September naturally brings a number of transitions; beginning of the school year, end of vacation time, weather changes, catching up with postponed work, new performance goals, etc. At this time, it is also natural for stress and discontent to creep up on us without noticing. Can our families sail this transition gracefully? Can we retain a little piece of summer in our hearts?
I offer a few tips for being mindful parents… and a follow up to my previous blog about the benefits for children’s mental health:
- Paying attention to the emotional climate. When children don’t express emotions with words, they do it with their behavior: restlessness, irritability, irregular appetite and/or sleep, separation anxiety, not following the expectations… do you notice some of this in your kids?
- When we realize that stress is creeping up for anyone involved, taking a break (even if 3 minutes long) to calm down the brain, in order to avoid getting irritable and pushing each other’s buttons.
- If our children are having an emotional time, giving them a chance to vent their feelings without rushing them to get over them. Simply asking how they are feeling and offering comforting words (“I am sorry that this is difficult”) shows that we support them without judging them.
- When arguments or power struggles do occur, taking a mental break to cool down the heat of the moment can make the difference between reacting emotionally and responding thoughtfully.
- Paying attention to any mundane detail (like a child missing us, or completing a day of school) and expressing gratitude for it increases the positive vibe in any relationship…like putting money in the bank for a positive balance!
Any small effort towards sailing stressful times gracefully reflects in our enjoyment of every-day life…and in our children’s resilience for a lifetime. For more information about mindfulness for the whole family, please see my article at marriage.com.