I know, I know you’ve heard it all before. We all need to be practising mindfulness if we want to be calm, zen mums. I see you eye-rolling. You might have tried it and hated it, or think you haven’t got the time for yet another thing to ‘do’. But bear with me…do you relate to any of these?
Yep, you guessed it. Mindfulness can help with all of this. As a mum & midwife, I can’t tell you how many times mindfulness has helped me personally, and hopefully, you will see the same benefits.
Parents are the ones with crazy schedules. With a million things to do, little time for ourselves, and constant challenges. Our minds are often wired and, quite frankly, too many parents I meet feel like they are just surviving and getting through the days. Mindfulness can really help busy, overwhelmed, and stressed parents to find joy in everyday life again.
One definition I like is: Mindfulness is the process of connecting with yourself, and what you’re experiencing in the moment, without judgement. Living in the moment is underrated, and not enough of us practise this. That’s where mindfulness comes in. The ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and what’s going on around us.
So, here are my top mindfulness tips so you can start to enjoy the benefits of feeling less anxious and guilty, and instead feel calmer and more relaxed.
Unlike a sitting meditation, mindfulness can be practised whilst you are doing anything. It’s just about being totally focused on the task at hand. Reading a bedtime story to your little one is a great opportunity to for this. So many of us read the story on autopilot with our mind on other things. Next time you read The Gruffalo, try totally focusing on the words, the images, the story. What do the characters sound like in your head? Can you bring them to life for your little one?
Next time you’re washing your hands with your little one, focus on the feeling of the water on your skin, the temperature, the texture and slippery sensation of the soap. What does it smell like? How does the towel feel as you dry your hands? This is a great one because we can teach our children how to be mindful, too. So next time, ask your children to describe exactly what they feel, see, and hear. They might even surprise you, as children can be extremely perceptive to even the smallest things.
Try and integrate this practice into your family time, too. Set time aside for analogue activities, no technology required. Whether that’s playtime, or bathtime – encourage your little one to be curious about the feelings and sensations that come with everyday activities, developing an awareness of the world around them.
Time can be scarce when you’re a parent. However, while your partner, parent, or friend is taking care of your baby, why not spend a little more time on yourself? Whatever pampering means to you, make it happen. Even if it’s something as small as brushing your hair, or applying your favourite skincare products. Doing this might make you feel like yourself again, especially if parenthood has you feeling out of sorts.
Sometimes the shower is the only place we might not have a child hanging off us. Alone time like this can often be rife with overthinking and self-doubt, which make it a good time to practise mindfulness. Much like with the hand-washing exercise, focus on the feeling of the water on your skin, what the temperature feels like etc. When your mind wanders, keep coming back to the present moment and all the sensations that involves.
I love this one. So often when we open our eyes in the morning, our minds kick in straight away and we’re off rushing, stressing, planning before we’ve even had a cuppa. Tomorrow morning try this, it takes 5 seconds. Open your eyes then open your ears. What noises can you hear? Birdsong, your neighbour’s lawnmower, perhaps it’s rainy or windy and you can hear it outside your window. Take a moment to notice these sounds, then get up.
On a walk, in the garden, or at home – notice nature. Where you can, try to involve your little one, too. What sound does the owl make, or the cuckoo? As much as it’s a chance to educate and engage your little one, it’s also a chance for you to reconnect with nature, too.
It’s amazing how many of us rush through the day totally disconnected from our bodies. No wonder they sometimes fight to get our attention with aches, pains, and illness. Before you go to sleep, try a 60-second body scan. Start at the top of your head, and mentally scan down your body looking for any areas of tightness or discomfort. When you find a spot, consciously relax it and send it love.
If that sounds like too much before bedtime, consider practising mindfulness while cuddling or cradling your little one. Recognise your baby’s weight in your arms. The warmth of them, the rise and fall of their breath, their heartbeat. Little ones grow up fast, so take the time to delight in these small but quiet moments.
When you’ve been practising mindfulness for a week or so, you might start to notice your thoughts more. You might be surprised by how negative or critical they can be. We all have thoughts like this. If you’re having one of those days, don’t worry. For every negative thought you’re having, try to find a positive one to counterbalance it. Try and glimpse the silver lining where you can, and acknowledge that you’re doing your best.
Some people prefer to-do lists. Others like to jot down the highlights of their day, the things they’re grateful for or couldn’t do without to help them appreciate what they’ve achieved or got done in the day, without feeling guilty and stressed. Take a moment to reflect on and focus your energy on what you’ve managed to do, rather than what you haven’t.
Lastly, don’t forget to breathe! If you struggle with any of the above, remember that you’re not a failure, it’s not the end, and that you’re doing great! Tomorrow is a new day, and you’ve got this!