Recently, someone asked me how to be a mindful parent. There’s no easy answer, but what excited me about this question is just the fact that it’s being asked — that people want to know how to slow down and be present for themselves and for their children. Just asking the question is a huge step forward.
Being a mindful parent and being a mindful person are one and the same; they aren’t two separate things. For me, there were two important things that helped me get to that point: letting go of expectation and having acceptance.
Before I became a mother, my life had been very athletic. I was a sprinter and a runner and in great shape. I saw myself as a mother who would go hiking with my kids on my back; I saw myself as strong. But with the birth of my child, parts of my body stopped working, and over the past eight years, it’s taken time for me to get back to where I can just walk. I realized that I wasn’t the mother I thought I was going to be. For me, that was the beginning of becoming a mindful parent and person.
My child wasn’t a mellow kid. He was an intense kid. He wasn’t who I thought he was going to be. My expectations were shattered and my first lesson began. Let go of expectation. Let them be who they are. That doesn’t mean you don’t set boundaries or teach them how to respect or honor each other, but it means you don’t demand of them anything else but who they are.
Letting go of my preconceived expectations of who I would be as a mother and who my child would be allowed us to be the people we truly are, without having to live up to unrealistic standards.
After that, I began the process of acceptance. Accepting that you don’t have to do the dishes in the morning. Accepting you’re going to be late because he’s not getting dressed. But don’t judge yourself. There will be challenges. Just accept and surrender. Love your children for the pain in the butt that they are. Laugh and bring humor to every situation. By accepting each moment as it is, without judgment, everything in life will flow much easier. Don’t get caught up in how you think a situation should be; relax into the present moment and experience it fully.
Life goes by so fast. Children grow up so fast. Kids are wonderful teachers and as long as we don’t pretend to know what we don’t know, it’s an unbelievable ride.
The answers won’t be the same for everyone; I can only share with you what worked for me and my family. Hopefully, you can take away what works for you and make it your own.