Mindfulness & Self-Care for New Parents
“Mindful parenting is a lifelong practice. It means you become less attached to outcomes and more mindful of what’s unfolding in your life and your children’s lives. Mindful parenting is about moment-to-moment, openhearted and nonjudgmental attention. It’s about seeing our children as they are, not as we want them to be. We let everything that unfolds in life be the curriculum for our parenting—because it is—whether we like it or not.”- Jon Kabat-Zinn
How does this compare to your expectations as you entered into parenthood?
Here are a few key recommendations that have made a difference for lots of new moms and dads:
Prioritize your self-care
-Learn and practice self-compassion
-Do small things every day that make you smile (unrelated to the baby).
-Breathe. Intentionally and calmly. Learn about guided meditation and mindfulness.
-Change your relationship with sleep. Forgive yourself when you have ideas & tasks keeping you awake. Write them down for tomorrow, take some deep breaths, and relax your muscles. Listening to a guided meditation or having another "wind down" ritual can make a difference.
Change your relationship with time
-Adhere to a no-rush policy (build in extra time for everything!)
-Prioritize and streamline tasks/activities (i.e. “To Do” & “Today”)
-Keep things in perspective
-Guard against over-scheduling
Reconnect with your inner child
What were you excited about as a child? What were you like? What would upset you? Connecting with your inner child helps you to empathize with your child, as well as remind you about what gives life a “spark” for you.
Keep and develop your sense of humor!
Know your triggers
When you are self-aware about things that are particularly upsetting, then you can explore the reason behind that sensitivity and learn better ways to handle it. Identifying relaxation strategies to work through a “button being pushed” before you feel overwhelmed is key. As kids get older, they get very good at pushing their parents buttons and so having strategies to cope is essential and puts you ahead of the game.
Be clear about your family story & development
Traumatic events, difficult family members, abrupt transitions, history of mental illness, and losses from childhood all impact who we are today, including how we handle stress and how we adjust to parenthood. Working through this and making sense of "our story" is an important part of living a life of fulfillment and clarity in the present. Therapists can be particularly helpful with this.
Appreciate the uniqueness of your child
Steer away from comparing him or her to other kids you are impressed with. Refocus and find strengths in your child’s individuality. Talk to your baby in an engaged way from the very beginning.
Let go of specific definitions of what “successful parenting” looks like. Find what works for you. And model forgiveness and open communication with your partner. You should be able to lean on each other when you feel vulnerable and tired.
Want to learn more or receive support with any of these? You are not alone. Reach out to Emily to talk about the help that's available to you. firstname.lastname@example.org or 202-213-1868
Resources on Parental Self-Care & Mindfulness
“Everyday Blessings: The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting” by Myla Kabat-Zinn & Jon Kabat- Zinn
“Parenting From the Inside Out” by Daniel Siegel
“Mindful Parent Happy Child” by Pilar Picone, Ph. D
12 Exercises for Mindful Parenting http://joyfullyrejoycing.com/changing%20parenting/mindfulparentingzinn.html