Mums and dads urged to be more mindful with kids
arenting is a 24/7 job - one that entails a lot of emotional and mental challenges. And the struggle is the same whether you’re a regular Joe or a famous celebrity. Oscar-nominee Kate Hudson, for example, recently penned an essay on how she often feels like a bad mum to her two kids. She admits: “Some days I feel like I should win best mum of the day award, and some days I find myself doing strange things that don’t have any real purpose, in faraway corners in my house, and I realise I am literally and deliberately hiding from my children.” She’s not alone. Grammy-winning singer Carrie Underwood opened up about always being guilty for having a full-time career. “We have a nanny who helps out, especially when we’re on the road. But I’d feel guilty asking someone to watch him at home while I run to the grocery store.” This feeling of guilt and inadequacy is normal, says mum-of-three Mona Ataya. The founder of Middle East-based shopping site Mumzworld said: “When you leave your child, you feel bad that you’re not doing enough, even if you truly are.
“Missing your child when you’re at the office is a good sign. You should start to worry when you don’t miss your child or you get used to being away. That’s when you become desensitised to your child’s needs.”
Ataya agrees that prioritising and focus can help us become better parents. “I’m seeing this more now - a lot of mothers, who are at home with their kids, feel frustrated at being at home, so they are always on their mobiles. And I think that’s much worse than being physically absent. You’re there, but not really with them, and that’s a bad message you’re sending to your child.”
According to UK-based mindfulness expert Tessa Watt, studies show that mindfulness can reduce levels of stress hormone. It’s helpful to take five to 10 minutes a day to “recharge your batteries” by pausing, consciously breathing, connecting to your senses, and being there for your children. Tessa explains: “A lot of the time, we’re not in this moment - the mind is tied up in knots worrying about something else we need to do, going through our to-do lists, or replaying things from the past. "There’s often a sense of rushing to get to the next thing, and mindfulness is simply training ourselves to stop and be here. “That’s really helpful with children, because if their parents aren’t there for them, then who is?" To lend a helping hand, Tessa and famous British radio DJ Edith Bowman have launched Quility, an app with exercises and guides on mindful parenting, relationships, dealing with anxiety and more. Tessa says there’s nothing mystical about mindfulness exercises, it’s just a matter of paying attention to our body and our breath, and anyone can do it. Edith swears by it and adds that these simple exercises can help mums stay balanced and respond to challenges in a positive way: "I find mindfulness clears my head and reminds me to take a breath before I react to a stressful situation.” And it’s important for parents not to be too hard on themselves. "If you look after yourself first then you’re in the best possible position to deal with situations that crop up when you’re a parent, because you’re in the right frame of mind."
INHALE, EXHALE: Mindfulness has shown to enhance parenting skills and improve children’s behaviour