Do mums really have time to stop and be mindful? Isn’t it just self-indulgent? Maybe we should stop beating ourselves up for wanting to look after ourselves and realise that we do have time for finding calm if we look for it.
Real mama’s finding calm
Many of us mum’s struggle to find time to do the stuff we’d really like. And when we do have time, we often waste it.
Take last night for example. The boys went to bed fairly quietly after a couple of bed time stories. I’ve got into the habit of reading a rabbit story – nope, not that one, – the old classic ‘Guess how much I love you’. They adore it. I read it in a gentle voice that encourages the boys to feel sleepy. Does it work? Well it makes me yawn.
Yes, actually, it works on them too. It seems to chill the boys out and they take it as a cue to get into bed once the book’s done. In my experience, any book with that effect is golden.
But I digress.
Once the boys were in bed I did the minimum housework I could get away with. Matching random socks in the laundry, washing a few cups and kicking the toy tidal wave to one side of the living room. The boys were asleep. I had the gift of time. So what did I do?
Did I do the 10 minute meditation I promised myself? Did I do the 15 sit-ups I’ve been trying to do each day to banish my mummy-tummy?
Nope. None of the above. I did what most real mums do.
I put my feet up, played Candy Crush and ate marshmallows.
So that’s another load of empty tick boxes on my ever-growing to-do list.
My marshmallow-fuelled Candy Crush-athon was good in a way as it gave me some vital down-time to recharge my batteries. Yes I could have spent the time more wisely, but sometimes you just need to chill out any way you can and not worry about it.
Think you don’t have any time to be calm and reset your batteries? Think again
I know I need to be doing the ‘deeper’ stuff, like calm breathing and mindful meditation but sometimes it’s too hard. I just want to eat sweets and play rubbish games. Or maybe binge-watch The Man in the High Castle. When I pondered how to fit more calming stuff into my day, I realised that I already am.
So here it is.
My real mum’s guide to finding calm in a busy day
Use bathroom breaks for calm breathing and get the energy to face the world again
We all have to answer the call of nature and several times a day (if you’ve been drinking any liquid that is). If you’re lucky, on at least one of your trips you won’t have a small person hanging off your leg or banging on the bathroom door demanding to come in.
This is precious you-time, so use it wisely. Take the opportunity to take a deep breath. Now breathe in for a count of three, hold for three then breath out and relax. Repeat several times. Now you should be chilled enough to face the house again.
Shower time is you-time
I asked a mum at the school gate recently if she’d had her hair done. No, she replied, she’d had a shower and washed her hair and this was simply her looking clean.
OK, so not all mums have yet reached the utopia of being able to shower daily. But if you are able, use the time to take a mindful pause. Become aware of your posture, of how you’re feeling. Are you gritting your teeth, clenching your jaw? Do you have tension in your shoulders? Focus on your breath for a minute while you shower. If you’re feeling really tense, try breathing in for a count of 5 and out for a count of 7 to help you relax.
The school or nursery pick up is enough time for finding calm, honest!
I’m lucky enough that I’m usually able to pick the boys up individually without a sibling tagging along. School pick up is a fraught time though. The boys are inevitably tired, hungry and on a short fuse.
I take the opportunity before reaching the nursery or school gate to take a deep breath, clench and unclench my hands and recite ‘I am calm’ to myself (in my head, obvs). I usually feel calm for a couple of minutes, until the gates/door opens at least.
Seek little pockets of time everywhere you go
Bring your attention back to what you’re doing every so often. I’m guilty of drifting away into thoughts about the future or past. It’s nice to come back to the present occasionally. Each time you put on the kettle, put a load of washing in or make a bed, just notice what you’re doing.
Also take a pause every so often – in a queue, at the school gates or stuck in traffic, notice your posture and whether you’re tensing up. Take a breath and relax.
So there it is, how you can grab a calm respite in the maelstrom of a busy day. I realised I’m doing these things without noticing. My mindful practice must be paying off then. No more excuses from me (or you I trust) that there’s no time to fit in a bit of calm. There’s always time if you make it.
I’d love to hear from you. Are you using mindful techniques to get you through a busy day and finding your calm place? Share how you’re doing!
P.S. If anyone knows how to get past level 100 of Candy Crush, let me know!