We’re looking out for…..
Shooting stars. Still surfing the stardust of the Perseid meteor shower, despite the fact that it was mostly too cloudy to see much where we were. Before it peaked, Wildmum spotted a Disney-calibre shooter from a friend’s balcony on the South Coast, but cloud cover later meant that there was little to be seen in the days that followed. Spent more than one evening, expectant sleepy child in lap, squinting up through the clouds to try to work out if any of the twinklers were moving. Hope you were luckier! All the excitement refreshed our passion for the planets though. We love the Sky Above App (69p, itunes), which allows you to use your smartphone to identify constellations and planets directly above you. It’ll do till our telescope fund grows….
Looking for somewhere fun and new to play near you? Check out Play charity Play England’s interactive ‘play map’ where you can explore parks, playgrounds, and play areas all over the UK: http://www.playengland.org.uk/map
Wild wisdom on…..mindful parenting
You’re ankle deep in a bladderwrack-filled rockpool, looking for crabs, or mid-den build in the woods, when you feel the tantalising buzz of your iphone in your back pocket. Do you a) re-focus, zone it out, and carry on playing, or b) check it, quickly, but then find it hard not to text back/ check your instagram feed/ respond to that work email you forgot about earlier? Ever wondered what a more mindful mum does in the same situation? We asked Guinevere Webster, clinical psychologist, mother of three and mindful hypnobirthing teacher with Mindful Mamma www.mindfulmamma.co.uk for her advice:
- ‘People often think small children are incompatible with practising mindfulness. But Jon and Myla Kabat-Zinn, who literally wrote the book on mindful parenting (Everyday Blessings, published in 1997) talk about how children are resident zen masters – they will show you how to live in the moment and provide you with countless opportunities to practise mindfulness. For me the biggest obstacle to mindfulness in parenting is the same as the difficulty with mindfulness in any context – it’s so different from our habitual mode of operating, it requires commitment to keep practising.’
So what’s the key?
‘Acceptance: mindful parenting is about accepting our children as they are – and accepting ourselves too – without judgement, with compassion. The increased awareness of your own and your child’s emotions means you can skilfully select a response to your child’s behaviour, rather than an automatic reaction you might regret later.’
Are you a believer in mantras and mini meditation as tools for mindful parenting?
- ‘It doesn’t need to be that formal. There are numerous times every day for informal meditation practice – waking up to the present moment as I feed my baby, brush my daughter’s hair, chop vegetables. Coming to my breathing as I feel my frustration rise while the kids dawdle getting ready for school. Cultivating compassion for myself and my children as I reflect on a not-so-fine moment of mothering. And so on.’
What does the psychological research show about parenting mindfully?
- ‘Research by US psychologist Larissa Duncan suggests that mindful parenting can help parents to cultivate family relationships with their children that bring more fulfillment and joy, increasing the parents’ satisfaction with their parenting skills.’
Do you advocate switching off mobiles and computers when you are with your children?
- ‘Children learn so much from watching us, and I’m keen not to model over-use of electronic devices because I’d like them to rely mainly on their own resources for play and creativity rather than electronic ones. So I do try to limit my use of my mobile and computer when I’m with my children. We also have no wireless in the house which is a way to define time at the computer. But this is a personal thing, and each family will know best what approach works for them.’
What’s the best way to fight distraction as a parent and become more present?
- ‘Simply tuning in. Make the intention to use the moments when your child connects with you as wake-up calls to the present. Nothing snaps you into the now faster than the sound of your baby’s laugh or the touch of your small boy’s hand as you cross the road. These moments, often so ordinary, are the true rewards of parenting – the joy is in being present for them.’
This month’s most treasured…..
On the aesthetic front, it’s fair to say: no great shakes. But to the newby camper/ sleepless parent these little fluffy wonders are a lifechanger. They’re fleecy bands with comfortable earphones inside: just attach a wire to your MP3 or phone and drift off to whatever you like (waves, music, the shipping forecast on loop). Gotta love a product that calls itself ‘pyjamas for your ears’…. £28.60 from http://www.amazon.co.uk