It was in my third year of parenting that I realized I needed help.
My years of teaching experience and working with children had not prepared me for becoming a mom. I was shocked at my own reactions to my daughter’s spirited behavior. Her demands were intense, her screaming was loud, and her tantrums were epic.
Family members told me to be stricter and to redirect my daughter’s behavior. Teachers gave me behavior modification strategies. I read countless parenting books. But nothing seemed to work. I became depressed and felt like a failure. These were not feelings that I’d ever had before, at least not to the degree that I was experiencing.
When I was younger, I’d always wanted to become a mom. So it was a bizarre feeling that after becoming a mom, I just wanted to walk out the front door and not come back. Two years ago, I went on a girls’ weekend and knew that I had to come back home with a complete mindset shift.
It was then that I drew the line in the sand.
I’ve written before about starting a daily morning meditation practice, which has literally changed my life. And at the same time, I began to read every mindful parenting book I could get my hands on.
As a primary school teacher, I was trained to use various strategies to guide children to their maximum learning potential. However, as a parent, I came to realize that “strategies” just weren’t working for my daughter and me.
Instead, I began to focus on myself – taking care to exercise, meditate, practice yoga, and take “me time.” And I started to see that mindful parenting was about who I was “being” as a parent, not what I was “doing.”
Slowly, I’ve learned to get curious about my own feelings, as well as my daughter’s feelings during her tantrums. I’m learning to stay calm and compassionate during her meltdowns. I’m learning to forgive myself for losing control of my emotions. I’m learning that this is life, and I’m not perfect. And my breath brings me back to the present moment, which allows me to connect with my daughter… again and again.
Today, I would love to share with you five of my favorite mindful parenting books that are easy to read, engaging, informative, and entertaining. Moms often tell me they don’t have time to read. I get it. So, I’m hoping that one of these five mindful parenting books will be just the one to capture and inspire you, within the short time that you have available.
My Favorite 5 Mindful Parenting Books
Below find my five favorite mindful parenting books (in no particular order):
1. 10 Mindful Minutes:
Giving Our Children – and Ourselves – the Social and Emotional Skills to Reduce Stress and Anxiety for Healthier, Happier Lives
by Goldie Hawn
This inspiring book makes the foundational concepts of Goldie Hawn’s MindUP program accessible to parents and applicable to everyday life. Goldie Hawn weaves her own parenting experiences into several practical mindfulness techniques that you can start with your child today. With her work firmly grounded in mindfulness research, she offers parents a way to connect with their children, to ultimately raise happy, healthy adults. The foreword by Daniel Siegel and multiple references to other brain scientists inspire confidence that mindfulness is not just a passing fad. I love that this book is an easy-to-use guide for introducing mindfulness to my daughter.
2. Mitten Strings for God:
Reflections for Mothers in a Hurry
by Katrina Kenison
I read this book on the airplane when we were going away for a family holiday. Even though my daughter kept interrupting me, the book grabbed my attention and actually made me feel calm. I could practice her mindful reflections in real time. Katrina writes about her family’s journey of moving out to the suburbs and opting for a slower life with fewer stimulants and no screen time. It’s one of those books that makes you take a deep breath and smile. I also had the chance to see Katrina speak in person, which I highly recommend. She also wrote The Gift of an Ordinary Day.
3. Parenting in the Present Moment:
How to Stay Focused on What Really Matters
by Carla Naumburg
I read this book about mindful parenting at the perfect time. Reading it was like talking to a wise friend. I could totally relate to the author’s experiences, and it was validating to know that I’m not alone along this journey. Instead of a typical parenting book full of more behavioral strategies, hers approaches the way we as parents can connect with our children, stay grounded, and be present throughout the roller coaster of parenthood. I found the book to be soulful, practical, and inspiring. A breath of fresh air. A few months after I read the book, Carla came to speak to our local parent association. Everyone was impressed by her frankness, humor, and knowledge. Parents walked away inspired to integrate mindful parenting into their family life. I bought her next book, Ready, Set, Breathe, which I’m also looking forward to reading.
