It has been exactly one year since our lives went from relatively NORMAL to living some level of restriction/lockdown due to the Covid Pandemic. I remember the day like it was yesterday, spring break had just started and on that day I had an appointment and was having a nice lunch with my husband and boom the news was reporting that kids were not going back to school after the break and that we were heading into level 1 lockdown. It was a stressful day and has been ever since. Living in a constant state of fear/lockdown or having our freedoms resitricted and having our in-person social interactions greatly reduced if not removed, takes a toll on all of us because it just is not natural. It puts us on high alert – which is the opposite of being mindful.
Mindfulness, what exactly is it?
Mindfulness is defined as a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique.(source: Oxford disctionary)
I dont know about you but being a busy parent with two kids under 10 with their own challenges, doing virtual schooling plus a pandemic and the regular pressures of my life, makes being mindful easier said than done. I have had to adapt and try to sneak it in for us all whereever and whenever I can. They say a minimum of 10 minutes a day, with a recommendation of 20 minutes a day is what we really need. So how do us busy parents get in 10-20 minutes a day?
A positive spin to the pandemic is that it has forced us to slow down, stay home and get outside! The nice thing about living in British Columbia is that, despite the rainy days we tend to have much milder weather than the rest of Canada and everything stays relatively green all year long! Getting outside and into nature is a wonderful way to practice mindfulness! Simply going for a walk or being outside with your kids while they play, can force us to slow down and take in the scenery. Practice just being silent and looking around, noticing things – being present in the moment. Notice the wind against your cheek, the sound of the rain falling, the sun on your skin.
Another easy way I have found is through a few minutes of awareness. I try to sit with my feet grounded on the floor, something to support by back and I take time to breathe a few deep breaths and look out the window taking a minute here and there to just “be”. Notice your breath. I have been taught that going through your senses is a great way to spend five minutes being mindful – Try it: 1. Name five things you see, 2. Name four things you feel, 3. Name three things you can hear, 4. Name two things you can smell and 5. Name one thing you can taste. Spending time asking yourself those questions and answering them brings you into the present moment. I find I usually need to do this with my eyes closed, as otherwise I get distracted easily. Closing my eyes helps me stay in the moment.
Practice breathing techniques. There are several to try. Ie. Box breathing and rainbow breathes. Paramedics and the Military etc use box breathing, also known as combat breathing.
Sit down with back support, feet on the floor or cross legged on the floor. Use your index finger to draw a square in the air as your breathe. Breathe in for a count of 4, hold for a count of 4, out for a count of 4 then repeat.
Mindful Apps and Music/Sounds & Meditations
Another easy way I have found is through mindfulness apps and music stations. I try to put the ear buds in whenever I can during the day – while I am working (like now while I write this). We have Google products in our homes and I put on certain mindfulness music/sounds/meditations/stories before bed for my kids and myself. We enjoy Moshi for guided meditations.
Be sure to also check out our other blog posts on mindful apps . Here is a list of 5 meditation apps .
**Be sure to check out next weeks blog post for a list of mindful apps designed for kids!
I often put calming music on in the car, there are lots of streaming stations that are devoted to mediation/calming/relaxing music. I have found the music also helps keep the mood more even-keeled and we dont have kids fighting in the car as much.
In addition she has created this 12-minute tree meditation below. This meditation is a simple grounding meditation. Great for times when you feel overwhelmed, or disconnected, or are struggling to find your own strength. Check out her youtube channel for more meditations.
Create a Calming Corner
Harmony Kids Yoga and Mindfulness Co. introduced me to this concept. Create a small area in your home where the kids can go to relax, read a book, rest, play with a sensory item (ie. glitter jar, squish ball, hug a stuffed toy, use a breathing ball or a singing bowl. Put a yoga mat/gym mat down and/or other soft flooring with blankets and pillows – get the whole family involved in creating this calm space. We made this space behind our couch and had a basket with a glitter bottle, books, squish balls and stuffies.
You can learn more about other tips and tricks and how to create this space in the Mindful You, Mindful Me parent workshop that they offer. They are offering it to our Modern Mama followers for 50% off (reg $60). You can watch it at your leisure from the comfort of your home, over and over. Just use coupon code: MODERNMAMA50
Many of the above suggestions can be incorporated into everyday tasks ie. while the kids are playing – not needing your undivided , while you are doing the dishes, taking a shower/bath, while you are cooking, take notice of the feeling of your feet on the floor etc. In addition if you make this a family effort so you can all get some much needed mindfulness time in together. Try doing a yoga activity at home together or everyone sitting and listening to some relaxing music in the car or at home while you go about your day. Remind your kids to be mindful when they take a shower/bath – notice the water, the sounds, the smells, the feel of the water. When you all go for a walk outside – stop and look up at the clouds, listen to the wind blowing through the trees – take a few minutes to relax and take it all in. It amazing when you allow yourself to become fully immersed in something, that you can actually find that it is very enjoyable. Remember by being a mindful parent, we will have mindful children!
If all else fails:
Make sure you have electronic-free times in your day where you put down the phone/tablet/computer and turn off the TV etc.
Try floating! Now this one does require parents getting some free time to go do this – but its AMAZING! There is nothing like floating in complete silence and darkness (if you choose or you can request music and a nightlight). 90 minutes in a float tank can feel like 6-8 hours of sleep! (Amazing right!) Its great for your skin too . Complete mind, body and soul experience. Float houses are popping up everywhere – there is bound to be one near you. Here in the Greater Vancouver area there are a number of float houses including Float House, Luna Float, Cloud 9 Float Spa, Still Life Massage, Pure Float, Salt Wellness Center and Float Sense.
Try to do one thing at a time – don’t multi-task (this is an especially hard one for me) be fully engaged and present for one task at a time – not dividing your attention amongst several things. Enjoy being undistracted and fully immersed and focused on one thing.
Disclaimer: All the opinions in this article are my own, based on my own experiences. I was gifted the opportunity to try the “Mindful You, Mindful Me” online workshop. I take pride in providing honest reviews to fellow parents and followers. As an affiliate, I earn from qualifying purchases. I get commissions for purchases made through certain links in this post.