Conscious Parenting Inspirations – July 2014

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“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.

Pause

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)

In the past, my husband and I have taken time to spend one-on-one quality time with both of our children, but with two little ones, most of their time is spend together, either with one parent or both parents. Rare was time for either one with our joint undivided attention – something I hadn’t even realized was missing until we actually had time for it. 
 
As the reality of jet-lag settled over our family like a cozy fog during the day and a midnight buzz in the evenings, there were times we found ourselves in a group of three while the fourth slept like a log in another room. As we played with our 22 month-old son on our bed, I thought, “When was the last time we did this?” As we followed our four-year-old’s lead in a game of “keep-the-balloon-in-the-air,” I watched her joyful smiles as she basked in the joint attention of both of her parents. With nothing else to do, awake in the middle of the night, we reveled in these moments.
 
Other families may already do this all of the time, but in our family when one parent was involved with a child, the other would rush off to clean the kitchen, check email or attend to some other task. We rarely took the opportunity to bond as a group of three. Yet in the past week these rare, precious moments have left me thinking about how we need to consciously create them in the future. There is so much encouragement for parents to spend one-on-one quality time with children, but I have not yet come across advice for two-on-one quality time, something that, while often the state of affairs in single child families, may not always be common in multiple child families. I realize that this is not always possible for families in which both parents are not available, but if there is an opportunity for some two-on-one quality time, try it and see how your child reacts. Hopefully, you will be rewarded with the same joy that we were this week.
 
What about you? Have you come across any new Conscious Parenting insights or resources this month? If so, I’d love to hear them.

 

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