Mindful Parenting During the COVID-19 Pandemic

With Online schooling and many parents working from home without childcare for the foreseeable future, it’s hard not to start spiralling. Responsibilities seem endless, the situation dire and it seems like time to yourself has become a thing of the past. And yet, it’s also an opportunity to dig in deeper for mindful creativity — Not just to support our children but also our own inner child, too.

Now take a deep breath. Feel a little better?

These are trying times, but incorporating mindful practices into your daily routine can help calm anxiety and build healthy coping skills.

Here are a few Mindful tips:
1. Give Your Children Your Full Attention – When it comes to family life, everyone strives to figure out how the relationship between parents and children can become ideal. Active listening is a good way to improve your communication with your child. It lets your child know you are interested in what she has to say. Children are like sponges and they are curious about the world. Mindful listening is an excellent practice to use with children as they have many questions about these difficult times.

2. One-on-One – In these challenging times the opportunity to spend precious time with each other and our children in ways that the ordinary hassles of everyday life don’t always provide. One-on-One time should be free and fun. It makes children feel loved and secure and shows them they are important. Setting aside time to spend with each child, so children can look forward to it. Ask your child what they would like to do, this builds their self-confidence. With young children, you can read a book or look at pictures, draw, dance to music or sing songs, do a core together – make it a game, help with school work. For teenagers, you can talk about something they like: sports, music, celebrities, and friends, cook a favorite meal together, exercise together to their favorite music.

3. Keep It Positive – It’s difficult to feel positive when our children are driving us crazy. Children need to know when they do something bad—and when they do something good. Notice good behavior and point it out, praising success and good tries. This is particularly important in these difficult times, when children are separated from their friends and usual routines. When you feel like screaming, give yourself a 10-second pause, breath in and out slowly five times and then try to respond in a calmer ways. Millions of parents say this helps a lot.

4. Don’t Forget Wonder and Adventure – It’s so important for us to model for our children that even in times of crisis and challenge, we can find and make an adventure of it. Parents are encouraged to take advantage of this time to play with their children. It makes them feel special. In pretend play, let the child develop the theme. Get into their world. Let them go with it and you ask questions and play along. Be silly along with them and have fun. My 5 year old son loves this one as he uses his imagination from the stories we read at bedtime. It’s not that we are avoiding or denying the seriousness or challenge of the bad news around us. Instead, we are heeding the words of Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh:
“Life is filled with suffering. But it is also filled with many wonders, such as the blue sky, the sunshine, and the eyes of a baby. To suffer is not enough. We must also be in touch with the wonders of life.”

5. Students Become Teachers – It can be challenging for parents too. We will easily get stressed and fatigued by being quarantined or having to work from home and take care of our children 24/7. And yet, we can look to our children as teachers too. They are the Zen masters of mindfulness.
Just yesterday, my son marched me outside to play in the rain; we jumped in muddy puddles, made mud pies and just danced freely. We then noticed the different birds flying and singing above, and all of a sudden our quiet cul-de-sac became a virtual carnival of new sights and sounds. I totally forgot we were in a cultural holding pattern and stopped worrying about when this metaphorical plane would finally land.

6. Taking Education Online – While schools are shuttered, many schools are moving their lessons online by providing virtual instruction or assignments. Make sure your child keeps up with the assignments and can engage in any virtual instruction. If your child’s school is not providing these options, turn to sources from reputable home-school organizations and websites, as many of these organizations provide lessons and materials for every age level.

Mindful creativity allows us to be truly present and in the moment, utterly immersed in the wonder of the everyday and yet tapping into something much larger. It’s something healing and connecting that we all need, and it’s free at all times.

We could all use a break from these strange times. Paradoxically, our way out of it, might just be to go further into it with mindfulness and ingenuity.