4 Ways To Be More Mindful With Young Children
When you have young children, it’s common to frequently multi-task.
When I get home from work, for example, I often need to help my oldest child do his homework while at the same time getting dinner ready and making sure that the baby stays happy.
These competing demands make it challenging to be present in the moment.
This can mean missing out on one of the true joys of parenthood – focusing on the unique person that is your child.
Here are four ways to be more mindful with your children during these busy, short, and fleeting years.
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1) Teach Your Child How to Do Something – And Then Watch Them Do It
As anyone with a toddler knows, it can be frustrating to let them do something themselves that you could do so much faster for them, especially when you’re in a rush.
Getting dressed in the mornings is a good example. Sometimes it can take twice as long for a child to dress themselves (and then even longer when you realize that they’ve put their pants on backwards).
Instead of struggling with your child each morning and trying to get him dressed as quickly as possible, take some time to teach your child how to dress himself.
Explain how to put a shirt on and how to know which side of his pants is the front and which is the back.
Then, each morning, sit and watch while he does it.
Praise everything that he does correctly, and if he needs help, make suggestions for how he could do it differently.
It will be tempting to jump in and do it for him if he’s struggling, or to quickly go and do another chore if he’s doing well. Resist this urge. Instead, watch your child learn, and grow, and get better.
Then, when he’s got the hang of it, find something else you can teach him.
2) Live By Routines
Children thrive on predictability and routines.
If you don’t already have one, develop a morning routine, a mealtime routine, or a bedtime routine.
Decide what you and your child will do, and in what order. For example, a morning routine might consist of going potty (or a diaper change), brushing teeth, getting dressed, making the bed, and eating breakfast.
Each morning, you and your child can focus on one task, and then mindfully move on to the next.
Using a routine like this eliminates the guesswork and mental energy required to figure out what needs to be done, and allows you to be more present in the moment.
3) Give Each Child Your Undivided Attention – On Their Terms
Today’s children are often highly scheduled in organized activities; many parents spend weekends taking their kids from soccer practice to music class to ballet or karate.
Give each of your children at least 10 minutes per day of your undivided attention.
Let the time be on their terms – doing an activity that they come up with – rather than one that you have planned.
Watch them use their imagination and be amazed at what they come up with.
4) Take a (Real) Break
Caring for young children can be isolating, and it’s normal to crave adult conversation and contact.
This means that when you get a moment to yourself, it’s natural to go straight to Facebook or to send a friend a text.
These little check-ins with the outside world are necessary and help us stay connected.
At the same time, they often don’t give us the fresh energy that we need for the remainder of day in the way that meditation or quiet time can.
When you catch one of those 5 minute breaks, take the time to meditate and recharge yourself for the rest of the day. Then – if you still have time – see what’s going on in the outside world.
It has been said that, with young children, the days are long, and the years are short.
Getting through the long days can be hard, but if you can take a few minutes each day to be fully present in these ways, it will be easier to enjoy and cherish these short years.
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