Mission Impossible: Monday Morning
It’s 7am on Monday morning and you have to conquer the world before 5pm. You are motivated to complete your mission. However, the tiny humans you have created are determined to obstruct your pursuits at every turn.
Your five-year-old refuses to eat her favorite cereal. She doesn’t want her hair brushed. She is generally taking a stand against every request you have made this morning. So far, you’ve persuaded her to wear a pair of unicorn socks and a t-shirt.
Meanwhile, your nine-month-old seems happy as she pounds on her new activity block with a wooden hammer while you go about your morning tasks. But then you notice she has just produced the poonami of poonamis. The diaper she is wearing failed completely. Her cute zippy pajamas will need to be peeled off of her little body, and she really requires to be hose-downed under high pressure, but a bath in the baby tub she has outgrown will have to do.
Just as you’ve finished scrubbing the baby, Princess Unicorn Socks announces she really wants her favorite cereal instead of the smiley face English-muffin pizzas you provided on demand minutes ago.
Before you know it, you start blasting off colors like a Roman candle on the Fourth of July. Unfortunately, the colors are showing up in your language and are nowhere near as fun and magical as fireworks.
Your five-year-old’s lip quivers, she takes a deep breath and emits a wail that can be heard in the next county. In your frustration, your own lip quivers, and you hide your face behind the baby in her monkey-hooded bath towel as tears roll down your cheeks. It’s somehow 9am already. You’re late for school, and your morning has been completely hijacked by your own mommy meltdown.
Reactive behavior does more harm than good.
We’ve all had these mornings as parents. It’s easy to get swept up in the challenges of caring for kids when you’ve got adulting to do. It’s not uncommon to react in a less than desirable way. But being reactive has painful consequences. Everyone ends up in a heap of emotion, and your day is set back even further. It’s no good for anyone, especially the kiddos who need to learn how to manage their emotions through less than ideal scenarios in life. (Hint: They take these cues from you.)
Thankfully, we have everything we need to be mindful parents already built-in. With consistent effort and commitment, engaging in mindful behavior is a game-changer for families with great benefits.
What is mindfulness?
Mindfulness is the practice of being aware of our thoughts, emotions, and behavior. There are different ways to be mindful, but for the most part, it always comes back to this concept of awareness. This practice helps us to stay present when feeling stressed, which then allows us to respond carefully instead of reacting habitually.
How do I start my own mindful practice?
The first step is to tune inward to your thoughts and emotions. For example, when you notice your voice starting to rise because you’ve asked your kids to put their shoes on for the eighty-seventh time, therein lies your opportunity to pause and check-in with yourself. Yes, I know you need to go, and the kids really need to get their darn shoes on! But that pause could mean the difference between all of you getting to your destination on time, or all of you getting to your destination late while also being frustrated with each other.
Now that you’ve tuned in, take a deep breath. Then scan your body from the top of your head to the tips of your toes. Acknowledge any tension you come across in your scan. Now tune inward to the breath as it flows in and out of your nose. No need to control the breath at first, just observe the sensations of breath as it flows in and out of your nose. The breath is cooled as it flows inward, warmed as it flows outward.
Now you can bring some control to the breath with an accompanying count. Slow the breathing down. Inhale one, exhale two, inhale three, exhale four. Continue until you count to ten. Then reassess. Are you ready to respond? Or do you still feel like a shaken up soda bottle ready to explode? If the latter, keep breathing, acknowledge your emotions and find your way to the present moment.
Being mindful takes practice.
Over time, you’ll develop a mindful practice that you can depend on to bring you back to the present moment time and again. Your interactions with your family will improve. And best of all, you’ll be showing your kiddos how to manage stress and challenges effectively. Simply put, being mindful is a win for the whole family. Keep breathing, you got this!