Being mindful is hard enough at the best of times. Throw a couple of kids into the mix, and it sometimes feels like you’re spending your whole life just trying to keep your head above water, running from one thing to the next, attempting (and failing) to achieve a bazillion things at once and never (I mean NEVER) having any time to yourself. Not even to pee.
Yet we all know how connected we feel with our children, and how much calmer we feel in general when we have those moments of mindfulness. They just don’t happen often enough.
I asked post-natal health and fitness expert Kimmy Smith to give us a few tips.
Thanks Kimmy and over to you…
As most mums know, the juggle can be really difficult…
I used to play professional netball while working as a corporate lawyer. I’d get up at 5AM to train for an hour in the morning and then work a full day before training again for two to three hours in the evening. I thought that was a juggle. Turns out I was just preparing myself for life as a modern mum.
As the founder of the Fit Mummy Project, I understand how stressful modern motherhood can be. More and more mums are working either full-time or part-time, and yet, we still seem to carry most of the load when it comes to household chores, arranging family events and raising our children. No wonder we may feel a bit stressed or overwhelmed from time to time or even all of the time!
So how do we tune out of this stressful way of living and find a more balanced and calmer lifestyle?
Here are 5 ways to being a more mindful mum.
1. Stop Multi-tasking – it’s time to change the way we think about it
Multi-tasking in theory is a great idea. Getting two things done in half the time – count me in. Except there is a catch…
Our brains are not wired to be able to concentrate on two competing tasks at once. Rather than helping us to feel calm and in control, multi-tasking can actually lead to us feeling overwhelmed and stressed.
My Tip: Take some time to plan your day. Use my tip below and allow ten minutes between each task. Try to focus on just doing one task at a time and see how much more relaxed you feel at the end of the day.
2. Plan your Day in 3’s
What does your to-do list look like? Is it a mile long?
I love this trick, which is all about setting three tasks or key ‘to-do’ items for your day. Focus on getting these done and put off the less pressing tasks until later in the week.
As a working mumma, I will set three work tasks to get done and three life admin tasks to get done each day. It amazes me how many things I would have tried to cram into the one day when they could have been put on hold.
It means you have to prioritise and be organised, but it will lead to you simplifying your life and it feeling far less overwhelming.
One of the simplest and most effective ways to become more mindful is to bring your awareness to your breath. Simply by focusing on your breath, you bring awareness into your body and to the present moment.
There is research to suggest that one way to reduce your stress levels instantly is to focus on extending the length of your ‘exhale’. Slowing down the length of our exhale helps us to activate our parasympathetic nervous system and communicate to our bodies that we are safe.
If you are feeling stressed or overwhelmed try this simple breathing exercise:
- Take a deep breath in for a count of four. Focus on breathing right down into the pit of your stomach and expanding your rib cage out wide
- Slowly allow your breath to escape, trying to extend the length of your exhale for a count of five
- Pause for a moment and then repeat for ten breaths.
My Tip: If you find your mind wandering, you may want to repeat a simple mantra such as “calm” on each exhale. Or just say to yourself “in” when you breathe in and “out” when you breathe out.
4. Yoga for the Modern Mummy
Yoga is a busy mum’s absolute secret weapon. It is not just about the postures or asanas that you do on the mat; it is a way of living and being. I try to incorporate yoga into my day, every day.
One simple pose that will help you to feel more calm and centred is Uttanasana or Forward Fold. Simply bend at the waist to fold your upper body forward. Bend your knees as much as you need to create a nice long spine and neck.
This pose is great for calming your central nervous system and mind. If I am feeling a bit overwhelmed or crazy, I just bend forward and take five deep belly breaths.
The best tip I can offer you regarding meditation, is to not take it too seriously. Meditation is an incredible tool for the modern mumma. It can help us to feel calmer and bring more presence to our day.
I definitely know that when you already have a million and one things to do in your day, it is pretty much impossible to imagine finding a spare ten or twenty minutes to sit down and do nothing. That is why I included short five minute guided meditations for mums in the Fit Mummy Project App. They are simply a chance to re-set and bring awareness back to the present moment.
My favourite mediation is to do a simple four count breath cycle:
- Breathe in for a count of four
- Hold your inhale for one second and then exhale for a count of four
- Hold the exhale for a count of one before drawing your next breath in
- Repeat this for one to five minutes
Thoughts will come up – that is fine. Each time you catch yourself in a train of thought simply bring awareness back to your breath.
Fit Mummy Project
I created the Fit Mummy Project to inspire new mums to return to exercise in a safe and positive way through movement and mindfulness. The Fit Mummy Project shares short and effective post-natal workouts that are designed just for busy mums.
Do you have any tricks or tools you use to be a more mindful mummy? I would love to hear them!