The kids are back to school, there are tons of activities to carpool to and your to do list just gets longer and longer. This is what we call Life. Even as I am writing this, I am eating my lunch, resisting the urge to check email messages and changing my Pandora station. Why is it so difficult to focus? Our lives and the lives of our children are constantly in motion and it is so rare that we take a moment to just be present with what is happening right here and right now, not what we just did or what we need to do in an hour or next week. Being present is something that I try to practice when I am able to get to a yoga class, and even then it is hard to keep your mind in the moment, but that is why we call it a practice. I know that as moms we are all busy, which is why I have done a bit of research for the community and put together a few little tips and ideas to help you stay present, even if it is just a brief moment or, if you are lucky, maybe a 10 minute break. Read on and give them a try:
Be Mindful and Present with your Chores – Okay, I admit that this sounds pretty boring, but what if instead of being crabby about folding laundry or doing the dishes, you used this time for yourself. When doing the dishes, think about every step you are doing, how the water feels on your hands, where you will put the dish in the dishwasher, etc. When you are folding laundry, enjoy your daughter’s shirt, think about why you bought it for her and imagine her running around in it. Yes, it might sound corny at first, but when you are truly in the moment the work won’t seem as hard and you will be present with your chore. For more ideas like this, check out these additional tips of mindfulness for busy people.
Use Idle Time to Your Advantage – The next time you find yourself alone in your car (I know those moments are rare)–maybe you are a few minutes early for soccer pick up or you escaped to do grocery shopping alone–no matter where you are parked, take 2-3 minutes to just breathe. Close your eyes (again, make sure you are parked safely), count to four as you are breathing in, hold for 1-2 seconds and let it out for six seconds. Do this 10 times. This will give a lovely sense of peace and calm. If you don’t get 10 breaths in, that’s okay, do as many as you can and enjoy the time of stillness. This is also a great trick for calming children down when they are super upset or are in the middle of a tantrum.
Practice Mindfulness Even with The Kids Around – This article from the Huffington Post is part of Stress-Less Parenting Club’s new workshop. The leader Carla Naumburg is showing how to make family life calmer and happier through mindful parenting. In the post she challenges the reader to incorporate mindfulness in everyday life, for example with your morning coffee, instead of just gulping it down while mindlessly scanning Facebook (I admit, I am totally guilty of this), instead smell your coffee, feel the warmth on your hands from the mug and feel the steam on your lip. Really enjoy the drink that starts each morning. Another idea is to be mindful while exercising, listen to your breathing (instead of a podcast) and listen to your body, think about how you are feeling in your arms, legs, feet, all over. This is also a great thing to do when running or walking outside, instead of listing to music, listen to the sounds of nature and try and identify all the sounds you hear.
Do Yoga with Your Kids – My sister is a co-op pre-school teacher, one of her lessons for the class each day is a little yoga session. In a co-op, parents come to class with their kids and in her class the kids are all about 2-3 years old. I can’t think of a better way to start your school day off than doing yoga with your parent! It helps the kids to focus, calm down and get ready for the next activity and it gives the parents a little time to breathe and move in their body. Although not all schools offer yoga (even though I think they should), you can always find a couple minutes to do a few moves at home with your kids, practicing your breathing and moving your body is a great way to help you and your kids wind down and be present. Here are a few moves to start your home yoga practice.
I will be the first to admit that being mindful is not easy and I am not sure that anyone will ever be perfect at it, but with time and practice you can integrate stillness in your everyday life, even if it is just a few minutes. And, you might find you will have more patience for your son or daughter when they are freaking out they can’t find their shoes or when you are sitting in rush hour traffic. You can find more helpful tips here and here.