I look at my babies who do not appear to change day to day as we wake up, change diaper, eat, play, nap, play, watch Mickey, play, eat, bathe, snuggle, read, pray, sleep. Yet every morning when I unzip their jammies and see them stretch, smile and giggle I know that they’re a day older, a day smarter, a day more independent. I can’t begin to tell you how many people stop me at the grocery store and have said “It goes by so fast” which makes me clutch my baby girl a wee bit closer. And although it isn’t my favorite comment, I get plenty of “you sure do have your hands full.” Lately, I’ve decided to meet them with a smile then softly rebuttal, “and so is my heart” as I proceed to wrangle my toddler.
Motherhood is wonderful, it’s beautiful, it’s allowing your heart to open and bloom bigger than I ever thought was capable. Think max capacity, then double it and on some days explode, cue glitter. No one could prepare me however that when you love that much, it is not without hard days, sick kids, potty training accidents, teething, sleepless nights, napless days and frustration. This friend, you experience all on your own. Breathe it all in, feel every inch of the good, the bad, especially the mundane. In doing this, we are becoming aware and present in our daily lives, or mindful. The practice of mindfulness is not just a new age term anymore. It has been studied and proven to decrease stress, pain and worry levels, while increasing happiness and self-esteem. Think of mindfulness is a pause. It is a space between what happens to us and how we respond to what has happened to us.
Find some proven inspirational tools below to find a more mindful mama perspective:
Set an Intention
Begin each day with a phrase or intention that resonates with your soul. An intention can be a word or a grouping of words that evokes some sort of positive response within your mind and body. Make sure they’re authentic to YOU. Some examples:
“I am love”
“I will be a good mother”
“I will love unconditionally”
“I am enough and can do anything”
“I am their North Star”
“I can do hard things”
Wake up with your mantra and weave it throughout your day. Say it out loud in the morning, write it in your journal, caption it on your Instagram, and share it on your Facebook, whatever you need to do to really own it. Some days are so hectic we lose sight of it by the time we pick up our coffee, which is probably cold, and that’s ok too. Just remember those words, your mantra, are always available to you.
Have you seen that sign that reads, “Sorry my house is a mess, my children are making memories.” Well, let’s not forget we as mothers are making memories too. As the invisible picker upper, the towel folder, meal maker, things can start to pile up and next thing you know the house is a mess, there are dishes that need to be unloaded, dishes piled in the sink, and the thought “maybe I’ll just run the dryer again so I don’t have to fold it just quite yet.” PAUSE. If you’re reading this right now and starting to write your own to do list in your mind, close your eyes and take a deep breath. 1….2…..3…..4….5…..Exhale. Ahhhhhh.
Imagine if we slowed down just for a little bit each day and didn’t see the house as 20 different obstacles to conquer before we sat down with our kids, or before we took on those things that bring us true joy.
Give yourself permission to slow down.
Breathing is innate in all of us, but it’s also a powerful tool and practice. In fact, some of us actually need to relearn how to breathe! Listen to how you’re breathing right now in this moment. Is it only in your chest? Is it deep? When you inhale, does your belly move? When we experience stress and frustration, our first response is to throw deep breaths right out the window. Our breath is shallow, heavy, short, and it never seems to get out of our chest. When we start to invoke patience, our breath is the first step to bring us back to a place of calm. We tend to lose our breath each and everyday, so when you feel yourself starting to lose patience or get stressed try taking 3 deep breaths. Make those breaths the deepest, most glorious breaths you’ve taken all week. Starting from the bottom of your belly, inhale. You feel the air swirling and whirling through the belly, up the chest, into the back of the throat, all the way to the top of your head. (You might even be sitting up a bit taller now). Exhale starting from the top of your head and moving back down until all the air empties out at the bottom of your belly. Repeat as necessary. And by that I mean all day.
Be Here Now (on purpose)
In yoga tradition and Sanskrit it’s called Santosha. In English, it translates to finding contentment in your life exactly as it presents itself to you. There are no modifiers, no stipulations on your happiness. You are happy right now because you can be.
This, for most of us, requires a complete shift in perspective. As mothers, we get busy and might catch ourselves flipping into autopilot mode. Eat, nap, diaper, play, eat, nap, diaper, play and somewhere in there shower, work, workout, and the list goes on. The funny thing about contentment is that it doesn’t thrive when things always go our way. Contentment is the tool we use rather when things aren’t going our way to see beauty, love and good in something not so beautiful and lovely. In doing so, we are almost empowered by the realization that we can cultivate our own happiness via one simple choice. We don’t wait for a full 8 hours of sleep or the teething to stop. We find joy here and now because we are content beings and we can.
This one is short and sweet. At the beginning of each day, before you step one foot out of bed ask yourself, “What am I thankful for?” On those days where it’s tough to grasp something, start with being grateful for this breath, for this wake up.
Get the family involved in this mindfulness practice with a Gratitude Jar. Next time you’re at Target or Hobby Lobby find a cute jar, some colored paper for your gratitude notes, maybe even cute craft scissors if you want to get fancy. Place it somewhere accessible to the whole family and “Voila,” a Gratitude Jar.
Close your eyes and begin to breathe naturally. As you begin your meditation, let the breath find you and try not to force air in or air out. There are no expectations of you, only you and your breath. Don’t analyze. Part of our mindful meditation is clearing out of brain of any and all worldly thoughts. With practice, we retrain our brain to dispose of thoughts that pop up and dismiss them without a second glance. We are aware of the thought, then we let go of the thought. Meditation is the constant refocus of your awareness to the breath. Start with only a few minutes a day.
This one is just science! It’s been proven that hugging someone you know or love reduces anxiety and lowers stress and blood pressure. Just like when you look at your baby and there is a sudden release of oxytocin, the same thing happens when you hug. So squeeze those babies, grab your partner and hug them close. Even tackle your friend the next time you see them!