Mindful Mothering - Kimberly Thompson

Do you ever find yourself not really present in anything you do? When you are with your child, your thoughts are on work or your to-do list; when you are at work or running errands, your thoughts are on your child. This is backwards and robs you of the satisfaction that comes from being totally invested in anything.

Practice being fully present in whatever you are doing right now. If you need to, set an alarm so that you are not afraid you will forget the next deadline or task to complete. Bring your wandering mind back to what you are doing right now, and give it your full attention.

Practice tacking back and forth between duties. For example, give the dishes your full attention, until your child interrupts you, then give her your full attention. Give work your full attention when you are there, then use the drive home to shake off the work day so that when you arrive home, your mind is there as well.

Take a few moments at the beginning and the end of each day to practice this crucial skill. (Don’t lie down while you do this — the temptation to go to sleep may overwhelm you). Set an alarm for five minutes. Sit in a comfortable position and close your eyes. If necessary, put some earbuds in and listen to white noise or nature sounds. Let go of all thoughts, especially worry-thoughts, and concentrate on the darkness in the back of your eyelids. It will be exceedingly difficult at first, if this is very different than what you are used to doing, but it will get easier with time. Rather than mentally berate yourself when your mind wanders, just notice that it HAS wandered and go back to quieting those pesky thoughts. Once you have mastered five minutes, add some time gradually until you have mastered mindfulness in a quiet setting for quite a long time. This will make it easier to be mindful in other settings.

Mindfulness takes practice, but it decreases the annoyance you feel at the constant interruptions that are part and parcel of motherhood. You are training yourself to flexibly pay attention to what you choose to – not allowing wandering thoughts to take control. You are also increasing your awareness of all the moments in life that are wonderful. When the moment you are living in is not so wonderful, mindfulness increases your self-awareness and helps you to respond in ways that are healthier and affirming. It helps you to let go of worry and the “what-ifs” that come with it.

It’s a simple principle, but the rewards can be truly amazing.