Life is busy, there’s no escaping it.
Add in the challenges and expectations of parenting and it leads to many of us feeling overwhelmed and short fused.
Every parent can do with a few moments a day to draw a deep breath and find inner peace.
But how to find the time and the inclination?
What Is Mindfulness?
Mindfulness is really quite simple. It’s the act of training yourself to pay attention in a certain way.
Mindfulness is the act of having moment-by-moment awareness of your thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations and environment.
You also practice mindfulness by paying attention to thoughts and feelings without judgment. This means not labelling things as good or bad, right or wrong.
A mindful person would:
- Focus on the now, the present moment
- Not think on the past or future
- Concentrate on what’s happening at this moment
- Not judge or label anything in the moment
Why Does Mindfulness Matter?
You’ve probably had some well meaning person tell you ‘enjoy each moment, life’s short’ and you’ve nodded but not really paid much attention.
The truth is, there’s something to this idea of trying to enjoy each moment. In fact mindfulness is good for your health.
Research suggests mindfulness can help you manage stress, reduce anxiety and depression and cope better with illness.
Mindfulness enhances your ability to relax, improving your general attitude to life and wellbeing.
Sounds good, right? And easier said than done when you’re tired from managing the daily routine with children.
Why Do Parents Need Mindfulness?
Parenting is tough, especially in today’s connected world where everyone has an opinion on the ‘best’ way to do it!
Mindfulness allows parents the chance to let go of the judgement and pressure to get it right all the time.
When a parent is being mindful, it allows them to move passed critical thoughts about choices and focus on being present with their child.
Mindfulness gives you the ability to accept your child is throwing a tantrum in the supermarket and deal with it, rather than focus on why (I didn’t let her nap long enough today) or feel ashamed (everyone thinks I’m a terrible parent).
Why Do Children Need Mindful Parents?
As parents, we’re all aware of how much our little people do as we do, not as we say.
Two of the most important social and emotional learning skills children develop are self and social awareness.
Mindfulness teaches children to learn empathy, which is the ability to understand how another person is thinking or feeling.
These are qualities all parents want to see develop in their child. Especially when it comes to resolving sibling arguments or building friendships.
The best way to teach your child about mindfulness is to bring more mindfulness practice into your own life.
How Can Parents Practice Mindfulness?
Truthfully, there are few parents who get to the end of each day without having felt they aren’t parenting at their best.
And most of us feel the impact of the ‘busyness’ of life, which tends to lead to negative thoughts and feelings.
When things get challenging, we tend to collapse a lot quicker and find it hard to be resilient.
This is where daily mindfulness can really help. For quick and easy access to mindfulness practice, check out these 5 apps:
#1: Insight Timer
This app has over 1000 guided meditations and music tracks to choose from. And it’s free!
There is a huge choice of meditations, including introduction to meditations, intention setting and health/forgiveness meditations.
You can bookmark your favourites and customise the timing of the mediations, to suit your available time and what you want to get out of the meditation.
The Calm app has a lot to offer busy and tired parents. You can sign up for guided meditations for sleep, anxiety, self esteem, relationships…the list is almost endless.
You can self select music and visuals to meditate to and has a 2 minute Pause In Your Day meditation for when you need a tap out to reset.
Calm offers free and premium options.
This app has a free basic option and full subscription.
It offers guided meditation and mindfulness training and is especially appealing to those new to meditation.
It has a series of getting started meditations and includes others for sleep, commuting, cooking and even eating.
There are super short meditations if you need to step away from a hard moment and get back on track.
#4: The Mindfulness App
This app has guided and silent meditation sessions which span 3 to 30 minutes long.
It also includes reminders and statistics to help you stay focused on your practice, which is really valuable when you realise how often parents sacrifice self care.
There is a five day guide introduction to mindfulness to help you get started too. Meditations are based on your areas of focus and level of experience, designed to keep you motivated.
The Mindfulness App has a one month free trial and then a monthly subscription.
Created by a husband and wife team, Buddhify app is excellent for busy people. It has over 200 meditations ranging from 2 to 30 minutes, allowing you to fit them in around your schedule.
You can choose from easy to follow guided meditations tailored to your available time and what you need. The statistics feature lets you track how often you meditate and any changes you feel.
You can sample a Buddhify meditation on Soundcloud as the app has a once off fee.
Sam McCulloch is a freelance content writer and editor, with a special interest in parenting, birth and early education. Sam believes in the importance of building a village so no parent is left behind or feels unsupported. When she’s not writing great content, you can find her trying to keep up with three kids, enjoying the great outdoors or reading a good book.