By Mari Rossi, facilitator of the FCO’s July Mindfulness for Parents Series
Carving out time to practice mindfulness every day may seem like an impossible feat for busy parents. With so much on our plates already and so many needs to be met, how can we find the time and space to cultivate presence? But bringing mindfulness to our lives can be easier than we think! Here are some helpful tips:
- Set a recurring alarm on your clock so that twice a day, say at 10am and at 4pm, you are reminded to take 3 full deep breaths
- Use common sounds and sights around you as reminders to drop into your breath for a few moments- it can be every time you stop at a red light, or every time you hear a new text come in your phone, or before hitting the reply button on an email… pair up common, repetitive moments of your day with intentional deep breathing
- Turn every day regular experiences into mindful moments: for example, when brushing your teeth focus on being present for the experience- noticing the flavour of the toothpaste, the feeling of the brush against your teeth, the temperature of the water on your hands…. Other common activities to pick are taking a shower, doing the dishes, walking to your car, bike or the subway, eating a snack… anything that we usually do on autopilot!
- When sitting down to play with your child, set a timer on your phone for 5 or 10 minutes and commit to being fully present with them for the duration of that time- no distractions, multitasking, answering the phone, checking your email… just you and your kid, until the timer goes off.
- Develop a gratitude practice with your children: at dinnertime or bedtime, take a few moments to share 1-3 things you are each grateful for. Not only you help your child, and yourself, attune to the joyful moments of life, but you also role model being present and reflecting on the activities of the day.
To keep these mini-practices alive in your daily life, it’s helpful to remind yourself often as to why you want to practice mindfulness – if the benefits are clear to you, you will be more likely to make it a priority in your life.
Join us for a Mindfulness for Parents intensive this summer to get clear on your intentions as a parent, learn tools and techniques of mindfulness that work in the context of parenting, and join a community of parents dedicated to increasing presence and compassion for themselves and their children.
About the author: Mari Rossi has been facilitating mindfulness and yoga programs for parents and children for 15 years, and has led the Family Care Office Mindful Parenting programs since 2013. Mari has a degree in Psychology, with a specialization in Buddhism, Psychology and Mental Health from the University of Toronto, and is currently a PhD student in the Women and Gender Studies Institute at U of T. Between her academic pursuits and mindfulness teaching, Mari finds time for her most important work: parenting her two kids, aged 11 and 13.