Mummies’ Mindful Moments
The last year has been trying for all, especially us Mothers. Amid the chaos of motherhood it’s important to try not to lose the wider parts of our identity, to become solely a mother or to neglect the other things that make you, you. Both Sara and Cheryl have kindly shared their journeys and tips on how they take time to nurture themselves, and have mindful moments which then helps them become better mums.So grab a cuppa and give yourself a little mindful moment right now by reading their stories!
Finding Time for Me (by Sara)
I love motherhood but it can feel all consuming. I learned the hard way that spending time on myself, and who I am outside of being a mum, is not a bad thing. We are all more than just mothers; we are sisters, friends, lovers, professionals, students, artists, yogis, and so much more. When we bring our whole selves along on our parenting journey, when we are physically and mentally well, we are better mums for it.
I gave birth to my son last year, during the height of the pandemic. My husband and I were first time parents, we had no family around, and I stubbornly believed we didn’t need help. During baby’s first four months of life, I barely slept and didn’t allow myself a break. Overwhelmed, I’d feel guilty thinking of returning to work or finishing my Masters.
Fast forward to now and it’s a different story. I now embrace the whole, ‘it takes a village to raise a child’ ethos. Because when you have help, motherhood is so much more enjoyable. When I’m feeling mentally and physically healthy, the time I spend with my son can be quality time.
Basic Self- Care
Have you done any of the following, without a child in tow, in the past month?
Savoured a meal
Relaxed with a coffee or glass of wine
Enjoyed a facial or beauty treatment
Gone for a walk or work out
Read a book
If you answered no, then I’m sincerely worried about you! Make it a goal in the new year to find an hour a week, every week, devoted to yourself. It can be as simple as eating your favourite food with a friend, or signing up for yoga - anything that helps you to relax and connect with your own identity separate from being a mum.
For me, my ‘me time’ is swimming. Twice a week, after I drop my son at infant care, and before I start work, I spend 30 minutes in the pool. It’s the only exercise I get (besides rocking my very heavy 13-month-old to sleep!). Breaststroke strengthens my upper arms while stretching out my back. More importantly, swimming is my thinking time. Doing laps, I reflect on the positives in my life, and dream about the future.
I also find ways to spend ‘me time’ together with my baby! Because, let’s face it, time is a rare commodity. I have one semester left to finish my Masters and my baby has become my chief editor. I discuss my thesis ideas with him, and read drafts aloud. This helps to refine my thinking while engaging with my son - maybe even helping with his vocab (!). When he’s asleep, I type up any edits on the computer.
Having kids changes you forever - it makes you a better person. My son is my proudest achievement and I will do anything to ensure he grows up healthy and happy. I am also allowed to be my own person and to have my own goals, and that doesn’t make me a bad mum - makes me a better mum.
Mindfulness with Baby (by Cheryl)
“We look at the world once, in childhood. The rest is memory.” ― Louise Glück
I feel very fortunate to have the second chance to look at the world one more time through my daughter’s eyes, without a frame of references.
Like many other mums, I have prepared a significant amount of sensory play for my daughter. Touch, sound, smell and taste are trivial but important senses to activate and stimulate a child’s senses. Then I found ‘sensory play’ is also a great way to be mindful, even for grown ups. The easiest way for me to have a mindful moment is to pause and pick one thing to notice. Sometimes it is even better when we practise this with our children. Whether it is in a park or at home, find a comfortable seated position. I then ask my daughter if there is something she sees and finds interesting and I share what I find interesting. Sometimes we do this with food at the dinner table. Before eating, we talk about the ingredients, how to make the sauce, and appreciate the food that keeps us healthy and strong. I also love to practise this alone, especially during my shower. What does it actually feel like when the water touches my palm? The smell of the shampoo, the sound of the splash. Taking a moment to really feel my body, focusing on the toes today, and maybe my shoulders next week. I feel more in tune with myself.
The best timing to be mindful could also be bedtime. Mindfulness broadcasts have become very popular however I prefer the more basic technique — breathing. We probably all practise the 4-7-8 breathing in our yoga class. If not, don’t worry it is very simple:
1. Close mouth and inhale through your nose for a count of four;
3. Hold the breath for a count of seven;
4. Exhale completely through the mouth making a whoosh sound for a count of eight.
That’s it and try to repeat the cycle a few times more. Breathe in, breathe out, you’ve sowed a seed of mindfulness.
With both Sara and Cheryl’s stories in mind, we hope this year you take some time for yourselves. Whether you sign up to a class, commit to some exercise each week, restart some beauty regimes, or start a new book or hobby. We are raising the next generation. It’s an important job, and we should be rested, engaged, and whole to be able to do it. So let 2022 be the year that we give a little bit back to ourselves, that we put ourselves first occasionally and present our true selves, embracing all aspects of our identity.
Contributed by committee members, Sara and Cheryl