This was an article I wrote for The Early Hour.
Life as a modern mum can be madness. There is so much to do - picking up, dropping off, cooking, working, cleaning, packing bags, unpacking bags, spending time with the husband (occasionally), let alone trying to find time to have some sort of social life.
Our modern lives as mums have never been busier, more stressful or pressured. It can be so hard to turn the attention to ourselves, to reconnect with who you are and how you’re feeling - but I believe it’s vital we find time to, and often.
Without coming back to ourselves and getting stuck on the ‘give, give, give’ train, we’re even more likely to feel that pressure, stress and overwhelm. We’re more likely to snap at the kids, our family and curse the woman holding up the queue under our breath (or maybe that’s just me).
We’re also going to find ourselves reacting to life all the time, instead of responding.
Re-connecting back to you doesn’t mean long candlelit baths, spa weekends or walking in woods (although all those things are lovely…). It means seeing how you’re doing, how you’re feeling, what’s going on for you right now.
It’s bringing yourself back to centre.
Despite being a wellbeing coach, when motherhood came along I was massively thrown off course and I’ve been on my own journey, learning along the way, how to stay connected to me and in turn be a present, calm mum.
1. Stop and drop
I don’t know about you, but I often get stuck in my head - thoughts whizzing around, darting from one topic to another or I’ll fixate on one issue and turn it round and round in my mind and get stuck in ‘analysis paralysis’.
The problem with this type of thinking it that’s it’s unproductive and actually blocks us from opening up to the creative solutions we often so badly want.
So what can we do?
I practice the ‘stop and drop’.
When I notice I’ve lost myself in crazy thinking, I stop what I’m doing and drop into my body.
- How do I feel right now?
Where am I holding tension?
Is my jaw clenched?
Are my shoulders high?
Dropping out of your head and into your body will help to calm your mind and bring you back to the moment.
Writing is one of the most powerful and simple tools we have as mums to connect back and get some perspective.
When I teach journaling, I often face a lot of resistance - time, the concern of it being read, not knowing what to write - my response is always the same, just start for 5 minutes a day and see what happens. Often my clients can’t believe the difference it makes.
It only takes 5 minutes a day and you can do this with pen and paper (which is preferable) or on your phone.
Here are 5 questions you can ask yourself to get started
- How am I feeling right now?
What am I worried about?
What’s on my mind?
What would I like more of in my life?
What am I grateful for?
3. Put your phone down
Having the world in our pocket has undoubtedly changed our lives, and I think for the better. But something I’ve noticed in my own life is how easy it is to use the phone to disconnect from myself.
When an uncomfortable feeling comes up, I often find myself mindlessly reaching for my phone (and inevitably onto the Instagram app) to distract myself, to numb the feeling.
The issue with doing this habitually is that our feelings need to be processed, they are often telling us something and if we don’t face them head-on, they can come out sideways. So snapping at your husband over dinner might be that feeling you repressed after something triggered you in the playground this morning.
This is obviously a huge topic, but I’d love you just to become aware of it. Tune into your feelings and use your journalling gently to explore them.
And remember that what causes the most pain in our lives is trying to avoid uncomfortable feelings, not the feelings themselves.
4. Write a letter to you on your 90th birthday
As busy mum’s it’s easy for the days, the years and even the decades to fly by in a blur of activity and doing, getting stuck on the roundabout of busy modern life and schools runs, without ever asking ourselves what we really want or dream of doing.
One of the first exercises I ask clients to complete is to write a letter to their 90-year-old self.
What have you done in life?
What have you learned?
How have you grown?
Have you found peace of mind?
Have you risked truly being you?
Have you done everything you dreamed of?
This is a really simple, powerful way of reconnecting back to you and your dreams. Remember to tune into what you really want, not what you think you should want.
5. Just breathe
I know it sounds like one of those cheesy Insta quotes, but I promise you it works. I think we all intuitively know this, which why we’ll often tell someone distressed to ‘take a few deep breaths’.
When we’re stressed and rushing our breath becomes shorter and shallower as we breathe out of our chest, this, in turn, causes tension in our body and can trigger the fight/ flight/freeze response, causing further stress and so the cycle goes on.
So as you’re going about your day, stop and focus on two deep breaths. In through the nose and right down into the belly and out again.
Deep breathing not only calms us down it also brings awareness to the moment, which can help us to notice that life is a thread of moments, woven together that come and go exactly as they were meant to.