Meditating with kids
Interesting article for your mum to read!
"First of all, congratulations! What’s it like being a new Mum?
My daughter is 9 months old now and being a mum is something no-one can prepare you for. It is the most amazing, fulfilling feeling while at the same time utterly terrifying and exhausting. Being mum is full of superlatives. I wouldn’t change it for anything, I am feeling more love than I thought humanly possible, while there are moments and elements of this “new normal” that I would happily give up - hello lack of sleep, privacy, personal time, ability to plan or be on time.
Had you been into meditation before, or is this a new practice for you?
I have been meditating for a couple of years now. First to help me deal with a stressful job and then to keep on improving my wellbeing. It was extremely useful dealing with worries in pregnancy, the process of giving birth and now when caring for a little one I am appreciating this practice more than ever!
Can meditation be frustrating or anger-inducing when you’ve got so much going on around you?
I wouldn’t say meditation makes me angry. However there are definitely times that I find it hard to be still and stick with it when dealing with many unpleasant thoughts, when I feel like so much needs to be done, when I feel especially concerned about something. In these situations meditation can feel like a struggle and I do get very frustrated. However, when I finish, I definitely always feel much better!
Have there been any funny or silly moments happen during your meditation practices?
I love meditating outside and once I almost had a heart attack when I felt something soft touching my leg as I was sitting in a garden of a holiday home. I was quite deep in my meditation and came out literally jumping up as a cat was getting friendly and enjoying my good vibes.
Would you say meditation has helped you on your new journey as a mother?
For sure! I am much more able to deal with uncertainty of raising a child. I am a little bit more patient. I try and be more present and less distracted when I am with my baby, appreciating every moment, because everything goes SO fast when they are growing up. I am kinder to myself, trying not to be too critical and harsh when I am not living up to the “ideal mum” that I feel like I should be. And the most important help in difficult times has been realising that nothing ever lasts - not the sleepless nights, the worries, the cries for no apparent reason, but nor do the early smiles, unlimited hugs or naps together.
Are there certain types of meditation that you recommend for new mothers in particular?
Whatever type of meditation you practice, you are “working the muscle” of awareness. So if you try one method and it doesn’t seem right to you, don’t give up and try something else - I guarantee there will be a technique that will click. Personally, I have been practicing a being technique (Vedic meditation) consistently, but some days I feel like listening to someone guiding me through a more mindfulness-based practice. I recommend doing a little bit of research, talking to friends or people who meditate to find out more and then giving one a go, ideally with a teacher or an app. And if you don’t feel like committing to something specific, listen to a recorded guided meditation that has a specific theme that resonates with your current need. For new mums that might be relaxation, dealing with worries and uncertainty, helping with sleep or releasing fatigue.
Do you meditate at a particular time of day?
I used to meditate first thing in the morning, before breakfast. That has changed, now that someone else dictates my life schedule! We have now found our rhythm and so my daughter’s first nap of the day has turned into my meditation time. That is non-negotiable for me - whatever needs to be done has to wait. The moment she falls asleep, I sit down and close my eyes (so that I don’t have to look at the piles of laundry!). She naps for 25 minutes usually, so perfect timing as she acts as an alarm to end my sitting!When she was very little I used to meditate next to her cot, sitting on the floor in the darkness. This was for practical reasons as she needed help falling asleep. I won’t lie, those weren’t the most satisfying meditations, but still very beneficial! Now I sit in a separate room where I can still hear her wake up. I try and get a second meditation in the day as well, but this is only occasional. I manage usually when I am teaching, guiding my students during an afternoon meditation, but it relies on my other half looking after the little one. She likes to get involved vocally, which isn’t always the most satisfying soundscape to meditate to!
Do you have any tips on creating space for yourself to meditate. I imagine getting a free 10-15 minutes might be hard to come by!
There are a couple of points to create and maintain your meditation practice with a baby or small child (I am sure it changes as they grow and stop napping!) First, setting a realistic expectation. Get others involved - if you have a partner or someone who shares childcare with you, make them aware of how important this is for you and ensure they help you create that space. Second, associate meditation with a specific activity more than a specific time on the clock. Babies are unpredictable, but certain things always happen. Instead of planning to meditate at 9am every day, aiming for their first nap whatever time it ends up being is more realistic. Third, celebrate your successes and don’t beat yourself up if you miss a meditation or two (or 10). There is enough guilt in being a Mum, you don’t need to pile it on with something that is meant to make you feel better! Realising your self-worth and priorities is key. Once you notice that meditating makes you more relaxed, patient and present to be there for others, the opportunities present themselves.
With a lack of sleep, random bouts of shrieking and crying, and a home that probably looks rather topsy turvy, that would be enough to make anyone feel completely frazzled. But what we’ve learnt from Pavlina is that yes, sometimes life gets in the way and you can’t always stick to business as usual - but making time for yourself, even if realistically it’s only a few minutes can be the difference between a good day and a great day. But perhaps most importantly, let go the the guilt and kinder to yourself. Nothing about this situation is predictable and sometimes despite your best efforts it just doesn’t happen, but don’t give up. You’re doing your best, and you can always try again tomorrow."
Are you ready to start your meditation practice?