It has been another topsy turvy week in the world.
Driving horizontal rain and hail giving way to double rainbows. Unspeakable horrors happening to children on the other side of the globe. Funny man Robin Williams passing on. “Mum mum mum” from baby girl’s lips for the first time. Holiday booked. Colourful pictures galore. Plenty of rest.
Another week of trying to be a less anxious and more relaxed mum.
After finishing my first ever week of Mindfulness on a high, I feel I started this past week on a low.
My Monday in particular was relentless. It was traffic, anxiety-to-the-max, grizzles, naughtiness, washing, headaches, too many dirty nappies, airborne toys, tears.
The biggest revelation this week is I’m in love with night time. From about 7pm, a hush descends on our house that fills me with energy and peace.
Our children are snuggled up in their beds, sighing deeply as they sleep, full of dreams and dinner and cuddles. I can finally clear away the chaos from the day.
I can peel potatoes and carrots, and boil water on the stove, and load the dishwasher – all usually mundane actions – but they suddenly seem to sparkle and seduce me because I can do them without questions or commentary or a little duo nipping at my heels.
What I’ve already learned from Mindfulness is that perspective can change everything.
It can bring the sun out when dark clouds are threatening. Seems obvious enough, but honestly, when I was living my Monday I just couldn’t seem to pull my head above the chaos to see anything beautiful in each moment.
But, after having 2 hours post-7pm without the constant babble of little voices puncturing my thoughts, I can look back on the most stressful of days and see many, many gems. They were there, under the sea of commotion.
I tried to remember this as I went about my week. I tried to be more aware of what was happening, and thinking creatively if I encountered a particularly stressful moment.
One example: Amidst a bad cabin fever moment, with an antsy toddler and bored baby and torrential rain ruling out an afternoon walk, I decided I just had to switch things up. Usually I’d be content with puzzles, The Wiggles and playdough on a day like that, but the kids weren’t having a bar of it.
Determined to not let the grizzles get the better of me, I wrapped-up Mr 2 and plonked him undercover on our terrace with his easel and paints. He had a ball out there making a messy masterpiece and dodging the occasional rain drop that flew his way.
Little Miss had a prime viewing spot from the warmth inside, and happily watched Pint-casso at work. It bought me about 30 minutes of contented children and a minute to catch my breath. Success.
Another truly positive development this past week is my ‘to do’ list has shrunk, dramatically.
Even though I haven’t read anything (yet) about Mindfulness and ‘to do’ lists, I suspect if they ever did meet they wouldn’t have a good relationship. While Mindfulness is all about calm, presence and enjoying the current moment, ‘to do’ lists are about future stress, workload and always thinking ahead.
When I noticed I was getting through my daily list quicker than usual, I initially thought the meditations had magically made me more productive, enabling me to get more done. Instead, I realised I just hadn’t added that much to my ‘to do’ list this week, which – funnily enough – was enabling me to get more done.
It’s very out of character for me to not add everything and anything to my daily list; I’m a “list” kind of person.
Traditionally, if it was on my ‘to do’ list it was guaranteed to get done. Of course I assumed this would transfer to my life as a mummy, and I don’t know why it has taken me this long to realise how ridiculous that is.
I am at the mercy of two barely-speaking, fairly-irrational, extremely-cute, highly-adventurous, on-their-own-agenda individuals.
No wonder I was feeling overwhelmed at the start of the day looking at a list of non-urgent and unimportant actions a mile long, and then feeling like a failure at the end of the day when I’d only checked a couple of items off.
Interestingly, the one job that I absolutely must do each day never made it on the list – KEEP MY CHILDREN FED, THRIVING, HAPPY, DRY & ALIVE!
So now I have a much littler list which consists simply of important tasks with a specific deadline that I mustn’t forget, like “pay the electricity bill”. Everything else can be done when it gets done, enjoyed when it happens or be saved for another day.
And I’m finding that without the pressure of THE LIST telling me what to do, I’m fitting in all sorts of chores and errands into my day when I have a spare second here and there.
My days are flowing better and are more enjoyable as a result.
The week 2 Mindfulness meditation is so interesting. It’s all about using your breath to reconnect with your body, and I must admit I have totally taken mine for granted, like a trusty car that will just go and go and go without so much as a warning light.
Might be time to prioritise more sleep, less sugar and a bit of brisk pram walking? I’m amazed how Mindfulness is already helping to calm my life in unexpected ways. This thing is really starting to work.