Keep those lines of communication with your kids open- even when it's tough!
Sarah here. We hope that you enjoyed last week’s blog on mindful content consumption. This week, rather than focusing on applying mindfulness to behaviors, we’re discussing how to apply mindfulness to specific inner experiences. We know that a lot of parents struggle with parent guilt. We thought we’d focus on one common source of parent guilt today: guilt about downtime.
Be honest: do you ever feel like you should be doing something else (other than relaxing) during downtime? Something from your to-do list, something for your family, some project or major undertaking? If you do, you’re not alone. Time and time again, parents put their partners, their families, their jobs, and their homes ahead of themselves. Don’t get us wrong- taking care of others is a beautiful thing. But so is leisure time.
Remember that spending time doing things you genuinely enjoy is important. Investing in yourself is essential to your wellbeing. You can’t pour from an empty cup- you have to replenish your resources. And regardless of whether you spend downtime on your own or with people you care about, downtime isn’t just allowed- it’s necessary.
So, here’s where the mindfulness practice comes in. First, we’re going to focus on a prospective mindfulness exercise- one that you can try right now, before the downtime. I want you take a few grounding breaths just to make sure you’re focused on this exercise. Think about taking time off so you can focus on leisure and self-care. What thoughts or feelings arise when you consider downtime? Does the thought of taking time away from responsibilities create any tension or guilt or stress for you? If so, that’s okay. Those feelings aren’t bad- they’re just the ones that may show up automatically for you in this situation. Do you notice the same thoughts and feelings when thinking about spending downtime on your own as you do when thinking about spending downtime with family or friends? It’s possible that these scenarios may feel different to you and if they do, that’s okay. Just notice your reactions without judgment.
Now we don’t just want you to imagine downtime. We want you to actually take the downtime. If you notice that you’re feeling tense or stressed or guilty or something else unpleasant, see if you can notice your thoughts and feelings and then shift your focus back to what you’re doing. Use your mindfulness skills to really dig into your current experience. Notice what you’re seeing, hearing, touching, smelling, and/or tasting. If you’re with others, notice how it feels to do things you love with people you love. And if negative thoughts or feelings show up again, just acknowledge them and redirect your attention to what you’re doing. Remember: if you’re taking the time, you might as well be present and actually enjoy it!
Feel free to peruse our blog and see what Sarah and Lisa had to say about topics related to your needs as a busy parent. We will talk about everything from parenting values, to life hacks, to realistic self-care.