The Here and Now

Earlier this summer, I found myself sitting on my back porch clutching a book about mindful parenting. You’ve probably heard about this concept before. It’s becoming quite a popular topic. Mindfulness can be described as a person’s ability to embrace the present moment while accepting that very moment as it is, without any judgment.1,4  I know, it’s a lot easier said than done. To be completely honest, I was lost in the future that summer night, very far away from a mindful moment. My brain was swirling with thoughts about childcare, finding a safe car seat, writing a birth plan, and the list goes on. I finally forced my mind to pause and open the book I was gripping, and before I knew it, I was allowing myself to be lead through a mindful exercise.

My thoughts about the future stopped. I listened to the sounds around me, felt the humidity lingering in the air from a hot summer day, and became more in tune with my feelings. And that’s when it happened. I felt my tiny growing baby begin to kick and turn. It seemed like their most powerful movements yet. I braced my hands over my stomach and gave myself permission to be present in that very moment. I even forgot about the book. I just kept focusing on each flutter, flip, kick, and turn until my little one finally decided to take a break. I’ll always be thankful for this beautiful parenting moment, and I give all the credit to mindfulness.  

Taking time to be mindful can feel challenging in the home visiting field. You know better than anyone that being a home visitor is one of the most rewarding jobs, but the profession certainly keeps a person busy. I can remember the days of having a booked-up calendar, always hurrying to the next home to ensure I made it on time. As you’ve probably noticed, the families you visit with also have limited free time. Between busy work schedules, chaotic school routines, and juggling the added responsibilities accrued by a pandemic, the days tend to speed by fast for parents. It may seem like the weeks race by for you as well. Luckily, the experts reassure us that mindfulness can help alleviate stress for parents and improve individuals’ mental health.1,4

These experts say that focusing on the present or taking time to be mindful can have lots of benefits for our brains.1,4  Practicing mindfulness can actually grow our problem-solving skills and ability to remain calm. Being mindful can also allow us to embrace our imperfections, forgive ourselves when our to-do list isn’t completed, and focus on self-compassion.2  Though practicing mindfulness can lead to positive outcomes, many people find the act of incorporating mindful exercises into their weekly routine to be a daunting task. This makes sense, considering we live in such a fast-paced world. It also seems that mindfulness is often confused with meditation. Though meditation can be a part of mindfulness, there are still many ways to be mindful without doing meditation.5

A few practices you might try include:

  • Before stepping into your office or a home visit, give yourself permission to tune into your thoughts. Take note of the feelings you’re experiencing. As you place your hand over your heart, take a big, inner breath as you embrace your thoughts and emotions before entering your office or the home visit.3
  • Give yourself time to explore the outdoors or look at pictures of nature. Focus on the sounds, smells, colors, and textures produced by the earth. For example, as you walk, you might note the color of the leaves and notice that vibrant green is fading and making room for yellow, red, and orange to paint the plants.2
  • Think about a person or animal that brings you comfort and makes you feel loved. Imagine being with that individual or pet and embracing the joy you feel from their presence. Allow yourself to feel the wonderful emotions that arise when you think about spending time with this special person or animal.2

As you look at your home visiting calendar for the upcoming weeks, you might try to schedule in time for some of these practices. Until then, give yourself some grace, embrace this fast-paced world, but remember, take a moment for yourself. You deserve it.

References

1. Duncan, L. G., Coatsworth, J. D., & Greenberg, M. (2009). A model of mindful parenting: Implications for parent–child relationships and prevention research. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 12(3), 255–270. doi: 10.1007/s10567-009-0046-3

2. Gehl, M. (2019, March 15). Mindfulness is a parent superpower. Zero To Three. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2677-mindfulness-is-a-parent-superpower

3. Gehl, M., & Bohlander, A. H. (2018, March). Rocking and rolling. Being present: Mindfulness in infant and toddler settings. NAEYC. https://www.naeyc.org/resources/pubs/yc/mar2018/rocking-and-rolling

4. Gehl, M., Kinsner, K., & Parlakian, R. (2018, June 6). Mindfulness for parents. Zero To Three. https://www.zerotothree.org/resources/2268-mindfulness-for-parents

5. Shanker, S., & Barker, T. (2016). Self-reg: How to help your child (and you) break the stress cycle and successfully engage with life. Penguin Press.

About the Author
Rachel Cook is a Product Development Specialist. Before joining Great Kids®, she worked as a home visitor with Kentucky HANDS. Rachel lives in Berea, Kentucky, with her husband, where she loves writing and exploring nature.

Recent Posts

Love Leads to Learning

Carving out time to create our monthly blog is always refreshing for me. It’s an opportunity to step back from writing curriculum and...

read more

History is Not Your Destiny

Some people are born with a love for reading. You know if you’re one of them! My sister is. Even as a child, she often had her head...

read more

Embrace the Joy!

As I sit down to write this blog, my week is coming to a close. It’s Friday. I’ve spent my workdays in a virtual conference learning,...

read more

Fresh Air

For those of us who live in the northern hemisphere, spring is officially here, and that’s a reason to celebrate! I don’t know about...

read more

Hope

Hope can be defined as wanting something to happen or be true or to expect something with confidence, per Merriam-Webster....

read more

Growing Great Kids®

Why Choose Great Kids?

Never any recurring licensing fees

Proven Success

Over 37,000 people have been trained to use the Great Kids curricula

Protective Factors – GGK Constructs

Research informed constructs embedded in the Protective Factors Framework

Alignment with Head Start

The Growing Great Kids Home Based Curricula Series exceeds all Head Start Curriculum requirements

Evidenced Based Research

As evidenced by seven independent evaluations, the GGK Curriculum produces outstanding results

Specialized Training Programs 

On-site and virtual training options available

Healthy Families America

The Growing Great Kids curriculum aligns with and builds upon the HFA model approach