You’ve read dozens of books that preach love, patience, and understanding when your child is disobedient. Naturally, you wanted to be the best parent your child look up to. But when your child starts messing up the dining room, even after countless reminders, you can’t help but bubble up in rage.
You exploded, yelled, and probably said something that you never meant to out of frustration.
As a single parent, I can vouch that parenting is probably the most challenging job in the world, and one you don’t get paid and sent to a vacation.
And let’s be real, you won’t immediately stop feeling frustration, anger, or yelling by bringing mindfulness into parenting.
But you’ll be able to have a better insight into your emotions. Often, there are lingering guilt and regret that follows such episodes and a hurt child who is equally confused. Mindfulness helps you to take on these feelings neutrally and explore the real reason for the outburst.
Why We’re Irrationally Frustrated As A Parent
Often, we’re sound critics when we’re observing other children. But when we’re blessed with one, logics are squashed by emotions and expectations.
As our child starts taking his or her first baby step, we begin dreaming of our child running. We start charting the path for our child, often prematurely. In some cases, parents wished that their children fulfill the dream that they never could.
On the other hand, some parents only wished for their children to be happy and are quite flexible on academics or talents. But hoping for them to live a happy life can be an expectation itself.
Such expectations often turned to frustration, in the form of the habits that children developed. For example, a meticulous parent got frustrated when the child demonstrates clumsiness. As for a health freak like me, I’ll get anxious when my son refuses to brush his teeth.
These small anxieties built up and snowballed into an explosion. Like a bubble that keeps growing, it’ll only take a tiny needle before you lashed out furiously.
How Turning To Mindfulness Can Make Parenting Less Frustrating
In the strictest sense, mindfulness is the ability of the mind to maintain a conscious awareness of a specific object, without developing emotional attachments. Mindfulness is also defined by the practice of living in the present.
These definitions of mindfulness sounded pretty Zen-like. What’s more important is how mindfulness can be correctly applied and reduce frustration in parenting.
It takes a split second for you to lose control of your temper and start yelling at your child. What if mindfulness allows you the opportunity to prevent the subsequent emotional reaction from surfacing by observing the misbehavior of your child in a neutral manner?
Of course, not every parent has total control that prevents them from lashing out. But even with the slightest practice of mindfulness, you’ll find it helpful, especially when dealing with the aftermath of your outburst.
Instead of wallowing in self-guilt and regret, being mindful allows you to realize that you’re an imperfect human being just like everyone else. Such realization also enables you to be compassionate to your child. You’ll get to understand that his or her behavior may not be intentional, and often triggered by hidden causes.
Mindfulness also clears your mind to the fact that your child learns not from what you preached but rather what you do. It gives room to self-improvement both as an individual and a parent.
How Do You Practice Mindfulness When You’re A Busy Parent
Let’s get real. You don’t get much time to yourself when you’re a parent. It doesn’t matter how old your children are, as there is always something that demands your attention. You’ll either be cleaning up messes, doing the never-ending laundry, or playing peacekeeper to squabbling siblings.
But if you wanted to stop losing control, you have to start somewhere.
The best way to develop mindfulness practice is to take up mindfulness meditation. You can get a meditation book or a guided mindfulness app and start meditating the first thing in the morning.
It’s understandable if you feel reluctant to sacrifice your precious sleep, but it’s easier to meditate before you start your daily parenting routine.
Most mindfulness meditation guides you to watch your breath, and deal with wandering thoughts and emotions. As you make it a daily routine, you’ll get the hang of it.
Gradually, you can start being mindful of simple daily routines like eating, showering, or cooking. Instead of getting lost in a daydream, draw your awareness to your five senses, and neutrally observe your thoughts.
Mindfulness will eventually become part of your habit, and as you become normalized with the practice, you’ll find that you don’t give in to your temper easily. Instead, there’s a logical voice that urges you to turn away, observe your emotions, and allows the angry thoughts to pass.
Don’t get it wrong. Mindfulness doesn’t remove anger from your system. It just helps you to stay above your emotion instead of being muddled in it.
Do I still get frustrated after practicing mindfulness?
Of course. But I don’t let guilt and regret get in the way to be a better parent.