Parenting requires us to expect the unexpected. It exemplifies having to embrace a lack of control. Imagine that you plan the perfect outing, your child gets sick. You have a big deadline at work, the babysitter cancels on you. You want to try out a great new restaurant, your kids fight throughout dinner ruining the experience.
It may be hard for parents to drop their expectations at times but the sooner they do the less stress they will feel. One of the best strategies I have found is to be in the moment. Mindfulness can help you accept things as they are. Studies show that parents who have kids with disabilities are much more calm and effective after mindfulness training. This type of meditation and mindset is great for any parent. I was at a company picnic recently, where a mom of three was sitting under the shade of a tree. She was holding her sleeping toddler. All of a sudden, he vomited all over her and fell back asleep in her arms. I asked her if I could do anything to help her. She looked at me and smiled, serene: “I am just going to sit here and be for a while”. Going into a situation without expectations, allows you to live in the moment and accept whatever is going to happen.
UCLA has a great series of free podcasts for mindfulness training. Click on the link and start living in the moment.