Meditation with a toddler. Think about that for a second, or just bust out laughing. Because let’s be honest, the thought of getting a 3 year old to sit still and quiet makes me roll on the floor laughing. That being said, we still attempt it a few times a week.
We are actually so grateful for our new home that allows us space to wake-up/meditate without waking anyone else in the house. Our old routine was quite the maze to navigate and was frequently an excuse to not get up and meditate. Our routine goes like this. Eric & I attempt to wake around 6:30 am most mornings. We try to sit for 15-30 minutes depending on how snoozy we were with the alarm that morning. Milo’s usual wake time is somewhere between 6:30am and 7:30am.
So on any given morning there is the chance he will wake up in the middle of our meditation. This is when we invite him to come sit with us. At first this was difficult to do, he would roll around next to us or wander into the kitchen. Now he’ll usually sit in my lap for about 3 minutes before the rolling/wandering begins. Either way we speak in soft voices and tell him that mommy & daddy are meditating, he is welcome to join us if he wants to. For the most part he is usually very quiet and doesn’t disturb us at all. BUT it took some working up to this point. In the beginning (we started around when he was 18 months old), he would whine and demand things and get upset if we didn’t stop to get him breakfast. Just like the wandering mind you experience with mediation we had the physical embodiment of “monkey mind”- our toddler. And slowly we have trained it to come back to a place of calm.
One of our family’s values is mindfulness and this is just one of the ways we work towards that together. As adults we are still working on this and are busy calming our own chaotic minds while finding peaceful ways to respond to a toddler’s screams and NOs.
A meditation practice is not for everyone, or every toddler. (But I would challenge you to try it before you dismiss it, it has great benefits for your mental health!) Mindfulness could look different in your house. It could be a blessing before you eat a meal, or a few deep breaths and a prayer before bedtime. Modeling mindfulness for our child is preparing us to handle the difficult situations and gives them a security in knowing that there is a calm adult in charge (which is VERY reassuring to children). We are also teaching them that they too can take a breath when they’re upset and step back from a situation.
What does mindfulness look like in your family? Is this, or something similar one of your family values?