Knowledge Base

5 steps to Mindful Parenting and Caregiving

Parenting and caregiving is a sacred and yet challenging role. It is a lifelong occupation that involves nurturing and developing the hearts and minds of our loved ones. It is full of highs and lows. A life full of stress, disappointments, surprises, joy and pride. Parenting and caregiving however have not been known for their moments of equanimity.

What is Mindfulness?

According to the American Psychological Association (APA.org, 2012), mindfulness is:

“…a moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgment. In this sense, mindfulness is a state and not a trait. While it might be promoted by certain practices or activities, such as meditation, it is not equivalent to or synonymous with them.”

As founder of Ivy Child, Rose states, “Mindful parenting and caregiving is about giving ourselves the space and permission to be human, accepting the imperfections of life, while loving ourselves and our loved ones through all of life’s seasons. It entails deliberate intention, care and devotion abundantly and unconditionally with our whole heart and mind.” 

How can Mindfulness help?

The practice of mindfulness allows for a host of skills and typical responses to be reshaped from instinctive or conditioned actions into more composed, deliberate ones. The following are ways that you can harness the power of mindfulness to become the caregiver you strive to be:

  • Being Present

The bedrock of mindfulness is the ability to be fully present . The simple practice of observing yourself sharpens your awareness of the moment. Mindfulness helps caregivers declutter their minds and immerse completely in their loved ones time without distractions. This is particularly important for working parents and caregivers that need to divide their time between many responsibilities and their daily balancing act. Through these practices it is possible to have much richer experiences in the time they get together.

  • Acceptance without Judgement

Mindfulness helps widen the gap between stimulus and response. It helps break the conditioned links between actions and perceived entanglements or expected outcomes. While it is easy to rush to judgment and be critical, it is important to take a breath and realize that the world does not work the way we anticipate especially for our little ones. 

  • Deeper empathy and bond

While  it can be difficult for us as adults having to navigate and manage our emotions during challenging times, imagine the complexity for a child to do the same. Experiencing isolation and losing a sense of community during this time, and missing meaningful gatherings and experiences can feel like a significant loss. Mindfulness equips us with the super power of empathy. It allows us to be able to take a step back and imagine the world of others to gain greater insight and connection to our loved  ones. 

  • Manage emotions and reactions

It is difficult to always keep stress, irritation, frustration and despair in check. At some point it is overwhelming and gets the best of us. We often unleash our emotions to those nearest and dearest to us. Mindfulness helps with being able to pause and take a few deep breaths to settle the mind, release a few pressure valves and go back to being the superhumans caregivers can be.

  • Compassion for self

Caregivers benefit from the space and permission to be human. While striving for the best each day, it is important to carry and exercise the same care and love we exhibit to others to ourselves. The gift of self-love and compassion that a practice of mindfulness provides brings the loving and kindness we all need intertwined in our journey and further models that for our loved ones.

Here’s a video where Daniel Siegel sheds light on this skill and lends some great insights:

Ivy Child Team5 steps to Mindful Parenting and Caregiving
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How helpful is Mindfulness for mental health?

Mental wellbeing is the new public health revolution. It has become a goal for people across the globe to enjoy positive mental health. While mental health could mean different things to different people, we can all agree that living a thriving life with mental clarity, balanced emotions, positivity and a sense of purpose would mean living a happy life; a life free of mental health issues.

It’s estimated that over one billion people globally have a mental, neurodevelopment or substance use disorder.

for World Economic Forum

Contrary to what most of us believe, the number of people with mental health issues has grown at a rate commensurate with the growth rate of global populations. But what has definitely grown by leaps-and-bounds is the general population’s acceptance of mental illness and a widespread destigmatisation of mental health ailments.

Another big change in the world regarding mental health has been the spectrum of solutions and practices available to maintain positive mental health. One of the biggest impacts in how we approach and manage mental health has been made by a simple practice known as ‘Mindfulness’.

What is Mindfulness?

As mindful.org puts it; Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us. It allows us to pause amid the constant inflow of stimuli and consciously decide how to act, rather than react reflexively with ingrained behavior patterns. Mindfulness is a centuries-old idea that has been reinvented to address the challenges of our digital age.

How does it work?

The research is in and it suggests that mindfulness affects the body and the brain to produce or alter hormones and chemicals that enhance our physical and mental wellbeing. Scientists have found links between non-judgemental and non-reactive acceptance of our experiences and positive psychological and physical states. Mindfulness, hailed as one of the most significant developments in mental health practice, is fast becoming the most effective recourse for people suffering from anxiety, depression and a host of other mental health problems.

While the guiding philosophy of all mindfulness practice finds its roots Eastern spirituality and is often attributed to Buddhist Vipassana  the modern techniques vary vastly amongst themselves and new techniques seem to pop up almost every day. In his book – Mindfulness for Beginners, Jon Kabat-Zinn, known as the father of mindfulness in the west, emphasizes that the practice of mindfulness holds the possibility of not just a fleeting sense of contentment, but a true embracing of a deeper unity that envelops and permeates our lives

There are also a host of resources available in the form of apps, books, online tutorials and classes that help grasp and inculcate a mindfulness practice that suits one.

Head on over to our Resources section to see browse some helfpful mindfulness tools and recommendations.

Ivy Child International is on a mission to provide universal mindfulness education to children and underserved communities, prioritizing urban populations and their multicultural needs. Ivy Child works on furthering the spread of mindfulness throughout the population with their proprietary MINDFULNESS MULTIPLIER EFFECT a mindfulness movement meant to create a ripple effect that starts form individuals and communities that practice mindfulness and spreads through everyone around them.

 

Ivy Child TeamHow helpful is Mindfulness for mental health?
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