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It's true, moms. The fathers of our children are pretty darn mindful. It's time start taking notes and giving credit where credit is due! 

Here are the top 10 reasons why the men in our lives are magnificent at this mindfulness thing:

10. He is playful with the kids. They love this, and it’s their special way to bond. 
(Notes for mom: Just relax, enjoy the moment, have fun. Your kids interpret playfulness as love.)

9. He never feels guilty being away from them; either while at work, working out, or going out with the guys.
(Notes for mom: What’s the point of guilt? Sometimes you gotta do what you gotta do to fill yourself up so you can give more or simply provide for your kids. This is nothing to feel guilty about.)

8. He doesn’t let his emotions influence how he disciplines. When he says “No,” he means “No,” every single time.
(Notes for mom: Dads don’t worry if their kids will love them if they set limits. Being an objective parent means that you step back and evaluate a situation for what it is without letting your emotions (aka--unchecked thinking) influence your response.)

7. He makes them do things for themselves and learn from their mistakes.
(Notes for mom: He “perceives” his child as capable instead of incapable. The way you perceive your child influences what you expect of him. Your child will rise (or fall) to your expectations every single time.)

6. He doesn’t over think, over plan, or over control every situation. He allows for the spontaneity of the moment to be enjoyed!
(Notes for mom: When you let go of control, you gain trust. When you trust a situation or person, you are more relaxed, content, and happy.)

5. When he plays Polly Pockets, Play-Dough, or Legos with the kids, he just plays. He isn’t thinking about 50 other things he needs to get done. 
(Notes for mom: Dads are masters at “single-tasking.” When you master the art of “single tasking,” you master the moment. You are present, you are aware, you are grateful & you appreciate the beauty of ordinary moments with your kids.)

4. He doesn’t coddle the kids, but acts lovingly towards them.
(Notes for mom: Again, he “perceives” them as capable, strong, and competent. Kids pick up on this, thus they gain confidence and self-reliance; two excellent traits to foster in your children at any age.)

3. He feels no guilt in expecting them to play by themselves and make themselves happy.
(Notes for mom: Dads realize that it’s not their job to make their kids happy. Dads are aware that it isn’t in their child’s best interest to entertain them all day long. When children are encouraged to play on their own, they learn how to fight off boredom, be imaginative, and creative. Most importantly, they learn that their happiness is their responsibility.)

2. He never makes excuses for their behavior. He holds them accountable. 
(Notes for mom: Holding your kids responsible for their actions means that you perceive them as competent individuals. When kids are held accountable for their actions, they learn that they are in control of their lives. You learn that you can trust them with this control.)

1. He is affectionate towards you in front of the children. He is teaching them what love looks like. When they see him lay one on you, everything is right in their world.
(Notes for mom: When our husbands seize the moment and take the opportunity to remind us of how grateful and appreciative they are of our very existence… well, this is the epitome of mindfulness.)

Which one are you going to embody today? Me... showing more affection. He so deserves it, and my girls deserve to see it.

The other day I was running errands with the girls, and as I passed the local Starbucks, I got a hankering for my Venti Chai-Tea Latte with extra shots of chai. As soon as the, “Ooohh, that sounds good” thought streamed through my head, other nasty little thoughts followed it: “That’s so frivolous to spend $4 on a coffee drink. You’re not even working for goodness sake! Why do you think you deserve to indulge in such extravagances? Any money spent should be spend on the needs of the family.” 

Yeah...what the hell! I know! And no, I didn’t get my drink (sob..sob). I listened to my negative thinking, and I let it convince me that since I was only a stay-at-home mom, one who didn’t earn a penny, was not deserving of a cup of coffee. Well, no more! I’m on to you, oh negative thought patterns.

THE HIGHEST CALLING ON THE PLANET“There’s no higher calling on the planet than motherhood. We’ve lost that in our culture.” That’s from the mouth of Dave Ramsey, ladies! I know you already know this. If you watch Oprah, I know you know this because she says it all the time.

I know it, too. Yet every now and again, I feel…well… worth less as a stay-at-home mom (SAHM).

It doesn’t help to read stuff that reminds me of all that I am giving up choosing to stay home and raise these crazy girls. I recently read a frontline MSN article about how much it “costs” to be a stay-at-home mom. The article was all about how much SAHM's lose in income, earning potential, retirement contributions, and a professional competitive edge. I won’t depress you with the statistical amount of cash you forfeit with this choice. But I can bet that no matter what price I quote you, the majority of moms who do stay home would say they’d pay that price any day for what they get in return-- time, moments, and memories with their children.

