Wondering what is mindful parenting and why is it given such a hype?
Well, to be honest. Mindfulness seems to be a bit overrated most times!
Yes, yes… I said it!
There are people who are really into it religiously and there are the others who whoosh it away saying it’s such a waste of time.
And yeah there are another vast majority of people (just like me about a year ago), who aren’t aware of such concept.
Whichever category you belong to, the word mindfulness itself seems to give some literal meaning to it, scaring away a few while making it interesting for some.
First of all, what actually is Mindfulness?
Let’s get it sorted in simple words.
Mindfulness is being in the present moment without distraction acknowledging the thoughts that flow in your mind.
While mindfulness is specifically incorporated into many things of our daily life from mindful eating to mindful sleeping (Just yesterday I read about something called mindful pooping… ), mindful parenting has gained widespread popularity owing to its endless benefits to parents, kids, and even the people around them.
Mindful parenting is simply being mindful as a parent – Easy said than done!
Say, you are playing a ball throwing game with your child.
The Non-Mindful You will – throw the ball and catch it to your child mechanically while having a phone conversation with your colleague.
The Mindful You will – consciously play the game with the same excitement as your child living in the present moment.
Well, let me ask you this – what did you infer from this example?
You have to be conscious to be mindful?
Or be in the present moment playing the game without disturbance?
Or Gadget-free to be mindful?
Or even ignore your other commitments to be at the present moment mindfully?
Or simply block your real emotions and be excited to go with the flow?
While few of these are true, some are mere misconceptions that are floating around hiding the real essence of the mindfulness concept.
Here is a mini compilation of some of these myths about mindfulness.
Myth #1 – Meditation is the key to mindfulness
It is not new that mindfulness is always related to meditation.
Breathe In. Breathe Out. Tada… You become mindful!
It simply is not that way.
Of course, meditation is an incredibly great tool to achieve a peaceful state of mind which is an IDEAL ground for practicing mindfulness.
See? A quiet mind or a clear mind is an IDEAL ground – not a PRACTICAL one – at least to practice mindfulness.
- Mindfulness is just being fully present on what you do.
- Accepting your wandering mind.
- Following it and bringing it back to the present!
- And not emptying it.
And this is why meditation can be used as an optional tool – NOT A MANDATORY PART.
Precisely, Meditation can a tool you can use to achieve mindfulness – not the key to mindfulness.
Myth #2 – Go gadget-free for being mindful
What do you think about going to Zen mode when with your children?
I, actually, endorse it and I am even trying so hard to follow it. It really is a healthy practice for being in the present. But, I have heard people back off from practicing mindfulness just because they think being gadget-free is a rule.
No, it is not!
With a world that is technologically advanced, we can’t actually do that.
To be a mindful parent, it is completely ok if you don’t go gadget-free.
- Don’t merge your quality times with your kid with other works on your gadget.
- Inform your kid when you really want to use your gadgets and then do it mindfully. Never create a stage where your kids have to compete with your mobile to get your attention.
- Again, use your gadgets mindfully too. When with gadgets, be with gadgets. Try bringing back the focus of your wandering mind to the current work and complete it mindfully.
In fact, you can even use technology to aid you in being mindful. There are several apps that can help you with tips, tracking your mindful time, some white noises that can help you focus (For me, a ceiling fan does a great job as a white noise creator :P), and so on.
Myth #3 – Mindfulness is having zero thoughts in your mind
Coming to this point, let us accept that having zero thoughts in your mind is actually possible with great efforts and practice. But, a parent with a lot of commitments to handle can’t really do it – at least not me.
This one thing is proven to drive away many people from even trying to be mindful.
In reality, mindfulness is nothing related to emptying your mind – It’s all about knowing and controlling your mind.
- Hearing out your thoughts by being in the present moment
- Trying to focus on one thing – the one you do NOW in the present
- Look out if your thoughts flow somewhere else
- Understand where it goes
- Acknowledge the thought
- Bring it back to the present
- Again… Repeat!
Day by day, you can simply see how your control over your mind improves and how you become more mindful.
Myth #4 – A mindful parent is always calm and composed
Hoping to stay like a Buddhist monk, so calm and smiling when your child is throwing utensils in the kitchen?
No, that is not what mindful parenting is about!
No matter how mindful you are, tantrums will happen, you will get angry – MOM LIFE!
But the thing is, you can handle things better now.
When you are mindful, you don’t let your mind get filled up with long-pending to-dos or the fight you had with your husband last night.
You don’t let your reaction get biased with the past mood or the future need.
You are in the present reacting only to what your child does.
This way, you can handle things better for sure.
Myth #5 – Mindful Parenting is wholly about your children
Mindful parenting isn’t all about your children and how you give undivided attention to your children when you are with them.
Its equally about you and the people around you, about how you improve your quality of life as a parent who is really happy inside and peaceful to handle any situation.
Myth #6 – You can’t be mindful with a busy schedule
Schedules don’t decide if you are mindful or not. If at all this statement is true, then which parent could be mindful?
Parenting is busy. It is hectic. And I believe most agree on this.
Mindfulness is not a stand-alone task but trying to be in the present in all your tasks.
How many ever task you have, you would need to do every single task mindfully.
Every. Single. Task.
Wash your dishes mindfully. Talk to your kids mindfully. Fold the laundry mindfully. Have a work meeting mindfully. Sit ideal mindfully.
It depends on how well you organize and execute your tasks effectively.
Myth #7 – Living in the moment is letting go off the past and the future
Was it obvious that ‘being in the present’ is mentioned many times in this article? – well, 3 times precisely.
But, what does it really mean – Being in the present?
It doesn’t mean not thinking about the future or forgetting the past.
It is all about pausing all those thoughts for some time and enjoying the present. You can always wander to your past or analyze and plan for your future – In fact, you should!
But, the point is, even that needs to be done mindfully and consciously. You should clearly know your mind is thinking about your past endeavor. That is mindfulness.
To sum it up…
Though such myths can misguide you or try to scare you away from trying mindfulness, it definitely is a worthy concept to try and implement in your life.
It is just about slowing down and enjoying the present while experiencing life with your child in their way – the mindful way!
Does this post help you get an idea about mindfulness? Do let me know your feedback here in the comments!