Monday, September 12, 2011

"Lessons from a Zen Mommy"

For my first week of Monday inspirations I chose an article from Parents magazine called "Lessons from a Zen Mommy." I know that zen comes from Buddhism and some of you might find it strange that I chose this article since I am a Christian but this article basically leaves religion aside and has many great thoughts on how to simplify life. I found the article inspiring because it really made me think about ways that I can change to ease some of the burdens of "Mommy life."

My Take on "Lessons from a Zen Mommy" by Bethany Saltman

Zen Wisdom: Do what you're doing while you're doing it.
Mom Translation: Stop Multitasking!
"An important teaching in Zen is that our entire life is happening right now. The past is over and the future hasn't happened yet. Therefore, all we have is the present." -Beth
I need to read this daily! Can we really do two things at once? Can you put your whole heart into the story that you're reading you children while keeping one eye on The Bachelor? For me, can I really give full concentration to delivering my children to their destination safely while talking on the phone? I want to really try to give my all to the current task at hand.

Zen Wisdom: Leave no trace.
Mom Translation: Take responsibility for yourself and your mess. And teach your children to do the same.
"In Zen we're taught that the state of our mind is reflected in the way we create our home." -Beth
Yikes! Folks, I am in T-R-O-U-B-L-E!! I have been trying to teach this to my children but I need it the most! For my kids it's simple- "you get it out, you put it away" or "If you put your toys away, you can keep them. If Mommy picks them up, I keep them." (That's from Love & Logic.) For me, I have anxiety just thinking about this- "take responsibility for yourself and you're mess." I'm good at excuses for why things haven't gotten done- no more! Time to put the "big girl panties on" and take more responsibility!

Zen Wisdom: Take just the right amount.
Mom Translation: Limit acquiring too much stuff.
"The question I've been taught to ask myself is: Do I really require as much (food, money, things) as I may think I do in the moment? -Beth
Finally! I'm starting to get something right (although my husband may disagree!) I have been really bad about this in the past and have been trying to fix it. Toys? We have many less now than we used to. The children not only still seem satisfied with the selection but I think they actually play with each toy better without having a hundred others thrown around to choose from. For me, I like to go to garage sales to scour for deals but it's really only a deal if I need it! This summer I have been much more selective with what's a need versus a want. Acquiring less has equalled less stress. Less stress over money spent and less stress over where to put it (remember my struggle with the "take responsibility for your mess".)

Zen Wisdom: Practice Patience.
Mom Translation: Don't beat yourself up over things.
I'm mostly going to let her take this one. "Being a Zen student is a good way to be reminded that the journey is the goal. And it's the same with being a parent. Of course we all want to be perfect. And we want our kids to be perfect too- responsible, generous, polite, nice. However, it's a life's work to become a decent human being. Because our kids are constantly changing, we're always total beginners. We all need time to learn, make mistakes, and start over. But we live in an impatient world, and many of us- women especially- tend to beat ourselves up when we feel like we've fallen short. So it's important to model patience." -Beth
Her next thought I really like and have been using. When one of the children (or myself or spouse) does or says something inappropriate or hurtful, instead of getting upset, they get a do-over. Whether it's re-saying something that came out harsh or re-picking up the toy that was thrown and gently delivering it- it works!
"Occasionally I'm really impatient and blow it. Then I get to model how to apologize. Being a good kid or a good parent doesn't happen overnight. We all need to be gentle with each other and ourselves, practicing patience. Again and again." -Beth

If you've made it this far, thanks for reading. I have saved this article for a while in hopes of sharing it on my blog. I promise that the Monday inspirations will not regularly be this long. Please check back to read more articles, songs, or phrases which I have found inspiring. Have a great week!

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