As mums, we hear ‘be more mindful’ all the time, and mindfulness for mums is always encouraged. But what does it mean? Why does it matter and how can you easily build it into your day for better change?
Mindfulness is a great way to take the million-and-one thoughts that are buzzing around your brain and help you in turning down the volume on them. It will help you to become more present in your surroundings and help you to breathe.
According to MindUK, there are studies that report that Mindfulness can help with mental health problems such as depression, anxiety and feelings of stress. There is even some evidence suggesting that mindfulness can help with health issues like psychosis and bipolar disorder too! (Though, they have disclosed that more research is needed in this area).
So what are some easy little ways you can be more mindful in your day-to-day routine?
We have a few quick suggestions such as:
- Taking a moment of calm – Take a few minutes out of your day to do a short and easy mindfulness activity. Maybe this is a short journalling session, or doing a 3 minute body scan meditation. Just take a second for yourself.
- Tickle your funny bone – Do/watch something that never fails to make you laugh. Whether this is a podcast or tv show that never fails to make you laugh, or calling up a friend that always sends you into a fit of giggles – do something that you know is going to make you smile.
- Go for a walk – Taking a brief moment to get some fresh air and get the blood pumping will truly make you feel better. It’s not always the easiest thing to find the motivation for, but it will really help to get into a more mindful headspace
- If you’re really struggling, talk to someone – It’s not always easy to “keep calm and carry on” as a parent. There’s not a lot of shortcuts. And when you feel like there’s just no answer, maybe it’s time to talk to someone about this. A partner, a friend, or a professional. Talking to any of them is going to lift a weight off your shoulders.
Our guest blogger from Babies1st, Moni Celebi, has more to say on the matter below. Read on to find out more!
Mindfulness for mums – What is it?
Mindfulness is all about living in the moment. Not looking back or forwards but pausing to take in the here and now and noticing the little things around us that bring us joy and happiness. Mindfulness is a big trend right now. And we can easily dismiss it as something that won’t make much difference to our lives. But mindfulness for new mums can bring huge benefits.
We all need to be looking after our mental wellbeing, and being mindful about the time with our babies can really help both us and them.
Top Tips on how mums can begin to explore mindfulness
Here are a few guidelines, from Moni Celebi, a parent-infant psychotherapist from Babies1st, that many parents have found helpful:
- Once you are over the baby shock, or past the first few months of “baby-moon”, establish a routine:
But don’t beat yourself up if you cannot stick to it perfectly. It should be more seen as an aspiration than a rigid rule. Try to start with a clear bed-time routine and then work backwards. In the morning it is of course tempting to lie in, especially if you had a night of interrupted sleep, but in the long run it is good to aim for a regular get up time for yourself, even if baby is still asleep.
- Talk to your baby whenever there is an opportunity:
Describe what you are doing, what you will be doing etc. Initially this may feel strange, as if you are talking to yourself. But babies love their mother’s voice, and are often curious and understand more than we give them credit for
Head for the great outdoors
- Go out once a day, even if the weather is not inviting:
Wrapping your baby up tightly you can then meet up with another mother, a friend or family. Establishing a walk and talk space becomes an opportunity to have a chat, a catch-up, a space where you get some adult attention
Connection is key to good mindfulness for mums
- Create special times:
These are the opposite of educational activity classes and can help you connect with your baby in a different way. Put away your telephone and turn off the TV. Set aside 10 minutes to just watch and give your baby your undivided attention. Make sure baby is safe, but then give space to notice what baby wants to do or not to do. Do not educate, stimulate, or initiate, but just be mindful and responsive if baby seeks you out for a cuddle, or wants to look around, move away and explore. Don’t be tempted to rush off to do some chores, when baby is calm, but stay in the present moment.
You may just want to describe what you see you baby is doing. Be curious about what baby make be thinking, if s/he had words, and at the same time notice what you are feeling, when you just watch your baby. It can be a relief to be with baby and not be doing something. Babies love their parents’ attention. Try to do this once a day if you can. Over time you will see the benefits of mindfulness for mums.
- Join either a face to face or an online group for one of the many baby classes:
There are so many activity available, from singing, to signing, to dancing. Try them out and discover what you and your baby like doing together. These are all good ways of building a structure, which will help you and your baby get through the day. Beware not to overdo activities though. It is good to do at least one thing a day, but don’t rush from one activity to another. Make sure you leave space for downtime
- At the end of the day make a list of things you are grateful for. Remember the moments you enjoyed and think of what you did to bring them about. Always remember that everyone has good days and not so good days. Don’t strive for perfection, but for “good enough”. Your baby will love you for it
Moni Celebi is a parent-infant psychotherapist specialising in the 1001 Critical Days (from Conception to age two)