Parenting is hard. Really hard. Like, how the heck did I get myself into this mess, TWICE, hard. But I’m in it deep and have no choice but to be the best parent I can be to these two little girls, all the while nurturing myself and my company and my marriage. Phew! I fail daily but I continue to strive for success! I recently started listening to the Mindful Mama Podcast. If you haven’t had a chance to listen to Hunter Clarke-Fields – the Mindful Mama Mentor, I highly recommend it. She has loads of great insight on how to be a more present parent and her guests are excellent. For the few short weeks that I’ve been listening, I’ve already been led to some other really excellent authors and thinkers and I’ve been challenged to change the way I look at myself and my parenting style. What I love most about Hunter and the people she has on her show is that they are all practicing. They recognize they aren’t perfect and their knowledge is backed by their own journey towards becoming their best self. It’s inspiring to say the least.
I’ll be the first to admit that I lack patience, especially with my kids. I’m quick to react and words fly out of my mouth before I can process my thoughts. It’s probably my biggest flaw. It’s one of the reasons I felt the need to restart my yoga practice. My moving meditation on the mat leaves me feeling calmer and more centered. It’s still a work in progress but I’ve slowly been incorporating more meditation and mindfulness skills into my everyday. I have a long way to go. My children make the challenge even more arduous by constantly testing the boundaries. But while they make it difficult to stay peaceful, they also drive me to achieve it.
One of the guests on the Mindful Mama Podcast was Carla Naumburg, PhD, who wrote Parenting in the Present Moment: How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters. She, like me, found herself constantly losing her patience with her two young daughters and suffered from the pain this caused the three of them. She searched for ways to bring peace into their daily lives and she found solace in mindfulness. I haven’t finished the book yet, but one of my favorite parts so far is in just the first few pages. She says parenting like many things is “a practice,” and every moment is an opportunity to be more present to our children, to be less quick to react, and to connect with their needs as well as our own. She writes, “It’s about immersing ourselves neck-deep into the mud and mess, the tears and confusion, the anxiety and frustration, as well as intense joy and love.” Yea, sounds like parenting to me.
So how can we better ourselves if we are so ridiculously engrossed in the lives of our children? The answer, again, is mindfulness! What is mindfulness and where do we start? It starts with meditation. Scary, I know. As a holistic practitioner, I am frequently recommending meditation to my patients and I hear more often then not, “I’ve tried to meditate and I just can’t shut my brain off.” I tell them, welcome to the club. The mind is constantly working; that’s its job. Our job is to find moments to give it a rest. To check in with our body. To identify our place in our space. To move forward with intention. This takes practice. It takes regular check-ins. It takes accepting our failures and trying again. And it does get easier. Suddenly you’ll find yourself taking deep, cleansing breaths at a red light. Or welcoming when someone is running late for an appointment and you have a few minutes to just “chill.” Our brains work like a muscle and, like any muscle in our body, when taught to relax, it can become easier in any moment to find that quiet space. For more information about mindfulness check out Mindful.org. You’ll get all the information you need on their Getting Started page!
I started this post talking about being present to my children but it’s seems I have brought the attention back to me. But as I mentioned in my Welcome Back post that’s what this new journey is all about. I’m striving to nurture my own needs first so I can, as they say, “pour from a full cup.” The beauty of mindfulness is that it is ALL ABOUT ME. But guess what? Everyone benefits!! When we are more present to ourselves, being more present to everyone, especially our children, becomes a given!! When we frequently take those quick, quiet moments, the next time we face a challenge with our children, we can, hopefully, not just think before we react, but breathe, quiet our mind, and be present! As Hunter says “We cannot give what we do not have. When I am thriving, when I have calm and peace within – then I can give it to my children.”
Click here to find Mindful Mama Podcasts featuring Carla Naumburg.