Mindful Parenting in a Pandemic
Being a parent isn’t easy at the best of times, but in a pandemic there are additional challenges as our lives are impacted by both practical restrictions and increased worry.
The times we’re living through have an impact on family life. Many parents find themselves fighting an uphill battle to limit screen time, encourage play, and cultivate the kinds of mental and emotional habits that kids need to develop if they are to flourish.
Mindfulness is a wonderful tool that helps to restore balance and bring awareness to what’s important for our kids. Here are some ideas for simple ways you can bring mindfulness into your everyday family life:
Take mindful walks
When we rush from place to place we miss so much. Have you ever wondered what you might notice if you took twice as long on the walk to school? Turn one of your routine errands into a “noticing walk” where you ask your child to use all their senses to pay attention to the small details in their surroundings.
Walk very slowly and focus on one sense at a time. Stay quiet for one minute and focus on listening - what can you hear? What smells can you notice in the air today? How many different shades of blue can you see? It feels like a game to children but in fact they are practising mindfulness by using their senses to become aware of their surroundings.
Make time for gratitude
Regularly taking a moment to express gratitude helps kids become more optimistic and improves social bonds. It’s a wonderful habit for children to develop. Instead of focusing on all the things they want, they learn to pay attention to the good things they already have in their lives.
The key is to build this practice into your daily routine with your child. One way is to take turns around the table at meal times to mention something you are grateful for. Choose simple things like being thankful for a fun play date with a friend.
Try a short meditation
Getting started with meditation can be challenging even for adults. You might wonder if your young child can stay still for long enough to try it, but mediation can be as simple as a short breathing exercise.
Ask your child to choose their favourite soft toy and lie on their back on a comfortable surface. Place the soft toy on their belly and simply ask them to focus on how the toy gently rises and falls as they breathe in and out. If they close their eyes and place a hand on the toy they will be able to feel the movement in time with their breath.
Make an internal weather report
Feelings and emotions are located in the body. Have you ever noticed that when you feel stressed and anxious your shoulders and neck are tight, and when you feel joy, your heart and chest seem to open up?
Starting from the toes, all the way up to the top of the head, ask your child to describe not just how they feel, but where they feel it, creating a kind of weather report of what’s going on with their emotions today.
Yoga can be a fun way for kids to release frustrations from the body and return to a more positive state. Experiment with some simple poses and ask your child to describe how they feel.
Mindfully eat a piece of chocolate
Often we eat so mindlessly while our thoughts are occupied with something else that we barely notice what we’ve consumed. It’s quite a big challenge for most kids to resist the urge to scoff a piece of chocolate all in one go, but this exercise is well worth the effort.
Take a single square of chocolate. Start by describing the colour and shape. What is the sensation in your mouth when you look at it? Pick it up slowly. How does it feel in your fingers? Can you notice a smell? Take a tiny bite but don’t swallow right away. Notice every sensation as the chocolate melts in your mouth.
Although the big picture can be daunting, we can focus on the little joys of everyday life. Soul Mates aim to introduce kids to the benefits of yoga and mindfulness in a fun and accessible way. Check out our Kids Eco Yoga Mats and Mindfulness Story Pillows.