Being a mom of three and a mostly stay-at-home mom the past five years, I’ve learned firsthand that life with kids is consumed with chaos most days. Trying to care for them, take them to their activities, and entertain them, all while trying to juggle your adult responsibilities of maintaining a job, managing a house, and running errands is exhausting! Some days I just roll through the motions without being mindful, looking forward to the moment my head hits the pillow at bedtime, just to wake up and do it all over again.
Don’t get me wrong, I love my kids. I love spending time with my kids. But when life is pulling me in a million different directions, sometimes I just can’t slow down to be the parent I want to be. That’s why I have made it a personal goal to be a more mindful parent. Because at the end of the day, I don’t want those moments with my kids to pass me by. The tasks around me are so unimportant in comparison to the time I will never get back with them.
So how do you become a more mindful parent? Here are a few things that have helped me along the way:
Our phones have become our lifeline and it can be hard to disconnect. Between group text messages, email, and social media notifications, our phones are constantly and strategically trying to keep our attention. Put. It. Down.
Make an effort to leave it in a different room when you are spending time with the kids at home. When you run your kids to soccer practice, keep your phone in your bag or in the car. Focus more on your surroundings and connecting with your kid’s experience. That way you won’t miss that awesome goal she makes and you can share in her excitement. I have to admit, putting my phone down is one of the more difficult things for me to do.
Something I have found that helps me is wearing a smart watch. This way I don’t feel as attached to my phone and I can have more control over the notifications I receive and what apps I can access. Find what works for you but make a point to spend less time with your eyes on that screen.
Set Aside Time For Your Tasks/To-Do List
I used to try to keep my kids entertained while I attempted to complete my tasks of the day – paying bills, ordering groceries, making doctor appointments, and whatever else is on my to-do list. But when I try to juggle them together, my kids make sure to display their worst behavior and I can feel my patience fuse shortening by the minute. You can’t give your full attention to your kids, while also giving your full attention to the task at hand. It’s just not possible. So set time aside in your day to complete those tasks or try bullet journaling instead of trying to juggle it all simultaneously. The best time for me is early afternoon, or “quiet time” in our house. It’s when my toddler is napping, my oldest is typically in school, and my preschooler enjoys screen time. They all know that if I am given this time to accomplish the day’s tasks without interruption, they will get to enjoy the rest of the day with my attention dedicated to them.
As the kids get older and more involved in activities, this one definitely gets tough, but we always try to eat together at the dinner table. It’s the one moment carved into our day for all of us to talk as a family and reflect on our day with one another. Eating at our dinner table is when I get to hear about the exciting art project my preschooler did and the latest social drama at my second grader’s recess. It’s when we get to talk about the things we are looking forward to that weekend or discuss the kids’ goals for upcoming sports seasons.
But sometimes this means flexing our dinner schedule anywhere from 4:00pm to 7:00pm depending on the day, so it’s definitely not ideal for everyone. If that’s the case for you, maybe breakfast is the meal you try to eat together. Or maybe it’s a snack together at the end of the day before you start your bedtime routine. Whatever works for you, find that time to gather around the table and share a meal.
Make It A Date
If you are anything like me, when it comes to grabbing lunch or a treat with the kids, drive-thrus are my best friend. I intentionally seek them out because there is nothing more convenient than staying in your car when you have three kids in car seats! But lately, when I have the time, we make it a mindful date. We get out of the car, go inside the restaurant or bakery, peruse the menu, and take in the experience. I love to watch the kids’ excitement over all the options and deciding what they want to order. There’s just really something to be said about experiencing a business to the fullest instead of limiting yourself to the drive-thru, especially when you get to do it through a child’s eyes.
I understand doing all of the above things all the time isn’t realistic, but if you can incorporate one or two of them into your weekly routine, I know you will feel the positive impact of being a more mindful parent. And your kids will, too!