How to Practice Mindfulness During These 5 Parenting Tasks

5 parenting tasks to practice mindfulness

Have you ever made it to the end of a day only to realize you have no idea what book you read to your preschooler before bed?  Or what you talked about with your mom on the phone earlier that day?  Or even what you had for breakfast that morning?

I’ve so been there. I spend so much time just rushing from one thing to the next and don’t really stop to think about what I’m doing or who I am with. I don’t have time to slow down, right? I’m a mom! <<That’s what I tell myself anyways.>>

Today, for example, I was working on my laptop trying to finish up “one small thing” which we all know takes way longer than we plan for. Well, my son was desperately trying to get me to play with him. He asked me nicely a couple of times and I told him just a few more minutes. Well a few minutes later I was still on my laptop and he got impatient. So he started saying “mommy, mommy, mommy” over and over again. Talk about frustrating!

But it was my own fault. I wasn’t being present with my son. I could have just taken a 15 minute break from my work, played with my son and then he’d get his mama fill and I could get back to work.

Instead I was trying to do my work and play with my kiddo at the same time. He knows that trick and it doesn’t work.  I knew that I needed to try something different if I wanted to truly be present and make lasting memories with my loved ones.

5 parenting tasks to practice mindfulness

What is Mindfulness?

I had learned about mindfulness through a training I completed at work.  I knew about meditation and to be honest I thought it was the same thing as mindfulness.  And I had thought meditation was reserved for monks and the last few minutes of yoga class.  There was no way I’d ever do that on my own.  But I signed up for the training in hopes that I would learn something new.  And I am so glad that I did!

One of my biggest takeaways from that training was that you don’t need to practice meditation to reap the benefits.  What??

->This is where mindfulness comes in.

The book Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) defines mindfulness as “present-moment awareness, an open and friendly willingness to understand what is going on in and around you.”

Learn how to practice mindfulness during these 5 parenting tasks

>Click here for more inspirational quotes.

To me, mindfulness is about decluttering your mind of judgement and thoughts about past or future events.  It’s about focusing on the present moment, whatever that may be for you.

My next question was…

How do I practice mindfulness during my daily tasks?

According to an article on be.magazine, “you can bring mindfulness to everyday activities simply by tuning in to your senses, which helps you to actually be present in what you are doing, rather than lost in thinking.

I was intrigued by this idea so I started to practice mindfulness during every day mom and dad tasks.  What surprised me was that I started to notice a change in my attitude towards these menial tasks. Instead of another item to cross off my to do list I started to look forward to story time and diaper changes and feedings. These were times I could slow down a little and really be present with my kiddos.  On top of that I noticed that I was more aware of the little details during these tasks as well.  For more info on how mindfulness differs from meditation check out this article here.

Now, I am definitely not perfect. I am not mindful during all of these tasks every single day. If there is a diaper change in the middle of the night the only thing on my mind is how quickly I can get both of us back to sleep. 🙂  But when I notice that I am a little anxious or I start forgetting the details of the day, I try to slow it down and focus on being mindful.

Mindfulness and Your Breath

If you have read anything about mindfulness one of the first things you probably learned was that your breath is a good place to begin.  By focusing on your breathing you are focusing on the present moment.  Sitting Still Like a Frog: Mindful Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents) encourages you to be aware of your breathing pattern, without trying to change it.  Just be aware how you are breathing, whether fast or slow, or if you are holding your breath.  Practicing mindfulness is about being aware of the present moment without judging it or letting your thoughts run away with you.

With your breath in mind, I encourage you to pick one of the tasks below and try to pay attention to what you’re doing.  See if your own attitudes towards these tasks change as a result of practicing mindfulness.

5 parenting tasks to practice mindfulness

Practice Mindfulness During These Parenting Tasks

1. Feeding your baby. Notice the weight of your baby in your lap. If you are nursing, notice how it feels in your own body. If you are bottle feeding, think about how the bottle feels in your hand. Think about the sounds you hear – your baby sucking, any other sounds around you. Notice the rise and fall of your baby’s belly as they breathe.

