10 Signs you may not be Present with your Children

You find yourself talking to your children but not connecting with their eyes. You are talking at them but not to them.

You are speaking, maybe even saying the same things over and over again, but not connecting to the meaning behind your words. Playing games and reading books, maybe, but only going through the motions.

You are checking your phone or email more than necessary, maybe incessantly.

You find yourself physically forcing your child to do something (get dressed, leave somewhere, etc.)

You are counting the hours until the end of the day.

You are not having any fun and neither are your children.

There is a tightness in your chest or abdomen and you catch yourself holding your breath.

You are saying “no” more than “yes” or generally have a negative or critical attitude.

You have slipped backward on previously successful breakthroughs in your parenting efforts.

You are judging your day based on a single moment or experience

10 Suggestions for Returning to Mindfulness with your Children:

Start Again! You always, always, always have the opportunity to begin again in life and to begin again with your children. Hug your children, hug yourself and simply start over. Your dedication to a mindful approach to parenting means so much.

Forgive yourself, breath deeply and recommit to this beautiful path and know that it is worth it.

Breathe! Make a commitment to breathe throughout your day. If you need to, set a timer for every 30 minutes or so to remind yourself to check in with your breath. Oxygenated brains function better and deep breathing promotes relaxation. This change alone will set you back on your right path.

Commit to responding to your children instead of reacting. Live in the pause between your children’s actions (“good” or “bad”) and what you say or do afterward. Allow this space to inform your response.There is great wisdom to be found in waiting.

Slow your pace dramatically. Take in all of your surroundings. Feel the texture of your children’s clothes as you dress them. Inhale an orange once peeled. Notice the wind or even a slight breeze as it touches your skin when you step outside.

Become acutely aware of your children’s words. Stop and really listen. Soak in what they are telling you. What you say back is less important than their sensing that you are truly listening. Respond the first time when they call out to you.

Plan a day at home in which you are fully focused on your children’s needs. If you can, forget about bills and correspondence, cleaning and errands for a single day. If you cannot commit to a full day, set aside a few hours and do the same.

Reflect on how you want to experience your children. Consider how you want for them to experience you.

Get some exercise. Try to find twenty minutes to burn off your worries and allow a sense of peace to come over you as your body moves and bends and breathes.

Revel in the memories of your children’s first days. Remember the promises you made. Remember their preciousness. They are as golden and as perfect as they were that very first day.

Be gentle and kind with yourself. Find at least one thing you could do for yourself to care for your own inner child. A warm bath, quiet writing in a journal or a long talk with a friend, will go a long way. The way we treat ourselves translates into the way we treat our children. Love, forgive and celebrate all that you are and all that you can be.

This post was written by A Journey in Mindful Mothering with Meghan Nathanson

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