Thrilled to say hi, let me introduce myself… I’m Lucy Felton, Alex and Alexa’s Life & Style Contributor, a fashion journalist turned lifestyle blogger at The Lucy Edit, wife, mum of two (one of each – Hector, 3, Hadley, 1) and lover of chocolate, décor and buying hordes of magazines I inevitably never get to read!
Just like you guys, I’m a mother trying to juggle it all, stay sane and pretend I’ve got all bases covered when I’m generally having a meltdown on the inside and dropping plates left, right and centre. I never get to go to the bathroom alone anymore and can’t remember the last cup of tea I drank hot, but would I change it? Of course not! As I navigate the chaos that is life with two tinies, I’m here sharing my motherhood journey with you all. Expect plenty of baby hacks, parenting tips and postpartum advice.
If you feel a million miles away from achieving any kind of mindfulness in your crazy mama life, then you’re not alone. When I first spoke to the team at Alex and Alexa about penning my thoughts on mama mindfulness, I almost chickened out of even trying to share my tips and advice on the subject. The truth of it is, it feels like there’s been very few moments of calm and ease throughout my last four years of pregnancy and motherhood.
From the very start it was that feeling of being totally out of control as a mother-to-be heading into the unknowns of pregnancy. Then the vulnerability crept in as a new mum in charge of a small person who relied on me completely. I vividly remember pulling the curtains closed in the maternity ward so that no one could watch me change my very first nappy. In my head, I was clearly going to be doing it all wrong! Fast forward to 2020 and it’s the chaos that’s become my every day now I’m two babies in and motoring through the toddler years. There’s not a morsel of calm about any of the above, just one big cocktail of anxiety.
Motherhood has been the biggest test of patience and resilience I’ve ever faced. You head into it one person and emerge out the other side someone totally different. While on the emotional front, in a single day of parenting it’s completely normal to be filled with insane love for your kids one minute before finding yourself in complete dismay the next. It brings a whole new meaning to being a bit ‘up and down’. I’ve lost count of the days I’ve woken with a positive attitude, filled with motivation to be mega patient and harness my special supermum powers, to only find myself snapping at the kids before I’m even one coffee in. And I didn’t ever expect to feel like my past life had been snatched away from me either. Yes, I’m going to say it, I miss all of the things I used to do pre-babies. Guilty. Speaking of guilt, the mum-kind comes pretty thick and fast. Guilty for forgetting to brush their teeth, guilty for skipping playgroup, guilty for sending them to nursery, guilty for not sending them to nursery.
With all this change to deal with my health and wellness goals have generally amounted to an abysmal two minute checklist. 1. Drink heaps of water 2. Take vitamins and 3. Dust off the yoga mat. Finding time to be mindful has been something I’ve pushed to the bottom of the pile. It hasn’t ever really even made the pile, until recently. Why? Because 90% of the time I can’t push past the overwhelming sense that there’s zero chance of being able to fit anything other than basic parenting into my day. It’s this vicious cycle that leads to many mums like me living with anxiety – it’s their new normal.
It’s easy to brush off anxiety as a phase that will pass. A bit like when the kids are teething, potty training or having night terrors, you power on through and pray for the light at the end of the tunnel. Sure, anxiety comes and goes but each time it takes hold just that little bit more. So if you’ve ever experienced that spiralling sense of being out of control, have laid in bed wide awake unable to sleep, or struggled to silence that constant running commentary whirring around in your head, then the mama mindfulness movement is definitely for you.
Finding time to be mindful has been something I’ve pushed to the bottom of the pile. It hasn’t ever really even made the pile… until recently.
The rise in advocating mama’s mental health has been the trigger I needed to act on the way I’ve felt throughout motherhood so far. When positive news recently hit the headlines that from 2020 all pregnant women now have access to dedicated teams in their area, there to support any mum struggling with their mental health, I thought ‘yep, I could have done with a slice of that.’ Available both before and after baby arrives, it still requires self-referral, or referral from a GP, which means being totally open and honest about how you’re feeling and having the confidence to reach out and ask for help. There are barriers. Shouldn’t it just be standard practice and a central part of the maternity care we’re entitled to?
