How can you possibly mindfully parent when you are going out of your mind?

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I think having a teenager is as exhausting as having a newborn. Looking back, it was so easy when they were little. Physically exhausting? Yes. absolutely! Sleepless nights, temper tantrums, lost binky's, too tight leotards and scraped knees.  Back then I could put my baby in her crib or lock her in her room and let her cry it out. Now, it is me who cries it out! With two teenagers and a pre-teen I am mentally exhausted. When I'm in the heat of an argument with a 17-year-old girl I am certainly not saying to myself "now remember what Pantanjali said!" All yogic wisdom and memorized ancient texts magically vanish from my brain. 

I swear ..I really, truly try to live a yogic lifestyle. I try to adhere to the central principles but...

Remember when they were babies and all you wanted from them was to sleep and eat? That's where you will end up again with a teen.  When my daughter is in her room, asleep..not "snapping"  not "tweeting" just sleeping, then I feel ease..for about eight hours until it all starts over! 

The good news is that every day is a new beginning. Every day I have the opportunity to start fresh and so do you..

 

So... here's my checklist on how I am going to be a better parent…

NUMBER ONE: Shut. my. mouth. This is the toughest one.  I tend to always want to put my two cents in 24/7. I'm always worried about whether my kids have enough good sense. But what I give them all day is doubt and distrust. A nag, poke, a push, a warning… Basically all of the above. I think it's time to imagine that my teen has a sign on her chest that says baby sleeping and try not to let all of my fears and anxieties constantly shatter the calm between us.  

NUMBER TWO: Listen with full attention. Mindful parenting depends on being more present. If we are constantly worrying about what's coming up next and our endless to do lists or we constantly have our faces in our mobile devices how can we be truly present. We should be more sensitive to that what our kids are saying. Listen to their tones of voice, their facial expressions, and their body language.  {Guilty as charged!}

NUMBER THREE: Stop Fighting. Really what is the point of fighting? When most people fight (whether with a teen, a spouse, a boss or a friend) their endgame is to win. But no one ever wins. Someone is always mad or hurt. The purpose of an argument should always be to resolve conflict effectively. So how can we do that without escalating to a screaming match where your teen, or you, (or both) end up crying? First, Keep on point. Deal with only one issue at a time. Don't say "your grades are terrible, your room is a mess AND you broke curfew" all at the same time {yep, guilty again} Next, take a break. When you're one second away from exploding say "let's talk about this after I ______ (cook dinner, GO TO YOGA CLASS, whatever) ." Remember, once spoken, words can't be taken back. And, once someone is hurt by those words, they will remember it forever.

NUMBER FOUR: Stop judging myself and my teen AND stop comparing our situations to others.  My words and behaviors communicate to my teen what I think about their competencies.  Ceasing judgement and comparisons doesn't mean that I want to relinquish my responsibilities for enforcing discipline and guidance in school, etc. It also doesn't mean that I /we shouldn't ask other parents who have past experiences (and therefore gained wisdom) about how they handled a difficult situation. It does mean we, as parents, need to revisit numbers one-three and then take that information and make decisions based on the present moment. And maybe you did cross that one second threshold and blew your cool {yes, you guessed it, GUILTY AGAIN! I lost my "mom of the year award" a long time ago} so what? YOU ARE HUMAN. It's called "yoga practice" NOT "yoga perfect."

Namaste,

Michelle