Zen Parenting

I just read this insightful little article by Leo Babauta that I just loved. I recently started reading his blog Zenhabits and I'm in love with all the simple little tidbits and pearls that his blog offers with everything from parenting to weight loss to organizing. You should go check it out!! Anywho, Back to the article, I just thought it was worth sharing...it's stuff we all know and have heard before and gives tips on ways that we can become a "peaceful parent". I don't know about you, but I definitely need  help working on my patience sometimes, not just with my kiddos, but with myself also. When I start to feel snippy with my kids or feel like I am falling short, I try to take a step back and figure out how to get back into my groove. Here's the list of tips from Leo's article that can help us get back on track to being the peaceful parent that our kiddos need and that will help us to be happier mommas:
  • Greet your child each morning with a smile, a hug, a loving Good Morning! This is how we would all like to be greeted each day.
  • Teach your child to make her own breakfast. This starts for most children at around the age of 3 or 4. Teach them progressively to brush their teeth, bathe themselves, clean up their rooms, put away clothes, wash their dishes, make lunch, wash their own clothes, sweep and clean, etc.
  • Teaching these skills takes patience. Kids suck at them at first, so you have to show them about a hundred times, but let them try it, correct them, and let them make mistakes. They will gradually learn independence as you will gradually have less work to do caring for them.
  • Older children can help younger children — it’s good for them to learn responsibility, it helps the younger children learn from the older ones, and it takes some of the stress off you.
  • Read to them often. It’s a wonderful way to bond, to educate, to explore imaginary worlds.
  • Build forts with them. Play hide and seek. Shoot each other with Nerf dart guns. Have tea together. Squeeze lemons and make lemonade. Play, often, as play is the essence of childhood. Don’t try to force them to stop playing.
  • When your child asks for your attention, grant it.
  • Parents need alone time, though. Set certain traditions so that you’ll have time to work on your own, or have mommy and daddy time in the evening, when your child can do things on her own.
  • When your child is upset, put yourself in his shoes. Don’t just judge the behavior (yes, crying and screaming isn’t ideal), but the needs behind the behavior. Does he need a hug, or attention, or maybe he’s just tired?
  • Model the behavior you want your child to learn. Don’t yell at the child because he was screaming. Don’t get angry at a child for losing his temper. Don’t get mad at a kid who wants to play video games all the time if you’re always on your laptop. Be calm, smile, be kind, go outdoors and be active.
  • When a stressful time arises (and it will), learn to deal with it with a smile. Make a joke, turn it into a game, laugh … you’ll teach your child not to take things so seriously, and that life is to be enjoyed. Breathe, walk away if you’ve lost your temper, and come back when you can smile.
  • Remember that your child is a gift. She won’t be a child for long, and so your time with her is fleeting. Every moment you can spend with her is a miracle, and you should savor it. Enjoy it to the fullest, and be grateful for that moment.
  • Let your child share your interests. Bake cookies together. Sew together. Exercise together. Read together. Work on a website together. Write a blog together.
  • Know that when you screw up as a parent, everything will be fine. Forgive yourself. Apologize. Learn from that screw up. In other words, model the behavior you’d like your child to learn whenever he screws up.
  • Patiently teach your child the boundaries of behavior. There should be boundaries — what’s acceptable and what’s not. It’s not OK to do things that might harm yourself or others. We should treat each other with kindness and respect. Those aren’t things the child learns immediately, so have patience, but set the boundaries. Within those boundaries, allow lots of freedom.
  • Give your child some space. Parents too often overschedule their child’s life, with classes and sports and play dates and music and clubs and the like, but it’s a constant source of stress for both child and parent to keep this schedule going. Let the child go outside and play. Free time is necessary. You don’t always have to be by her side either — she needs alone time just as much as you do.
  • Exercise to cope with stress. A run in solitude is a lovely thing. Get a massage now and then.
  • It helps tremendously to be a parenting team — one parent can take over when the other gets stressed. When one parent starts to lose his temper, the other should be a calming force.
  • Mom and dad need a date night every week or so. Get a babysitter, or better yet, teach the older kids to babysit.
  • Sing and dance together.
  • Take every opportunity to teach kindness and love. It’s the best lesson.
  • Kiss your child goodnight. And give thanks for another amazing day with your beautiful, unique, crazy child.
I highlighted the things this week that I tried to work on. In addition to those highlighted I also tried doing something that we used to be good at, but have fallen out of the habit as of late...just the simple act of laying next to each kiddo in bed for a few minutes and letting them just talk. I have found that that is when they really open up!  Especially my boys (who are my favorite to cuddle, I think because they are usually so quiet and they are a little older and will talk about serious and deeper stuff...with the girls it's mostly light, silly,  making up goofy songs and lyrics, still fun, but not as heart to heart as with the boys) 

After doing this most nights (minus one due to church meetings) for about a week, I have noticed a HUGE difference in their attitudes, ability to cope with stress and in their self confidence. And I have felt more compassion, understanding towards them, have noticed an improvement in MY ability to cope with stressors and best of all I see the good in them more often and feel so grateful that they are mine.  It changes my perspective. They have gotten their home work done much faster, they have been more respectful, and they have been more responsive to me and more thoughtful than usual. We have a pretty solid bed time routine that we stick too, which ends with our family prayers, hug, love you's, and off to bed. That is when Mike and I usually have our "alone time" which we totally love...don't get me wrong, that's good for our relationship and all, but I'm realizing that we can STILL do that AFTER we snuggle the monkeys for a few minutes. Hopefully, we can now REMEMBER to just make this a part of our "solid routine" and take a few minutes each night to devote to each kiddo. and it's really not that time consuming when we conquer and divide...I lay with the girlies one night, while he does with the boys, then the next night we switch)  such a little thing that can have such a big impact. 

Just for fun, here's a little after dinner/after chores entertainment that we get to enjoy on some of our more "peaceful" evenings! 
(excuse the obnoxious voice;)


  1. great tips. one that stuck with me because it's a change we've made lately, is date nights. yesterday on our date, i was telling brad how necessary they are. they put me in such a good mood. i really need that little bit of time away from the kids, to realize just how much i miss them. i always return a happier, more loving mom, ready to take on my responsibilities with a new attitude. i've seen a huge change in the boys' behavior since we've started going on dates again, and i think it's because brad and i are also happier and more fun to be around.

    there were so many other tips i loved, but that's the one i have the most recent experience with.

  2. That is the cutest video of all the kids dancing together! That will be a fun video for them to watch when they're older. I love this advice too and will have to pick a few to work on. One thin that I've done with Liv is greeting her with a happy cheerful attitude when she wakes up for the morning and when she wakes up from her nap. It has helped her wake up so much happier! She used to have a really rough time waking from her nap but now shes just her happy self right away every time!

  3. LOVED this!!! Such great things to think about and work on. Some we do well, some not so much. But it's nice to have a good list to check yourself against now and then!! Thank you for posting this! Love you!

    Cute video! :)