When you’re a parent, it can be tough to find the time for the things you want to do, and this is definitely true of meditation practice. Finding a quiet space and being left undisturbed for ten minutes or more in a house with children can seem frustratingly impossible.
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It may almost seem as if your path to meditation and all the benefits it brings is blocked by your kids, but that’s not really true; in fact, some of your most important teachings in life come through your relationship with your kids, so you shouldn’t be discouraged when being a parent takes up a lot of your waking areas.
With a little bit of planning and some action, you can be the parent you want to be and get in your meditation time. Use these nine tips to help get you there.
1. Try A “Momitation”
When your children go to sleep, use a simple inter-meditation practice. Sit in your children’s room at night, after they’ve gone to sleep, and let go of all your stress, to-do lists and inner tension. Breathe in and out mindfully and slowly, and practice just feeling with your dozing children, breathing in those emotions and releasing them. Observe their chests rising and falling with each breath, and breathe as them and with them. You’ll want to try your best to carry this moment into your waking life with them, too, as it can improve your sense of connection and even create a calmer household.
2. Get Into The Mindset Of “Possible”
You’ve probably convinced yourself, at this point, that you can’t meditate with a child, particularly a young one. But with that mindset, you probably never will be able to because you’ve defeated yourself before you’ve even begun. Take some time every day to say to yourself, “I can easily meditate every day with my child.” When you think it or say it aloud, is there resistance to the idea? Can you let it go and establish a new belief, one which allows you to meditate with your child in a joyful way? Dedicate yourself to changing your own mind and giving daily meditation a shot, and you just may be pleasantly surprised at the results.
3. Start As Young As Possible
If you can, start the routine of meditating with your child as soon as possible. The younger they are when you start, the easier it will be for them to get used to the idea that you sit quietly and still next to them when they are playing. The older they are, the more challenging it can become, but always keep in mind that it’s never insurmountable. Younger children may be curious and want to copy you, so let them. Meditation can benefit people of any age, and your child just may end up wanting to practice on their own in the future.
4. Be Open To A New Experience
Meditating when you have kids is going to be different than meditating when you’re not a parent. You will have to accept that and let go of the idea that you must have completely undisturbed practice time each and every day. You will be interrupted sometimes, and that’s perfectly okay. Your meditation may not go as “deep” as it did before you had kids, and that’s just fine, too.
The difference may present challenges at first, but it presents opportunities for new experiences and wonderful things, too. Your meditation time will also become your child’s practice, as they are experiencing presence and stillness through you. You’re also getting a great gift in the bargain: you can enjoy the pleasure of being around your child and seeing them in all their glory, without the innate sense of worry, fear or concern that sometimes rears its head when you’re a parent.
5. Lose Your Expectations
You may not always get your 45-minute practice session in. Some days, it may just be 30 minutes or even 15 minutes because your child needs something or is upset or ill. While it can be jarring to be pulled out of your meditative state for things like this at first, you will get used to it. The important thing here is to remember that getting upset or annoyed about your meditation practice being ended early really defeats the purpose of doing it to begin with. Let go of any expectations you have about your practice so that you are getting the full benefit and not adding unnecessary negativity into your life.
6. Consider Choosing Awareness
Meditation involving awareness, like the Momitation, described earlier, works well when you have children. You can sit there, for example, and just observe what is at that very moment, including your child. You are not blocking the child out; you’re aware of what your child is doing, but you’re simply not reactive. This will give you the space to respond when necessary, and you can make this response as meditative as your sitting.
7. Set Boundaries With Other Family Members
Partners and older children can pose a problem when it comes to meditation, too. Try to pick a time when your younger child and you are the only ones in the house, if possible. Select a room that’s not a living space so that if someone does come home, they don’t interrupt you. Turn off all sounds on phones, too! Family members who are old enough to understand should have no trouble respecting your boundaries for meditation, but you do need to set them first if you haven’t done so already.
8. Use A “Child-Proof” Room With Younger Children
If you are meditating with a younger child around, the room you use should be self-contained and free of anything your child can’t play with. This includes items such as drawers they can open, items they can damage and things they can climb over or on. You will be spending more time getting off your pillow or mat to get them than meditating if you’re not in a child-proof space.
With younger children, there are some extra considerations. You need to make sure your child is well-rested, fed and changed (if applicable) before you start. If their needs are all met, you’re less likely to have interruptions. Having some refreshments and favorite toys around for your child doesn’t hurt, either, since you can quickly hand them what they need when they need it.
9. Dedicate Yourself To Daily Practice
Daily meditation can reap a lot of rewards for you, but developing a new habit isn’t always easy, especially when you’re a parent and already have much of your time taken up. Dedicate yourself to practicing each day and making it happen. When you’re fully committed to daily practice, you’ll be more likely to think of creative solutions and stick to your daily practice no matter what the day, and your kids, decides to hand you!