Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.  Breathe.

Often, many of us parents give this encouragement to our children in their frustration or injury.  I love to hold my boys close and whisper to them the encouragement to breathe deeply, and I breathe along with them, allowing my deep breathing rhythms to help deepen and settle their breath.  After we’ve rejuvenated their minds and bodies with fresh air, we are able to help them tackle the challenge, obstacle or injury they are facing.

As an onlooker to the emotions and experiences of our children, it is easy to see when a deep breath is needed.

It is much more challenging as a parent, however, to know when WE need some deep breaths in the midst of OUR emotions and experiences.

We don’t have someone to whisper in our ears to pause for a deep breath, or to help us regulate, deepen and settle our breathing in their lap.  So if I’m going to breathe deeply, I need a plan to help myself do so!

Here are 4 perfect opportunities for a deep breath that come up often in everyday life.  There are many more than these 4, but we’ll start here.  If we are looking for these opportunities, we may be more likely to whisper that deep breath encouragement to ourselves when the time comes!

1. When you tell your children (or are tempted to tell your children) to hurry.  Unless you are playing a ‘beat the clock’ type of game, we should use sparingly language that rushes our children.  We want to be careful not to instill the ‘rushing around’ syndrome many Americans suffer from.  I am certainly guilty of rushing my children, so this opportunity for a deep breath will come often for me!  But the reality of the energy I waste rushing them to, say, hop in the car and buckle up more quickly as compared to the time actually saved (I don’t think my ‘hurry up’ really makes them go any faster!) makes a very strong case that deep breathing while the kids climb in the car and buckle up would be much more beneficial for all involved! Just breathe.

2. In traffic, long grocery or gas lines, on hold with insurance companies, or any unexpected delay in schedule.  Just breathe.

3. When we have a spare moment (trust me, I know these can be few and far-between) and we are tempted to FILL it. Think: in the restroom, climbing into bed at night, naptime, watching kids play, at a stop light, and the like.  Are you tempted to check your calls, emails, texts, and social media outlets or turn on the radio or read an article or grab an extra snack, or complete a task on your never-ending to-do list?!  All of these are temptations for me, which is why I ask!  Just breathe.

4. When our emotions are about to drive a response, a reaction or decision.  We really want and need the peace and influence of fresh air in these moments. Just breathe.

Fully inhale.  Fully exhale.  Fill up your lungs.  Empty your lungs.  Expand your capacity for fresh air.  Expand your capacity to go slow.  Expand your capacity to enjoy a free moment.  Just breathe!