2. Doing the dishes.  Notice the temperature of the water on your hands.  Notice the feel of the suds. The feel of the dishes. Notice the sound of the running water.

3. While changing/dressing your baby or child.  Notice the feel of the clothes. Notice the colors and textures. Is your baby calm or squirmy? Does your baby make any noises? Notice the smoothness of your baby’s skin.

4. During story time. Think about the weight of your child on your lap. Think about the feel of the book in your hands and how it feels to turn the pages.  Does your child ask any questions or giggle at the story?

5. While driving in the car.  Notice your hands on the wheel.  What is your posture like? What noises do you hear?  Notice any tension in the body.

Making Mindfulness a Habit

It doesn’t really matter what task you pick, as long as you pick something and stick with it for a few days.  Actually remembering to be mindful during the day was a challenge for me.  In his book The Habit Guide: Zen Habits’ Most Effective Habit Methods + Solutions, Leo Babauta recommends adding reminders around you such as on your phone’s lock screen, on your computer’s wallpaper, physical reminders on your desk or near your bed.  He also recommends having certain cues to remind you to check in and practice mindfulness.  For example entering a room, getting in your car, looking at someone’s face, putting on your clothes, or getting in the shower.

For more ways to practice mindfulness in daily life check out this New York Times column “Meditation for Real Life” or this article “Ten Ways to Practice Mindfulness Without Meditating.” 

Have you ever practiced mindfulness?

What has your experience been?  Share in the comments below!

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Images: Danielle MacInnes, Alice Hampson, and Guillaume de Germain on Unsplash

*Some of the links in this post are affiliate links


How to Write Out Your Ideal Day and What It Has to Do With Simple Living

How to write out your ideal day and what it has to do with simple living

For the past week or so I have been working my way through this e-course.  In one of the first lessons the instructor, Kendra, talks about writing out your “ideal day.”  I had heard about this exercise in the past, but never really thought much about it.  I thought, “that sounds cool”, but never took the time to actually complete the exercise myself and thought, “nah, that sounds too difficult and not very helpful to me and my life.”

After listening to Kendra talk about writing out your ideal day I thought I would at least give it a shot before turning it down…again.  And I am so glad that I did.

I was actually intrigued by the idea so i did a bit of research.  I wanted to know where the concept came from and how it could help me on my simple living journey.

The exercise reminds me of an interview question I had read about when I was prepping for interviews during college.  The whole point of that question is to get you to think about your values and priorities, in the context of the job position you are interviewing for.

In the course, Kendra was not talking about your ideal day in terms of a job interview, rather, she was talking about your ideal day from an overall perspective.  During an interview you wouldn’t get into the mundane details like what pajamas you wear.

However, in the course, the instructor does recommend getting into the weeds.  She recommends that you are very specific about what happens in your day, how you feel, what you wear, who you are with, and what you eat.  She says the more details you provide about your ideal day, the more understanding you will have about where you want your life to go.

The purpose behind this exercise is to articulate your ambitions and your goals.  What makes you tick?  What gets you excited to wake up in the morning?  These are all things that would make up your ideal day.

I think it’s important to note that the exercise is about your ideal day, not your perfect day.  There is no such thing as a perfect day.  Ideal can be defined as “being complete of its kind and without defect or blemish.”  When we write out our ideal day we should think about how we would like the day to look, but keep in mind that no perfect day exists.

Learn about writing out your ideal day.

Photo by JESHOOTS.COM on Unsplash

Why write out your ideal day?  Your ideal day:

  • Provides you with an opportunity to articulate your priorities, as long as you actually write (or type) it out.  Simply thinking about your ideal day will not have the same effect.
  • Gives you direction to work towards your goals.  By writing my ideal day out I am committing to taking steps to make it a reality.  I am not writing a piece of fiction here, I actually want to see this ideal day become a reality!
  • Encourages you to think, not just about your big goals, but about the little things in your day as well.  Picturing things like when you wake up, what food you eat, etc. is using a technique called visualization.  This is the same tool athletes use to help them score the winning goal.  If it helps athletes play their game well, why can’t it help us to live our ideal life?

