• 09 Dec - 15 Dec, 2023
  • Mag The Weekly

When talking about the word mindfulness, most of us think about sitting on a cushion with our eyes closed, focusing on our breathing, or trying to achieve some kind of inner calm. While there are many mindfulness practices such as these that can be helpful, the main goal of being “mindful” is to train the mind to bring full attention to what’s happening and what we’re doing, without obsessing about the past or the future. It involves a quality of presence that encompasses our day-to-day lives, amidst an often anxiety-producing world where expectations and self-judgment can often feel overwhelming. We hear about this concept of mindfulness now more than ever, at a time when we are bombarded with images and distractions from our devices that we must manage with awareness about how our thoughts, beliefs, and behaviours are impacted.
Incorporating mindfulness habits into parenting is easier than you might think. Here are five practical suggestions for raising mindful kids.

1. Set a good example by living in the present, with curiosity
As the family social planner, arrange for how you spend your time, which has often included vacations to epic places and exciting destinations. These goals and planned experiences are meaningful and necessary. Make your children share all the things they are learning in their school experience. Conversations with your aging family members, recalling noteworthy memories to share with your kids. It’s easy to miss profound yet simple happenings when we’re preoccupied with the past. It also can be hard to slow down and cherish the circumstances of daily living when we are so caught up in the next big thing. It’s important to know that the present moment is truly where the sweet spot is. Striving to make the present moment the most sacred part of your family’s life is the best gift you can give.

2. Express gratitude in your relationships
Occasions are typically the time of year when we bring awareness to the gratitude we have for the people and circumstances of our lives, but it doesn’t need to stay here. The experience of gratitude we have for one another can become a practice. A simple expression of gratitude like, “I really appreciate how kind you are to our pets,” when you see it, or “I love the way your smile lights up the room” can go a long way. So can sentiments like, “I love seeing you happy. It makes my heart sing.” Similarly, expressing appreciation to your spouse for the little things they do helps your children feel safe. Finding moments of appreciation throughout the day add up to the feeling of an overall grateful life.

3. Savour experiences, not material things
With the holidays around the corner, it’s important to take stock in the things we value. It’s also an important time to consider how our emotional and financial resources are spent. Consider having a family conversation about the things that matter to all of you. Talk openly about the people in your lives who are important, the fleetingness of time, and the value of spending time together.

4. Aim for life balance and healthy living
It’s true that work, school, and other obligations often have us motivating on autopilot. It’s not always easy to practice self-care in optimal ways that are healthy for the mind, body and spirit, but we can try tuning into ourselves and our surroundings to gauge our well-being. It's also true that our kids learn more from what we do than by what we try to teach them. As parents, if we model that living a healthy lifestyle is important to us, it’s likely that our kids will grow up with the same habits. Getting exercise. Eating well. Connecting with others and the outdoors. It’s all about awareness – alignment of mind, body and spirit.

5. Set aside your phone – capture moments if you must, but re-engage with the world around you
Our phones and devices can be handy tools for snapping photos, sharing them to social media, and grabbing the newest information in real time. But we also know that the creators of these devices are fully aware that one click leads to another, and then another. If we are preoccupied with our devices to the detriment of the important people in our midst, precious moments are likely to be missed. Living with awareness and intention is the essence of mindful parenting. There’s no perfection here, just curiosity. If we can bring a non-judgmental curiosity into our relationships with our children, give them our true, authentic attention, and tend to our own well-being, our kids are likely to feel empowered, valued, and grounded in what matters most.