I’ve quickly come to realise that looking after your mind during parenthood is paramount. You’ve got to be proactive and it goes way beyond the two minute postnatal check-ups many of us receive at our local doctors surgeries. The ‘glad you’re ok, we’ll see you for baby’s next vaccines’ certainly doesn’t cater for how we’ll feel two years down the line. Spending so much time alone with babies who don’t really talk back to us means we’re forever in autopilot cleaning up, feeding, changing nappies, doing bath and bedtime, and our minds often get the better of us. A running commentary of over-thinking can take over, we dwell on things and focus on what we haven’t achieved that day, rather than what we have.
For me, being mindful in motherhood is about being content with what’s going on in my life right now – and that’s the kids. When I let go of all of the other things I feel I’m meant to be doing and embrace that looking after my children is a great achievement, I take a huge leap towards being present and enjoying the moment. When the doubt kicks in, I try to dip into simple mindfulness exercises that can be practiced at home or on-the-go. They cut through the noise and take no time at all, because let’s face it, finding time in a day at home with two small children is HARD. You’ve just got to dive in and throw these techniques into your daily ethos to get a mindful fix. Ready to ground yourself? Here’s some starting points.
Your Essential Mama
Find A Mindful Pause
Pinpoint regular moments in the day to find a mindful pause. It can be as simple as the ritual of brewing tea or when you’re washing your hands. Use this opportunity to check in with your body by grounding both feet firmly on the floor. Then take a few deep, full breaths in and out, shifting the focus from everything that’s buzzing around in your head to your breath and body. Stick to two or three repetitions so that your mind doesn’t get a chance to wander.
Make It A Game For The Kids
Practicing mindfulness with the kids means you’re less likely to be hassled during that moment of calm. Try doing belly breathing together. Ask them to pick out their favourite blanket then get everyone to lie on their backs on the ‘mindful mat’. Relax muscles, place hands on bellies and then breathe in with mouths closed to fill the whole chest. Let it out and repeat. Try the same trick in the garden, watching the clouds and birds pass in the sky. Don’t stress too much about everyone joining in, if they run off, let them, they’ll soon come back to see what’s going on.
Finally Discover Yoga
Just five minutes can completely overhaul your state of mind and banish away irritability and anxiety. Head to YouTube and search Yoga With Adriene where you’ll find no-fuss routines broken down into easy-to-digest topics. She’s spot-on for everything from Under 10 Minute Yoga Practices to Yoga For The Winter Blues and Fill Your Cup Yoga.
Get Centred As Mum
It’s so easy to become bogged down with the panic of how much you’ve got to do, the chaos of the daily timetable and where the children have got to be next, that you forget to stop and recognise that everything’s ok. Being mum is all that’s needed in this moment and you’re doing a great job, so cut yourself some slack.
Zone In On A Book
Shifting the focus onto a book that can help the entire family creates a welcome distraction. Izzy Judd’s new book Mindfulness for Mums is crammed with ideas of how to incorporate mindfulness into your day while stories of kindness like Charlie Mackesy’s The Boy, The Mole, The Fox and the Horse are packed with the feel-good factor. Likewise, Shirley Hughes Out And About book of poems about the changing seasons brings pure, infectious joy.
Embrace Quiet Concentration
It sounds simple, but just joining them on the playmat, playing with toys together engrossed in the moment, is a great way to be mindful with minimal effort required. Enjoy the quiet concentration and the pleasure and appreciation written all over their faces as they explore and discover with mum by their side.
How do you incorporate mindfulness into parenting? Do you suffer with mama anxiety? What do you do to calm an anxious mind? Join the mindful mama movement and share your own mindfulness techniques in the comments below. You can find lots more fashion, baby and parenting over at my blog The Lucy Edit and Instagram @thelucyedit. Stop by and join in the conversation.
Stay mindful and speak soon.
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