How to write out your ideal day

  • Set aside some time where you are comfortable and won’t be distracted.
  • Think about some general topics as you write: general schedule, health, people, creativity, long-term goals, relaxation, location, income, and priorities.
  • Use a list of question prompts to help you think about the various parts of the day.  These help you to be more specific and really dig into the details.  A few examples to get you started:
    • Where would you be?
    • Who would you be with?
    • When do you wake up?
    • What do you have for breakfast?
    • Do you have children?
    • Do you work inside the home? Outside the home?

-> For even more questions prompts consider downloading the FREE worksheet here!

  • Ideal day madlibs – this is a fun free tool where they have drafted the narrative for you and left blanks for you to fill in your personal information.  This is great if you have never done something like this before or you have no idea where to start!
  • With a simple google search you will find numerous examples people have written.  This article has some great examples (scroll to the bottom) and a video helping you write out your own.

Learn about writing out your ideal day.

Photo by Tamara Menzi on Unsplash

So what does your ideal day have to do with actually living a simpler life?

I am so glad you asked!  Your ideal day has EVERYTHING to do with whether or not you are living a simple life.  Your ideal day is essentially a narrative of what you prioritize in life.  In other words, what you write about in your ideal day should be what you are already doing or what you hope to do in the near future.

When I wrote out my ideal day I wrote things like:

  • “my family relaxed and played together in an uncluttered living room”
  • “we ate simple, healthy meals together as a family”
  • “my family was not tripping over toys or shoes everywhere”

These types of statements indicate that I want a simpler home and I prioritize quality time with my family over managing stuff, cleaning stuff, and buying more stuff.

The things I wrote about in my ideal day should mirror “my why” behind  living a simpler life.  I want to live a  simpler life so that I spend less time on the things in my life and spend more quality time with the people I cherish.  My ideal day is full of those people.

->For more help writing your own WHY check out this post.

Your turn

Have you ever written out your ideal day? What did you learn about your priorities by writing out your ideal day?  Please share in the comments below or send me an email!

ideal day

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Category: Simplify


Books to Inspire Simple Living and Minimalism

When I first started learning about simple living and minimalism I devoured books and articles on the web on the subject. I knew I liked to be organized but what I didn’t know was that my life could actually be easier by living a simpler and more minimal lifestyle. I read both long and short books and was able to glean new information from most of the books I read.

Read about some of my favorite books on simple living and minimalism

When I began my simple living journey I had no idea what books to read.  I ended up buying (read: spending money on…ouch) and reading books that were just not that helpful. I hope that by sharing my favorites below you at least have a place to start.  This list is not by any means comprehensive of all the books out there on simple living and minimalism. This list merely includes some of the books that I have actually read and enjoyed. I hope you are able to find some new books on this list!


Simplify: 7 Guiding Principles to Help Anyone Declutter Their Home and Life 

by: Joshua Becker

From Amazon: Simplify is a celebration of living more by owning less. Written by Joshua Becker, who inspires hundreds of thousands of people on his personal blog, this is a book that calls for the end of living lives seeking and accumulating more and more possessions by highlighting the enjoyment of living with less.


minimalism: live a meaningful life

by: The Minimalists

From Amazon: In their debut book, Joshua & Ryan, authors of the popular website TheMinimalists.com, explore their troubled pasts and descent into depression…After a pair of life-changing events, Joshua & Ryan discovered minimalism, allowing them to eliminate their excess material things so they could focus on life’s most important “things”: health, relationships, passion, growth, and contribution.


The Nesting Place: It Doesn’t Have to Be Perfect to Be Beautiful

By: Myquillin Smith

From Amazon:  Perfection is overrated.

Popular blogger and self-taught decorator Myquillyn Smith (The Nester) is all about embracing reality―especially when it comes to decorating a home bursting with boys, pets, and all the unpredictable messes of life.


