Mindfulness is a big deal in our house. So is our very active five-year-old. 🙂 Here are 3 things I do during the day to help me connect that I find make a big difference.
#1: I try to stay aware when I eat.
Eating is tough with a child (food allergy anxiety aside). For the first years of our daughter’s life, I would inhale food whenever I got the chance. It was so bad, that at one point that I was giving myself heartburn. Not only did I eat fast, but I would eat food that didn’t even belong to me – like leftover food from her plate!
One day after a “meal,” thanks to my mindfulness practice, I realized that I didn’t even remember what I ate! And that wasn’t an isolated incident! So now that I was aware of this behavior, I could take some steps to change it.
The first thing I did was drop the expectation that we would all eat at the same time for each meal. I gave myself permission to make sure my daughter ate and had everything she needed, including help, before I sat down to my own meal. That way she could go play when she was done and I could attempt to spend a few moments focusing on my food and nourishing my body.
The next thing I did was resolve to put her leftovers away for another time. I would take out small jars ahead of mealtime with that intention. If I consciously wanted to eat them I could, but I made it easy and guilt-free (not wasteful) to not eat them right then and there.
#2: I challenge myself to be totally present when I’m reading to my daughter before bedtime.
I don’t know about you, but there are times when I’m reading a book with my kiddo before bed (when everyone is tired), and I realize that am completely unaware of what I’m reading. Words are coming out of my mouth, but it feels like someone else is reading! I am thinking about what I have to do after she falls asleep, or what we are going to do tomorrow, or that scene from Daniel Tiger. I get to the end of the book and I’m like, “Wow! What did I just read her?”
Now, when I pick up a book after we have snuggled in, I center myself and commit to being totally present for that experience. Each page turn gives me the opportunity to reset and lock into the present moment. I still have nights when I find it hard to do, but at least I’m practicing!
#3: I journal and stretch before bed.
Technically this is 2 separate things, but it is a single routine for me. Before I stretch and move my body, I tend to my mind. I spend a few minutes recording things in a journal that stood out to me during the day. Maybe a song that was in my head, a scene from a movie that stuck with me, a thought that I noticed…sometimes I just write down my grocery list! It all helps clear some space in my head to be present.
Then I stretch, making sure to move my entire body. I’ll tell you, things crack and pop in places I didn’t know existed. From the crown of my head to the tips of my toes, I try become aware of my entire body. This helps me to enter sleep from a place of thoughtful awareness and usually helps me settle down faster into sleep.
It can seem hard when you are busy, (parent or not), to find small places during your day to practice being mindful. Hopefully this post gave you a few ideas!