One morning a few years ago I met with a wise friend for coffee and chit-chat. When it was time to go she watched quietly as I chased my kids around the room trying to wrangle them into coats and boots and hats. And then she gently put her hand on my shoulder and said "slow down." And I did. And I felt better. I was able to be in the moment and connect with my children. When there's no need to rush - don't. Pad your schedule so that you have time to think and breathe in between the check marks on your daily to-do list.
Affirm the Good
The life of a mom is not a glamorous one. There's lots of sh*t to deal with - literally and figuratively. And when we're elbow deep in that crap (again, literally and figuratively) it can be pretty easy to feel bad for ourselves. To help make the mental shift from hopeless to happy, memorize and then recite a few feel-good affirmations:
- "I am lucky to have this opportunity."
- "I can handle this."
- "I am a powerful woman leading a blessed life."
- And when all else fails ... "This too shall pass."
Use Common Cues
Wash the bottles, do the laundry, change the diaper, run the errands. Rinse and repeat. Do you ever feel like you're stuck in some twisted mommy version of the movie Groundhog Day? Instead of dreading these mundane tasks, use them as mindfulness cues. Every time you change a diaper take five seconds to look your baby in the eye and say "I love you. I'm glad you're in my life. I'm a happy mom." Every time your car is stopped at a red light, instead of tensing up worrying about being late for the carpool pick-up, take a deep breath and intentionally relax your body.
Just Breathe & Relax
When you don't know what else to do, just breathe deeply and pay attention to your body. Watching the clock waiting for your teenager to come home? Breathe deeply and relax. Notice where you're holding tension in your body and let it go. Toddler just dumped a bag of flour all over your kitchen? Breathe deeply and relax. Fifth grader is refusing to do her homework? Breathe deeply and relax. Condition yourself to calm down before you react and you'll find yourself much more mindful of your options.
Narrate Your Life
Do you ever feel like your mind is racing nonstop? It's common for moms to be worrying about where their kids are, planning what to make for dinner, and making a mental checklist of appointments to set ... all at the same time! It's hard to be mindful and enjoy the moment when your mind is constantly somewhere else. For one day try the "narrate your life" mindfulness technique. Throughout your day focus on saying exactly what you're doing: "I'm folding the laundry"; "I'm taking the cake out of the oven"; "I'm making the bed." When your mind starts to wander tell yourself that you'll worry about that when the time comes, but right now you're ____________ (fill in the blank with whatever you're doing).
Enjoy the Minutia
Find one routine activity each day to intentionally enjoy. Perhaps it's cooking a meal, reading a story to your child, or eating dinner with your family. Whatever it is, set it aside as your daily sacred time. But this isn't a sacred time to step away from real life. Rather this is a slice of real life that becomes sacred through your choices and actions, and most importantly through your thoughts. Choose to enjoy this time and focus on nothing else. Don't take phone calls. Don't argue with anyone. Don't make plans for the future. Don't worry about the past. Instead, notice the tastes and textures and feelings that surround you. Be present to the moment, and connect with the people who are with you.
Jasmine, aka Mike's wife, is a wife, mom (bio, foster, and adoptive), writer and public speaker. She’s passionate about being kind, living boldly, and changing the world. You can read her blogs about foster parenting at That Foster Family on Chicago Now, and FosterCareQandA.com. If you find her life fascinating, Jasmine invites you to follow her personal page on Facebook. She's a bit of a hippy. You've been warned.