Cultivating a daily practice of presence with ourselves, our children and our partners has proven to elevate parents and children’s experience of home life. Finding ourselves present and fully engaged in this moment is needed from our children now more than ever as we endure so much uncertainty in this health and economic crisis. At the same time with all of the changes to our daily lives the stress and uncertainty can leave us feeling less able to be present. We may find we are more short, impatient, depressed or rely heavily on devices to get us through the day hoping things will change soon.
Rediscovering a practice in presence can be a life raft and a compass on these stormy seas of uncertainty. When beginning to practice presence, an attitude toward myself and my situation of non-judgement is key. One can begin to find this by gently sensing the body (feet on the floor, weight in the chair, or noticing the breath). Racing thoughts and emotions begin to relax as one begins to simply notice oneself. In a more relaxed inner space, the room is more real and we can better understand and listen to the people with us.
We can bring peace, calm, ease, and even joy to ourselves and our family by intentionally trying this practice a few times during our day. It can be especially meaningful and health giving to our children to have our relaxed undivided attention and presence for 5 to 10 minutes even once a day. This practice may also give one a few moments of much needed attention toward oneself especially during stressful days. Many family tensions and stress can be eased or even eliminated by this simple act of giving our presence.
Rhythm and Boundaries
Without the normal structures of work and school it can be difficult to find what a new structure at home should look like. Trying to homeschool and working full or even part-time can feel impossible and simply overwhelming. Even with the summer coming, social structures and activities may not be available and school may not open in the fall as we all hope.
So, what sanity can we provide for ourselves and our children? We may need to change less than we think, but having an awareness of what we are doing may bring the support we need. Looking at the structure we are actually following by blocking it out visually can help us to see where we can find more flexibility or support more balance. (create a visual weekly schedule)
Many child-development experts agree that children need consistency, boundaries, and loving support in order to thrive. We can actually provide a consistent structure with out being rigid time keepers or strict administrators through an understanding of Rhythm. Rhythm can be best understood through the breath; if we breath in at a certain point we need to breath out or we feel panic and stress and vice versa.
Even if we have irregular work schedules or other time variables we can ask ourselves “Is this activity and in breath or an out breath?” Spending time on computers, devices, writing, drawing or activities with intense focusing are in-breath activities. Playing games, practicing instruments, exercise and being outdoors are all more out-breath activities. By understanding how our daily activities are related to rhythm (breath) we can bring balance to the lives of our children and find more time to support our own needs.
Self-care can take many forms. There are basic needs such as hygiene, nutrition and sleep, all of which are essential and can easily fall to the wayside under pressure, or stress. During difficult days or periods, just attending to these needs can bring us a sense of accomplishment and gratitude if we allow ourselves to be simple
There are also needs for adult play(hobbies, listening to music, art, writing, sports), relaxation, time with other adults and time alone to be with ones self. These forms of self care, while not needed as often, can be difficult to find time for with the whole family at home having competing needs. Finding creative ways to include our family in our interests can be enriching for both ourselves and our families.
Another support for meeting our adult needs is creating intentional time in our daily and weekly rhythms to be alone with ourselves. The meaning of intentional here is time spent not just letting down watching our favorite show (which is also a real need), but really giving ourselves some time to reflect on our deeper wishes and thus create more space for them in our lives (even just 10 minutes). This could be more connection with ourselves and others, balance, or even the energy to meet challenges.
Another form of self care, which we may not even be aware of, is a need to experience oneself present in this moment, free from all our concerns, taking in the pure experience of being alive. While we feel the need for this less than our other needs, just a few moments or breaths of this can bring rejuvenation and inspiration to all other aspects of our lives. See the section on presence above for a better understanding on how to cultivate a deeper experience of living in our daily life, or simply contact us for upcoming classes or individual consultations.