Better Parenting through Mindfulness and Meditation | Dr. Amna Husain
Dr. Amna Husain: Everyone, welcome back. My name's Dr. Amna Husain, board-certified pediatrician, board-certified lactation consultant, and mom. So, this week, we're going to talk about a topic I've been focusing on a lot personally and that's meditation and not just meditation in general, but meditation as a parent.
So, I know many of you know what meditation is. It's basically simply put a mind-body practice that allows you to focus your attention on a single point of reference and sort of away from distracting thoughts or external stimuli that could be bringing you anxiety, or stress, or distressing you for any specific point or purpose in life. Okay, but let's talk about why meditation is such a hot-button topic right now for me, for parents. Well, by nature of parenting, parents are typically multitaskers. Typically, parents spend most of their day thinking about what needs to be done, what wasn't done. And then even after they've put their kids away, they're focusing on all the other things that they didn't do for say their house or their work. Not to mention all the stress that COVID has put into our lives with possibly virtual schooling or having less resources, or even things to do with your children. So, you're kind of stuck indoors.
Everybody's anxiety and stress levels are pretty high right now. Enter a meditation. Now, you don't need me to go over all the benefits of meditation. There's lots of studies that show it can be very helpful for even heart health, lowering blood pressure for those who are at risk of blood pressure issues. It can be incredible for insomnia, pain management, but for parents, in particular, it can be really helpful. But for parents, it's particularly effective at managing stress levels. Along with addressing anxiety, it can be helpful to control feelings of anger or hostility. Think about it. Life with children is incredibly unpredictable and there are plenty of things during the day that throw us sort of off course or might throw us for a loop. Meditation is a great way to keep control of your emotions and at least maintain some sense of really yourself and your level of patience.
Have you ever yelled at your child and then felt horrible about doing it, like horrible and eating yourself up with guilt. Yeah, you and almost every other parent. Now meditation may not make that go away completely, but it definitely will give you more control over your emotions and maybe help that happen less. Not to mention if you've been following me for a good period of time on social media, on Instagram, or TikTok, then you know that one of my goals is helping us raise resilient children. Resilient children need resilient parents. And the only way we can teach our kids resilience is also by modeling it. So, meditation can be very helpful to help build our own reserves, keep us resilient through tough times. I've already mentioned that meditation can help parents manage stress, but wouldn't that be really helpful for children as well to grow up in a environment with their parents also in a healthy state of mind? Not to mention, I've never met an adult who complained about their parents not buying them enough.
Typically, you might hear an adult complain that maybe their parents didn't spend enough time with them. Well, meditation is a great way that we can sort of silence our thoughts and be more present and not just our state of mind, but in our body when we're doing things with our children, to be able to focus our attention and really be there for them wholeheartedly. Here are my tips for getting parents to fit in small meditative practices throughout the day. In the morning, I personally like to wake up a little bit earlier than my daughter, and that's just for me, so I can have a few moments to center my thoughts. Now, that doesn't always happen, for example, on weekends we throw our routine a little out the window, but I've definitely noticed that on the mornings that I do wake up a little earlier things run a little smoother for me.
Another good time in the morning before you drink your morning cup of coffee or morning cup of tea, stop, take a moment. Feel the warmth on the cup, take a breath, smell the aroma of the coffee. And then let yourself enjoy the first sip, taste how it feels, let's savor it. Before you really go on with your day, just small little moments where you can acknowledge what you're doing and how you're doing it. So for example, during a commute, I personally think that it's a great time to just not listen to anything, sit in silence. I mean, if you have a toddler, then that is a very rare thing. So I personally enjoy the silence, but maybe you might take that time to listen to an audiobook or a podcast, something that Zens you out for a moment and lets you just focus on yourself, but not when you're at work.
One of my tips is try your hardest not to lunch in front of the computer. I know it's so much easier. I'm guilty of it too, of catching up on emails or just scrolling on your phone, but try to take even just five minutes to savor your lunch break, savor the bite before you put it in your mouth. Another tip of mine is take a break from the computer screen at some point during the day. Take a moment to feel your feet on the ground, the weight of your feet, your body in your chair, focus on your air, your breath moving in and out of your body and just do it for two minutes. And yes, you can totally set a timer.
What about taking up a hobby? Things like sewing, knitting, scrapbooking, painting, any of those things that can also be relaxing while you're doing them with your children. For example, I love to color with my daughter. And other things that we're thinking of probably doing is as COVID situation start to improve and more people get vaccinated, I'd love to go to one of those like ceramic paint your own pottery places. I think that she's old enough now that she would actually really enjoy it. So, that might be something I do next that I think would be really good for me to be mindful of and something she can enjoy at the same time.
Now, when you're at home and cooking dinner, if you're cutting a bell pepper, are you chopping it, julienning, dicing it. Think about where the pepper came from, when it was picked, how it was grown. You know, right now in our house, the routine is kind of like while I cook dinner, my husband's home. If he's home, he takes our daughter up for her bath time routine. And it's a great time for me to just kind of be there with my thoughts and just focus on the one thing I'm doing, which is cooking rather than entertaining a toddler and trying to keep her away from the stove. Maybe while it's optimal to sit down and practice mindfulness and meditation in complete silence while doing nothing is ideal, sometimes that's not really possible for us as parents.
So, try to find moments of time where it works for you. Maybe you're sitting in the car pickup line to get your child, take a few moments even then to just focus on mindfulness. Or maybe it's taking a walk, put your child in the stroller, take a nice walk. Even if it's five to 10 minutes and just focus on your breathing, focus on the weight of your feet, how they touch the floor, your steps, and just take a moment to kind of ground your thoughts. Even though you might feel like mindfulness or meditation is something that you're focusing inward on ourselves. That's totally okay. You generally will still reap the benefits because you'll be better equipped to provide them loving kindness in return.
So I hope that was helpful for you guys. I know for myself, it's been something I've been trying to be more mindful of. In the past, I've always kind of done things like I said, sitting quietly in the car, going for a walk, trying to focus while I'm doing dinner. But now I actually even started waking up a few minutes earlier and making sure I do 10 minutes or less of meditation in the morning. And I think that it's actually something that I'm starting to look forward to. So I do find that it's been helpful and it kind of keeps me a little bit more grounded, especially as I mentioned with my three-year-old, who's got a lot of emotions right now. Helps me to stay more focused and keep more control and check of my emotions. So I hope this video was helpful. Give it a thumbs up, make sure you subscribe to this channel. We have a lot more videos coming. New videos are every Monday.