Seema Singh-Roy: The Mindful Parent

There are so many distractions for kids nowadays. Heck, even for adults. Between social media, running from one extracurricular activity to another, non-stop errands and just life, there seems to always be something that makes us forever “on the go”, with little time to sit down and really decompress. And, if there’s so little time to decompress, there’s even less time to really connect with our kids.

If you read my blog post When they Start to Fly, you’ll know that the older kids get, the less time they want to spend with their parents, and the more time they want to explore life on their own time and their own terms. The older they get, it can sometimes feel like we’re losing them. They don’t always feel like talking, they’d sometimes rather be left alone, or they’re too busy with their friends. There’s little left for real conversation and connection as a family.

I’ve tried so many things to really connect with my kids so they know that I’m always here for them. I want them to know that they can fully be themselves and that they can open up to me at any time, about anything – without judgement, pressure or fear. And with all the things that I’ve tried, two stand out as clear winners – sharing meal times and journaling together.

Feasting on Family Time: The Importance of Spending Meal Times Together

Not just because my background is Italian, but anyone that knows me knows that I absolutely love eating. Family meals were a highlight of my childhood and into today. I remember going to my paternal grandparents’ house every Sunday (every. single. Sunday.) for forever – until my grandparents were well into their late eighties and early nineties. For the most part, there were no distractions besides a huge boxey t.v. and their backyard.

These days, as I prepare meals for my own kids, distractions are everywhere. T.v. (though no longer of the boxey sort), iPads, game consoles, laptops, cell phones – all distractions and very bad ones! I love bringing my kids to the table – it’s a place where they know distractions are not allowed. We talk about our days, share stories and just sit together. The dining table is a place where we create connections and memories. Family meals can strengthen relationships, deepen understanding between parents and children, and create an environment where everyone is seen, heard and valued. With shared meals comes a sense of routine, stability and belonging. In today’s fast paced-world, it’s a moment of togetherness that I relish.

The Mindful Parent and Child: The Importance of Journaling Together

I guess it’s no surprise that I love writing. I’ve almost always kept a journal and over the years, I’ve dabbled with different writing classes and genres. It’s not uncommon for me to leave a little note lying around for my kids or the people I love – words to express my appreciation, words of encouragement, or just a special way to say ‘hi’.

I’ve tried to instill the love of writing to my kids, too. I’ve always encouraged them to write down their feelings (especially the ones they aren’t comfortable talking about) or just write about whatever is on their mind.

I recently came across The Mindful Parent and Child journal – a product that was created by Seema Singh-Roy after she was struggling to connect with her own children. I couldn’t believe there was a journal for children that had an accompanying parent component! The principle behind these journals is to give children a space to express their feelings, and to provide an avenue for which parents can connect with their kids on a deeper level. The journal comes with over a hundred prompts – all of which prompt both parent and child to respond to. It’s really amazing to see the ideas and feelings that are living inside these young minds. Having spent my entire professional career in healthcare, I’m a big proponent of supporting mental health, especially from an early age. The Mindful Parent and Child journals do just that. They support a child’s mental health and emotional awareness while instilling the healthy habit of journaling.

Responding to the prompts, on paper, and then talking about our responses with our children allows for moments of real connection. I like to journal with my kids in a quiet space before bedtime so there are no distractions and it sets them up for a peaceful night – they’re not holding on to hard feelings and I find that they’re much more calm before bedtime.

Using The Mindful Parent and Child journal with your child offers a multitude of benefits to support emotional, cognitive and social development, and it’s never too late to start! Here are just some of the benefits:

  1. Encourages self-expression: Journaling provides a safe space for children to express their thoughts, feelings, and experiences in a non-judgmental environment. It helps them develop self-awareness and emotional intelligence as they learn to articulate and reflect on their thoughts and emotions. 
  1. Promotes literacy and writing skills: Using a journal helps children develop their literacy and writing skills. It enhances their vocabulary, grammar, spelling, and sentence structure as they practice expressing themselves through written language. Journaling also fosters creativity and imagination as children explore different writing styles and techniques. 
  1. Enhances communication and trust: Journaling encourages open communication between parents and children. It provides opportunities for meaningful conversations about topics that may be difficult to discuss verbally. Parents can use journaling as a tool to better understand their child's thoughts, concerns, and experiences, fostering a deeper connection and strengthening the parent-child relationship. 
  1. Fosters reflection and problem-solving skills: Journaling promotes reflection and critical thinking as children review their past entries and analyze their thoughts and experiences. It helps them develop problem-solving skills as they brainstorm solutions to challenges they encounter and set goals for the future. 
  1. Builds self-esteem and resilience: Journaling boosts self-esteem and confidence as children see their thoughts and feelings validated on paper. It provides a sense of accomplishment and empowerment as they reflect on their growth and progress over time. Journaling also promotes resilience by encouraging children to explore and process difficult emotions in a constructive manner.

To learn more about The Mindful Parent and Child, and to purchase your own copy, click here. (I don’t get anything out of this – it’s just me sharing an excellent resource!)

Slowing Down Modern Life

With all the distractions and the fast-pace at which we are now living, it can get really hard to just slow down and connect with our children. While it’s easy to lose sight of the simple moments that strengthen our bonds, prioritizing a few things each week can make a world of difference. For me, it’s been making sure that meal times are shared (having them help with meal prep is a bonus!) and journaling. If you’re not yet prioritizing a few simple moments with your child(ren), don’t worry – it’s never too late to start!