Simplify the Holidays

By: Rachel Jones

From Amazon: Discover how to simplify the every area of holiday prep and planning so you can cut back on all the time and energy spent on shopping, wrapping, giving and receiving gifts. You’ll be able to write out a game plan, get your gifts prepared and sitting under the tree, so you can spend the days leading up to the holidays with people you love.


Present Over Perfect: Leaving Behind Frantic for a Simpler, More Soulful Way of Living

By: Shauna Niequist

From Amazon: Written in Shauna’s warm and vulnerable style, this collection of essays focuses on the most important transformation in her life, and maybe yours too: leaving behind busyness and frantic living and rediscovering the person you were made to be.


Freed from Clutter: Organizing Your Home in 30 Days

By: Becky Mansfield

From Amazon: This book is filled with tips for how to declutter and organize each room and area in your home (bathrooms, bedrooms, garage, pantry, kitchen, cabinets, drawers… even how to keep your papers and mail from taking over your countertops, etc…)


Grace, Not Perfection: Embracing Simplicity, Celebrating Joy

By: Emily Ley

From Amazon: Have you been told you can have it all, only to end up exhausted and occasionally out of sorts with the people you love? … Learn to live a little more simply. Hold yourself and those you love to a more life-giving standard in Grace Not Perfection,and allow that grace to seep into your days, your family, and your heart.


The Cozy Life: Rediscover the Joy of the Simple Things Through the Danish Concept of Hygge

By: Pia Edberg

From Amazon: This book will inspire you to slow down and enjoy life’s cozy moments!  Learn about the Danish cultural phenomenon of Hygge, and the secret to why Denmark is consistently rated the happiest country in the world.  Embrace the little things and take simplicity and minimalism up a notch.


The More of Less: Finding the Life You Want Under Everything You Own

By: Joshua Becker

From Amazon: The More of Less delivers an empowering plan for living more by owning less. With practical suggestions and encouragement to personalize your own minimalist style, Joshua Becker shows you why minimizing possessions is the best way to maximize life.


Mindspace: 10 Practices To Help You Let Go Of Mental Clutter And Make Room For More Joyful, Creative Living

By: Melissa Camara Wilkins

From the product page: It starts as soon as you wake up, some days: the mental chatter, the never-ending to-do list to keep track of, the digital distractions. The comparisons, the fears and frustrations, the little voice whispering that you need to keep up.


Follow Me on Pinterest

For more books on this topic, follow my Pinterest board, Books on Simplicity and Minimalism. I am always pinning new books there!  Several other bloggers have done similar roundup posts of their favorite books on simplicity and minimalism.  When I come across these posts I try to pin them there as well!

 

For Even More ebooks on Simplicity and Minimalism


There is another resource out there that I highly recommend.  I have purchased this resource myself and a couple of the books above are included.  The resource I am talking about is the “Conquer Your Clutter Super Bundle” from the Ultimate Bundles team.

The team has pulled together 18 ebooks, 5 e-courses, and 15 planners to help you tame the physical and mental clutter in your life.  The items I recommend the most from the bundle include:

  • Mindspace: 10 Practices To Help You Let Go Of Mental Clutter And Make Room For More Joyful, Creative Living (listed above)
  • Freed From Clutter e-course (ebook listed above)
  • Step-By-Step Decluttering: Your Guide to Less Stuff and an Uncluttered Home

What are your favorite books on simple living and minimalism?

There are many more books out there and I am always adding to my TBR list.  As I come across any that I love I will be sure to share with you! Right now I know I want to read Unstuffed: Decluttering Your Home, Mind and Soul  by Ruth Soukup, Everything That Remains: a Memoir by The Minimalists, and Chasing Slow: Courage to Journey Off the Beaten Path by Erin Loechner.

Ok, your turn – what are your favorites??

*Some of these links are affiliate links.

Read about some of my favorite books on simple living and minimalism

Photos by Aga Putra and Hope House Press on Unsplash.


