a walk, go dancing, have a night away on your own. This is the one of the best presents you can give yourself.
For more tips and exercises being tried and tested as part of the #presentmum campaign, real life stories from mums and a chance to win a free breathing session, visit http://www.inspirationspace.co.uk/presentmum