Yeah, yeah. I’d pay it, too (obviously). But that doesn’t mean that every now and again thoughts like this rear their ugly head in my over-active brain:

“You could be driving a way cooler car right now if you were working. You should be contributing more to your retirement account. You are missing out on your most important professional years and earning potential. Being on one income is stressful. It feels like we are giving up so much. Do I even do enough with my girls while I’m home? Would they be better off in day-care?"

Changing my Perspective
Well, I’ve decided that no more will I be denying myself my favorite coffee drink! I refuse to let thoughts that focus on lack, negativity, and loss be my predominant thought pattern when it comes to how I feel about mothering and my decision to stay home. Being a mindful mom means that I am aware of the perspective I hold of myself as a SAHM, and that I need to remind myself every day of my worth. 

Just yesterday, as I was scrubbing the toilet, I actually thought, “Ya know, I’m such a good mom. Look at me on my hands and knees. It is important this house is clean for my girls.” It was at this moment that I stopped feeling guilty for not playing Polly Pockets and cleaning the bathrooms instead. Cleaning the bathrooms is taking care of my girls. Everything I do, almost every minute of the day is dedicated to taking care of them! It was in focusing on the positive aspects of mothering-- how selfless I am at times, how much I do for them, and want to do for them, that I felt my worth as a mom.

And You?
What about you? Do you have lapses in feeling worthiness as a SAHM and have thus denied yourself accordingly? Have you been denying yourself time away, monthly pedicures, a $3 Cup of Joe, rest time during the day, time out with the girls, or your weekly yoga class? Please understand I am not suggesting your break the bank to indulge in luxuries your budget can’t accommodate. But I am saying that as a SAHM, you do bring financial worth to your family. Thus, you are worthy to spend money on. 

My advice is, keep your negative thoughts in check and reward yourself every single day with some small token of appreciation from yourself toyourself. Doing so acknowledges the simple fact-- you are answering the highest calling on the planet

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To gain control, you have to “let go” of some.
I hate yelling at my girls. I hate it. The worst part, it doesn’t even work! My girls rebel against my anger every. single. time!! If insanity is defined as doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result, then I’m insane. Period. 

However, my insanity was cured the moment I watched my husband “lose it” with our 4 year old daughter yesterday. I had the aha moment I needed to change my perspective. And this is the heart of mindful mothering, ladies--changing our perspectives so that we can do better.

A Healthy Dose of Defiance

When your child is defiant, your perspective is probably focused on the fact that he is not doing what YOU want him to do. The frustration you feel is no longer about the fact that he isn't picking up his toys, eating the food you placed in front of him, or not going to sleep. No. You are pissed he is not listening to you! And after all, you are the parent, and he is the kid. He should listen. It’s his job, right? Sound familiar.

I just watched this entire scene play out between my husband and my 4 year old daughter. He politely told her to pick up her Polly Pockets before bath time. She didn’t. He raised his voice and told her again. She remained utterly still among the mess of Polly Pockets strewn around her. “Here it comes,” I thought. And there it was-- full blown anger and threats being hurled her way. 

“Chloe, if you don’t pick up those d* Polly Pockets right this very minute…,” well, you know the rest. 

I’m not judging my husband. I’ve been in his shoes. 

Seeing the situation from the perspective of defiance leads to enacting the threat cycle. Threatening our children is temping for two reasons according to Cline and Fay in Parenting with Love and Logic. “Using threats doesn’t make us feel like the wimp we feel like if we whimper, cry, or plead with our kids. And threats sometimes work.” 

The threat didn’t really work in our situation. With a lot of screaming and crying, my daughter begrudgingly moved at a snail’s pace to comply with her dad’s demands. She defied him initially and then chose to move as slow as possible because she felt totally out of control in this situation. Her defiance was her attempt to gain some control. Understandable. I don’t know about you, but my husband doesn’t immediately jump to his feet the minute I ask him to do something. He doesn’t appreciate being told what to do and to get it done the very second I demand. So in an attempt to regain control, he eventually does what I ask on his own time

Wonder if he realizes his daughter is just like him? Wonder how he would respond to her if he was aware of this fact? 

4 Tips for Banishing Anger from Your Mothering
Being a mindful and respectful mama doesn’t mean we are soft or pushovers. It means we are just super smart…so smart that we know that anger and threats don’t give us more control over our kids, but rather makes us lose it almost immediately. Mindful mamas know that children desire to be independent and in control. We also know that it’s our job to give them an appropriate amount of control in their little lives so that they can feel confident, think on their feet, and gain independence. 

