“Simple practices like conscious breathing and smiling are very important. They can change our civilization.” Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace is Every Step
Our lives have changed drastically in the past month, as we moved from suburban Maryland to urban Myanmar (Burma). My parenting this month went from distracted, during planning, packing, travel and moving to hyper-vigilant, worrying about how much they are eating, sleeping and trying to keep them safe in our new environment. I’ve also tried to be mindful of the affect of the stress of the move on their behavior and respond to their needs for a sense of security, familiarity and connection during this time of transition. As an international move is stressful for everyone involved, I haven’t always been successful at this, but I’m trying to be more conscious now that things have settled down and we are in the adjustment phase of our new lives abroad.
In an previous post on an interview with Alanis Morissette on Parenting Passionately as part of the Parenting with Presence Summit, I wrote about her advice that when tensions or stress levels are high, it is best to remember the mantra, “Do No Harm,” and just sit with your children offering your quiet presence, rather than yelling or lecturing. I have used this method a few times (although not as much as I should have) during this stressful time and it has allowed me an interesting insight on my daughter’s behavior. My 4-year-old has always had a short fuse and typically her explosions sweep me right along with her, but lately I’ve been trying to pause before reacting and just watch the scene play out without my (often negative) input. In this way, I’ve allowed her to work through her own frustrations, after which she either comes to me for solace, or simply moves on to something else. By watching without reacting, I am able to see that my input is often not necessary and sometimes even detrimental.
Routines – Realizing Need for Change
I mentioned in a previous post how I had begun a morning routine with my daughter to give some consistency to our lives during the upheaval and to allow us time to connect before the day was off and running. For a month, my routine worked well. We both enjoyed it, it helped us connect and gave me time to share my love of yoga and to help her practice self-regulation through deep breathing. However, in the past week, the routine has either led to frustrated outbursts from her (which often involved me taking deep breaths to remain calm, her yelling, “Mommy, Stop Breathing!” which led to my amusement and her increased frustration – not the happy, calming vibe I was hoping for) or has gotten lost in busy mornings with scheduled events. So I have decided to change the morning routine to something shorter and more focused on loving, playful connection, something else that has gotten lost in the stress of the move. I hope that this change will be positive, but if not, as long as I continue to be conscious of her needs, hopefully I’ll eventually find something that works.
Quality Time – With Both Parents (When/If Possible)