Mindfulness for Parents

Mindfulness is defined as the state of being conscious of our feelings, thoughts, and surroundings from moment to moment.

It means being present.

Mindfulness is defined as the state of being conscious of our feelings, thoughts, and surroundings from moment to moment.

It means being present.

It means having an awareness of how good your newborn baby’s head smells, but also being aware of your heart beating faster when your kid won’t nap and you’re desperate for lunch.

Mindfulness allows us to be more fully present with our partner, our children, our boss, ourselves.

It requires not only awareness of what’s going on but acceptance of where we’re at – even if it’s not where we want to be.

It can be hard to stay mindful (let alone to sit and meditate!) when there’s laundry in every room of your house, not a clean nursing bra in sight, and you can’t remember the last time you took a bath by yourself.

Usually, when our life is the most chaotic is when we are most deeply in need of mindfulness.

Meditation is offering your genuine presence to yourself in every moment. – Thich Nhat Hanh

What does it mean to find acceptance of the chaos, take a deep breath, and “offer our geniune presence” to ourselves on a hot summer day full of cranky kids? It means taking one moment at a time.

I like to keep it simple. As nice as it sounds to be sitting in Big Sur listening to the waves and taking deep breaths under the full moon, it’s most helpful to find time in our everyday lives to be more mindful.

Here are some easy ways to achieve Mommmy/Daddy Mindfulness. You can use this list as gentle reminders for yourself on a day when you’re feeling depleted, or rather inspired to try something new.

1. Just Take One Breath…

One conscious breath in and out is a meditation. – Eckhart Tolle

There you go! Even the great Eckart Tolle will give you credit for taking one single breath. But make it a good one: breathe in slowly through your nose, and breathe out through your mouth.

2. Skin-to-Skin Touch

If you’re feeling disconnected from your baby or older children, try using the regulating technique of skin-to-skin contact. You likely know the benefits of skin-to-skin after birth, and have heard about (or used!) Kangaroo Care for preemies. It works for kids and grown-ups too! Take a bath with your child(ren), have a big family hug in the community pool, drop everything and rub your cheeks together or give Eskimo kisses. Be mindful of touch, and feel your heart rate go down.

3. Don’t Forget Self-Care

A hot salt bath with lavender essential oil, a midday nap, a coffee date with another parent…even a 30-minute window of time can help you press the reset button during your hectic day. It’s easy to fall victim to the mindset of “I’m too busy parenting/working/cooking to take care of myself,” but that’s a prescription for disaster. If you have a hard time finding time for yourself and childcare is not an option, consider bartering with another parent: they watch your kids for a bit today, you watch theirs for the same amount of time on another day. There’s even an app for that: Google “Time Banking.” DO NOT FEEL GUILTY FOR TAKING CARE OF YOURSELF. Just don’t.

4. Join a Meditation Group or Class

Learn to meditate and make it part of your daily routine. If you have never meditated before, look for a meditation class in your local yoga studio, YMCA or community center. Do an internet search for “meditation class + [your zip code].” Set realistic expectations for yourself: start with 5 minutes per day of meditation and increase slowly from there.

5. There’s an App for That

Some excellent meditation apps can bring mindfulness into your daily life: Headspace and Insight Timer are both favorites and there are more options than we can count in the App store, check your smartphone. If you are struggling to clear your mind, apps with timed music or bells can be helpful. Many moms find it helpful to set up a meditation app at the start of a nursing session, while kids are playing on the floor, or on a break from work.

Happy mindfulness!

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Abigail Morgan

Abigail Morgan, L.Ac, is a licensed acupuncturist and herbalist in private practice in the Los Angeles area, and the owner of Float Chinese Medical Arts.  She specializes in Women’s and Men’s Health and the Childbearing Cycle, and is passionate about helping parents achieve balance during the process of getting pregnant, the childbearing year, and the postpartum period.  She blogs about acupuncture, holistic health, fertility and pregnancy and mothering at Mama Float. Abigail lives in Northeast LA with her husband and their two children, who were born at home. 

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