5 Toys to Declutter Today

5 toys to declutter today

Toy clutter can be one of the biggest sources of frustration in a home with children. I know it totally is for me!

After the first couple of holidays and birthdays for my son it seemed like our toy collection got out of hand quickly. We had cars, trains, legos, balls, you name it, we probably had it. On top of all that we still had the baby toys out that he clearly just dumped out of the toy bucket to get to something else.

And then every day before bed we would pick up All. The. Toys. And let’s be real it was mostly me picking up all. the. toys because, well, my son was 2! I was overwhelmed and knew I had to do something different.

5 toys to declutter today

Before I did a major overhaul of all the toys I quickly went through and decluttered the below list of toys and, let me tell you, it made a huge difference. It was not perfect, far from it, but it was a great place to start and I felt like I could breathe a little bit easier in our home. Phew!!

Toys with broken or missing pieces. Am I the only one who can’t seem to keep all the pieces together? I don’t know how my mom did it or how people can sell whole sets in garage sales! We seem to lose stuff faster than you can say garage sale.

Trinkets from gift bags, fast food happy meal toys, freebies from wherever. I don’t know what it is about these things, but they are kid magnets! My son loves these little *junky* toys! I think it’s ok to have them around for a few days, but once they have lost their allure it’s time to pitch them.

Toys kids have outgrown. Anyone with more than one kid knows that the baby wants to play with the big kid toys. I tried to get my baby to play with baby toys but she really didn’t care too much for them! I had a few car seat toys and the rest just sat in a box untouched or were just dumped out for the most part. It’s been helpful for me to remove the toys that my kiddos have outgrown, otherwise they are just dumped and cause more frustration for me!

Toys kids are not interested in. This is similar to the last item, but it’s a little different in that the toys may be age appropriate. But for whatever reason your kids just aren’t into them, and that’s ok. But to eliminate the clutter and stress, get rid of them!

Multiples of toys. In other words, toys that do the same thing. Maybe your kid is into trucks or balls. But do you really need 10 of each??? Probably not!

And now that you have decluttered the toys on the list above, this is how you should feel!

5 toys to declutter today

Phew!! That is a great accomplishment!

I am learning that it’s important to be intentional with our toy choices and stay on top of the clutter before it becomes overwhelming.

I am also learning that this decluttering thing is not a one and done venture. As kids grow their interests change and so do their toys. Staying on top of the toy clutter will help combat the overwhelm!

Further reading

Raised Good’s Free Simplifying Childhood Challenge – This is a short e-course that devotes the first two days to simplifying toys. Definitely worth a read.

The Toy Detox course from Simple Families – I completed this course and it has practical information about the why’s of simplifying toys as well as the how’s of simplifying toys.  I am not an affiliate, but I still highly recommend this course!

There are also a ton of free articles on the web to check out:

Top 25 Toys from Simple Families
A Helpful Guide for Decluttering Toys
The 20 Toy Rule
Simplifying Your Playroom

How do you keep the toy clutter at bay in your home?

If you are ready to tackle even more clutter in your home download our FREE 8 Steps to Clear the Clutter checklist! You can also read this post for more details.


7 Ways to Have a Simpler Summer with Kids + FREE Worksheet

7 ways to have a simpler summer with kids + free worksheet

->Before we get started grab your FREE worksheet here!

Here in the western hemisphere, the summer season has officially started for most of us! I have pulled out our shorts and flip flops to wear in the warmer weather. And most kids are done with school so summer vacation has begun!

I am a big time planner and love to have checklists for pretty much everything. Naturally I started to make a list of all the things I wanted to do this summer. And then I got majorly overwhelmed! Imagine that. 🙂

Thinking back to my own summers growing up, the things I remember most are not the planned activities or structured days.  What I remember are the simple things like eating dinners on the outside patio, visiting and spending time with family, playing outside as much as possible and just having fun with my family.

So I decided to take a step back and think of how I could simplify our upcoming summer, while still having a fantastic time! This is what I came up with and I hope that one or two ideas can help you to simplify your summer as well!

