Today I’d like to explore a question that I’ve been getting a lot from busy mums: “I haven’t got time for mindfulness, so what can I do?”
It’s a good question. I know how difficult it is to find time as a busy mum. I’ve been there. I was a full time teacher and mother of two and by the time I got home I didn’t have any energy to do any of the things that I should have been doing, like exercise or yoga or cooking amazing meals for my offspring. I’m ashamed to admit that all I could drag myself to do was to collapse on the sofa with a cup of tea and two or three biscuits or more depending on the day I had and surf the internet for a while. Hardly a good role model, I know, but that was the situation at the time.
I was so busy tending to others all day that I didn’t take care of myself but at the time I just couldn’t see my way out of the fog of exhaustion.
I really wish I’d known about mindfulness then as I’m certain it would have made such a huge difference to my life.
So what is mindfulness anyway?
Mindfulness is about awareness, it’s about realising how you’re feeling physically and mentally. It’s not about zoning out and disconnecting, quite the opposite – it’s about connecting with yourself, your body, thoughts and emotions and going through your life with awareness and living in the present moment. When you realise what’s going on with yourself then you can take small steps to help and that doesn’t need to be spending 30 minutes doing a meditation while the kids go nuts in the background. If you’re a busy mum it needs to be simple and doable.
So, I’d like to look at a simple way of making quality time for yourself. Surfing the internet like I did doesn’t count!
If you can, then find a time when your kids are safe with someone else and give yourself some breathing space.
Kick off your shoes, maybe change into something more comfortable. Put the kettle on and make a brew, preferably not strong coffee. I only drink decaf now as I realised that I was getting so many ups and downs throughout the day and coffee made me feel very jittery. There are some good herbal teas around. I don’t usually like them but I have found that the ones from Yogi Teas are really tasty, especially the lemon and ginger – it’s got a warm kick to it.
Take your tea into a quiet area of the house, or the garden.. Just sit and be for as long as you can, without your mobile phone and not feeling that you should be doing something else. The chores will get done, but you need your time, your space to ground yourself before carrying on with the rest of your day.
I think it’s hard for us as mums to put ourselves first. And when we do, we feel guilty. So, try to stick with the guilt as you begin this new routine and realise that as you are caring about yourself it will also make you better able to care for others as you feel renewed even after just 10 minutes to get your head straight.
Some of you may be thinking that it’s absolutely impossible to get 10 minutes peace at home. So, how about work?
When I was teaching, one of my colleagues said that she would actually go and lock herself into the loo for 10 minutes just to get some peace. I know that’s not exactly the most scenic place in the world, but desperate times call for desperate measures. Do what you can, sit at your desk for a few minutes without working, just focusing on your breath. Or go for a walk outside at lunch time if that’s possible.
If you’re interested you can also do a simple mindfulness meditation. This doesn’t have to be hippy or woo-woo. You don’t even need to sit on the floor if you don’t want to. You can sit on a chair with your back straight and slightly away from the backrest. If you’d like to have a go to the meditation section of my website.
And if you can’t manage any time alone at all, then stop for a second, take a deep breath and carry on.