Finding the balance
I’ll be honest, learning how to be both a mother and a wife while still being me was a hard transition. It’s been a lot of trial and error. There’s been countless times I’ve felt overwhelmed or like I couldn’t keep my head above water. And while I love my son to pieces, the first few months after he was born resulted in some tears. And no, not because I missed my sleep or because I had no idea how to calm a crying baby! (Although those things are also true). But I missed being me. I missed meditating. And painting. And sipping wine while enjoying a hot bubble bath! I felt as though I was trying to do everything but really wasn’t accomplishing anything.
I tried to fit in time for myself. I tried to plan dates for my husband and I so we wouldn’t lose us. I tried to prep healthy meals so I could get back to feeling normal again. And most importantly, I tried to savor those moments with my baby. (Because oh my god how fast they grow up!) But how could I savor those moments when I was being pulled in so many directions?
So I let go. I let go of every single expectation other than being present with my son. I let laundry go un-done. I ordered in meals when I was tired. I called my mom to babysit when I wanted to paint.
And slowly, I began to find that perfect balance. The balance that allows me to continue running my business, to develop my art, to be a present wife all while being a mindful mama.
I am able to balance all of these things and somehow still have more
moments of joyful presence with my son! I can’t say it enough… savor
those moments! And I mean really savor them. Be there in the moment. Letting go of to-do lists and thoughts about dinner. Laugh. Play. Watch their eyes light up as they discover new things.
10 ways to be a more mindful mama
Here are some things I’ve discovered along the way. Ways that you too, can begin to shed the busy-ness, still have time for you, all while still being the most mindful mama you can be!
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1. Decide on your non-negotiables. What can you not live without? What is crucial for your family? It simply isn’t possible to be a mindful mama and do everything! So for me and my family, I have 7 non-negotiables: I make my baby home-made food, I nourish myself by meditating everyday, I use my gratitude journal, I eat dinner with my husband, I develop my business, I spend time with myself painting. And lastly, I am present and joyful with my son. As for the other things. I do them when I can. Would I like to exercise everyday? Sure, so I’ll try. Do I like to socialize with my friends? Of course, but it might not always happen. Should I make sure the dishes are done and dinner is cooked? Probably. Do I need to make my bed and tidy up baby toys everyday? No, not really.
2. Become a merging master! See where you can combine different activities and items on your to-do list, creating more time for yourself. You can turn folding laundry into a game with your kids. Or you can get in some exercise while you are taking the time to socialize. For us, we turn grocery shopping into a family event. Sure, it takes probably double the time, but we do it joyfully and have fun together!
3. Practice saying no! Advice we’ve all heard many times, but how many of us actually will say no in those uncomfortable moments? How often are you attending a meeting or spending money on an event that you aren’t feeling excited about? Remember, your time is precious. A rule I follow is unless the answer is “hell yes!” then the answer is no. I use this when it comes to how I will spend my time and also with how I spend my money! It makes the things that I do take part it that much more meaningful.
4. You MUST forward plan! This was a hard one for me as anyone who knows me knows I am more of a go with the flow type gal. But I realized that time with my family was at stake. As was my sanity! So I began to forward plan, carving out chunks of time for myself to get things done. On Saturdays I spend one action-packed hour making baby food for the week and freezing it. On Sundays, I spend one hour prepping our meals for the week, storing them in separate containers so that I only need to take 10 minutes each day throwing it together or heating it up.
5. Delegate. I mean, why else did we all have kids if not to help out with the housework?? Just kidding. Kind of. But seriously though, running a household is a full time job and unless you’re willing to give up time for yourself or compromise on those precious moments with your family, it can’t fall solely on your shoulders. For me that means I don’t touch the laundry. Like, ever. My husband spends 10 minutes in the morning before work doing laundry and another 10 minutes in the evening finishing up the laundry. If I cook, he does the dishes. And when my son’s old enough, he will become part of our routine as well!
6. Let go of societal expectations. This one is huge. We moms try so hard to be it all and to do it all. Let it all go. Unless something serves you and your family’s best interest, forget about it! When you go to that potluck, sure you could show up with the fanciest dessert. Or you could show up with a store bought cake. But in showing up with that store bought cake, you bought yourself an extra hour of family time! And that, to me, is worth far more than meeting some unrealistic expectation we feel we have to meet.
7. Hire someone. This is not a luxury. This is not indulging. No, you are not a failure. You are a simply a mom who wants to spend her time savoring her moments with her family! This is worth all the money in the world. Hire someone to clean your house. Or do your laundry. Or run your errands. Maybe this means, shifting your budget. Maybe you eat out one meal less. Or stop buying starbucks coffee. Or maybe you get rid of your unnessarily large wireless bundle. Or downside one of your cars. Or move into a smaller house. Sure, that may sound extreme. But isn’t it more extreme to go a whole day being so busy “doing” that you didn’t take the time to have joyful moments with your kids?
8. Disconnect Daily. I recommend you take download an app for your phone that tracks how you use your phone everyday. I bet you will be amazed at how all those minutes mindlessly scrolling the internet add up! Trust me, your friends will live if you don’t respond to their text within minutes. No one will notice if you aren’t the first to “like” their photos. And Pinterest will still be there at the end of the day. I’m not saying to never spend time online. But, simply become aware of how you are using your time. And maybe that means you put your phone down for the day and just check it every few hours. Or (gasp) only at the the of the day.
9. Make a list of your priorities. Post it. Follow it. Never stray from it. At the top of my list is family time. And not to be bossy, but that should be at the top of yours too! Second on my list is meditating. Third on my list is working on my business. And so on. This helps me to make my decisions everyday. It also helps me to re frame how I view things. This may mean walking past some dirty dishes to get down on the floor and play with your kids. Or it may mean ordering in dinner to buy you some time to yourself. By having this list, it helps you to adjust, compromise and let go of certain things.
10. End each day with a gratitude practice! Take some quiet time to scan your entire day, from start to finish, choosing your favorite moment of the day. You can share this moment with your partner or even your kids if they are old enough. Or you can do it silently before bed! By doing this you are able to take note of your day, ensuring you had those special moments. You are also relishing in and savoring the important times! For more tips on how gratitude can change your daily life, check out this blog post.
Oh, and I think it goes without saying that my advice also includes meditating! Taking even 15 minutes to nourish yourself will result in a much happier, calmer and present mama! Here’s my free Mindful Mama meditation you can give a try.
You can also contact me for a 30 minute free meditation coaching session. Let’s start with where you are at. What struggles do you have as a mother? What would you like to work on?
What others are saying about Amy:
“Amy is very experienced, and her soothing voice creates a personalized meditation that can make me feel more rested in that short time than a full night’s sleep. My personalized meditation helped me focus on my intent as a mother to be present, confident and peaceful. Also reminding me to appreciate the gifts and joy of motherhood. She delivers a positive empowering message. Would make a great gift for any busy mom!”