4. Mindful Parenting:
Simple and powerful solutions for raising, creative, engaged, happy kids in today’s hectic world
by Kristen Race
I love this book! It is especially perfect for people looking for a practical, research-based book. I love how the mindfulness ideas are broken down into specific age groups (ex. ages 0-5, 10-13, and 13-18). The book is divided into two parts. First, it outlines informal mindfulness, including ways to create a healthy environment—getting good sleep, taking time to relax, and leading a simple lifestyle. Then it details formal mindful practices, like meditation practice, family rituals, family dinner, and no-scheduled days. I also love how the author describes a study of parents who have transformed their experience of parenting by meditating daily for a year (which I can attest to!).
5. Calm Kids:
Help Children Relax with Mindful Activities
by Lorraine E. Murray
This is an accessible and comprehensive book on meditation for children. It includes the definition of meditation, the benefits of meditation, how to create an environment for meditation, the different types of meditation, tips on teaching meditation to children, and how to practice meditation with children who have special needs. The specific meditation techniques for different age groups are particularly useful, especially when working with very young children. As parents and caregivers, we can model mindfulness practices with children from birth.
Other Mindful Parenting Books
Below you’ll find other mindful parenting that I thoroughly enjoyed reading:
Buddhism for Mothers:
A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children
by Sarah Napthali
My friend recommended this book to me ten years ago before I became a mom. The book inspired me to change my mindset to creating a more calm and peaceful life. I read the book again when my daughter was an infant, and once again found lots of gems to help get through the challenges of being a new mom. It’s truly a beautiful book to read again and again.
Sitting Still Like a Frog:
Mindfulness Exercises for Kids (and Their Parents)
by Eline Snel
The book has so many delightful gems with practical ideas on how to parent mindfully, and all of the illustrations are inspired by the author’s experiences with her own children. I love her approach of encouraging parents to adapt mindfulness techniques into our lives first, and then we can help our children to experience mindfulness techniques, as well, to help them deal with anxiety, improve concentration, and handle difficult emotions.
Whole Brain Child:
12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind
by Daniel Siegel
This best-selling parenting book has simple, practical, and effective strategies that help to develop your child’s emotional intelligence. Based on brain research, this book offers insightful ways to connect with your child that is healthy for both you and your child. This book sits on my night table for quick and easy reference. I found their other book, No-Drama Discipline, to be super helpful, as well.
A Loving Approach to Setting Limits and Raising an Emotionally Intelligent Child
by Shauna Shapiro and Chris White
This mindful parenting book is more academically focused and not the quick read some of the others listed above are. I still enjoyed the book, but you have to be in the mood for it. The book has plenty of helpful insights that are scientifically proven, and it’s yet another great resource for your parenting toolkit.
10 Simple Steps for More Joyful Kids and Happier Parents
by Christine Carter
This author does a beautiful job of weaving together scientific studies and her own experience as a mom. Her ten simple, practical steps are super helpful in creating a happy, healthy family life. A regular family dinner is her top tip for raising happy children.
The Inner Work of Mindful Parenting
by Myla and John Kabat-Zinn
Published in 1997, this 400+ page mindful parenting book was probably one of the first of its kind, written by the experts of mindfulness. It’s a spiritual book filled with helpful insight into what it means to be a parent. I’m halfway through the book now, and it’s a book to savor slowly.
I’ll continue to read mindful parenting books and add them to this list accordingly. May these mindful parenting authors inspire you with their wisdom. May they bring you a sense of peace and calm on your parenting journey, just as they have for me. We are truly all in this together.
PIN IT FOR LATER:
I Think You’ll Like This Happiness Yoga Story
Anna and her Rainbow-Colored Yoga Mats is a story about happiness, acceptance, and friendship. This yoga story follows Anna, a new child at school, who finds happiness on her yoga mat at recess time. She meets a boy named Nick, who joins her as she travels the world on imaginary yoga adventures. This book is based on Yoga Sutra 1.33: If you want to be happy, then you have to be happy for those around you.