It can feel like your time is not your own when you’re a mama. Mum-days are spent constantly trying to working through chores, feeding-cleaning-changing on repeat, jumping from one activity to another trying to keep your little entertained. On work days there are the bags to be packed, drop-offs and collections to do on time, things to remember – snacks, nappies, sunhat, raincoat. CHECK! CHECK! CHECK!
No wonder we end up feeling stressed and overwhelmed. It’s a lot. But I find practising mindfulness goes some way to helping me both reclaim a feeling of control over my days and surrender to the lack thereof. For me, this means learning to slow down and creating pockets of calm in my days.
Meditation has been an important part of how I’ve cultivated a more mindful way of being and I do still try to keep up a regular practice when I can. But, unlike meditation, mindfulness is readily available at any given time and can be practised anywhere.
“Mindfulness is the basic human ability to be fully present, aware of where we are and what we’re doing, and not overly reactive or overwhelmed by what’s going on around us.”
Practising mindfulness isn’t particularly about doing anything outside of your normal routine, but rather reframing the tasks and actions you already do. Even brushing your teeth could become a mindful activity if you fully devote your concentration to it. For me, mindfulness is the pausing, the noticing. Being fully present in the moment and not letting your mind wander to plans, daydreams or worries. It could be observing the way the light falls in the morning, immersing yourself in an activity or chore or giving your full attention to your toddler (without one eye on your phone 🙋🏻♀️). And actually, it turns out toddlers are pretty mindful little souls – being fully present is pretty much their default setting.
I’m at pains to make it clear I’m not walking around in some zen bubble, the image of calm motherhood. I get worn down, grouchy and impatient. When I’ve been up since 6 am I’m still frazzled come naptime. I go on about mindfulness and intentional living because of *needing* these practices so much. Not because this stuff comes easy to me!
My mini mindful moments
The key is to fully focus on the task or activity, not to multitask or to have your attention pulled in various directions but to be completely present in the moment.
// Connecting with my senses upon waking. I run through what I can hear, feel, see etc. and check in with how I’m feeling in my body and in my mind. I often do this whilst giving Casper his morning breastfeed.
// Dropping essential oil in my (usually very quick) morning shower.
// Putting on a favourite song and dancing together for the duration.
// Naptime meditation. Before I open my laptop or get on with chores I head to my bedroom for at least 10 minutes of meditation.
// Hanging out the washing. This is one of my favourite chores to single-task, especially if it’s a nice enough day to dry the washing outside.
// Weeding, gardening or tending to house plants.
// Going for a mindful walk. Leave the phone at home and just go for a wander. Notice the tiny details, the sights and sounds. Toddlers are the perfect mindful walking companion.
// Finding a moment to sit, pause and enjoy a cup of tea.
// Reading instead of scrolling as I feed the babe to sleep.
// My evening skincare routine. Cleanse, use my face brush, apply an oil. Breath, feel grateful for the day.
These are just some things that can become mindful activities for me. Yours might be different. Of course, sometimes I do these things on autopilot, with my phone in my hand or a podcast on in the background. But I know the more I carve out mini moments of mindfulness in my days the calmer and more resilient I feel. As with my philosophy on living a simple creative life, I believe that the small things we do each day add up – “drop by drop we fill our cup”.
🌙 🌙 🌙
Some more mindful resources…
Getting started with mindfulness (via mindfulness.org)
Modern Mindfulness for Mothers a guided meditation course on Insight
The Zen of Single-Tasking blog post by Brooke McAlary
The Power Of Now a book by Eckhart Tolle