Mindful Decision-making vs the Microwave
Not long after I had my first baby our new family took a trip to stay over at the in-laws in Staffordshire, two hours’ drive from us. Having read up on everything to do with babies, I packed the car accordingly. Clothes and bibs? Check. Nappies? Check. Toys, play-mat and books? Check. Formula and bottles? Check. Microwave. Check. Tiny bag with a change of clothes and some toiletries for me? Check.
Wait… microwave? Yep, that’s right, along with all the baby gear we packed the microwave. We were using this to sterilise the bottles and the in-laws didn’t have one. So instead of thinking about other options – Milton sterilising fluid or boiling the bottles in a pan for instance, we packed the microwave into the back of the car. Five years on and I still laugh about this.
What were we thinking?! We’d got into the habit of sterilising the bottles this way and wouldn’t change it.
Routines are useful, sometimes
New parents have so much to learn in so little time. It’s as if someone’s come along and turned your life upside down then stuck in on the fast cycle of the washing machine. Having a routine keep things ticking over even when you’re not firing on all cylinders (most days when you’re not sleeping and are up to your eyeballs in dirty nappies for example). But there comes a time when habits or routine aren’t helpful.
Mindfulness prepares us for success because it makes us more flexible and resourceful – Positive Psychlopedia
Thinking about it now, we weren’t being flexible or using mindful decision-making. One thing mindfulness is teaching me is a flexible attitude can help make better decisions. Our rigid thinking stopped us seeing our goal– to sterilise the baby’s bottles. It got us stuck on the ‘how to get there’ – using the microwavable steriliser.
As a perfectionist I need to feel in control. Before I do anything I need to check things out, plan ahead and make sure I’m prepared. There’s no instruction book for all eventualities though. Sometimes we need to take a different approach. Would it really have been a problem to sterilise the bottles another way? As long as they were clean wouldn’t that do?
Mindful decision-making, the unexpected and better choices
Alongside being inflexible, I sometimes make bad decisions. If I’d taken that microwave out of the boot I could’ve added more stuff for me instead of taking that tiny little bag. And we wouldn’t have looked so silly – who turns up for a weekend away with a microwave under their arm for goodness sake?!
How can I make better choices and avoid being a doofus? Good news for me – research shows that being mindful helps with decision-making.
Mindfulness clarifies the mind and supports creativity – Frantic World
There’s more – it’s proven that just 15 minutes of mindful meditation can help with decision-making. I think that’s amazing!
Over the past 7-months I’ve tried to be mindful whenever I can – taking deep breaths when I feel stressed and trying to meditate for 10 minutes a day (and often forgetting!). Meditation has loads of benefits but something else always seems to take priority. These studies have motivated me to start my ‘mummy chill-out time’ again – delivery of my comfy bean-bag chair is making this easier (more on that another time!).
Being mindful makes you more resourceful
Mindfulness is making it easier for me to see solutions to problems. I’ve realised there’s almost always a way around things. You needn’t take everything with you. So you ran out of wipes? I bet there’s a shop nearby. Or you have tissues in your bag that will make do.
If I can’t find a solution, at least I feel more chilled out about it instead of stressing. This attitude is helping my boys too – they seem to be calmer and better able to make choices. In fact, I’m really proud of Boo, who’s just received a Head Teacher’s award at school for ‘being determined and using positivity in the face of challenges’. Apparently his positivity rubs off on his classmates and they follow his lead by not giving up when something is difficult.
Just goes to show that being more mindful isn’t just good for you but others around you!
But before I become too smug in my newfound wise-ness, I’ll make sure I take a mindful pause before our next journey, just in case that microwave (or maybe the kitchen sink) sneaks its way in.
Discover more about mindfulness and meditation with these resources!
Are you using mindful decision-making? Let me know below!