A deep look into the triggers we face as parents and how mindfulness can help in our own self-regulation…
It’s no secret within my close circle that mindfulness plays a huge part in my life. I have always believed that there is so much to be gained from being completely checked-in to the present moment. In my personal experience, the magic sits right there in the present. Not to say that some moments in life don’t bring challenges, difficulty and heartbreak…of course they do. This is the beauty of life, an evergreen of ebb and flow. which is exactly where mindfulness has served me incredibly well.
So there I was, this mindful woman, completely in control of my calm. Taking time daily for my own mindfulness practices and self-care. Nothing but time for myself and my own personal development. And then, I became a mother.
Motherhood in general has a way of slapping us around the face with a completely new reality. It’s as if everything we knew and once subscribed to goes right out the window, and there we are…this new, completely exhausted, version of ourselves that we can’t seem to recognise. The image of who we once were becomes this blurry vision. In my case, my mindfulness flew out the window with every other part of me the second I become a mum. I had applied my mindfulness practices throughout my pregnancy and even during my labour, but in my sleep-deprived fog it had seemed to disappear.
I spent the first year of motherhood doing what all new mothers do, just trying to figure out what the hell was actually going on. I was constantly trying to get ahead within our daily routine – somehow if the baby was clean, fed, bottles sterilised, appointments reached on time and I miraculously managed a shower…life was good. I hung my hat on these small wins, which meant that the ‘off days’ became crippling to my mental health. And let’s face it, there are many more off days than on when adjusting to motherhood.
When my son was turning one, things completely came to a head. Planning his first birthday party and striving for this ultimate perfection caught up with me. It was like my need for control and perfectionism had been in training for the past year, and this was their ultimate time to shine. The party went off without a hitch but I was so consumed with this need to make it perfect that I missed the joy. The joy had completely disappeared for me. The next day, as the dust settled, two of the closest people in my life very gently brought to my attention how different I had become. Luckily, in my perfection driven haze, I experienced a moment of clarity and knew they were right.
Over the next day or so, I really began to reflect on my behaviours. Where were they coming from? Who was this person? What had happened to that mindful woman in total control of her calm? Where was she? I sat down and meditated for the first time in a year and then I started journaling and it poured out of me. All of my fears and anxieties were right there, jumping off the paper at me. In that moment, I knew I had lost touch with myself. In my efforts to keep everything afloat (and looking quite perfect – ‘I’m a new mum and I’ve totally got this under control!’) I had drifted away from myself.
A return to mindfulness is what rescued my journey as a mum. The answer was right there…the ultimate anecdote to impulses around control and perfectionism was mindfulness. I started to build my once-loved practices back into my routine and quite quickly felt the impact. It was there all along, waiting for my return. Mindfulness for me, is about being completely present to experience the magic in each moment. It had always been about this for me, and now with a little human to relish in, I could see the benefits of this practice more than ever.
I began to note down the key principles in my life that were rooted within my mindfulness practices. They were all clear as day for me…
- Being present in the moment
- Finding healthy balance
- Growing in gratitude
- Practicing self-love
- Living with intention
- Exploring Patience
- Finding self-awareness
- Listening to my inner-voice
- Applying emotional focus
- Allowing inner-peace
- Knowing my own worthiness
- Using self-reflection to acknowledge my purpose and direction
These key pillars within my life are what I slowly returned to and it has been the making of me as a mum. It isn’t about achieving perfectionism. That is a chase with no catch that you will be on for a lifetime if you allow yourself to be. There’s no such thing as a perfect person or parent – but there is such thing as a parent deeply rooted within their own self-awareness; a parent who recognises where they are emotionally at any given moment and has the ability to apply their own self-regulating tools. This is a parent that can thrive in the evergreen of the ebbs and flows of life. This is where your journey both as a human being and a parent begins to make space for joy!
From this turn in my parenting journey I was able to create the mission within Mini Mindfuls. Everything I do at Mini Mindfuls is mission-led and incorporates mindfulness along with the core principles I’ve outlined above. Parents and children can take this journey together, just like I did as a new mum with Callum. Our children learn from what we model, but we as parents stand to learn so much from our children. It’s a journey I encourage all families to take together…become present as a team, find balance within your homes, experience unbridled joy together and know that the tools you put in place now will serve you and your families well as you move through life.