Any Mindful Parenting Tips for a first time Mom?
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
This questions comes to me from a mom with a 1-year-old and wants to know how to use mindfulness in her new journey of parenting.
New parents are often in the stage of what Thich Nhat Hanh refers to as the Beginner's Mind. Beginner's Mind is the idea that we look at things in a fresh way, even if it is not something new for us. Our first experience with parenting forces us into this place, which is a great place to be. We also receive a gift from newborns, which is living in the present moment. Holding our baby makes everything seem to melt away and time stands still. The first few months of our child's life seem to go by fast and slow at the same time. We often find ourselves sitting and staring at this precious gift of perfection. Our newborn bonding time is similar to living meditation. Even those of us with postpartum depression or anxiety have moments of bliss with our newborn and all the newness that comes along.
Basically, newborns give us the gift of living a mindful existence. But soon, the baby ages, we go back to work or our normal duties and the state of mindfulness can fade away. There is also a lot of pressure in our social-media culture. New parents have all the duties of parenting but may also feel pressure to be a semi-professional photographer capturing all of their baby's milestones; a creative designer who designs the best bedroom for their child; a professional chef who makes all of their baby's first foods from scratch; and a professional party-planner who comes up with the most clever birthdays. I am here to give you a few reminders to help you maintain your mindfulness and ignore outside pressure.
1. You only have the present moment, to bring yourself back to being with your child, look into her or his eyes and take a deep breath. Remind yourself to be here now and know that this is the only moment that matters.
2. See your child new each day. Children grow so fast and it is important for us to recognize and celebrate that without the pressure of documenting it. Thich Nhat Hanh reminds us to see our loved ones as "flower fresh." Children are in constant bloom and seeing this will always bring you back to now.
3. Put aside chores and get some quality time with your child every day. Our to do list is never done and so it can wait a moment while you sit, present with your child.
4. Come up with some special things you can do each day with your child, it may be reading a book, playing a game or just some cuddling before sleep. Practice being present in these moments and not concerned with what is next on the agenda.
5. Practice deep listening. When your child babbles and then begins talking, stop what you are doing, look into her or his eyes, listen and acknowledge that you hear her or him. This habit will serve you well as your child ages.
6. It is ok to say no to others. I worked outside of the home when both of my children were small, which meant that I turned down a lot of friends and invitations. If you just want to spend the evening staring at your baby, then do that. You are not missing out because you have chosen what brings you joy. On the other hand, if you need time away to feel like a grown-up then schedule those plans knowing that you will come back recharged and a better parent.
7. Be mindful of you and your needs too. Parenting can often lead to neglecting ourselves. Take the time for the real self-care you need: meditation, therapy (informal or formal), exercise, eating well, reading for fun or other hobbies/activities that fill your cup. Try to take a moment each day to do something for you. We cannot give continuously without giving a little back to ourselves too.
I hope this helps you on your journey into parenting.
Remember there is no such thing as a perfect parent, but there is such thing as a present parent.