The New Year is a great time to set yourself up to be the mom you want to be. For many of us in today’s fast-paced-busy-doing world, this might mean holding the intention of living with intention and mindfulness. Planning a year made up of heartfelt meaningful moments is one thing. Living that way is another.
Somehow us moms have become experts at planning and anticipating the fun, but when it happens not-the-way-it-should, we feel disappointed and look back with regret, or begin to look ahead at something else with anticipation (or worse, anxiety).
This is the magnificent work of our busy-mama monkey mind.
Just think of that school-break holiday you so looked forward to…then you are there and your kids are acting up, you are reliving that dysfunctional family dynamic again, your partner is miserable. And you just want to get back into routine or call the babysitter.
Winter break can look and feel like this. We may look forward to it with excitement. But after week two of being on our own with the kids, we find ourselves anxiously counting down to back-to-school days.
Being present – in the moment without judgement – does not always come naturally. (I’m the first to admit it!) And it’s doubly hard when we don’t have the time and space to ourselves that our sanity desperately needs.
This is why I thought that a few simple tips to support us towards our I-will-be-more-mindful-this-year resolution/ intention/ hope might help. These tips are inspired by one of my all-time favorite parenting books: Buddhism for Mothers: A Calm Approach to Caring for Yourself and Your Children by Sarah Napthali.
They are tips great to practice when those uncomfortable (yet too real) emotions take over – guilt, regret, anxiety, worry. (You know the ones!)
They are also good go-to’s when you fall out of balance, or go off track, or make that mistake and start ruminating into self-criticism. But best of all they are super preventative techniques that will help keep you grounded, with perspective.
Here you go…
Mindful Mom Tip #1: The One-Minute Grab
This is when you are able to find time to yourself or in a calm connection with your children that lasts about one minute. Use this precious time to practice mindfulness of the breath.
Simply be where you are – in the kitchen at the sink, upstairs folding clothing, blowing bubbles with your children, walking, at the local park holding a child’s hand – STOP, feel your breath, your connection to the earth, the air on your skin.
The one-minute grab. Simply BE. Simply FEEL. 60 seconds.
When I do this, I am amazed (as is Napthali) of the calming result this has; the way it can actually transform my perspective from a frustrated one to a positive and lighter one. See what happens for you.
Naphtali even suggests that you will feel even better if you adopt the half-grin of the Buddha when you do this.
Mindful Mom Tip #2: Integrate meditation into your daily grind
We all know that being a mindful mama isn’t easy. Finding time to sit in meditation sometimes feels impossible, especially when the kids are out of school.
But for many meditation teachers, sitting meditation is not necessary. They actually see meditation as a “dynamic activity” that is linked into our daily chaos – into our daily activities and interactions. These teachers suggest that we use stimuli around us to root our minds in the moment.
So here’s the deal…identify one or two activities you do daily and use these as opportunities to meditate.
These might be:
- washing the dishes
- sweeping the floor
- folding the laundry
- drinking tea
- walking with your child
Immerse yourself in the activity, holding a complete physical awareness of what it is you are doing. If you are washing the dishes, be aware of “the movement of your hands, the warmth or coolness of the water, picking a dish up, soaping it, rinsing it, putting it down.”
Say to yourself calmly, soothingly: “I am sweeping the floor. Nothing else is happening right now.” And breathe.
This full immersion in your activity à la Karate Kid may help you to extend mindfulness to more chores and interactions with your family. It will support a sense of calm in and around you.
Mindful Mom Tip #3: Surrender to interruption with grace
For her book, Napthali spoke with Tibetan Lama Choedak, a father of three who made the point that parenting and practice should be treated as one.
In other words, if your child does interrupt you halfway through your one-minute grab or your mindful sweeping, allow your concentration to flow smoothly, without resistance and mental comment, to what is required of you in that moment.
Continue being in the now, even through the interruption.
Choedak says: “The carry-over of the practice is more important than the formal practice itself…”
So, in practical terms, don’t yell “GET OUT! I’M FINDING MY INNER PEACE!!” at the top of your lungs when a child tries to sneak into your meditation space or yoga pose at the wrong moment. (Not that I’ve done that…ever…)
Invite awareness of your transition from solitary mindful moment to shared mindful moment with needing child; take a deep breath and practice switching from being mindful in one space, one action into another.
Oh, and by the way, while I present these as New Years’ Tips, I invite you to treat them as daily tips…great for anytime of year. They are tricks of the trade that will help us stay focused in the here and now…
This month. This week. This day. This moment.
If you are reading this and thinking…
“I suck at mindfulness!”
“My mind is too full!”
“I don’t even have time (or headspace) for a one-minute grab!”
“Yeah, right! As if…”
then consider taking ownership of your mind, your energy and your time.
I invite you to consider challenging yourself to clear your mind and become more present in 2017 with the Clear Mind | Present Mama Challenge – a free 5-day online challenge I designed for busy moms who want to do more of what they love with who they love.
The Clear Mind | Present Mama Challenge starts on Monday, January 9. Each day, I send participants a new audio message with a guided grounding and a suggested exercise for looking at things in a new way or clearing some of the clutter from your mind.
You can listen whenever you want to, and you can ask questions and share experiences with other mamas in a private Facebook group. There’s no pressure, no getting it right. Just getting in touch with you.
I’ve designed the challenge to be gentle, helpful, and nurturing.
This is the fourth time I’ve led this free online challenge. I get something new out of it personally each time, and I love interacting with the moms who embark on the journey with me. We have some great conversations.
If you participate – even just to listen in – I’m confident you’ll get something out of it you can use toward being a more mindful mom.
Joining the free challenge is an excellent way to start the new year! All you have to do is sign up with your email address.
Dear moms, here’s to a happy and mindful 2017!
Another version of this post previously appeared here.
Photo credits: Deposit photos
Alexandra Hughes is founder of CalmJoyfulMom.com and In Essence Coaching, Alexandra’s private coaching practice dedicated to helping mothers suffering from stress, to find balance, joy and self-empowerment. Read Alexandra’s 2016 New Years post here on Mindful Healthy Life. Learn more about Alexandra in our Mindful Healthy Life interview with her and in our post about Alexandra’s Moms UP! Retreat with Pleasance Silicki.
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