The other day I was clearing out some files on my computer that I no longer need and I came across the sweetest 10 min video clip that my daughter took with her iPad when she was 6 and my little guy was 3. Both my husband and I never saw this video before. They were so little and super cute – but Wow, time really flies! I really don’t want to miss a thing in their childhood.
And then I thought about how I “Mom”…. At times, I feel like a fraud when I lose my sh*% and my patience when me and the kids have a disconnect. How could I teach mindfulness and meditation – when at times I, myself am not mindful and miss out on opportunities to connect with my own kids? I chose to work closely to where they are so I get to be with them every day – but am I really spending the quality mindful time that we both deserve and need?
Trying my best to be there for my kids in every way and leading by example, I chose a career or perhaps the career chose me that I could have both– work and family and to be close to home. It was my dream – and being a master manifestor that I am- I manifested everything that I ever dreamed of. I’m extremely blessed that I’m married to my best friend for over 20 years and that when we co-parent we’re usually on the same page. He helps me keep it all together. He’s my rock and my #1fan.
But, I must admit although, I may be mostly “at home” with them, I’m not always be mindfully present as much as I should be or make the opportunity to be. I’m working, cooking, laundry, driving them to football, basketball, etc….It’s rush, rush, rush to the next venue, the next sport, the next event. Also, may I add that these devices (IPhone, iPad) hijacked my time with them even in the car when we used to just chat about life. And I will take full responsibility for allowing those boundaries to slip….
You know what? I’m real – what you see is what you get and I will forgive myself for allowing slip-ups from time to time. There isn’t any sugarcoating bullshit associated with the work that I do and who I am. I’m 100% authentic and at times I may fail at proper mindful parenting in the way that I think it should be done and my crazy emotional reaction at times. But it’s ok – my kids know that they are loved and that they are supported.
Mindful parenting isn’t about being the perfect parent rather it’s being aware of the moment to moment. It’s savoring those special times. It’s about being able to catch our glitches and be responsible enough to make the decision to alter our behavior. We’re teaching our kids that we can make mistakes too and admit it to them, but in order to grow, we need to become consistent in our mindful practice of being caring, loving, and responsible role models for them and for ourselves. They are learning to be mindful future adults by our here and now, present examples. Life is now.
“Watch your thoughts, they become words;
watch your words, they become actions;
watch your actions, they become habits;
watch your habits, they become character;
watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”
Here are a just a few tips
1. Mindful Communication
In this house, we talk. During family meals, it is a rule, no devices during our meals together. Although the time may be short in comparison to all the hours in the day – 30-45 minutes per meal when we’re home. It’s important that we speak about anything. Sports, weather, school, we play the question game…. sometimes it’s silly, we’re laughing at each other…. sometimes we get at it and sometimes, someone is in a bad mood and an insult comes out – it’s family –it’s real.
But one thing is for sure, both my husband and I made it very clear that if the kids EVER have any questions or concerns or have anything to discuss that they could ALWAYS come to us without judgment. I rather them ask and speak with us then getting information from their friends or any outside sources. Outside sources aren’t accurate at times…it leaves the kids with their own opinions and conclusions on how life works. G-d granted me the blessing of these 2 kids and I will do my damn best to teach them with the resources that I have. Teach them the fundamentals of being a responsible adult that hopefully, in the future will lead them to make wise decisions.
Depending on the issue sometimes, my kids rather confide in their Dad and keep me out of the loop at times. Because they do know, I can react like Mama Bear…. Being an intuitive Mom – I could tune in to my children’s stories about what transpired during the day and see the truth in their surroundings. My instinct is to protect them, so sometimes, I react in an abrupt way of wanting them to get out of the situation ASAP so they don’t get hurt. But I get it…they need to learn, the way we all did.
If the kids feel that the communication and non-judgment line is open – the trust will always be there. And that’s a great foundation for future relationships with their future partners in life. Say what you mean and mean what you say. Words can’t not be taken back once they are said. These words stay with us for the rest of our lives and we are left in our own heads to figure and flow chart things out… it may not be accurate.It’s important to mindfully communicate with them so they get it. They may not understand the lesson right there and then, but hindsight 20/20 – one day they’ll get it. It’s important to set the communication mindful time every day so it gives everyone the opportunity to let go of any misunderstandings or things that no longer suit them. It’s clearing the vessel. Otherwise the baggage of misinterpretations and opinions become beliefs that could stay with them for life. It’s about building trust.
2. Mindfully in the MOMENT
Quality rather than quantity
Have you ever tallied up how many times you have said “one second” in one day?? Think about it… SO here we are, in the kitchen unloading the dishes from the dishwasher and our child asks us a question. “Mom, could you come here?” And what do we respond 90% of the time…”one second”. That “one second” isn’t really 1 second – it could turn into 5 minutes…perhaps 15….even more. NOT OK. I’m not saying to drop and run the moment our kids ask for our help. But if we are teaching them to be accountable with their words and their time, what kind of example are we teaching them if we aren’t following through with our words and time?Having said that, my kids hold me accountable –“Mom…you know it’s not going to be a second.”Grant, it if it’s an emergency – I drop everything and I run to them. But when I speak with them, I will directly have eye contact, no interruptions, and connect even if it’s for 5 minutes –it’s being in that moment that is rich.
