Mindfulness – making it realistic for parents
We hear so much about Mindfulness and how it can dramatically shift our internal worlds, but when you're a busy parent, with so much to do, how on Earth are you supposed to find room to be mindful?
In this blog, we'll be exploring ways you can incorporate a mindful awareness into your life.
I know the first time I considered Mindfulness as a way that could help me, I found it a little overwhelming. For a start, how was I supposed to organise childcare to get to the in-person sessions? Was the course going to be worth the investment of both my time and money (in my experience mums often find it difficult to justify spending on themselves), especially when I'll have nothing to 'show' for it at the end. And the idea of 'homework'? Well, the possibility of finding the required 30 minutes a day was, to my way of thinking, unattainable. I was concerned I was setting myself up for failure.
Nevertheless, I showed up to the eight-week course. And for the most part, I did my required homework. It actually came as quite a revelation that I could, in fact, carve this time for myself, and to be honest, it is something I have held on to ever since. As it turned out, once I had decided that I wanted to go back to each class saying that I had done the majority of my formal Mindfulness sessions, then that commitment fed as a priority into my daily routine. I found myself instead, noticing small increments of time, where I could do something proactive and positive for myself. Instead of being a struggle to find the time, it was an interesting challenge to seek out moments for myself. Slowly my world began to change.
One of the biggest things for me, was realising how often I was not present for my children, most particularly at bedtime, where I would rush through stories and tuck-ins and cuddles. I began to notice how special it was to hold my daughter, to take her in, to let the rush, rush, rush just pause for a while. It made me realise that the things I was trying to rush to do, were not as important in the grand scheme of things as being there, having a cuddle with a person I love.
I found that instead of frantically attempting to 'have a bit of peace, quiet and a cup of tea', I was able to switch off even more as I made the tea making a mini-ritual. I could zone out and remember the miracle of the water in the tap, the electricity powering the kettle, the wonders of modern life that made my cuppa an easy thing to have. It took me away from my lists of what to next, of what I'd got wring, of who was upset, of how much washing I had to sort.
I started to find that I could use the 'time-out' minutes I gave my children, as a chance to connect with my breath, with the stress levels and indicators in my body, with the consuming thoughts in my body, and to some extent let them go. In my book, the three minute mindful breathing space is the MOST INCREDIBLE tool for parents. Swiftly followed by the one minute unguided version for emergencies when sticky moments with family members become stickier! In fact, I think it is so powerful, that I hope more and more parents will use it, so I created amy very own to share with you here.
I found the eight week Mindfulness course so breathtaking (I'm finding great enjoyment in the use of that phrase, because the course literally is about taking breath), and I realised that although I managed to get there in-person, that is not always possible, so I've created a full Mindfulness online course as part of the basic membership at Inspiring Mummy Club. If you'd like to find out more, please join our waiting list so you'll be able to join when we re-open to new members in a few weeks time!
In brief, there are so many ways for you to take control of how you look after yourself as a parent. Most daily, mundane tasks like the washing up, the cooking, the cleaning, can become mindful activities. The ways you interact with your child can improve dramatically. What would happen if for a few minutes a day, instead of focusing on your phone or social media, you focused on you? Because that is where the journey to happiness begins. And I can't wait to share more of my tips on 'Practical Mindfulness for parents' at the London event of The Mindful Living Show in June!