So you had a baby, congrats! You’re standing at the kitchen sink washing the dishes, talking to the dog while the baby is sleeping and suddenly you stop and say to the dog - “is this my life now?”. How on earth did this happen? Is this what my day looks like now? How on earth am I going to get through this? Or maybe that’s just me? (disclaimer… I did talk to Watson, my dog long before I had a baby, he rarely responds but I keep trying regardless).
Here’s a tip - you are getting through it and you will continue to get through it - that’s because it is within you to do so. But, here’s the good news, you have a rare and beautiful opportunity to cultivate something highly sought after. People in the business world pay thousands of dollars to coaches and gurus to try and find this (they rarely do). But you’re a Mamma now, you’ve got the edge and I’ll tell you a secret - it’s really easy, easier than you think - how good is that?!
Oh, you want to know what this mysterious thing is… Mindfulness!
But you’re a new mum with a newborn, or maybe this is not your first rodeo and you’re coping with other children as well. So how could this possibly be easy? How could you possibly have the time to develop mindfulness all of a sudden - people spend thousands and never achieve it right? Maybe when you change the way you look at things, the things you look at really do change (someone smart once said that, I can’t remember who - but they were right).
So let us first understand what mindfulness really is. It is an awareness of where you are right now, in this moment, what you are doing and why you are doing it - but without all of the stories we attach to it (I have to do this, someone’s gotta do it etc). It is increasing your awareness, cultivating your presence and being in the moment (sounds a bit airy fairy?). Mindfulness can help us keep in mind what is important as we go about our days, in interacting with our children (and others!) and not constantly thinking about ‘what’s next’. It can allow us to have a little pause before we respond to something - giving us the opportunity to consider our reaction and choose our response consciously, to think about how we want to parent and to act wisely. Mindfulness is not about perfection or being calm all of the time - that kind of insta fabulous life doesn’t exist. But motherhood does provide you with some of the most amazing opportunities to practice mindfulness. I heard a wonderful woman at a parenting conference who described these opportunities as ‘The Sacred Mundane’. Those everyday, repetitive, mundane tasks that we more often than not, get lost in - nappy changes, feeding, washing, cooking, cleaning and even interacting with our children - these are some of the times we can actively cultivate mindfulness.
So here’s what you can actually do, everyday, multiple times a day to bring a little mindfulness into your day. Combine some of these activities to suit your day, and see what a difference it can make (not all of these are for everyone, and you might have some more to add to this list - share away)
1. 3 small tasks
Have you got a massive to-do list? Is it overwhelming just thinking about it? Feel like you’re getting to the end of the day without achieving anything? Well forget it. Just pick 3 things that you want to get done in your day and do those things. Removing the overwhelm and replacing it with thoughtful accomplishment will give you a little buzz of achievement.
2. Put your phone down
Are you checking your socials while feeding your babe? Or constantly refreshing throughout the day? We’ve all been there! I need to constantly remind myself of this one! But put your phone down and just look at your baby while they are feeding, observe them, take a deep breath and marvel at your magnificent creation. Watch them from a distance while they play, see how they completely and fully investigate different items, how they move - innately building strength in order to reach their next level of potential (rolling, reaching, sitting, crawling etc)
Just stop for a moment. Set a reminder on your phone if you like. Take 3 deep, conscious breaths. And carry on. Simple! I do this one multiple times a day.
4. Move your body
I don’t buy into the ‘bouncing back’ from pregnancy thing, but that’s for another day. Take the pressure off and just move your body in a way that feels good - walk, stretch, lunge, dance, do a few yoga poses - whatever gets your blood moving, even if for a few minutes. But don’t do things because you gotta bounce back - do it because it feels great.
5. Humanness (is that a word)
Talk with someone. Anyone. A complete stranger, the barista making your coffee (oh saviour of the day) - anyone. Make a connection and feel the connection. Make eye contact, genuinely listen and be there - even if it’s just a few words exchanged. You’ll be surprised how grounding this can be (no offence Watson, I love talking to you, but you give me little in return conversation unless there is food involved).
Spend a minute or two with your baby, your lover (or a stranger if you like) and just have a hug. Make eye contact. Hold hands. There is power in human contact - it sparks some good hormones to release. And you know what, sometimes we just don’t stop and have a micro moment with people who are important to us. Making a conscious effort to do so raises your mindfulness.
7. Strike a pose
Yep. Sounds weird. When I heard this one I had a little giggle, but a few days after I was standing at the traffic lights and I gave it a whirl and it was great! It’s called a power pose. You hold it for around 2 minutes or so. And your power pose is unique to you. For me, it was simply standing up straight and tall, improving my posture and holding my head up. For others it might be a fist pump, a star pose - whatever your pose, own it! And once that couple of minutes has passed, you’ll have a little bounce in your step.
This list can go on - meditation, positive mantras and affirmations, feeling the air enter your nose as you hang out the laundry, sitting down at the end of the day and asking your partner what their favourite part of their day was. The point is, in this unique to you, yet universal experience of motherhood, you’ve got something that the corporate high flier doesn’t…nappy changes (perfect time for a couple of deep breaths and some meaningful eye contact)
- Louise A.
This is the first blog from Mumma Louise Allen, mother to 8-month old Hazel and 12 weeks pregnant with bub number 2 from Ballarat, Australia. She joins the baby luno Mum Diaries team and will be blogging regularly as she continues on her motherhood journey and we can't wait to follow.