We must be more mindful in creating time and space to really connect with our kids. When we are with them – Let go of the iPhone…the Instagram…the emails… Everything could wait. If the phone rings during our time with them…it could wait too. We don’t get these precious moments back EVER….EVER… It’s gone and before you know it…the kids will be off to college and they begin their adult life.
3. Mindfully Love
I LOVE YOU’s, Hugs and eye contact
There isn’t a day that should go by – even when you are super angry or disappointment in your kid that you should miss the opportunity to tell them that you love them. And not by just passing through the room in which they are in and just saying out loud “I Love YOU”. Which I do regardless, everyday. But what I do make a practice of – and it’s very natural for me – is to hug them every day, to kiss them every day and tell them how proud I am of the individuals that they are. How much I appreciate their hearts, their kindness. I tell them every day that they are beautiful or handsome. And when I do tell them – I look them right into their eyes. Because the eyes are the windows to the soul – and that soul connection is priceless. They feel it and they know it’s the truth.
4. Mindfully Social
GO outdoors – Devices kept to a minimum or a schedule.
The iPhone and iPad have become babysitters for so many. These days it seems that the kid’s social skills have become obsolete in comparison to when I was growing up. I just knew that If I wanted to see my friends we would have to both meet halfway and have some social conversational skills. Ring their doorbell…call them on the phone and actually have a conversation with their parents…” Hello Zena, this is Janet…How are you? Could I please speak with Jackie?” Social skills, manners…. hello?? The devices DO NOT teach manners. In fact, it teaches us to be caught up, sucked in, hooked in, in an unrealistic world of Instagram, twitter, Snap, Facebook….being concerned and addicted to other people’s posts rather than focusing on the gifts we have in front of us. We could even see it when we’re out and about at restaurants, parks, malls – the parents are on their phones texting connecting to others or totally checked out from their families and got sucked into cyberspace. It’s really an epidemic and super unhealthy and we’re teaching our kids that it’s ok to be rude and to check out just because we don’t’ want to be in that restaurant or playground…or wherever they took us. It’s really an obnoxious habit.
Teach them by example.
My husband and I have set rules that are very reasonable when it comes down to devices. (1) no devices during meal time, at restaurants, or at family functions (2) HW and responsibilities are done PRIOR (3) no devices at least 1 hour before bedtime. Kids need to unwind like we do and not need the noise from the social media – make believe world engulfing them.
5. Mindful Date Night
Set family date time – Schedule it in.
Creating mindful children is creating a caring and mindful family. I learn so much from my kids by just hanging out with them and listening to them. Their wit, their sense of humor, their wisdom. No matter where you are inthe world – what time zone you live in – this is super important. Since day 1 – we have 1 night that no matter what – we go out as family and date –and connect. Every week we take turns picking a different restaurant or an activity for us to do together…it doesn’t have to be fancy shmancy –it’s quality time and it’s priceless. My husband and I both have very busy schedules – but this is something that we never compromised about. Family date night feeds the soul. Not just for raising mindful kids, but for filling up our hearts with connection, love, caring, and laughter. Don’t get me wrong, sometimes, family date night turns into family debate night and arguments – but it’s healthy – we need to get our individual thoughts, our individual contributions out…. we’re all human. We’re social beings –this is teaching the kids the importance of tradition, the importance of connection and the importance of consistency. This is the glue that holds families together – schedule it in.
6. Mindfully Grateful
Practicing Gratitude, appreciation and good manners – Please and Thank You.
These days I’ve seen so much entitlement from young ones especially now that they are exposed to Youtube and other forms of media. They see what others “have” and they think it’s equals happiness. It’s just things – and things could be replaced. It isn’t true lasting joy.
One part, of being mindfully grateful is acknowledging others when they are being thoughtful or putting us before them. Acknowledgement is the first step to appreciation – but it order to acknowledge anything you must be mindful. The kids need to be awake -they need to be taught and to differentiate between kindness and generosity and doing something because it’s the right thing to do. You don’t get brownie points in life when you are just half assing it. It’s the true intention behind the gesture that matters. So, when other people do something for us – we know when it’s genuine or it’s just because. Just because doesn’t last. That’s just half-assing things and it’s not ok. Hold the door for someone because it’s kind not because you want to hear a thank you. And… also the idea of expectations that things would magically get replaced if not taken care properly when we have it. I could go on and on….
Teaching the children that most things in life are earned and can’t just be replaced by snapping your fingers is imperative. Same thing goes with respecting one another – Respect is something that children learn by mimicking their parents and their teachers – we are their first role models. We must show ourselves and others respect so the children could learn the true definition of respect. It’s important to remind them that things (clothes, games, items) could be replaced but you cannot replace people. For relationships to grow and to be healthy they need to be nourished, taken care of and paid attention to. Appreciation, gratitude, please and thank you – are probably one of the most important things you could teach your children. Both my husband and I were raised in humble homes…. we weren’t spoiled brats – and everything he and I have today it’s because we created it together – no one handed anything down to us. These kids need to know that to be mindfully successful – you need to be mindfully grateful always.