Bethan O'Riordan Psyhotherapist

How can I embrace mindfulness and find self-awareness as a parent?

The ability to hold ourselves at arm’s length and reflect on who we are is everything in parenting. I often say that parenting isn’t about children; it’s about parents and how they respond, rather than react, to their children’s developing emotions. Being aware of what you bring to the gig is essential.

Begin by narrowing down what you’d like to be mindful of. This means things to which you would like to bring awareness. The most important part of this is to consider what your intention is. We could mindfully have sex and mindfully break into a car, so being aware is not enough. We have to take a moment to consider what our intention is with this practice.

An excellent intention, to begin with, is compassion. This is the acknowledgement that something is difficult, while feeling the motivation to turn towards it and help alleviate it. Being compassionately mindful of yourself creates a safe container for what you discover. Without the safety of the compassionate intention, what you uncover when you bring more awareness to yourself could be a little overwhelming. I remember a friend once saying to me, “I think I’ve gone mad. When I pay attention to myself I notice that one minute I am low, the next happy. It’s tricky to follow!”. At least with compassionate intention, when you are aware of your thoughts and behaviours towards yourself and others, you can begin to create change and awareness from this place of understanding.

As for taking action in being more mindful, it’s a matter of practice. Most parents come to me because they want to shout less – in a nutshell – and being self aware is essential to this. Be curious about the version of yourself that you present at different times of the day, in different surroundings and among various people. Notice what happens in your body, thoughts and behaviours at certain times of the day. Do you get a starburst of self-righteous thoughts when your kids aren’t listening to you? Does your heart beat faster when you’re under pressure? Do you lash out when you’re tired?

If so, then welcome to the human mind! Some people find it helpful to write their reflections down to make sense of them. Most important of all is to keep cultivating a compassionate inner voice, one who has your best interest at heart and understands why you do and say the things you do. Going inwards with mindfulness can be a little scary, but your compassionate inner ally will help to make it not manageable.

Inside the Calm Parenting Club are many videos, meditations and most important of all the support to become the mindful parent you’d like to be. You can start your free 7 day trial here and get a taste of how this online parenting community supports you to be the person, and parent, you’d like to be while also getting the answers to your parenting problems. Also don’t forget to get your free 5 Steps to Calmer Parenting which shares tips for helping you to be the change your children need.

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