What helps:
  1. AWARENESS and PERSPECTIVE are key: Become aware that your child is not being defiant because they want to disrespect you. Chloe wasn’t thinking, “My dad is a jerk, and I wanna get him irate.”No. No. You are your child’s world. They love you beyond words. Rather, when they defy you, they are exercising the very small, teeny-tiny amount of control they do have in their lives. And this is a good thing!! You don’t want a push-over as a child (or adult) do you?! Remember, often characteristics that our children display that frustrate the hell out of us are characteristics we want them to exhibit as adults! Go figure. 
  2. Give them OPTIONS and make them THINK (a.k.a. give away just the right amount of control): Parenting with Love and Logic reminds us that “responsible behavior is a direct correlation to the number of decisions children are expected to make. The more they make, the more responsible they become.” My girls respond to choices because they like to think for themselves and feel in control. Who doesn’t? I like to give them choices because when they make choices that are poor, the punishment comes from their decision, not me. Thus, I don’t get angry when they make poor decisions. What’s there to get angry about? They are not being defiant towards me. In fact this is cause to celebrate. When they make poor decisions, they are learning a great life lesson-- make a better one next time! 
  1. POSITIVE REINFORCEMENT works wonders: Don’t forget to compliment and praise your child’s good behavior. Shift your perspective from focusing on negative behavior to focusing on positive behavior. I bet your kid displays it more than you realize. Tune in and compliment it often!
  2. ROUTINES and REWARDS: Kids thrive on routines and rewards. For instance, our clean up routine starts with setting a timer on my phone that I display for the girls to see. I tell them they have 3 minutes to clean up before the timer goes off. If toys are still lying around when it beeps, they lose 2 tickets each. Thus, I don't have to keep hounding them. The expectation is set. They know the consequence-- losing hard earned tickets... not my yelling. Much more effective. Tickets are the rewards in our house. I use store-bought raffle tickets, and I give them to the girls when they display good behavior-- saying please, acting kind to each other, not freaking out in specific instances, staying in their beds at night, etc. They collect their tickets and then use them to get an extra cookie after dinner, buy something from the $ store, or get a movie from the video store. Whatever. They decide. They are in control. 

Let go of the right amount of control, establish clear routines and rewards, make your kids think, let the consequences of their decisions be the punishment, and watch your anger magically disappear! Come back, comment, and tell us how it goes...

So, I am just like you. I am pumped about the potential of myself in this new year!!! But, I want to be successful. I really, really do. No more empty promises to myself. Thus, in true graduate school fashion (like I say, old habits die hard), I researched “how to keep my new year’s resolution.” 

I stopped my research after reading my first hit~ a piece by Forbes magazine. Everything they said not only resonated with me but aligned perfectly with the core philosophy of Mindful Moms Network! Guess we must be on to something... 

1) Get Specific and VISUALIZE: Yes… they said to visualize! Set a specific, tangible resolution and then“visualize what good will come when your goals and desires are met. What does it feel like? What does it look like” (Forbes, 2012)? They recommend picking a positive mantra about that goal and then repeating it often to keep yourself motivated. Hello-- visualization and mantras-- we’re mindful mamas, we got that s* down! So get busy constructing a couple specific goals in different areas of your life (personal, mothering, marriage, health, etc.), write them down, and create some great mantras to post around your house or in your journal and start visualizing your destiny.

2) Make Time: Again, as mindful moms, we know how essential it is to make time for ourselves. Forbesmag reminds us to set aside ample time to achieve our resolutions. I know, I know, there is never enough time. But remember, there is always time for what you deem to be important. YOU are important. Make the time.
3) Move Past Doubt: “Keep tabs on how often you ‘unset’ your goals with your thoughts” (Forbes, 2012). It really does always come down to our thinking, ladies. Our thoughts either serve to manifest our goals or derail them. Okay, love this next line in the article: “If your thoughts don’t support you or your goals, let them go-- they’re not doing you any good. Replace them with your positive mantra, instead.”LOVE that. If you’ve been reading our blog for a while, you are getting pretty good at this.

4) Get A Partner: “Having a group, partner, friend, or professional to encourage you can be a great way to keep you going” (Forbes, 2012). As women, we are social creatures. So tell a couple close friends and/or your spouse about your resolutions for the new year and the new you. They will provide you with support, and you will provide them with inspiration. And remember, Mindful Moms Network is your on-line support group!! Everything we do comes from our heart and is dedicated to encouraging and inspiring you to meet every single goal/ dream you have for yourself this year and beyond. 

5) Be Still: “You’re more likely to slip on your goal when you’re stressed and overwhelmed, so spend time every day to getting out of your thoughts and reconnecting with yourself” (Forbes, 2012). See, we’re not just making this stuff up, moms. Forbes magazine is also telling you to reconnect with yourself everyday! We at Mindful Moms couldn’t agree more-- “the more practice you have being still and calm, the more present you’ll be for each step of achieving your goals.”

All in all, making your resolutions a reality means deliberately setting positive intentions/ goals that align with your inner-truth, watching your thinking for negative thoughts, making yourself a priority so that you can find time to be still, and talking to your girlfriends. We'll be talking to you!