Mindfulness made easy for busy mums
There’s a lot of buzz about the word "mindfulness", and how it can help you live a calmer, more fulfilling, more satisfying life. But, when you're a mum, finding time to do a mindfulness practice is pretty much at the bottom of your to-do list!
As for living in the present, if you don't have one eye on what's happening tonight, tomorrow and next week all at the same time, how on earth will everything get done? Fortunately, we've discovered some 'easy' ways to fit mindfulness into even the busiest of mum schedules.
So, what exactly is mindfulness?
Mindfulness starts with the awareness of our thoughts and feelings as they arise in our minds and having no judgment about them. Just acknowledging that they are thoughts, they just exist there, and that there will continuously be a stream of thoughts coming and going.
"Mindfulness can be seen as a, moment-to-moment awareness of one’s experience without judgement."
Once you have accepted your thoughts, coming and going, like the ocean does to the shore, it is time to pay attention. In fact, mindfulness is the true art of paying attention. If you are in "that moment", not living in the past or the future, you can feel truly alive and happy.
- In the NOW, you can appreciate life and what is around you
- In the NOW, you can have meaningful encounters with others.
- In the NOW, you can have more empathy and compassion for yourself and others.
- In the NOW, you can let go of judgment and expectations.
All you need to do is just notice your thoughts and not be dominated by them. Sound easy?
Why is it important to be a mindful parent?
Time flies by. Days. Years. Decades. When you become a mum, you become increasingly aware of what’s important in life. Having children makes you want to be around for as long as possible, watch them grow up, and see who they become.
Your time with your children is precious and the last thing you want to do is to look back in 20 years and realise that you don’t remember much of their childhood, that you could have had more quality time with them, that you could have been more present.
You can lead by example so your kids learn to slow down and appreciate little things in life. Not only does being mindful make you better at managing the stress in everyday life but it also makes you feel more alive, whole, happier.
And this has a positive knock on effect on your relationships with your husband, partner, little ones, friends.
"Children are the best teachers on the subject of “fearlessness”, “openness”, and “presence.” Soak in their lessons any chance you can."
How do you practice mindfulness?
Think about the last time you had a shower. Did you breathe in and smell the fragrant scent of the soap? Did you enjoy the sparkle of the bubbles, the prisms of light in the foam? Did you luxuriate in the warmth of the water as it enveloped your skin?
Or, did you furiously lather the shampoo into your hair while planning the meeting you had later on that morning?
We spend so much of our days lost in thought, hurtling around from one activity to another, and often trying to do several different things at the same time. This frantic busyness is the cause of so much of our unhappiness and anxiety, and supports the saying - “there just aren’t enough hours in the day!”
"With mindfulness, we have the chance to really slow down and appreciate everyday activities with new eyes, new senses."
The practice of mindfulness is about learning to pay non-judgemental and kind attention to whatever is going on in our mind, body and the world around us, moment by moment. We can then take this sharpened attention into our everyday lives, bringing a rich awareness to our experience of the world and the ways in which we interact with it.
Parenting can be immensely rewarding and nourishing, but can also be stressful and involve a non-stop stream of changing emotions. Of all the variables we face as mums, the one we can have the most influence over is ourselves.
With mindfulness we can learn to slow down and attend to our children and ourselves with greater awareness and compassion, so that we better manage our responses and fully appreciate more of the precious moments with our families.
Mindfulness can help us bring more awareness to our patterns of reactivity.
By implementing simple mindfulness practices we can improve our ability to listen, communicate, and regulate our emotions as mums.
As parents, the best way to share mindfulness with our children is to exemplify it in our relationships with them. This, in turn, will teach them to how to better manage stress and emotions, and improve their overall sense of self-mastery and well-being.
Here are four suggestions to get you started:
- Mindful Eating: We seldom take the time to really gauge our hunger, focus on our food or even truly savour a few bites. As a result, we often eat when we’re not really hungry, and eat too fast, too much and too unhealthily. Diets that teach us to restrict our calorie intake or eliminate certain foods have proven to be unsustainable. Around 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years, because they are not mindfully eating. This can cultivate an unhealthy relationship to food. If you use your body’s cues to help guide your decisions to begin and stop eating, and ultimately how to eat the foods you like without guilt and without overeating, you will notice a change.
- Mindful Tasks: When doing simple tasks such as making school lunches, tidying up, hanging out washing, driving the car, try to focus totally on the task you are doing noticing everything about the process of what you are doing and avoiding making any judgements about the process. This stops you thinking about other things that can create stress and anxiety, so the more you practice this, the more you mind will learn to slow down. We also suggest that you single-task, not multi-task, which will help you be more mindful about the task at hand.
- Mindful Morning: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning? If you check mobile for emails, latest news, works calls, you are not alone. It is an issue for lots of people. Instead of checking office emails or the notifications of your social media profiles, use that time for a morning ritual, which could include writing all you are grateful for in a journal, meditating, affirmations or mantras to start the day, some gentle stretching to wake up the body. There are other, more healthy ways to plan your day. And best of all, a morning ritual will start your day off in a positive way and set the scene for you to be more mindful throughout your day.
- Mindful Space: Create space between each of your tasks so that you always have time to complete each one in a mindful way. Don't schedule things close together. Not only will this give you a more relaxed schedule, it will mean that you are a happier, more mindful mum, and your family will love you for it!