Feel guilty about taking time off from your kids? No time for mindfulness in the midst of nappies, tantrums and never-ending requests for food? You're not alone.
“Any money or time spent on myself is taking away from my kids.” We know you're thinking it. But read on. We have some solutions for you.
When mums take a little break for themselves it allows them to come back to their kids with less stress, more resilience and more attention. It really is a win-win.
Adding a little "me time" to your day or week allows you to take yourself off autopilot. You can let go of the stress that stops you being in the moment, with your family, your kids and yourself.
Mindfulness is so much more than a buzz-word or a fleeting trend. It's a way of living more authentically and wholly in the moment. You can practice mindfulness in all kinds of ways. You don’t have to sit cross-legged in a dark, candle-lit room with incense burning.
Start by paying attention and being present when you’re doing everyday things. Hanging out the washing? Don’t think about what to cook for dinner, whether or not the kids have homework or any other mundane thing that doesn’t require your immediate attention. Just enjoy the simplicity of the task at hand and allow your mind to slow down. If that sounds a bit lame - but weirdly it works.
Here's some more easy solutions that you can add to your day to build in me time and get back your focus.
Stretch out with the Down Dog Yoga App
Everyone can benefit from spending a few minutes each day slowing down and giving the body a good stretch.
This handy little app is like having your own personal pocket-sized yoga teacher. You can customise your session for the amount of time you have. Do a quick five-minute flow in your loungeroom - that's totally possible with kids. Or, enjoy a full vinyasa practice while the toddlers nap.
Improve your balance, flexibility and strength as well as enjoying a few precious moments to quieten your mind and slow your breathing.
If the kids join in, even better.
Book a group PT with the soccer mums
With sporty kids, you’re no stranger to the sidelines. Why sit waiting in the cold when you could be getting a workout of your own? Get together with the other parents in the team and organise a PT session during training.
If you split the cost between a few people makes for a cheap, convenient workout that fits right in with your busy schedule. Health Share has a great search engine for finding a qualified PT near you.
Get the kids involved with Smiling Mind
Developed in Australia, Smiling Mind is the perfect way to get your kids involved in mindfulness and meditation.
This free app is full of guided meditation exercises to suit all age groups. The kids' program starts out with a fun meditation called ‘The Bubble Journey’. Adults ease into the practice with a body scan.
Over time, you’ll go from beginner to "mindful master". Eventually you will be able to conduct your own meditation sessions on the fly. A quick 10-minute mediation is all you need to reap the benefits.
Next time you’re in the car waiting for the school bell to ring or just before you go to bed, plug-in your headphones and unwind.
Find a mindfulness program
A quick google search of ‘mindfulness’ will result in no shortage of blog posts, websites and self-help books, but practicing mindfulness doesn’t have to be a solo venture.
If you’re lucky, you might be able to find a women’s wellness centre near you. WTribe on the Central Coast is among a handful of industry leaders empowering women through mindfulness. With mindfulness sessions, gym classes, workshops and online programs, you can take a holistic approach to your wellbeing, embracing your authentic self and inspire your kids to do the same.
See if there’s a a similar initiative in your area or check out an online program. It is not an overstatement to say it will change your life.
Figure out your values
Spend some time getting to know yourself. This doesn’t mean sitting in front of the mirror and staring at your reflection until a mind-blowing revelation reveals what your true purpose is. You’re not Ghandi.
You probably know what your main purpose is; to be the best mother you possibly can. But you’re not just a mum. You might be a wife or a partner. You’re a friend, you’re a hard worker, you’re a role model. Spend some time figuring out what your values are and start living by them.
Join a women’s gym
From big chains to smaller boutique centres, there are plenty of gyms that are solely dedicated to women. Most of the women who go to the gym grapple with their ‘me time’ as much as you do. Yes, there may still be the odd tight-bummed, yoga enthusiast cover girl that makes you question what the hell you’re doing in a gym, but for the most part, women’s gyms offer a judgement free space to get a little sweaty regardless of your fitness level.
Any gym worth its salt with have a crèche for the kids to play in while you work out.
Most gyms will run morning and afternoon classes that work around the school drop off/pick up schedule. Working mums can take advantage of early morning or lunchtime sessions. Have a crack at Zumba, Pilates, yoga, spin, boxing, step or basically anything that gets you moving. The best part is that you don’t have to worry if you look like an idiot because everyone else is doing the exact same thing.
If training solo is your thing, lifting weights might help you lift some other unwanted weight off your shoulders.