Curly Frogs & The Art of Being Mindful
Mindfulness is the quality of attention that combines full awareness with acceptance of each moment, it is gaining broad acceptance among mental health professionals as an adjunct to treatment. The book Sitting Still Like a Frog is an introduction to mindfulness meditation for children and their parents. In a simple and accessible way, it describes what mindfulness is and how mindfulness-based practices can help children calm down, become more focused, fall asleep more easily, alleviate worry, manage anger, and generally become more patient and aware. The book contains eleven practices that focus on just these scenarios, along with short examples and anecdotes throughout. Included with purchase is an audio CD with guided meditations,
The audio exercises included with Sitting Still Like a Frog are can be done together with your child or children. Some kids like to do the exercises on their own, and many parents love doing the exercises themselves. You can do them sitting on the floor, on a couch or chair, or lying in bed.
It's no secret that life is moving at a ridiculous pace. With 9-5's largely occupying the week, house hold chores accumulating (stares at pile of washing in corner of room) and a plethora of other (probably meaningless) tasks on the To Do List it can all seem slightly overwhelming at times.
After a mini hiatus on Aunty duties, this week I decided to visit the kids and give their mama bear a break. The twins asked where I had been. The convo went something like...
"Where have you been? Have you been at you house or at a party? Can we come to you house or the party? Look at my Easter Eggs, did you get us any Easter Eggs?"
Erm kiddo...SLOW DOWN-Firstly No, I didn't get you any Easter Eggs. I don't wish to participate in the travesty that is childhood obesity. I do however wish I had time to party, whilst I'm holding down a full-time job that involves little cretins that aren't as well behaved as you, bouts of anxiety and trying to make sense of this business that I've started thanks to you curly bean heads.
The middle curly, not fussed of my whereabouts gave a heart melting hug then buggered off to her den. As long as she's got a bag of Brioche and the lip sync app musically to hand she's a happy bunny. But it was the eldest's reaction that I wasn't banking on.
As much as I wasn't expecting the animated welcomes she used to greet me with, prior to teeny bopper status and an unhealthy attachment to her mobile kicked in, I did hope for a delighted response. However, it was my own fault. A failed attempt to pick her up after school the week before due to a last minute meeting had left her pissed at me and unbothered with anything I had to say.
Later while we sat and watched TV the youngest curly twin perched under my arm burst into tears. Oh Lord had her sister done the silent but deadly pinch under a cushion. Look kids, I came here to distribute love, cuddles and Cola Bottle Haribo (Oh yea childhood obesity, I mean Kale chips 😏) not bags of disapproving side-eye.
When asked what was wrong she sputtered "Don't Know." and buried her head in my stomach.
Now let's pause. I'm a massive fan of meditation however I was not practising what I preach at the time. In the space of 45 minutes each child had reminded me of the importance of being still or at least in the moment and being mindful and here's how:
- The Twins- Recognise Feelings: After half a loo roll, a deadly grip that would give the hulk a run for his money and a mini Spanish inquisition, we managed to unpick little ones feelings. Together we came to the conclusion that by thinking ahead of time we were not enjoying the time we did have together, in turn making her panic that I was to leave as quickly as I'd come. She was "sad". Mindfulness allows us to recognise what we are feeling.
- The Middle Kiddo- Enjoy The Moment: Sometimes it's easy to just let the YC's creep to their room or stay engrossed in technology. Not on my watch lady. By being engrossed in your app, your game, WHATEVER, it's taking away from quality time with those you love, and even if it's a simple 10-15 minute convo on how your day was around a table or sprawled out on the sofa tickling feet, your here and now and happy.
- The Eldest- Time to Share: Now we all know YC's are not going to want to share forever, regardless of who you are in their family make up. Much like the twins after talking about why she was angry with me, it came to light that she wanted to share what was going on with her. We found that by being mindful it gave us the opportunity to share and open up.
This Spring half term the twins clambering over me just for a cuddle and the eldest curlies polar reaction to my absence conveniently reminded me that we all get so busy and bogged down with physical and mental chatter that we miss so many beautiful moments. And what more beautiful than watching 4 girls growing up into informed, vibrant, funny young women? If we equip lil ones with the tools to be mindful from time to time they may make us stop and be frogs with them.