How can I find time to meditate?
Updated: Sep 10, 2019
This question was asked by a parent who has three young children: 2 not yet in school and 1 in elementary but I am going to answer this question for parents in all stages of parenting. But before I begin, my short answer is this: meditate with your children or at the same time as them. This family approach will benefit everyone and give you a place in the daily routine for your practice.
Infants: Although having a new baby is tiring, they are yet to speak so this may be one of the easiest times to catch in some meditation. There is nothing like cuddling with your sleeping baby. Here is a meditation you need no equipment for: Hold your baby close, close your eyes and either focus on your breathing or your baby's. Just listen or feel the in and out breath and feel the peace of aliveness.
Toddlers: Now this may be the most difficult stage to get in a meditation. Toddlers are mobile, talkative and cannot be left alone for long. First, I suggest trying to get your toddler to meditate with you. My son when, at two, would lay on my belly for about 5 minutes at the longest while I meditated. Cosmic Kids Yoga has free yoga and meditations on YouTube that my son really likes. I would suggest first practicing a few meditations with your child and explaining how good and fun it is. You can encourage your child to try these videos while you put in some earbuds and practice your own. You may also want to pick a time of day that your child is at her or his best and make sure you provide a snack and potty break before the mediation. If your child just refuses to meditate try creating a quiet activity for them. I have created busy boxes with puzzles and other quiet and safe activities that my child can do on his own. If none of this will work, then you will have to wake up a little earlier or go to sleep a little later to fit a meditation in. Remember: you do not need an hour of meditation. If all you can get in is a minute of focused breathing than that is amazing and will do you wonders!
Elementary/Primary Age Children: Now this is the prime group for mediation! Children in this age group are already used to learning in school as well as practicing being quiet and still at school. I suggest, getting your school-age children started on some meditations and give them a time in the daily schedule to practice. I personally think after school is best and is a good transition to being home. Here is a short meditation for children I created: http://insig.ht/gm_48487 You can even meditate together as a family. I have created this meditation for exactly that: http://insig.ht/gm_52913
Tweens and Teens: Here is a group of children that needs meditation the most but may be the hardest audience to convince. I would start a conversation with this age group about meditation by first recognizing the stresses they are under from school, sports, peers and other activities. Then you may want to show them some different meditation styles, find a book to share with them or take them to a class. My one suggestion is that you may use apps or YouTube to meditate but I would not encourage you to suggest your adolescent to do this alone. The internet is too distracting and it may pose an issue for them to actually settling in and meditate. But every child is different and you know yours best!
Special Needs: This is a generic category but this could be for any child with a variety of needs that makes mediation difficult for them. One thing I have found that helps children is Mala beads, a rosary, rocks, or some other kind of tactile item for them to touch, hold or count while they practice mediation. This helps to focus energy and calm nerves. Other children may benefit from some gentle exercise such as yoga before they begin. I would suggest finding meditations that are simple and not overstimulating. Outdoor meditations may also be good. Your child may like to touch a tree while mediating or prefer a walking meditation.
To get back to the parent who asked the question, I would say it would be best to work in a meditation, while your oldest is at school, your youngest naps and you can get your toddler to do something quietly on his own. Remember, a little goes a long way and meditation benefits children too. If you are calmer and happier than your children will benefit.
True self-care is not selfish. It is necessary in order to lead a mindful life.