How to Be a Mindful Mom When You Need a Timeout
I love Alexander Yamashita's definition of mindfulness in his book "Mindfulness for Beginners". He writes that "mindfulness is merely a practical state of being that gathers a clearer consciousness of what is immediate and of what is experienced." To me, this means to live life one moment at a time. To cherish and immerse yourself in each experience that you have in your life...good or not so good. It's also about being fully aware of the past and the future, but not being so concerned with it that you lose sight of the now.
To be honest, this is actually something that children do very well.
Studies have shown that young children under the age of 3 aren't able to plan for the future. But soon after we turn about 4 years old, we learn to plan. Planning can be amazingly helpful when you're a new mom, but it also can lead you away from being mindful. Before I go into how to be more mindful, let me explain why practicing mindfulness is important in the first place.
Being mindful throughout the day helps you to organize your thoughts and live with more intention. I'm not saying that you need to recall every breath you take, or be able to count your heart beats, but you can slow down. Emotionally and physically connect with the world around you and your inner energetic state.
Take a moment right now and analyze yourself. Give yourself a quick self assessment. Answer these questions.
Are you comfortable? Are your eyebrows raised? Are your shoulders relaxed? How do your feet feel in your shoes? Are you multitasking?
Being a new mom, you'll often want to live on autopilot- just because it's easier. Your baby is on a schedule and you might find yourself going through the motions to get through the day. Of course you notice the highlights such as your baby's sweet laugh or smile when he or she sees you. And you also recognize the tough times when your little one just can't fall asleep or throws up all over your new carpet. These are the times when you just want to take a time out. But if you practice mindfulness and see every moment as a gift, you'll be more likely to reduce stress over all.
All it takes is a little practice every day.
When you wake in the morning, make a conscious effort to notice something new. Try to find joy and excitement in the most minuscule or redundant task such as washing dishes, picking up toys, or even just walking around the house.
You may just be surprised at how your stress levels can be instantly reduced. Being mindful of little things around you will make it easier for you to enjoy all the moments you have with your baby, will allow you to get over the things that annoy you much more quickly, and will set the tone for your home and family to be calm and collected. (I would even say it would prevent the "terrible two's" stage!)