So the summer holidays are upon us, and whether you have a 10 month old or 10 year old, you may be feeling a little apprehensive about entertaining your little people for the long 6 week stretch….
Or Perhaps you are juggling work commitments and childcare, and would like to create some quality time together when you get the opportunity?
Whatever your situation, its easy to let the summer pass us by, and wish away the weeks when we are looking forward to a trip away, a special day out or the start of a new school year. We found ourselves saying ‘Not long until…’ or ‘Only 7 sleeps until…’ and with the blink of an eye, our children are beginning a new season and the September routine begins.
When I struggled with my mental health, I often wished time away. Wanting to reach a time where I would get more sleep, freedom, movement etc. But my recovery has taught me the importance of trying to live in the moment.
To snatch a few precious seconds just enjoying the here and the now, switching off the to do list in my brain, or silencing the chatter. Studying as a mindfulness practitioner has enriched my life and given me the gift of enjoying more moments with my toddler.
So how can you practice mindfulness if you’re a busy parent?
The answer is to work it into your routine, to make your daily life a little more ‘Mindful’ and to open the senses to the world around you. OK, so in real terms, it’s about making the best of a situation, and allowing your minds to be free of worries or unwanted thoughts.
A great example of being mindful with children, is to observe them as you go on a walk. They love to walk on different surfaces, perhaps kicking leaves or picking up sticks, often with us hurrying them along and asking them to put the stick down! Try if you can, to see your surroundings through a child’s eyes, even the tiniest of babies will enjoy the chorus of birdsong, or the vibrant green leaves of the trees if given the opportunity.
When walking Mindfully with my toddler, I try and choose a time that I’m not on a strict deadline, it could simply be a stroll to the shop or the park. I then put my phone out of reach to avoid any distractions. We copy the sounds of the leaves underfoot, or the sounds of the splashing puddles (gotta love the unpredictability of British weather!) I watch his facial expressions as he observes pretty flowers or shapely stones, and we stop to look at the colours and textures, taking them in as if it was the first time. We look for squirrels scurrying in the trees, or walkers with their dogs and fill our time with taking in the world around us.
Recently, mums and babies on my course participated in a mindfulness session in my garden. We listened to the rustling of the leaves in the wind, and the singing of birds in the trees, watching their eyes light up with each new sound or experience. Something as simple as an ant crawling accross the ground, can have them intrigued, and give you a welcome pause from your own thoughts if you let it!
As children get older, they can join in with Mindful breathing, blowing bubbles or yoga stretches. Painting or colouring is also a great way to pass time and get lost in the moment, encouraging creativity at the same time.
Mindfulness can help you navigate a ‘meltdown’ whether it be yours or theirs! By using a well known grounding technique, deep breathing and looking for objects around the room, touching things with in reach, listening to sounds and repeating a positive affirmation can be a godsend to cut short a temper tantrum and help us get back to the present moment.
Mindfulness doesn’t have to be long stints of meditation or yoga, it can be practiced in the simplest form as part of your every day life.
For more ways to practice Mindfulness or work on your wellbeing, visit Www.emmathemadeupmom.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org to join the mailing list. More information