There are a many reasons to move your body. Exercise to improve your heart health, exercise to lose weight, weight lifting to build strength, stretching to build flexibility, the list goes on and on. I’m going to add one more to the list; Movement to become a better parent. When we get busy (when aren’t we. Right?), exercise is one of the first things to go. Well, even if you haven’t seen the inside of your gym for a while, you can still use movement in a way that will create ease in your parenting.
I know that there are parents out there who seem to have a terrific grasp on how to parent from a very patient place. They don’t overthink situations; they trust their choices and don’t create a lot of unnecessary anxiety. Let me add, that I don’t know A LOT of these parents and I’m certainly not one of them. I do strive for this, as I believe most of us do. However, we, as parents, put too much pressure on ourselves which adds to our stress. Parenting is not easy, and it’s ok if we falter from time to time. Unfortunately, we get so caught up in our heads that we can’t calm down when we want or need to. In fact, we miss the answer that’s right in front of our nose; we can move our bodies to rid ourselves of stress so that we can be calm and focused parents for our children. When working with other adults, we often strive to be intellectual. I’m just not sure if it serves us when we’re working with our children. Let’s take the lead from our kids! Children know how to stay connected to their bodies, they’re just figuring out how to manage them when their emotions take over. Parents have learned to manage their emotions but connecting to their bodies can be challenging.
I teach children breath work through my happycalmchild Programs. They usually take to it quite easily. By practicing breath work along with movement and other techniques, they learn that they can use their breath as a powerful tool to make better choices. When I work with parents, they tend to have a tougher time slowing their thoughts down enough to be able to use their breath. Often, our heads will say, “Uh, that’s too easy, it won’t work”, but, yoga practitioners have known for eons that the breath can lower blood pressure and a host of other benefits. In a power struggle with your child, utilizing something as simple as your breath to calm down can help you support your position as the adult in the room without letting your emotions take over. What can you do to make breath work easier? Moving first, can help you downshift enough to practice breathing. I use yoga and creative movement in my programs but, there are other ways to move and create that focused state on your own. Turn on music and dance to your heart’s content, simple stretching, run around the house or backyard for 2-5 minutes, walk, anything that will help you get your body and mind in “the zone”, will work. This isn’t in lieu of a regular exercise routine, this movement is to specifically help you shake off a little anxiety so that you can quiet down enough to take a few breaths. Not familiar with breathing exercises? Here’s a basic Belly Breath exercise for you to try- Sit up tall in a chair with your feet on the floor or sit on the floor in a crossed leg position. Lengthen your spine, let your shoulders relax and become aware of a little weight in your tailbone. Begin by breathing in through your nose, filling your belly with breath. Exhale, through your nose, releasing the breath from your belly. Repeat 3-5 times or longer if you have time!
You’d be surprised by the issues that can dissolve by choosing to commit to these strategies. Parenting can be a joyful, rewarding experience. The ideas presented here aren’t meant to create a parent utopia, but, to help you to have more and more peaceful moments in your family life. There are certainly behaviors and conditions that require more in-depth work. Movement and Breath Work may just be the simple tools that will help you navigate the ebb and flow that is parenting.