There is a lot out there about mindful eating. But its not just about eating mindfully, its being mindful in general, the ability to be non-judgemental, not of others but of oneself, of your own thoughts and feelings. This is surprisingly challenging, but the rewards are sweet.
Mindfulness Meditation and kids especially as a single parent do not always jive so well, so my meditative practice stayed at work. I tried teaching my kids to sit with me, we tried the book my teacher gave us (excellent resource but they were a little young and my own issues and difficulty just getting things done when I left the office sorta got in the way too)
Being able to not judge yourself as a parent, as a cook, as the person responsible for keeping young living things alive, is incredibly helpful. I am not going to try to train you on mindfulness in this blog, for that, I suggest that if you work with me, you go to our “public” meditation sessions and if you are a stranger of the interwebs I suggest Jon Kabat-Zinn, and Pema Chödrön as first resources.
What I do want to say is when feeding your kids, letting go of perfection, of the expectation that they eat, being able to remember that its just this moment, that just because today they did not touch their lunch (true story) that doesn’t mean they will die of starvation tomorrow (or ever). That just because they didn’t eat that lunch that doesn’t mean the food wasn’t good, that you spoiled them by once letting them have something different than what was served, or that you can never offer this meal again and you have a fridge full of leftover that will go to waste (more true stories). As you can see the mind is a powerful thing and has an incredible ability to run wild with our fears and self-doubts.
What I (try to) do: As made clear above, I obviously have negative self talk. but I am aware of it, I accept it (we are talking in relation to feeding my children here, its a work in progress in other areas still) I am able to allow that thread pass without knitting a sweater of parenting guilt with it. I do this by preparing myself for the onslaught of comments and behaviour at dinner that is normal from a couple 4 yr olds. My son does the up and down from the table dance, I remind myself that he will do this even if I do serve “beans and tofu dogs”. My daughter eats with her hands, I remind myself that I just have to supply her with a fork and remind her to use it, that is what I can do, the rest is up to her. (This is hard, I have a tendency to pull out the “big girls don’t…” line here). I take 5, when she is picking only the raisins out of the salad, or he is doing a handstand on the couch between bites, I take 3 deep, mindful breaths:
“breathing in, I am aware I am breathing in, breathing out, I am aware I am breathing out”
Then I intervene, I ask him to come sit down please, we are not all finished, or her “please use your fork, this we do not eat with our hands”
I should specify I try to do these things. Sometimes my mindfulness becomes mind fullness. Part of being mindful is accept that sometimes you aren’t.
I always find that the intervention goes much better. I do not get the sass from her that “allRIGHT, I knowA, I AMMMMMMMMMM” and usually he actually comes back. When I react immediately I tend to react less thoughtfully, less mindfully and it comes out emotionally charged which just charges them right up too. My mindfulness teacher taught us to STOP. (Stop, Take a breath, Observe, Proceed). My journey to a mindful practice has been messy and its difficult because when you need it most is often when its hardest to do. But I have learned that for me, it is a path I need to stay on, no matter how many times I circle back on the same part of it.