It’s been quite a journey since I jokingly said in 2008, “I’m a Zen Mama now.” This was the response I gave when answering how I was handling two teenage boys. I had decided to change myself and my reaction to my children. I had decided to let go and stop worrying. Two books, a blog and an active Facebook page later, in 2012 I’ve never been busier or having so much fun! And I got closer to my kids as a result.
How did I do it? How did I stop worrying, let go and get closer to my kids?
I live in the moment.
Don’t always live in the future. When you live in the moment you can give your attention to your children. When they are with you, forget about what you are doing for a few minutes and give your children your full attention. It doesn’t have to be long, but at those times, be in the moment with them. Act as though they are the only person you care about at that moment. Make them feel special.
I practice active listening
Active listening is a skill. It doesn’t come naturally for everyone. Active listening requires practice and thought. Active listening is engaging and will make the people in your life much happier.
I have real conversations with my kids.
We often don’t really have a conversation with our children. Don’t always make it about homework or fixing their manners. Make the conversation fun. Say your high and low for the day. Have a riddle to solve. Have a joke that makes all the children laugh.
I think positively all day long.
Everything that happens to us is the result of our thoughts. So try thinking good thoughts for you and your children. You’ll be amazed that if you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change.
I try to slow down.
It’s worth while to get ready to the night before so you don’t have to rush. Rushing stresses everyone out. When we slow down, especially in the morning, everyone has a better start to their day.
I take the kids outside.
Sometimes kids and mothers get a cooped up feeling in the house. A picnic in the park, visiting a farm, throwing the ball in back yard, even just a simple walk around the block are all ways to breathe fresh air and take a break from the stress. If it’s rainy, you’ll dry. If it’s snowy, you’ll warm up. No matter what the weather, get outside!
I’m kind to my kids and myself.
By being kind to your children, you teach them to be kind to people in their lives, now and in the future. Also, be kind to yourself; a happy mama is a happy family.
I treat my kids as individuals
Each child is different. While we all know this as parents and we don’t always appreciate those differences. We all fall into the trap of making someone be and do something they don’t want to do or be. As your child is discovering the world, you discover more of who they are. Embrace them and their personalities.
Let your kids try some independence
Giving our children independence we will end up with confident children that are able to go out into the world at 18 whether to college or a job. Studies show that when parents engage teens with a light but steady hand, staying connected but allowing independence, their kids will generally do better in life.”
I trust my kids
Trusting your kids is the ultimate confidence builder! They will try riskier behavior later on because they weren’t allowed to make mistakes as a younger child. Trust your child, and with your guidance, allow them to make decisions for themselves. If they can do this as a young child, hopefully they will be able to make better decisions as a teenager or young adult. And they also know that if turns out to be a mistake they have support.
I laugh more with my children
Laughter is a perfect way to let go of stress; it has been medically proven to enhance immune system function; it releases feel good hormones called endorphins; it helps with depression and anxiety by boosting serotonin levels; it increases oxygen to all the cells and tissues, and most importantly, to the brain, and it gives the laugher a sense of well-being. Scientific evidence is proving the old adage “Laughter is indeed the best medicine”. Your kids will want to be around you more if you laugh together.
I change myself or the environment.
You can’t change your children but you can change the environment you’re bringing them up in. Don’t like the video games your children are playing? Get rid of them. Don’t want your young children touching your special possessions? Pack them away until they are older. Don’t like the junk food they eat? Don’t buy it. And you can change yourself and your reactions, too.
I let go of the attachment to outcomes.
In our society we’ve been taught to expect more. But in reality if you expect less, or even have no expectations, you’ll actually get more!
I let go of anger.
I have discovered that anger is so natural! Some children bring out anger you never even knew existed! However, if you’re angry all the time, your children will tune you out. Use humor to get your point across. By the way, after you’re mad it’s ok to apologize and say, “I shouldn’t have gotten so angry. I’m sorry.”
I love my children unconditionally
Unconditional love is the key. It doesn’t spoil anyone. It doesn’t mean you can’t discipline and set limits. Just take the anger and emotion out. Love them and be unattached to the bad behavior.
I so glad to introduce you to Betsy Henry today. She is the author of How To Be A Zen Mama and The Zen Mama’s Book Of Quotes. She writes weekly at The Zen Mama’s Blog. Betsy is a also a preschool teacher. She lives in Littleton, Colorado with her husband and three boys.
Betsy, thank you for sharing your Zen here today and for always being such a source of inspiration.
May you be inspired – every day!