Click over to learn how to simplify your summers with kids + free worksheet

Less is more. The sheer number of things I wanted to do was ridiculous. That doesn’t mean I shouldn’t plan anything for the summer. I think there is a happy balance between having a completely free schedule and having some things planned out.  For us, if we didn’t have anything planned, then we’d spend most days asking each other “what should we do today?” and then the whole day would go by and we just hung out at home.  And there’s nothing wrong with hanging out at home!  I think having days just relaxing at home are super important.  But I also think having a few things planned will help change things up and keep kiddos (and adults) from getting antsy!

Have a few easy activities ready to go at all times. My kiddos are 4 and 1 and the 4 year old especially thrives when I do planned activities with him. The 1 year old is happy working on her gross motor skills like walking and crawling and doing whatever big brother is doing!  The 4 year old does pretty well playing by himself and entertaining himself with his toys, but there’s no way he would be happy doing that all day.  So that is where having a few new-to-your-kids coloring books, playdough, or fun outside games at your fingertips come into play.  These shouldn’t take a ton of prep or supplies, but just thinking ahead and having the activities in your back pocket can really help prevent boredom and kiddos getting ants in their pants! For more ideas follow my Pinterest board for Simple Kid Activities.

Create a bucket list with your kids. Like I said before, less is more here. Limit the number of items on the list and don’t forget about free things like library story hours, farmers markets and concerts in the park. Kids don’t know if something costs money or not, they really just want to spend time with you! If they are old enough ask your kids what they want to include. Their answers may surprise you!

Here are 160 ideas to get you started!  Or check out the Simpler Summer guide from Melissa Camara Wilkins for a list of simple activities to make the summer memorable!

Get outside every day. Make a list of the parks and playgrounds near your home and walk there!  You could even pack a lunch and blanket and eat in the grass.  Hold yourself accountable by joining Simple Families’ 100 Days of Outdoor Play Challenge.

Ideas for outdoor play:

Click over to learn how to simplify your summers with kids + free worksheet

Simplify lunches and meals. I do soooo much better with preparing healthy meals for my family when I have taken the time to have a plan. I do fairly well with dinners but I fall short on lunches. To the point that whenever I tell my son it’s lunch time his immediate first response is “peanut butter and jelly!” I think we could definitely use some variety in our lunches. 😉 I don’t think we need something different every day but peanut butter and jelly every single day is not a very good way to widen my son’s food preferences.

Here are a few easy lunch ideas I’m going to try incorporating into our routine this summer:

Spend a few minutes on Sunday prepping for the week. Of course there is a balance between planning every second of every day and having a complete free for all. Looking at the calendar for the week lets me know if there is an event I wanted to attend or if the week is a good week for the library. This way I don’t waste time trying to think of something to do only to realize I don’t have all the ingredients or pieces to make it work.  At a minimum I make a tentative meal plan, look at upcoming events and appointments and think about what else I want to add into the week.  Then I can get groceries and make sure I have what I need when the day comes!

Declutter before the summer. I don’t mean declutter your whole house, because that would be crazy pants. But spending a little bit of time at the start of the summer will pay off big time. Go through all the school paperwork and decide what to keep and what to toss. Go through your pantry and get rid of expired foods. Donate the toys that don’t get used anymore. Now is also a good time to go through clothes since you’ll be switching to summer clothes and putting away the winter clothes. There will be less cleaning, less picking up toys, and you will be able to spend more time with your family.

-> If you need help decluttering download our 8 step checklist here.

Bonus tip: Develop a flexible routine. Whether you are home full time with your kiddos or you work outside the home, or a combination of the two like me, having a routine helps things run smoother. I think it helps kids to have an idea of what comes next. When my son gets bored, he usually gets into trouble. Having a time block schedule really helps me to stay on track and not waste the days!

To see my flexible routine for the summer download the worksheet below! If you need help setting up a morning routine read my series here (p.s. there is a free worksheet on the last post in the series!).

click here to get your simple summer worksheet

What do you do to simplify your summers?