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Did you ever notice how pregnant women and parents with little kids seem to naturally attract all kinds of unsolicited advice?
When I was pregnant, so many people told me, “Try to enjoy your child. You’ll be amazed at how quickly the time goes.”
What exactly does that even mean?
I wondered for a bit, but ultimately like so much other unwarranted wisdom sent my way in those long months of pregnancy, I cast it aside.
And, for the first three months of her life, I did think that I was enjoying my daughter.
It’s true, I was a bit anxious to get back to work and to taming the garden, and the holidays were just around the corner, and… well, there was always something.
Sometimes, I would even think to myself, how exactly does one enjoy the 3 a.m. shrieking that never ends, the explosive diapers, the teething that gets worse with every tooth?
However, I remember clearly the moment when everything changed.
Have you ever tried practicing mindfulness?
It can be wonderful — experiences flow over you, making you see new beauty in familiar things. And taking that moment to just see what’s going on can change your whole outlook.
Even in your less-than-proud moments, stepping back and paying attention makes a world of difference — not just for your plans to do better in the future, but for your mood in the moment.
When you really notice that you feel like shouting at your baby for once again head-butting you instead of just going to sleep already, come on, we’re all exhausted — no, sorry, that’s me!
When I’m really noticing, though, I can be a little calmer, a little less frustrated, just because I’ve acknowledged my own frustration.
Well, that’s the problem, though, isn’t it?
That pesky “when I’m really noticing.”
It’s so, so hard to stop in the middle of an emotional reaction and see what’s going on.
But, I have a confession to make. Every week, I read the article on AFP. Most weeks, I like the strategies suggested and think about implementing them. Many weeks, I really do spend the two minutes on the 2-Minute Action Plan, and put longer-term plans on my to-do list.
Then my coffee break is over, and I go back to work, and by the time I get home I’m thinking about something else, and it’s only at bedtime that I remember the new strategy I was going to try.
It’s so frustrating!
How then can a busy parent get this mindfulness thing started?
I’d like to share with you 3 mindfulness techniques (hacks, actually) that worked for me. Nobody really talks about these techniques (maybe because they are hacks?), but they are so effective. And simple. And just perfect for parents like you and me who want to change/improve but… well, you know the rest of that story already.
You’ve heard of mindfulness, right?
I know, silly question. You couldn’t have escaped it unless you were living in a pod in outer space — everybody and their pet seems to be talking about it these days.
But, what is mindfulness? And can you benefit from it even if you’re not quite into the whole touchy, feely, new-agey stuff?
I hear you.
I stumbled on mindfulness by chance, or fate, depending on how you look at it and what you believe. Either way it was a happy incident.
We were in Kuala Lumpur Airport waiting for our plane to arrive and decided to grab a coffee from a place across a bookstore while we waited.
I have a weakness for airport bookstores — traveling helps rid me of my inhibitions and the curse of putting too much thought into what I read. While looking through the shelves rather aimlessly, the book Search Inside Yourself: The Unexpected Path to Achieving Success, Happiness (and World Peace) by Chade-Meng Tan caught my eye. I bought it on an impulse for my husband.
At the time he was busy so I started reading it.
I was hooked.
Before becoming a stay at home mom, I was a software engineer and this book is perfect for those of us who are piqued by mindfulness but could do without the touchy, feely, new-agey vibe.
While reading the book I looked up the Google University session lead by Jon Kabbat-Zinn, a doctor who has been credited with bringing mindfulness to the attention of the west and creating a program which helps fight stress using mindfulness.
His definition of mindfulness is
It’s infuriating isn’t it?
You read a million articles about how to be a better parent and study a million new techniques to master this discipline thingie, and still your kids are masters of misbehavior and will tear each other apart at the slightest provocation.
I am a committed skeptic when it comes to parenting know how. But I recently discovered something that helped our family resolve sibling rivalry, discipline issues and more, and changed our family forever.
When I started, I had no idea that it had a new-agey name or that it was being hailed as some new fangled parenting mantra. I stumbled upon in by accident – and all the hype and hope aside – it really worked for us.
What it boils down to is this; mindfulness is simply taking a moment to notice what’s happening in your family and accepting it.
It’s noticing your own thoughts, noticing your child’s behavior and choosing how to react without letting your emotional baggage and your bad temper stomp all over your life.
It all started like this. [Read more…]