Should busy mums make time for mindfulness? Can mindfulness help busy mums to feel less stressed and cope better with the daily challenges that life throws at them? But how can we make a self-care and a mindfulness practice a part of our already-packed days?
Professional Organiser Pauline Purves of Pleasant Homes tells us how. So over to Pauline…
I firmly believe that ‘mindful living’ can contribute in a very positive way to improve our overall well being. In addition, it can specifically help mums to create more organised homes and lifestyles.’
In this blog, I would like to share with you some of the mindfulness techniques that I have used during the course of my life. Much of this was learned as a member of the School of Philosophy for over 25 years. In addition to this, I taught a weekly Mindfulness night school classes for over 10 years in central London.
In this blog I want to cover the first two steps of how to introduce mindfulness as a daily practice:
- Checking in with ourselves at the beginning of the day.
- Pausing throughout the day.
Prior to this, it is worth considering:
What do scientists say about the benefits of Mindfulness?
- In recent years scientists have discovered that mindfulness techniques help improve physical health in a number of ways. It can help relieve stress, treat heart disease, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, and improve sleep.
- All these physical benefits also benefit our mental health, by giving us an increased sense of being able to cope, which leads to increased confidence and renewed self-esteem.
- This is further enhanced by the fact that we have just entered a new decade, where much more is understood about taking a holistic approach to our overall health & wellbeing. Thankfully, the age-old taboo with regard to mental illness is on the decline. This has indeed been much helped by the recent willingness of celebrities including the Princes William and Harry, to talk about their own mental health challenges.
Life’s journey and parenthood
- Many of us spend our teens and twenties improving our education and then embarking on a career. Certainly, in my twenties, I focused pretty much entirely on my career, which resulted directly in me rapidly moving up the career chain.
- Prior to having a family, we are essentially at the centre of our universe.
What changes with parenthood?
- Once we become parents, our outlooks and priorities inevitably change.
- The challenge for busy mums is to be the best parents they can be, while simultaneously making time for their own self-care
On a daily basis, there is only one person that we will be with ALL day and that is with OURSELVES.
Step One: Checking in with ourselves
How we start our day is important.
- When we meet other people that we know, we frequently ask them how they are.
- In the same way, each morning when we first wake up, we should take a few minutes to sit quietly and check-in with ourselves, in order to identify how we are.
- We can ask ourselves ‘How am I feeling? Am I tired, anxious, irritable, scared, happy, sad, emotional, overwhelmed, etc.?
- By identifying with how we feel at the start of the day, we can identify what we need to be mindful of in terms of our own self-care.
- For example, if we note that we are feeling overwhelmed and anxious about the schedule for the day, by being mindful, rational and uncritical, it may be clear that we need to ask for help or make some adjustments to the day’s plan.
From my own personal experience, the way I start my day has a direct impact on how the day unfolds:
- When I remember to ‘check-in’ with myself first thing in the morning, I am in a far better place to deal with the day’s events.
- Conversely, on the days when I forget this simple practice, and launch into the day like an unguided missile, I am far more likely to be mis-measured, ego-driven and neglect my own self-care, which can result in exhaustion at the end of the day.
The key is to find what works for you in order to help you to remember to ‘check-in’ with yourself:
- It may be to start with a small daily reading or listening to a meditation recording which you have close to hand for when you first wake up;
- Or, simply sitting quietly for a few minutes of reflection;
- Alternatively, you may prefer to write down how you are feeling and any actions you need to take as a result of this insight;
- Some people prefer to identify how they are feeling and then to remember 3 things that they are grateful for.
It is about progress not perfection. It is always difficult to introduce a new practice into our daily lives, so if you do forget, do not be critical but resolve to make a concerted effort to remember the next day.
In time, you will notice the distinct difference that ‘checking in’ with ourselves at the beginning of the day makes. The benefits throughout the day are:
- Greater self-awareness.
- More measure.
- Greater efficiency.
- Pausing more frequently.
Step Two: Remembering to pause throughout the day
The dictionary definition of the word pause is simply ‘a temporary stop in action or speech’.
Pausing between activities can bring order to our day. If we take the analogy of a paragraph for example, without any punctuation it will make no sense. However, the simple inclusion of punctuation by way of commas & full stops has a transformative effect.
As in the above analogy, when we rush into the day with no ‘checking in’ we are more likely to have a chaotic as opposed to a measured day.
The way to introduce this is to put into practice acknowledging the beginning and end of each activity by pausing in between them.
How we juggled a new business with young children
In addition to the above 2 techniques we can also include:
- Daily gratitude lists + a Thought for the day.
- Making lists gives a sense of ‘getting somewhere’ as we tick them off once completed.
- Pausing in between activities – gives the day clarity.
- Dealing with one task at a time.
- Making time for myself.
What the positive effects of the above techniques on me & our overall family life were:
- Clarity of mind.
- Reduce the sense of being overwhelmed & not being able to cope.
- Be able to remain detached & thus more able to problem-solve.
- Be positive & non-self-critical.
- Remain practical but disciplined in creating a consistent routine of activities, mealtimes & bedtimes for the children. This later included homework time once the children had started school.
- Having routine & order made it easier to making quality time for myself & my husband, as well as quality family time at weekends.
And finally, remember that asking for help is a strength, not a weakness.
Pauline Purves is a Professional Organiser. To find out more about what a Professional Organiser does, head over to Pauline’s website. You can also find out more about Pauline, her specific ethos, and the importance of the ambiance in your home here.