What a busy world in which we live – the noise, the people, the errands, the work, the chores, the constant stimulation. How do you find time to be still and make space for yourself? More importantly, how do you teach your baby the art of stillness?
Some may think that teaching a child stillness as young as 6 months, 12 months, even 3 years is too young. They think children aren’t able to grasp the concept of stillness. So, while they may not understand that they are being still, they will benefit from the time you set aside to show them.
Finding stillness is so important for our mental and physical wellbeing. Before I became a stay-at-home mom, I worked a job at a computer, seeing clients, and managing cases. On my breaks, I walked the neighborhood around the office, in an attempt to block out the noise and busyness of work. But, fifteen minutes later, I was back to the hustle and bustle of paperwork, phone calls, and constantly being interrupted. I went home to chores, errands, finding time to exercise, and settling into the evening before it was time to go to bed, wake up, and do it all again.
Now that I’m at home with my baby, it’s still a struggle to find time to be still – time to breathe, relax in silence, focus on nothing, and just be. But, stillness is something very important to me and a priority for teaching my baby. It’s one of the greatest aspects of minimalist parenting. I try to set aside at least 15 minutes a day to sit with her, with no noise, no distractions, and just be together with her.
I know it’s difficult for working parents to find time to do anything, let alone stillness. However, if you’d like to replace 15 minutes of TV time or adopt a few lifestyle changes, it could benefit your entire family.
“When you lose touch with inner stillness, you lose touch with yourself. When you lose touch with yourself, you lose yourself in the world.” — Eckhart Tolle
Ditch the screens.
I don’t mean entirely. We survive by our screens. Ditch the screens when you’re with your baby, after busy days at work, during meal times, and before bed.
We don’t need screens for relaxation. In fact, they contribute to the over-stimulation of our lives. Screen time blocks out the inner stillness of our mind and limits our ability to find quiet, both internally and externally.
Teach your baby stillness by removing the screens for at least 15 minutes (longer is always better) a day, and wait to place a baby in front of a TV for their entertainment until they are at least 2 years old.
Lead by example.
Babies love to mimic their parents. Try removing all distractions, sitting on the floor with your eyes closed, where they can see you, and sense their response. They may squeal and run towards you, smacking at your face and poking your nose, or they may quietly find their way to your lap.
Another option is to hold them while you sit quietly. I’m sure you do this often with your baby, anyway, but remember to remove all distractions. With toddlers, only expect them to want to be held for a minute or so. Never force them.
The idea is to lead by example. Show them how to be still and quiet. They probably won’t catch on right away, but if you take time to practice stillness daily, they will eventually find calm in sitting with you.
Remove all toys with artificial sounds and lights.
This is a big one! Most children have at least one toy that talks, sings, moves, rattles, etc. Toys with artificial sounds and lights aren’t the best for baby’s development, and they certainly don’t contribute to a quiet, peaceful environment.
By removing all loud, bright, and noisy toys, you give your baby space to be, unrestricted by over-stimulation. They are then able to observe and fully take in the environment around them.
Create a peaceful environment at home.
Creating a peaceful environment at home goes hand-in-hand with removing noisy toys. You don’t need to turn your entire home into a peaceful environment, although how relaxing that sounds! Try creating a small, quiet, peaceful corner in your home to promote stillness for your baby.
This is especially important if you have multiple children. Finding time to be quiet and still with your younger baby may seem impossible. It only takes a few minutes a day to demonstrate ways to be peaceful and promote quietness.
Take your baby to a still, quiet place.
Taking my baby to a quiet place is one of my favorite ways to teach her stillness. In fact, my husband and I have been taking our baby to the woods since she was 2 weeks old. A nearby park or forest is the perfect place to escape the busyness of life. I love walking to a creek or quiet place off the trail, unstrapping my baby from her carrier, and holding her in my lap as we sit in silence. There, we are able to release the clutter in our minds and for a moment, simply be.
You don’t have to take your baby to a state or national forest to teach them stillness. Any local park works – just be sure to separate yourself from the crowds. Find a place with open space and preferably plenty of trees, away from cars, streets, and people.
Use a baby carrier.
Using a baby carrier is an easy way to teach your baby stillness. Your baby quickly relaxes and finds calm as they nestle up next to you, especially if you’re walking or strolling while wearing them. The bounce of your step may remind them of being in the womb – their first place of peace and calmness.
Are you teaching your baby stillness? Tell me how in the comments below.