How much time do you really spend being ‘present’ with your family or household members? It doesn’t count if you’re all in the same room on different devices. Often, we get caught up using technology or lost in our own thoughts and we’re not truly present and engaged with our loved ones and those we spend the majority of our non-work time with. Practising mindfulness as a household can strengthen your relationships, increase your well-being, and bring everyone back together. It’s becoming an increasingly popular way for homes to reconnect and enjoy some quality time.
A key element of a harmonious home is respect. Whether there are kids in the household or there’s another dynamic like family members or a share house arrangement, mindfulness can help create a calm and respectful home where everyone feels valued.
If you’re just starting out on your mindfulness journey, be patient and take things step-by-step. Mindfulness doesn’t happen overnight − it takes time to work on our mental fitness. Think of it like going to the gym. You wouldn’t go into the gym and do all the weight exercises in one session. With mindfulness, we are trying to strengthen our ‘attention muscle’, rather than our physical muscles. Pick one small task and once you’ve achieved that, move on to the next.
Think Daily Gratitude At The Dinner Table
Dinner is one of the rare times many households come together without technology or any other distractions. It’s a perfect opportunity to practice a mindfulness activity together. Showing gratitude is a way to be mindful − ask each person to share something positive from their day. Over time, you might even begin to start searching for the positives throughout your day, so you have something to share at dinner. This can help turn your focus away from the negatives you encounter.
Here are some other ideas to try:
- List one thing that made you smile, one thing that challenged you, and one thing you would do differently next time.
- Take turns coming up with a question to ask everyone.
- If you don’t regularly sit together for a meal, the simple act of organising regular times where the household will be together is a great start!
- Identify one positive thing about each member sitting at the table.
Have A Mindful Morning
Getting ready for school and work can be chaotic and stressful – even if you’re working or schooling from home! Intentionally trying to have a mindful morning can help everyone start their day on the right foot. Dr Rangan Chatterjee from Feel Better Live More podcasts talks about the three ‘M’s in the morning – movement, mindset (positive affirmation) and meditation. It may feel impossible but start by making the intention to incorporate it in a way that works for your household, even if it’s just one day a week, or just one of the ‘M’s!
Some ideas to try:
- Wake up 15 minutes earlier to reduce the rush.
- Get the kids more involved in their own school prep the night before, so there’s less to do in the morning.
- Do your own prep the night before, like setting out your workout gear, making your snacks or doing a ‘to do’ list.
- Take a minute to stop and BREATHE and even try one minute of meditation together. (Tip: there are some great family friendly apps that can help with this!).
- Practice positive affirmations in the morning, e.g. “Today will be a good day”, “I am confident”, “I am calm” or “I will finish three things on my ‘to do’ list”
Cook, Grow, and Eat Food Together
Everyone has to eat, yet too often the cooking and food prep is left to the same person in the household. Getting everyone involved in deciding what meals to have, preparing, cooking, and cleaning up after the meal (yes, even small children!), can help build appreciation of the work involved in making a meal. Sure, it may take longer having kids in the kitchen – but consider cooking the occasional meal as a family activity and bonding experience rather than a chore. This not only teaches children vital food preparation skills, but has the added benefit of them being more likely to eat the food! Eating together as a family also offers a rare moment of connection with no other distractions.
Here are some things to try:
- Have weekly household meetings where you each decide a dish for the week.
- Try a rotating roster of who is cooking and cleaning each day.
- Give the kids simple jobs to do in the kitchen depending on their age, such as washing the vegetables, stirring, setting the table, starting to clean the dishes as you go or packing the dishwasher.
- Start a herb garden and make it the kids’ job to water and pick fresh herbs for the meals.
- Choose a simple child-friendly recipe each week for the kids to make (with your guidance).
- Before you begin eating, encourage everyone to contemplate everything and everyone it took to bring the meal to your table. Silently express gratitude for the opportunity to enjoy delicious food and the people you're enjoying it with.
Role Model Your Mindful Actions
Mindfulness is not always visible, it’s a practice that happens mostly in your head. If you want to role model it, you may need to take what’s IN your head and bring it to the outside. This is especially useful for children who don’t yet have the capability to intuitively understand what is happening. Try explaining your mindful thought processes out loud.
- “Oooh, I really feel like a cookie right now, but I know dinner is coming soon so I'm going to wait and have it another time".
- “I’m feeling a bit stressed and overwhelmed. I’m going to take a moment alone to breathe and reset before I keep working on my task.”
- “This is so delish, I could eat it all in one mouthful! But I know I can enjoy it for longer if I slow down and chew while I eat it".
- “I’m feeling really angry right now, I’m going to take a moment to pause and breathe to help me calm down, so I make sure I don’t over-react”.
Just because no one else was there to witness it, doesn’t mean your household can’t still learn from your thoughts and actions. Maybe you are known to sometimes exhibit anger, but today you did some breathing to calm yourself instead of getting worked up. Perhaps your colleague sent a blunt email and you felt hurt, but by pausing before reacting you discovered they were just busy, and it wasn’t personal. You can share your learning experiences and encourage your household members to do the same. Sharing a mindful moment could even become a daily ritual at the dinner table which may inspire each other to act more mindfully.
We hope these tips help you create some space for mindfulness in your home. Remember, a more harmonious home is a happier one!