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How To Be A More Mindful Parent

Written by James Kicinski-McCoy

Photography by Photographed by James Kicinski-McCoy

There’s something incredibly inspiring about a new year—the feeling of starting over, hitting the refresh button, and making new goals and changes. For a lot of us Millennial moms, the gym isn’t the main thing we’re looking to attack—it’s our mindfulness to our families and selves. Blame it on the crazy schedules, to-do’s, and demands, but the fear of being without a phone is scary, to say to the least. This has all of us constantly charging, checking, and holding onto our devices (often with a death grip!) throughout the day. We’ve become glued to our gadgets, screens, and social networks, due to work and play, and finding ourselves brainlessly scrolling through the internet without even realizing it.

There’s no better way to say it—we’re obsessed. Nielsen reports that the average American spends 11 hours per day on their gadgets, whether that’s a smartphone, computer, or TV. Not to mention, kids are also spending more and more time plugged-in. If this sounds familiar, you’re not alone. Maybe it’s time to step back from the phone and practice the power of now. Mindfulness is a lifelong practice that takes time and lots of effort, but it will not only benefit yourself, but your family, too.

Cut Down On Our Devices. What started as a way to stay connected has quickly morphed into a way to waste precious time—the internet has completely changed the way we live. Of course, we’re not suggesting that you go and delete your Facebook page and Instagram, but maybe it means you need to create some boundaries with yourself. Set in place a time each day to quit working, shut your laptop, and put your phone aside to be with your family. This goes for kids, too—no ifs, ands, or buts.

Open Conversation. Just because you’re not on your phone or binge-watching your favorite TV series doesn’t mean you’re being “present.” To be in the moment is to interact, talk, and spend quality time together, which is really important for parents. Kids need to know that you’re never too busy or distracted to talk. Make sure your children know that communication is always open, no matter what.

Take Care Of Yourself. It’s easy to accidentally start neglecting yourself when caught up in your family, work, errands, and everyday life. However, keep in mind that your kids will mirror your actions and if you don’t take care of yourself, neither will they. Eat well, sleep more, and worry less. Experts say that anxious parents tend to pass their anxiety onto their children, so stay on top of stress and make sure you’re always presenting the best, most positive version of yourself that you possibly can.

Shut-Eye. Most of us keep our phones plugged in right beside our beds, which can lead to lying in bed scrolling through articles, emails, and feeds—bad idea. One, it keeps us up at night instead of winding down. Two, gadgets stimulate the brain, making it harder to fall asleep. And three, the time spent on mindlessly scrolling is time you could be spending with your significant other. Not to mention, it’s easy to want to reach for the phone as soon as we wake come morning.

Stay Involved. Find other ways to connect with the family besides talks at dinner. Take on a fun hobby together, plan a once-a-week movie or board game night, take walks, help out with homework, attend extra-curricular events, etc. All of these little efforts to sneak in bonding time will have a big impact!

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