This post was originally featured on SWFL Parent & Child.
As we settle into the new year, I find myself, like many people, looking ahead and also looking back to the year we've left behind. Whether we achieved a lot of success or hit some challenging times (or both), we all want to form better habits, achieve more and generally feel like we're improving with each passing year.
Naturally, this is the time for reflections. I myself am feeling excited and looking forward optimistically with a new found motivation that usually comes with this special time of year. After being honest with myself and accepting the many shortcomings, I'm also reminded of some amazing little life lessons that I have learned along the way, maybe even perhaps because of the challenges. In the past few weeks, I have been making an honest effort to be more mindful, especially with my kids. All too often I'm with them, but my mind is focused on other things. Usually, during our mother-daughter quality time, I'm preoccupied with the never-ending to-do list (that's a staple in my mind), other times I'm stuck on what we should be eating, or feeling like I should really be cleaning everything in sight. The list goes on. And it's constant.
While it’s important to plan and multi-task, it shouldn't take away from the present moment, at least not all the time. Life with small children is so challenging, but then I realize how fleeting this time is, and it puts the important things into perspective. I'm reminded of a meme that I see all the time of a crowd of people gathering to see the Pope in New York a few years ago (the crowds were insane; I was there). Everyone in the crowd is holding up their smartphones trying to capture the best video or best picture, but this little old lady stands out because she is watching the Pope with her own eyes and clearly enjoying the moment. I want to live and experience more moments the authentic and mindful way — being fully present just like the old lady. Maybe age really does bring great wisdom.
Do you know what happens when you commit to being mindful in one area of your life? Other areas of your life benefit, too. Since putting my mindful parenting into practice, I feel less stressed, less worried and like I'm letting myself enjoy my daughters so much more. Everyday chores, tasks and nuances have been given significance. I'm enjoying walking the dog at night instead of dreading it because it's gotten so cold. I'm sharing recipes with the girls so we can come up with dinner ideas together, and as for the laundry, well, at least it's clean.
It's not easy, but practicing mindfulness every day definitely feels like a step in the right direction and one big habit that I hope I can maintain throughout the year.
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