Meditating With Toddlers

Have you ever tried to meditate with a toddler running around the room? No?

Many Americans complain that meditating feels like a toddler running around in their brain but what if you have a restless mind and an actual small human jumping on the bed?

I started meditating before my daughter was born, while I was pregnant. I guess it was easier while I was pregnant but I still had heartburn, restless legs, and all day nausea, so really, it was only marginally easier. I continued to meditate while she was a baby, which was really easy! She napped 3x a day!! I could meditate whenever, however and it didn’t bother her much. I really started struggling with my meditation routine when she became mobile and cut down on her naps. Oh and my daughter hasn’t napped since 20 months old!

I’ve recently returned to my meditation practice (with some slight variations and a big ol’ change in my expectations) about 4.5 months ago. How do I do it??

  1. I accepted my reality– I’m a stay at home mother of a walking, talking toddler.
  2. She wakes up when I wake up. So…I had to learn to alter my expectations.
  3. I learned to accept less is more when it comes to practicing regularly but for shorter periods.
  4. Sometimes Most times I get interrupted.
  5. I explain to her in simple language what mommy is doing and why it helps me.
  6. I allow her to join me (and wiggle around).
  7. I try to remain flexible about when I do my meditation.
  8. I try to remind myself that it doesn’t need to be perfect to be beneficial.

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photo by Takashi .M


 

Here’s how I explained meditation to my 2.5 year old daughter…

Mommy is meditating. I close my eyes and sit very quiet. It helps mommy feel more happy and ready to play!

I also try to plan and prepare prior to taking my quiet time. I bring her out to the family room and set her up with a cozy blanket, some books and puzzles.┬áMost days I don’t remind her that I’m meditating because I’ve found that she tends to interrupt me more on those days. I then retreat down the hall to my office/meditation room and leave the door open. I can hear her playing faintly in the background and it usually never disturbs me. If she comes looking for me, I allow her to join me by silently opening my arms. I’ve also toddler proofed my office so that I’m comfortable with her “exploring” without my direct supervision.

I seem to be able to meditate for an average of 10-15 minutes. I find this is enough to really provide some great benefits for me.

I notice I can be agitated, sleep deprived, annoyed, restless, irritable, etc. in the morning and after my meditation (most mornings) I feel like I got a do-over. I start the rest of my morning more patient, kind, compassionate, considerate, and peaceful. **Even when I don’t have these results, I trust that it’s about the big picture and continuing a practice with results over time rather than daily results.

Suggestions-

  • Baby proof/toddler proof your meditation space.
  • Meditate in the same room if you child is under 2.
  • Always keep the door open so you can hear or use a monitor.
  • Keep the meditation shorter so you can remain consistent.
  • Expect to be interrupted and accept any emotions that accompany the interruption (annoyance, irritability, distractibility, etc.).
  • Try to fit it in first thing in the morning when your child is still waking up and easily distracted.
  • Provide activities, plan and prepare.
  • Try to be gentle with yourself and remember that results are more noticeable over long periods and not daily.
  • Start out with shorter periods of time and increase over time to see what your child can comfortably manage.

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