One crucial part of finding our way to becoming happy and joyful parents is the practice of being present with our children. It requires a kind of mindfulness that can be extremely challenging given the realities of modern parenthood. How many times do you find yourself thinking about the next thing you need to do or whatever other important thoughts happen to be on your mind? For me, I catch myself doing this countless times each day.
One way that I have been able to focus my mind in a way that also feeds my own curiosity as an adult is the subtle art of observation. Sensitive observation is a skill I have been striving to cultivate. Each day, usually during a quiet playtime moment when my child is well-fed and well-rested, I make a conscious effort to take a few minutes to quietly observe my child while trying to leave to-do lists for another moment and without my phone nearby. I take notice of how my child is moving or what particular interests my child has. How is my child exploring? What delights me about taking time to notice my child? What seems to be challenging my child right now? I continue to interact with my child though often try to smile or nod or communicate in a non-verbal way to allow for a moment of keeping myself quiet.
I find this time for non-judgemental observation gives me a peaceful moment to really see my child and appreciate so much that often gets overlooked in the busyness of the day. By practicing this kind of sensitive observation, it gets easier and easier to draw on it throughout the day. It helps us to better understand and to discern what exactly our children need from us especially when moments of our day are more challenging. If full attention can be equated with love, practicing the the art of observation is a worthy goal for every parent.