Do you believe in the health and wellbeing benefits of meditation? It can help promote clarity of thought and, next to actually expressing your emotions and regular exercise, it’s one of the best ways to reduce stress. COVID-19 has presented challenges unlike any we’ve known before and the uncertainty is a mental challenge.
Why is something like this relevant to dads? Well, there’s no denying that kids are stressful.
A brief time-out for fathers where they can rest, enjoy being a dad and visualize their fatherhood flourishing is essential. It’s especially great for expecting fathers, dads and dads-to-be.
Just Get Started!
You’re standing on the shoulders of remarkable gay, bi and trans parents who felt exactly like you. We know it’s as equally terrifying as it is exciting to start a family. Life has moved from "I" to "we," you’re opening up your heart and mind to another human being - your child - and there's no turning back.
One of the harder parts of parenting during the pandemic is that we adults may be experiencing high levels of stress which can carry over into the atmosphere at home. Our children almost certainly pick up on these vibes.
There’s a cocktail of emotions as a new parent and it’s easy to be overwhelmed with worry, frustration or guilt. Nobody will judge you for wanting to invite some relaxation into your life. Carve out 10 minutes in your day where you can.
You don’t have to sit cross-legged and there’s no incense or any of the stereotypical hippy stuff that might stop you from getting started. You don’t have to sit cross-legged and there’s no incense or any of the stereotypical hippy stuff that might stop you from getting started. (Though if dressing like a cast member from Hair is going to get you into the mood for a mindful practice — go for it!)
Granted, you’ll need some quiet, which is no easy feat for dads. But what’s stopping you?
Begin With The Basics
Focusing on your breathing is one of the most common forms of mindfulness and is used extensively in meditation and yoga. One misconception about meditation is that you have to stop thinking completely, which can be discouraging for novices because it’s basically impossible. Especially when you’re probably thinking about what the kids will want for dinner or when the next feed will be.
The internet is full of great meditations and there are some good apps that will guide you:
These are available on both Android and iOS, with options for subscriptions, classes and guided sessions - some are even kid-friendly! With meditation, the simpler the better. That way you’ll do it more often and get more out of it. So whether an app works best or you just want to start with some basic breathing exercises, the options are endless.
Involve The Kids
Many articles talk about the benefits of exercising with children—or at the very least, in modeling behavior. What’s true for physical health can be true for mental health as well. But making time to meditate with children in the house can be difficult.
You might be tempted to set up a special place to schedule your “me time”. But it’s easier said than done, so why not just include them?
Rather than hide away, explain what you’re doing and why to your kids if they’re old enough. What can start as an activity for dads, alone, becomes a part of your family dynamic. Meditation can help kids read and respond to internal signals of stress before their developing brains and bodies give in to a full-blown tantrum.
There’s plenty of apps available to help teach your child the fundamentals of meditation with simple, fun breathing exercises.
Headspace has also partnered with Barbie to raise awareness around nurturing overall emotional wellbeing through mindfulness exercises.
Perhaps the best part of meditation is just being still. It’s rare that dads and kids get to just sit with one another, quiet in one another’s world. But that’s what meditation gives you. For ten minutes, it’s zen. This is easier said than done with babies who don’t understand the concept of peace, but we’ll get there.
We’ve got some homework for you. Meditate or do yoga with your child at least once within the next seven days. Let us know how you find it!