Relaxed Parents are Mindful Parents

Relaxation and parenting may seem incompatible at times. As parents, we’ve all been there. The baby is crying, the older kids are hungry, the toddler is refusing to sit at the table and you’ve been up since 5am and are exhausted, stressed, and at the end of your rope. You may be shorter with the kids than you’d like or more stubborn than you need. At that moment, you may feel that the kids “should” listen to you or behave. You may tell yourself that they “know better”. One aspect of mindfulness is the practice of focusing on being effective in your thoughts and actions. As parents, we often run into road blocks that take the form of anything from a temper tantrum or employer demand, to a cheeky 5 year old refusing to go to bed.
In mindfulness, effectiveness is figuring out how to get where we want to go, despite the road block. Getting angry because the block shouldn’t be there, wasn’t there yesterday, or is unfair does not get us any closer to where we want to be and often makes things worse (i.e. the tantrum intensifies, an employer becomes rigid, or the 5 year old becomes more stubborn). Being effective is waiting for the block to go or finding another route to your destination. To be effective you must 1) understand what goal is being blocked, 2) look at and understand the situation non-judgmentally, and most importantly, 3) meet your goal without making things worse, which usually means you have to change your tactics.