This step is really about accepting your child’s invitation to slow down and appreciate what each moment has to offer. Peaceful parenting is about building meaningful connections with our families and in order to do this we really need to slow down. When we are too busy doing things to accept our child’s invitation to play, to truly listen to our partners or to simply be with our family we miss out on the beauty and connection that those moments have to offer us.Slowing down enough to remember and reflect on that day’s experiences creates a deeper sense of feeling connected and understood.
As parents we are often busy. There always seems to be multiple things that need to get done. Piles of laundry that need washing, floors that need mopping, toilets that need scrubbing, meals that need cooking; the list just goes on and on. Many of us juggle work, raising our children, maintaining a house and attempt to have a social life. We try our best to meet the needs of our children, our partners and ourselves. It is not easy to balance all of this, or the needs of so many. Often we put our own needs on the back burner to tend to others’ and sometimes we tell our children we are too busy to play with them. It is not uncommon to move through the monotony of day-to-day activities with young children on auto-pilot, to react thoughtlessly, to miss opportunities to engage in present moment awareness, to forget our breath, to be too distracted to truly listen to our partners.
Luckily our children expose us to a life rhythm that most of us have lost. They live in the moment, free from any agenda. They invite us to find a slower life rhythm again, or should I say force us to accept one. We must still ourselves in order to nurse our babies, bath them or rock them to sleep. We must stop and observe the world through our toddler’s eyes to understand their awe in what we’ve come to see as ordinary. These young years of our child’s development is the time when we are not able to be as productive as we once were and have to face the fact that schedules and to do lists are just ideas and not hard deadlines. We are invited by our children to recognize that THIS MOMENT, RIGHT HERE AND RIGHT NOW is the only thing that matters.
This shift in priorities can be difficult but extremely rewarding. Learning to savor the tiny and ordinary can make the abundance of simple moments extraordinary. There is no other stage in our children’s development that offers a better opportunity to learn the power of moment-by-moment being than early childhood. They invite us to enter into a state of engaged presence asking us to play with them, share in their fascination of the world and to hold them close.
As they grow they teach us new lessons. For example, as we watch their curiosity for life we are reminded that we too can engage the moment with full abandon, living in wonder and awe. As they become more independent they challenge us to dance between letting go and still being present; teaching us to release our attachment to any fixed set of ideals or expectations.
Slowing down allows us to become aware of the happiness, peace and love that is available to us right here, right now when we pay attention. Accepting our children’s invitation to play makes them feel special and loved. Really listening to our partners makes them feel valued and heard. These things will help us build stronger connections with our families. When we slow down we can enjoy what each moment has to offer. We can enjoy parenting in each interaction with our children, accepting what each moment with them has to offer. And it is easier to practice mindfulness, remember to breathe and be aware of our triggers.
Slowing down will also make us more aware of our own needs. As parents we give and give and give but it is important to meet our own needs as well. We can not give what we don’t have. I’m sure you’ve heard the analogy of a cup representing our inner health. The analogy says that our cup must be overflowing if we are to give to others. That when we give to others without giving to ourselves we deplete our supply of liquid and eventually the cup will become dry. We will burnout; have nothing more to give. We must take time for ourselves and ensure our cup is overflowing. That the place where we give from is the overflow. So when was the last time you took a break? took some time to take care of you? Check in with yourself; how full is your cup?
Exercise: Do something for you each day this week. It doesn’t have to be big – a short bathroom break alone, a cup of tea in the sun, a bath. Build in ten minutes for you.
Accept your child’s invitation to slow down, to play, and to discover. Create a family ritual of sharing your daily ups and downs. Maybe this is at the dinner table and each person has a turn sharing their best and worst moments of the day or before bed by sharing one fun thing each person did that day and one not so fun thing they had to do. For young children parents can ‘gossip’ to a stuffed animal about the child’s good behavior or fun moments of the day. Journal your experiences practicing slowing down; how did you feel? What did your child say/do when you accepted their invitation to slow down? What ritual did you create? Will you continue it after this week? What have you learned from this week’s exercise?
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July 29th, 2013 · 1 Comment