Thoughts on mindful parenting on a “snow day”

Lesley McNeely, Counsellor and Educational Coordinator

We spend so much time feeding [our children] and transporting them to events, we forget to stop and get to know them.

Here in Victoria a “snow day” is a very special event. It is a day when snow falls and shuts down our city. Now I am not going to lie to the rest of you out there – this is not the kind of snow that would shut down most cities. People in Montreal and Toronto would be laughing pretty hard at the idea of a snow day for so little snow, but here on our island “snow day” is special. It is unique, short-lived and an opportunity.

It is an opportunity to slow down, stay home, and put aside all the things we have to do and be still. It allows us to go outside to play for hours in the novelty snow, or stay inside to play board games, read and cuddle. It forces us to become present, in the moment and to put aside all the “shoulds” that bombard our daily thoughts.

It is this kind of presence in our own lives that Mindfulness encourages. Mindfulness is everywhere these days. There are blogs posts, articles and advertisements all telling us that we should “be more mindful” or practise mindfulness, which may or may not mean meditation depending on who is speaking.

So, what do we here at 1Up Single Parent Resource Centre mean when we speak of mindful parenting? Well, we are looking at the practice of mindfulness as introduced to the West by people such as Jon Kabat-Zinn. The practice of Mindful meditation and the concept of mindfulness is in no way a new one and the current uptake in interest in the West can likely be attributed to the increase in virtual ” noise” we all experience through our cell phones, computers, TV’s etc. Not so long ago if someone wanted your attention they had to write you a letter, send out a newspaper or call and leave a message if you weren’t there. You got to choose, when and to whom, you would pay attention. Our friends and families, strangers with random opinions (like me and this blog post) did not have instant access to our attention. If we wanted to watch TV we had only 1 of 12 channels to choose from. There were a limited number of choices for getting groceries or going shopping, we planned meals from a cookbook and most stores and businesses were closed on Sunday.

What does this mean for our parenting? It translates into a bombardment; a barrage of external noise that distracts us from our instincts as parents. We lose sight of how we want to parent. The good and the bad habits we are forming as parents, and the connection with each child as a separate individual. We lose track of who our children are and start to see them as we think they are. We spend so much time feeding them and transporting them to events, we forget to stop and get to know them. The world has conditioned us to believe that busy is happy and we forget to slow down and just be present.

Snow day last week reminded me of all this. It reminded me to stop and think about how I want my days and weeks to be shaped, whom I want to spend my time with, and the most important thing, it reminded me of – my children are growing and will soon be gone! I need to put aside all the many distractions and enjoy them while I have them.