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Mindfulness at the Beach

I have not always liked the beach.

I grew up in the middle of nowhere, a 5-hour drive from the closest beach. We lived near a river, but my ‘river-fearing’ British mum never ever let us swim there, in case we got carried away by rip (a real possibility in those parts!).

Sure, we had a local swimming pool, and spent a lot of time there over the summer, but beaches were almost like unicorns to me – you’ve heard about them but are never quite sure if they are real.

As I grew up, and realised that in fact beaches are real, I never really took to them. In my 20s I used to hate them - all that sand, sun, sunburn, feelings of inadequacy in my long sleeved sunsmart shirt and oversized sun hat. Too many people sunbaking (making my skin crawl imaging all the UV seeping in their skin).

Things have changed...

Recently though, since I started taking my boys to the beach more regularly last summer, the beach has been growing on me, almost to the point where I might say I enjoy myself.

Don't get me wrong, I still hate the sand and being directly under the suns glare... however I no longer feel inadequate in my long sleeved sunsmart shirt and oversized hat - I feel proud that I am setting a good example to my boys about being looking after themselves and about being confident in their bodies – no matter the size!

But this isn't what I am enjoying the most.... When I am at the beach with my boys, I am giving them my undivided attention. My phone is safely tucked away at home. I am not distracted by my daily chores. I am there with them. I am fully present. I am 100% focused on them and their whims - whether it's making a sandcastle, wading out as deep as they can (which isn't very far) or running away to the grass at the top of shore. It is absolutely glorious and an important reminder that time spent in the present moment, is definitely not time wasted.

I really take the time to be mindful.

Watching them - their expressions, their actions, taking note of how they change each and every time we visit – they might have gained more confidence and gone out a little bit deeper, they may be in a ‘ninja turtle’ phase and insist on playing ninja turtles (when last week it was Paw Patrol).

Listening to them – their laughter, their little screams as the waves splash up to the knees when we first arrive, their whinging that they don’t want to go and get their bucket that has drifted away.

I take in the smells – the salty water, the seaweed.

I breath in the fresh air.

I feel so much gratitude for them, for the beach, for this time that we get to spend together.

And when it’s time to leave the beach, I’m not gonna lie – it can sometimes be a challenge. They often want to keep playing, or they want to be carried all the way home, or they don’t want to have a shower to wash off all that sand. However, we always do make it home and when we do I reflect about how amazing and lucky I am to be able to share this experience with them – 100%.

So why is this important? Why am I sharing this with you?

Well …. There are so many mindful parenting concepts involved in such a simple trip to the beach.

Mindfulness – being in the present moment, observing each moment with kindness and curiosity.

Filling my cup – the joy I feel watching my boys and taking time out from the day to day grind of chores and decision making

Self-compassion – Loving myself for who I am, completely. Understanding that even though I may not have the body I once desired, I can still love and respect myself for exactly who I am. My life's journey has led me to this body that I have now, and I wouldn’t change a thing.

Gratitude – feelings of gratitude can sometimes overwhelm me to the point of tears… how lucky am I to have these awesome boys to teach me so much? How lucky am I to be able to spend so much time with them? How lucky am I to be able to go to the beach so often? How lucky am I to be living in this amazing place?

Beginners mind – realising that every time we go to the beach, each of the kids has changed slightly – they might go out a little bit deeper in the water, be more interested in the seaweed or the shells or building sandcastles, their bathers might be that little bit tighter. Using fresh eyes each and every time we go to the beach, I am able to notice things I may not have noticed before.

Connection with kids – kids thrive when they know that we are there for them, when they know that we love to spend time with them. Every trip to the beach I am filling our connection bank, letting them know how much they mean to me.

Communicating without yelling – being able to put myself into my kids position when its time to leave. Understanding why they can sometimes be so adamant about ‘not going home yet’ can help me empathise and communicate in a calm and considerate way, rather than dismiss them completely and order them to pack up and go.

I really do feel that taking this mindful parenting concepts with me each time I go to the beach, I am truly going to have the most amazing summer this year, and I am so excited!

What do you think? Can you resonate with this? I hope that you also can use some of these tips and have the best summer ever too

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