Mindful Parenting: My tips for staying present in the moment with your kids

As a parent, it’s easy to get caught up in the hustle and bustle of daily life. Between work, chores, and the endless to-do list, it can be challenging to stay present in the moment with your kids.  This has, without a doubt, been one of the hardest parts of parenting for me – I never feel fully present in the moment (especially when I’m at home, surrounded by piles of washing and endless washing up), and always feel pulled away from spending quality time with Alba.  I’ve been working really hard on practicing ‘mindful parenting’ to help me connect with Alba (and Reeva when she is here) on a deeper level as well as try and reduce some of the stress and impatience I feel when I’m being pulled in several directions at once. I thought I’d share some of the tips and tricks I’ve learned for doing this effectively:

Put away your phone and other distractions
One of the biggest barriers to being present with your kids is the constant temptation to check your phone or other devices.  Liam and I have both been trying to leave our phones by the front door when we finish work or bring Alba home from nursery, so that we can be more present and engaged with the kids, and reduce the amount of distractions constantly pulling us away from that quality time.  I notice a real difference in Alba’s behaviour when I don’t have my phone on me and am down on the floor playing with her without the temptation of screens.

toddler in nature

Create dedicated one-on-one time
Spending quality one-on-one time with your child can help you build a stronger bond and be more present in the moment. Set aside some time each day or week to engage in an activity that your child enjoys. Whether it’s reading a book, playing a game, or going for a walk, the dedicated time will allow you to focus solely on your child.  I love being out in nature with the kids as it really is an amazing opportunity to practice mindfulness – we will take time to look at all of the different sights and sounds and talk about them.  The children both love bug spotting, splashing in puddles and collecting ‘trinkets’, and it’s much easier for me to stay present when we’re out in the woods and I’m not surrounded by toys or clothes that need putting away!

Practice active listening
Active listening is an essential aspect of mindful parenting. When your child is speaking to you, put aside your own thoughts and give them your full attention. Make eye contact, ask questions, and show that you’re interested in what they have to say. By doing so, you’ll strengthen your connection with your child and be more present in the moment.  I’m undertaking a coaching qualification at the moment and it’s taught me so many useful skills that transfer into parenting – such as allowing children ‘time to think‘ or always staying curious for as long as possible without offering a solution, platitude or judgement.

Practice gratitude
Gratitude is a powerful tool for staying present in the moment. Take some time each day to reflect on the things you’re grateful for in your life, including your children. Expressing gratitude can help you feel more positive and present in the moment.  I have a ‘Mom’s One Line a Day‘ journal where I record the funny or sily things Alba does every day, and it really helps me focus on the fun parts rather than making a difficult five minutes overshadow the whole day – which I can definitely be guilty of!

Practice mindfulness meditation
Mindfulness meditation is a powerful way to cultivate a present-moment awareness. By practicing mindfulness regularly, you’ll become more aware of your thoughts and feelings and be better equipped to stay present with your kids. Find a quiet space to meditate for a few minutes each day, focusing on your breath and letting go of any distractions.  I’ve been using the Insight Timer app to try and practice a mindfulness meditation every morning – I’ve also previously used Headspace and Calm, both of which are great ways to get in a regular practice.

Prioritise your own needs

I find myself much less able to be a present, mindful parent when I’ve been neglecting myself and deprioritising my own needs and wants.  I can always tell when I’ve been putting myself last when my resilience and patience are much lower than usual.  Making time for your own self-care as a parent is incredibly important for a range of reasons:

  1. Increased self-awareness: When you prioritise your own needs, you become more aware of your own emotions, thoughts, and physical sensations. This increased self-awareness can help you recognize when you’re feeling stressed, overwhelmed, or exhausted, and take steps to address those feelings before they negatively impact your parenting.
  2. Reduced stress: When you prioritise your own needs, you’re better able to manage your stress levels. This means you’re less likely to react impulsively or lose your temper with your children, and more likely to respond to their needs with patience and kindness.
  3. Better communication: When you prioritise your own needs, you model healthy communication and boundaries for your children. This can help them learn how to express their own needs and boundaries in a respectful and assertive way.
  4. Improved self-care: When you prioritise your own needs, you make time for self-care activities that help you feel good physically, mentally, and emotionally. This can help you approach parenting with a more positive mindset, and set a good example for your children about the importance of taking care of yourself.  You deserve time for you to have a long bath, be creative, invest time in your hobbies or learn new things.

Overall, prioritising your own needs can help you become a more mindful and present parent by allowing you to show up for your children with greater self-awareness, patience, and emotional regulation.

Finally – staying present in the moment with your kids is essential for building a strong and lasting relationship. By putting away distractions, creating dedicated one-on-one time, practicing active listening, practicing gratitude, and practicing mindfulness meditation, you’ll be able to connect more deeply with your children and enjoy your time together to the fullest. Remember, being present is a practice, and with patience and persistence, you can cultivate a more mindful and present approach to parenting.  What are your tips for practicing more mindful parenting?