Love really does matter when it comes to living a fulfilled life. Why? Because in the end, love is what enables us to build healthy, strong relationships. This is why I believe spending quality time as a family is the most important thing we can do – for ourselves and for our children. Take note of the word quality, as this is not a guilt trip about spending ‘more’ time with children, it’s about ‘how’ we spend the time we have them!
Family to me is wider than the immediate nuclear family, it includes the people around me that I love, which means friends – those I relate to as a family and consider a part of my extended family. When we engage with one another – whether over the phone, at a dinner, a shared activity or just a shared cup of tea, we are undistracted and these are the times we listen and we share with one another what we are really feeling.
These true connections have the potential to touch us and this I believe is what makes life truly meaningful. Replicating these moments with your children is key. With my children, I go back to the basics: Cooking simple meals together, for example, helps us focus in on what’s important. The simple small acts of weighing and measuring out ingredients, stirring them in, setting the oven temperature, timing the cooking, are in themselves part of an education. Right at home, right in front of me. We’ve nourished our bodies with the food we prepare together and we nourish ourselves emotionally by being together in the moment. That small chat around the kitchen table is way more fulfilling and connecting than tapping away on social media.
Children are naturally in a state of ‘living in the present moment’, this is what we as adults are aiming (and struggling) to replicate when we talk about mindfulness. However, trying to keep our children in this state of mind is a challenge as modern life takes over and the focus on achieving academic results and the pressure to aim for ‘success’ in all they do starts at ever younger ages.
Bringing them back to this state of ‘living in the present moment’ and enabling them to recognise this as healthy, will provide them with a crucial survival tool. This survival tool is the ability to recognise and enter a sense of inner calm. One that they can call on when they need to, long after they have flown the nest, and right into their adult years. This calmness is a foundation for building other characteristics such as resilience. Even after a failure or a setback, they can call on this state and know that ‘in the present moment’ all is well. We’re not fretting about the future or regretting anything from the past. This state of being is one of the biggest gifts I can give my children.
Spending time on developing models of good relationships by connecting and listening is just as important as pushing them to get top grades. And through these healthy relationships, we can impart the importance of ‘living in the moment’ or as we call it now ‘mindfulness’. In the end, healthy relationships will be the foundation for a happier and healthier life.
Dani Binnington is a cook, yoga teacher and wellness warrior dedicated to providing practical steps for physical and mental wellbeing for the whole family.