Mindfulness and meditation have become buzzwords lately. With the popularity of yoga and other Eastern-influenced practices that are becoming more mainstream, this skill is another valuable one to have in your arsenal as a parent.
Raising little ones is tough. I often feel like my head is going in a million different directions, and it’s not easy to run a business and a household at the same time. Little people have a way of reminding us that we can’t do everything all the time. That dissonance (the difference between your thoughts and actions) can cause some major anxiety, but mindfulness can help in so many ways.
What is mindfulness?
It’s pretty much what it sounds like. Mindfulness is bringing your attention to what’s happening in the present moment. This includes your internal experience as well as your external experience.
So why is this so helpful?
We have a way of going through life on autopilot. We can often be doing things without even recognizing what we are doing, and if you have an anxious mind it’s easy to be parenting and going through the motions but missing out on what’s really happening.
Have you ever been giving your baby a bath while simultaneously going through the list of things you need to get done after they go to bed?
The little moments that can be so precious are not savored because we simply aren’t present in them. I’m not saying you need to be present for every single moment of bath time, every day of the week – I’m currently writing this post while my 2-year old is splashing around in the tub, but a little bit goes a long way.
I often think of a woman’s brain like a web browser with 100 tabs open at the top, and we toggle back and forth through each of those tabs at any given moment. It’s often difficult to stop and it can take over and create feelings of overwhelm because it can feel like it’s never ending.
Creating a new reality takes practice, and mindfulness is a practice much like yoga. The more you do it, the stronger that muscle will get – kind of like working any other muscle out at the gym.
I’ve come to realize that I’m not the only mama who has experienced overwhelm and anxiety, and so I created the Mindful Mums Group where I teach mindfulness. Moms share their experiences and have a special place where they truly find that they are not alone. They gain the support they need to be open and honest about their struggles and their wins.
There is a ton of ways to practice mindfulness, but the easiest is to just pick a designated activity to start with. I like to do it while enjoying a cup of coffee or tea and I choose a time when my kids are asleep or out of the house.
From start to finish, challenge yourself to focus only on the task at hand and engage and pay attention to each of your senses.
While you are brewing your cup of coffee or tea, take the time to smell it as it seeps. While you’re pouring it into your cup, notice the aroma. Notice what the cup feels like in your hands, and take notice of the warmth.
As you take a sip, do it slowly, and notice what it feels like when it first enters your mouth, as it sits on your tongue, and as it goes down your throat and into your stomach.
Drink the entire cup slowly, engaging your senses each time you take a sip. This entire exercise may take 15 minutes. But when was the last time you truly enjoyed a cup of coffee? Mine usually sits on the table and gets cold by time I get to it.
You can do this with anything you’d like, a glass of juice or water, a piece of fruit, or toast.
Once you’ve done this exercise you can translate it to any other activity in your life, including those moments with your little ones that you know you should be more present for. While giving a bath, close those tabs in your brain’s browser and engage your senses. What does the water feel like? What do the bubbles look and smell like? What do your kiddos giggles sound like? Engage in play, give some extra kisses after the bath, sing a song, and be present.
It’s not always easy and I’ve had my fair share of rushed baths full of tears and tantrums, but when I go into the process with the mindset that I want to be present, things seem to turn out so much better.
Often times the stress comes in when we feel overwhelmed with the to-do list in our minds, and feel as though what we are presently doing is just one more thing on that list, which makes it difficult to enjoy.
Mindfulness is a practice. It takes time to implement any kind of change, and support goes a long way. If you’re interested in learning more about Mindful Mums, click HERE. We currently have a few spots open for our upcoming 4-week session, which begins February 10, 2017.