Think about it. If you grow up in a home where happiness is the norm, chances are you are going to bring that happiness with you as you go out into the world. Being happy is contagious. Being stressed out is contagious. Which do you want to share with your children?
As a parent, mindfulness means really being present and in the moment with my daughter. I find that there is more space – a pause button – between what provokes my deepest frustrations and how I choose to respond. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that I don’t ever get mad at my kid. It’s more that I don’t spend a lot of time being mad at her. In our house it’s perfectly okay to be mad. And after you get over being mad at someone, you have a responsibility to figure out how to repair any damage your anger has caused the relationship. No big deal.
The Pit of Dispair
After years of working as an elementary teacher I earned a doctorate degree in educational leadership and innovation – pouring over the research about how to build inviting learning environments where children become kind and creative human beings. I studied systems theory, communication theory and child development. I developed a passion for reframing how we understand and respond to interpersonal conflict.
Then came my own crisis. I like to call it my 3D year. You know: Death. Divorce. Dissertation. All within three months. My mother lost her battle with ovarian cancer. My first, starter marriage to the wrong man was clearly at its end. And I was desperately working to finish my graduate work, all while holding down a full time job.
As my world crumbled around me I remember thinking that I had had enough. This wasn’t what I’d signed up for. I knew I was smart enough to know better, but I just couldn’t seem to figure out how to help myself out of this pit of despair.
And then I discovered mindfulness practice. In my darkest moments mindfulness gave me strategies to make peace with the enormous amount of grief, anger and frustration I was feeling. Mindfulness offered me a little space to breathe and respite from the constant self-critical voices in my head. I began to see how being judgmental, a skill that had served me well in work and in school, was actually making everything harder than it had to be.
What I've Learned Along the Way
You know those women who have it all together? The ones who make it all look easy and effortless? That’s not me. I like the messiness of life. In fact, I often find the messiness to be the juiciest, most satisfying part of being a parent.
What if instead of pushing away the feelings that make us feel uncomfortable, we learned to invite these feelings in and made friends with them? What if the very things that are making you crazy hold the secret to being happier? Would you be willing to give up your habitual ways of reacting to the messiness of life if it might lead to more happiness for everyone in your family?
After all these years teaching children, working as a professor preparing new teachers and as a parent myself, I’ve learned a few things about how to make parenting easier and less stressful. My mindfulness practice helps me stay humble and laugh at myself when I make mistakes. If nothing else I’ve learned to check in with myself and ask “Do I want to be right or do I want to lighten up?"
So if you are ready to feel calmer, more confident and on top of your parenting game let’s connect. You deserve to be happy. Join the revolution.
Mindful Parenting has been such a gift in my life. Integrating mindfulness into the day-to-day joys and challenges of parenting feels so essential and Andra does a wonderful job of providing helpful resources, practical tools and time to reflect and connect with other parents. I highly recommend Mindful Parenting to anyone looking for ways to connect more deeply with their children, to be more fully present and to expand their experience of parenting. -Juliet Biagi, Boston, MA
Mindful Parenting is a great break and tool for parents--new and seasoned. It provides a safe place to stop, breathe, reflect and learn. It is so nice to be amongst parents who are authentic about the journey of parenting and very inspiring to be around those committed to being more and more of the parent they want to be. There are so many benefits of practicing mindfulness for the parent as an individual and, in turn, for the child and the family. Mindful parenting helps me continue on my parenting path with patience and compassion. I look forward to it each month---Thanks Andra! -Jenny Sandler, Denver, CO