This was my starting point when I began writing the book: what do I believe is important for children (and grown-ups) to grow up well and be “happy”, what is as important now as it ever was, what are the new challenges and how could we address and overcome these and do our best to provide a toolkit for being resilient even in difficult circumstances?
The process of researching, writing and practicing was basically providing a compass, a guide for my own parenting and teaching. I have gained so many valuable insights, met amazing teachers, learned fantastic strategies and I am passionate about a mindful approach for raising children and for everyday life. That does not mean that we as a family don’t encounter the same problems and hurdles as any other family! A mindful approach has most definitely though contributed to being able to stop, pause, evaluate and becoming more aware of the present moment and what is actually happening, rather than having imaginary arguments inside our heads. It’s an invaluable skill to enable us taking a break ever so often, a breather in these busy and often overwhelming times helping us to make necessary adjustments and decisions for our lives.
Here’s a little story about the realities of a mindful approach to family life :
A couple of days ago I was going to do a short meditation with my two girls (4 and 6 years old). They were both happy to go along until I asked them to lie down beside each other on one of their beds. One of them wanted the blanket pulled up, the other wanted the blanket pulled down. Then one needed more space but the other didn’t want to move. The younger sister closed her eyes with a mock peaceful facial expression folding her hands while the older girl tried to push her off the bed getting more and more annoyed. After a few minutes trying to diffuse the tension (without success) I took the CD player and left the room which resulted in both of them crying and accusing each other that it was their fault. We all managed to make up after a short while but my intentions and the actual result were miles apart.
A few years ago I might have felt as if I had failed, especially as I was trying to encourage some quiet quality time to reconnect, but achieved quite the opposite. I still get frustrated sometimes, don’t get me wrong, but I am more and more able to pull myself back, let it go and accept thing as they are in that moment. It is unrealistic, even with the best intentions of a mindful lifestyle, to expect peace and harmony at all times. The biggest lesson I have learned is that there is no perfect parenting, no perfect parents and no perfect children. We all should accept that sometimes, or should I say quite often, things just don’t go as planned. This “revelation” is so liberating as it frees us from a lot of unnecessary guilt and a feeling of failure or not being good enough! Nobody is perfect, nobody ever will be, and that’s perfectly fine. Every day is a new day, a day to start fresh.
It is unrealistic, even with the best intentions of a mindful lifestyle, to expect peace and harmony at all times.
I love this quote by Maya Angelou and for me it’s one of the best pieces of advice I ever got:
“Do the best you can until you know better, then when you know better, do better.”
If that’s all we ever do, we’ll be doing very well!
For more information on mindful parenting and education and a practical everyday approach that can be applied by anybody and tailored to your individual circumstances take a look at my new book “Roots and Wings – Childhood needs a revolution“, a handbook for parents and educators to promote positive change based on the principles of mindfulness.
Alex Koster is a mum, teacher, mindfulness practitioner and author/blogger. Originally from Germany, she has also lived and worked in Co. Tipperary/Ireland since 2000. She is married and has two beautiful daughters aged 4 and 6. She has always had a great interest in education that goes beyond just traditional academia and strongly believes that children learn best through play-based approaches combined with outdoor/nature experiences. You’ll find her at her website Roots and Wings, and find her new book on Amazon.