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Picnic Parenting

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In collaboration with HERE for you for them

When the kids don’t want to brush their teeth before bed and we are tired and ready for me time, the easiest solution often seems to raise our voice and loose our cool. Or is it?

How about we first press our internal pause button and introduce some mindfulness into our interaction with the kids? It can really help us enjoy family time more by learning to respond to each other in a calmer more rational manner.

When I notice that my frustration or anger or any other such emotion is being stimulated, I use the following mindful practice that I have developed to help me stay present and defuse potentially explosive situations. It has shown me time and again that parenting can in fact be a picnic. But please remember this is a practice and thus takes some practising before it becomes a habit. Most specially when it’s time to brush teeth and we are tired and desperate for that elusive me time…

Here’s how I do it: First and foremost I press that pause button. Sometimes this means I have to actually leave the room. (Trust me, the kids will soon understand why you do this and that it is, in fact, a good thing.) I then lift the centre of my sternum and stand up straight in order to improve my posture. A better posture will better ground me and help me connect with my breath. It is only after reconnecting with my body and breath, that I consciously take notice of my thoughts. They usually appreciate a bit of attention as long as we don’t judge them or get lost in their drama. It is here that I infuse the moment with full awareness and accept what is unfolding without denying nor escalating the situation. Finally, after this moment of mindful awareness – because that is what this is called – you will find it so much easier to face the kids again and choose a mindful response.

If this all seems a bit much to remember, simply remind yourself of the six steps using the PICNIC acronym below:

Improve your posture
Connect with your breath
Notice your thoughts
Infuse the moment with awareness
Choose a mindful response

Remember, none of these steps have to take long at all. A tiny pause; a physical adjustment and deeper breath; a scan of your thoughts; your full awareness of the moment. Then see how this has set you up for a mindful response instead of a hasty reaction.

Every single time I use the PICNIC technique, I manage to stay composed in a challenging situation or relax into the imperfection of the moment. The kids very clearly understand that I am calming myself down so that I can respond in a much more rational manner. By modelling this practice to our children and letting them experience how it affects our response, we can cultivate mindfulness in them and eventually equip them with a priceless tool for life.

HERE for you for them bring yoga and mindfulness to London families. They are currently preparing to raise funds for OM:POP - their Mindful Kids & Families Pop-Up Events. Please click here to show your support.

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