BEING A MINDFUL MAMA
There has been something bothering me recently, niggling away at my core and making me revaluate things a little. It all started with a little “B” word (oh the irony to be writing that here!). That word was quite simply, balance.
You see like many Mothers out there I am passionate about raising my children in a gentle loving way, but I am also fortunate enough to have an absolute dream job planning and designing one of life’s most memorable events for other people. Not to mention my loving husband, and that rarely invested “me” time.
It’s hard to fit it all in sometimes isn’t it?
I was struck with this overwhelming feeling that whilst my career continued to grow from strength to strength, I wasn’t spending quite as much time focusing on other things close to my heart. I didn’t have the balance quite right.
I found myself snapping at Flora for silly mistakes. Bad tempered with my husband for the smallest of chores forgotten. Feeling my blood boil as the dog barked at the postman, again. Even resenting night time feeds with the smallest Thomson family member.
I know, I know… it happens to us all, part of parenting, blah blah. But you know what? I don’t think we have to accept that narrative. I have always been determined to practice gentle parenting, and I felt I had lost my way a little. I took a step back and did some reading, plus a bit of soul searching. Thank my lucky stars, I’m back to where I want to be now.
So for any other Mama’s out there wanting to gain a little more control and calm in your life… here are my tips for becoming a lot more mindful in your parenting. Well, it works for me!
Be present. Stop worrying about the future and what might be, or what other people are doing, or what society thinks we should be doing when it comes to expectations with your children – open your heart and live in the moment! Bake a cake, pick fresh flowers, add a little extra time to your walk to nursery, wear wellies and splash in the puddles. Do it all together, and enjoy it.
See your children for who they are. I think we get so caught up in what we want our children to become, that we forget to celebrate who they are right now. Sure teething and tantrums are hard work, but one day you’ll look back with fondness at these years. Remember, this too shall pass.
Breathe. This is a big one for me. There are times when toddlers and pre-schoolers really test your limits, that is for sure! However one huge lesson for me was to stop reacting like for like, and start acting the way I wanted my own daughter to act in moments of stress. For me that meant taking a deep breath, hand on chest, and letting any anger or frustration wash over me before doing anything else. I’m actually trying to teach Flora to do that too!
Empathy, always. It’s ok (actually it’s essential) to set boundaries, but there is always a way to do so whilst respecting your child’s feelings. I always try to think of children as little people, who are just really bad at handling big emotions. They literally can’t help themselves. Being empathetic actually makes us connect better, which in turn creates a more peaceful environment for everyone.
Don’t sweat the small stuff. You know that time when you’ve just sat down to write an email/drink a cup of tea/take a nap and the baby decides that moment is the perfect moment to start screaming inconsolably? It often seems to happen at the worst times right? You have two options… flip out and shout at the top of your lungs about how unfair life is (tempting, and this has actually happened to me in real life) or, shake it off and realise that this is just part of life right now. Accept it for what it is right now, and act appropriately. Be the person you’d want them to be.
Know that you are human, you will make mistakes. But own them, learn from them, and always apologise for them. I often say sorry to my kids, even the littlest one who has no idea what I’m talking about and would be quite content with a bit more boob after my stress out. It’s good for my own soul though.
Ask yourself how important things really are and whether they are worth the battle. Swapping a sippy cup for another one after I just made a drink I can shrug off (hell hath no fury like a toddler given a blue cup when they wanted a green one!), but holding hands crossing a road is not open for debate. We all have our limits.
I know all this may seem very idealistic, but I truly believe that the more busy and chaotic your life is, the more important it is to bring a sense of calm (and fun!) into our parenting. Everyone is healthier and happier as a result. These years pass so quickly, it’s just too important not to at least try.
To try and be more mindful, and perhaps… perhaps… then we get that balance back?
*for parents with toddlers I’d highly recommend reading ToddlerCalm immediately. Like, yesterday.