By Judy Julin, Remote Learning Specialist; Publisher, Inspired Parenting Magazine; Author; Public Speaker and Corporate Consultant

Mary Poppins was the quintessential nanny – task-driven, committed to keeping the kids engaged and fit, and tough as they come. She knew the fundamental importance of getting the kids out of their rooms and into the fresh air, and she always had a batch of mood-shifting songs and tricks to share from deep within her carpet bag purse. She did her best to keep things fun.

What can we learn from minding Mary Poppins and the way she consistently engaged the youth that she herself minded?

Is it possible to keep things fun and fresh in our dealings with today’s device-saturated, over-scheduled, fast-moving kids? Yes, I believe so and it can start with presence. Of course, enough opened presents came out of our recent holiday season to keep our young ones entranced, enthralled and fun-oriented. However, here I’d like to focus a bit on the other type of present, the gift of giving youth our mindful presence. Especially when it comes to those who professionally mind our children, like the nanny’s nanny, Mary Poppins herself.

Mindfulness is all about being present and aware of what’s happening in your midst.

In addition to her being the queen of the quoted word, Mary Poppins was certainly mindful. There’s evidence of this in some of the “Minding Mary Poppins” read-between-the-lines messages I’ve extracted from several of her famous sayings that are listed further along in this article. Perhaps in reading some of my mindful depictions written with inspiration from and The Chopra Center, you’ll find some support for being more aware with your own children. The results could surprise you. They might even be supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!  The Oxford Dictionary now carries this memorable fictitious word from the 1964 release of the fantasy musical, Mary Poppins. Common belief now is that it is an adjective used to describe something wonderful and fabulous.

When the children of the affluent and uptight Banks family were faced with a new nanny, they were pleasantly surprised by the arrival of the magical Mary Poppins whose part was played by Julie Andrews. Embarking on a series of fantastical adventures with Mary and her Cockney performer friend, Bert, played by Dick Van Dyke, the brother and sister tried to pass along some of their nanny’s sunny attitude to their inattentive parents. The film was shot entirely at the Walt Disney Studios in Burbank, California using painted London background scenes. Mary Poppins was released on August 27, 1964, to critical acclaim.

I hope you enjoy and find helpful some of my mindful musings that follow and do take your children to see the newest rendition of Mary Poppins. Following are some lyrics from the song, “Can You Imagine That?” from the 2018 holiday release of Mary Poppins Returns. As the lyrics sung by Mary in the new movie depict, her mindful life and whimsy within still play a big part in her infectiously sunny existence. Perhaps you’ll find the same to come true for you. After all, “Mary Poppins, is practically perfect in every way.”

Some people look out on the sea
And see a brand new day;
Their spirit lifts them high above the blue.
Yet some others spear an anchor;
And they sink in seconds flat.
So, perhaps we’ve learned when day is done;
Some stuff and nonsense could be fun!
Can you imagine that?

Following are the quotes from everyone’s favorite nanny. Upon reading them, consider which Minding Mary Poppins tips and exercises that follow each quote might bring more mindfulness into your life and the lives of those you love the most.

Mary Poppins quote: “In every job that must be done, there is an element of fun.”

Minding Mary Poppins: You can add an element of fun and playfulness to your own mindfulness techniques with others and even the children in your midst. What if you turned mindfulness into a game by challenging yourself and/or your friends, children and even your nanny to practice it every day for a week? Perhaps you can create a tracking system wherein each day’s mindfulness activity such as mindful eating, walking or breathing would count as one point. It would simply mean for 30 seconds, you focus solely on whatever activity you’re engaged in. For example, notice yourself chewing your cereal, enjoying its texture and flavors and putting the spoon down after a mouthful on the breakfast table, etc. for just 30 seconds. It’s that simple! See who wins at the end! This not only makes mindfulness more fun, but it includes an accountability system. Since you’re much more likely to stick to something when you’re held accountable, you might find that your practice becomes more routine.

Mary Poppins quote: “Just a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down, in the most delightful way!”

Minding Mary Poppins: When you’re mindful, you’re paying attention to your thoughts without judgement. There are times, though, that you may notice your mind coming up with some pretty crazy thoughts. It’s that “monkey mind” that the sages speak of that takes our focus from the present, catapults us into the future or back to our past. It often adds judgement or even shame to our actions.

What if you observed those outlandish thoughts, and even the not-so-crazy thoughts, with a sense of humor, curiosity, and objectivity? Think of it as that spoonful of sugar to help the mindful medicine go down.

For example, when you notice your mind reprimanding yourself about how you haven’t organized your kitchen in a while, you could think something like this: “There goes that chatty mind again. Who does it think I am, Mary Poppins? I can’t just clap my hands during my busy days and magically make the kitchen perfect.”

By viewing your mind through a lens of humor, you can recognize its judgmental tendencies without making yourself wrong.

Mary Poppins quote: “Enough is as good as a feast.”

Minding Mary Poppins: There are many ways we can use this in our own lives. One way would be to gently remind ourselves of how nourishing and even empowering it feels to stop right at that moment when we feel we’ve had enough to eat, to drink, to purchase or even exercise.

Enough may not mean the same for everyone. Be mindful to honor your limits of “enough-ness”. Enough may be the amount of personal time we get to have before someone starts fussing and we have to abandon our lunch to help a child in need. Enough can be that feeling of satisfaction between still a little thirsty and feeling overly hydrated, particularly in the world of alcoholic drinks. Enough can be the moment that we notice that the main course at a dinner party that started out as delectable is not quite as wonderful any more.

Enough quality time with the kids in our care can be an entire day at the park or the last few minutes of mindful story time before their naps. Enough stretching can be just one pose for our calves instead of an entire yoga class or trainer session. Enough “me-time” needed could be anything from seven minutes with our eyes closed and our feet up, to an entire week at a spa retreat.

Enough is certainly an individual choice. Only you can know your enough. Whatever it is, be mindful that your enough is as good as a feast and gratitude for our feasts in life will bring us even more comfort and delight.

Thank you, Mary Poppins, for your everyday wisdom. After all, “Why complicate things that are really quite simple?”