9 Mindful Ways To Keep Cool In Front of Your KidsDec 05, 2020
Sometimes in life, tough moments get the best of us. We let our frustrations with work, our exes, politics, dating and social media pile up, only to project all that angst onto those who deserve it the least: our families. As hard as divorce is on us, it’s so much harder on our kids.
Bringing mindfulness practice into the trigger moments of our every day life is like going mano-a-mano, so to speak; it’s a very energetic practice. It’s also a helpful reminder that mindfulness practice isn’t always being passive or predictably serene. It’s not just about the happy or “clear moments” but about the tough ones too.
A lot of you are nodding your heads right now. This is common, and it can be even more difficult when so many of us are trying to work from home while serving as teachers’ aid and lunchlady for your kids, too.
We cannot — repeat, CANNOT — allow the outside world to break us. Our kids need to come first, no matter what else comes next. Here are nine ways to use mindfulness to help you tamp down any temporary temper tantrums.
A Mindful Moment
Take a deep breath
One of the tenets of mindfulness is the ability to control our breathing. There are many different ways to incorporate breathing exercise into our daily routine — regular meditation being a very common practice. But sometimes a crisis hits and you need just a moment to collect yourself. And sometimes, “just a moment” is all you got.
Try this: Close your eyes and inhale deeply for four seconds. Next, hold your breath for four seconds. Last, give a full exhale, also for four seconds.
One deep breath. Twelve seconds of your day. Sometimes that’s all you need. (And if you need more, take more. The world will still be there.)
“Dad’s gotta poop."
Or, if you have small kids and are in an alliterative mood, you could say, "Daddy's gotta doody."
Ever feel like you’re going to explode? You just need a moment to yourself? There’s no better place to be alone than a locked bathroom.
Put the fan on, and it’s your own personal soundproof booth for getting business done.
It’s a fool-proof excuse to duck away. Everybody poops. And everybody brings their phone in with them to poop. Don’t pretend to be grossed out, there’s a 90-percent chance you’re reading this on the crapper right now!
Play a favorite song or quick meditation. Read a page or two in a book. That crappy feeling will flush out on its own. You don’t want to force it.
“I think I left something in the car…”
Similar to the poop excuse, telling your kids you left something in the car can give you a brief respite from whatever is bothering you.
Whether in your garage or on the street, try to use that time to recenter yourself. It’s even better on a cold night. Let that crisp air fill your lungs and help reinvigorate you with positivity.
Yes, we are parents and our kids should always come first. But sometimes we have to just be...people. And maybe it's not leaving something in the car. Maybe it's going for a run or going to the gym. Sometimes, it's okay to be selfish.
Mindfulness in the Car
License Plate Game
Are your kids fighting in the backseat and it’s distracting you? This is a game you can play by yourself or with your whole crew. Find license plates from every state in America and see how many you can collect on a given drive.
A variation that’s more engaging Is to choose a letter of the alphabet — we suggest giving each kid their first initial — and seeing how many license plates you see with that letter. Whoever finds the most gets bragging rights until the next ride.
How does one usually drown out the kids in the back seat? Crank up the volume. To make things more fun with the kids have a karaoke contest. Let a sing-a-long be your guide to peace.
If you’ve ever been pulled over for a DUI check, chances are you had to say the alphabet backwards. Even sober, it’s not that easy. Doing this in your head can mentally extract you from a triggering situation and allow you to refocus and reframe.
Doing it with your kids could make for some family fun, and a learning exercise.
Folding clothes is boring and repetitive, so it’s a perfect opportunity to put a little mindfulness in your day. Focus on every fold. Do you fold shirts in half and in half again, or just once? Do you fold your pants crotch out or crotch in?
Ironing can also be a mindful exercise, as you focus on each sleeve or pant leg, trying to eliminate all the wrinkles and folds. Back and forth...
Speaking of back and forth: Sweeping. Feel the air of the broom as it sweeps back and forth. Listen as each bristle scrapes across the floor. Look at the giant pile of crumbs you just collected frOHMYGOD, these kids are filthy monsters!!! [DEEP BREATH]
Feel the air of the broom as it sweeps back and forth. Listen as...
Mindfulness can be used in cooking in a lot of ways, so let’s just look at two.
First, following a recipe to the letter takes a tremendous amount of focus. Be as precise as you can. Weigh your ingredients on a scale. Top off your cups of dry ingredients. Invest in each step of the cooking or baking process, and don’t let anything outside of the kitchen distract you.
Second, if you’re more of a “throw-everything-in-a-pan-and-hope-for-the-best” kind of home cook, building flavors and adding different ingredients throughout the cooking process is definitely a mindful exercise. Invest your full attention in that dish from start to finish.