My Most Useful Parenting Tool: Pausing

Pausing, in order to improve my parenting, has been at the forefront of my thoughts.

Since the New Year started I have been listening to The Book of Joy By the Dalai Lama and Bishop Desmond Tutu and reading Viktor Frankl’s Mans Search for Meaning and I just started Journey to Joy by Casey O’Roarity an e-course to help parents make different choices and show up better for their kids.


Recently  I found myself in a situation where my kids were being absolute hooligans.  Like I wanted to put them all in a cage in the laundry room and go have a bath 2 floors away where I could not hear them crying for help.

Then I realized,  this is it! This is where you pause.  And I did. I paused, I took a few deep breaths. I thought to myself “Is this as big of a deal as it seems right now?”

I am practicing pause and it is a total game changer.

Yup there’s that word again.  Practice.

I actually put up all sorts of walls around the idea of pausing during a difficult moment, for a long time.  I could not get past my fear of looking daft in the middle of (what I perceived as) crisis.  I was in this battle to win.  Not pause.  Ain’t nobody gonna hear what I have to say if I’m saying nothing!

Funny how it didn’t occur to me that emotionally out of control mother losing her shit over something as small as missing marker lids, made me look more ridiculous than simply pausing.

It was defining what my goal is that got me to consider creating a pause.  Angry mom’s goal was to be heard and to be right.  Those two ambitions were not doing me any favors.  They left a trail of tears and children who felt less than in their wake.

The frustrated, martyr role I was living out of had to go.  I wanted to show up better.  But what did that even look like?

The mom I want to be is calm.  She stops and listens.  She asks questions gently.  She breathes deep and taps into her well of self kindness to overflow that kindness on to her children.

I know sounds a little fairy tale right?

Trust me, Glinda the good witch who takes loving care of the munchkins does not show up every time a kid gets into mischief in the Scott house.  But the more times she does show up (with a twist of Sarah in her personality) the easier it is to make amends when the wicked witch of the west sneaks in.

Here’s the truth of the matter.  Unless we practice pause in the calm and quiet, we will fail miserably at conjuring it when we need it in the loud and chaotic.

In the Book Of Joy the Dalai Lama talks about developing mind resilience.  It’s not as scary as it sounds.  No lasers or force fields involved.  It is a daily ritual of creating calm in your mind and body so that when we are in a moment of suffering we can still have joy.

In a nutshell it’s daily meditation.

Don’t be scared by the “m” word.  It’s not as mystical and woo woo as you might think.  Meditation is simply quieting yourself, focusing on your breath and allowing yourself to practice being calm.

It’s not clearing your mind of all thought.  Trust me that is pretty close to impossible.  Maybe there is some highly trained guru who can do it, but not I.  Trying to clear your mind of all thought is like trying not to think of bedtime at 4pm.  Futile.

Instead you have the opportunity to sort of watch your thoughts and then tenderly move your focus back to your breath.

You will not be good at meditating the first time your try it.  But do it again.  And again.  Make a goal to meditate 5 minutes a day for a week.

Practice will make progress not perfection.  You will train your brain to have longer and longer stretches of calm.  And then magically, when you are up to your knees in the shit of life (or what the Dalai Lama refers to as suffering), your thoughts recall your previous practice, and instead of creating a shit storm… you pause, you take a deep breath, and you show up as the parent you want to be.

I really want to help you take action on developing a practice of pause in your life.  Sooo I have recorded a guided meditation to help you on your way to training your brain to be calm.  Click the button below and I will happily email it to you!

Get The FREE Be Calm Meditation

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  • Kayla Illies says:

    This is so so so true! I’ve been finding this out recently too that sometimes it’s best to pause, think about it, and then to react vs. just reacting right away without thinking it through! Taking that time, for me anyways, has helped reduce stress too! Thanks so much for sharing this!

  • Cathy Smith says:

    This is perfect. I can’t even begin to talk about how much I need to do this. Downloading your sample meditation and checking out this book today. Thank you!

  • Racheal says:

    Finally I can comment? I love this post! I have to admit i have yelled at my 10month old a couple of times and then when I am calm it all comes back to me & I realise that he is just a baby and he doesn’t know anything. I really have to learn how to be patient and more calm with my family too. Great post!. ☺

  • This can be true of any situation but I think it’s especially important for parents. It can be so easy to make impulsive reactions to our children when we need to practice mindful parenting. Learning to be intentional about how we spend our time and focus our minds is healthy.

  • Lauren says:

    Great post & advice! Everything looks different with a little space from it. I often ask myself if this worth losing my shit over when my boys are trying to kill one another. I needed this reminder. Thank you!

  • Sonja says:

    Great advice! The challenge is being mindful in the moment and taking that pause. Sometimes I tell my son that I need a moment to take a break. It helps so much.

  • Rosalin says:

    I always try to practice this but it’s really hard sometimes. My son is only 10 months and his communication methods of crying and whinging tend to drive up my stress levels more than I ever could have anticipated before having kids. At these times I try to put myself in his place and imagine how he feels. He needs something and doesn’t know how to tell me exactly what. I think this is actually much more useful than the pause itself in helping you to parent compassionately, developing empathy for your children, and people generally. It helps in my marriage too. When my husband is being short-tempered it helps to understand that it is because he is in pain, and not coping himself. Rather than engaging in the argument I can ask him what’s wrong. This is so effective at diffusing hostility, and he shows me the same compassion when I’m having a hard time with our son, by taking him out and giving me a break.

    Great article, take care.

  • Jenny Silva says:

    What a great reminder. This probably helps reduce stress and gives a second to not yell so much.

  • Natasha says:

    Very nice write up. That pause is all you need to calm down.

  • Mikayla says:

    I am so glad I read this post. Lately I have felt overwhelmed and this is a great reminder to just pause and breath. Thank you.

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