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How Mindfulness helps me parent.

Updated: Oct 1, 2019

It’s 4am. I’m lying on the floor in my daughter’s room next to her bed. I can’t remember the last time I slept for more than a few hours without interruption. We’ve had what seems to be a never ending period of sickness. I’m tired, beyond exhaustion, emotionally, physically and mentally.

Every time I try to move my daughter starts to cry and I don’t have the energy to deal with her waking up her little sister who’s on the bunk above her. So I lie here. My exhausted mind switches to negative thoughts ‘Why is it always me who the children want at 4am and not my husband?’ ‘I do so much for this family, nobody appreciates me’ ‘I’m so exhausted’ ‘My back and hips hurt’ ‘I can feel the roll of fat in my lower stomach’ ‘ I can’t wait till I can get some sleep’.

I take a few breaths, consciously, and become aware of my body and how it feels. I take some breaths into the spaces where the muscles are tight and feel them soften and release, the pain eases. I focus my attention on my thoughts. I acknowledge that my inner self critic is in full swing and it makes perfect sense to me why. I know the old critical default position comes out more often when we’re tired. I take a few minutes to re-frame my negative thoughts.

I find joy in the fact I have the time to savour these moments of calm and quiet next to my young daughter acknowledging that time goes so fast and I will miss this closeness when she no longer needs me at night. I acknowledge that yes I may have some weight on my stomach but I also know that that’s OK. I take time to acknowledge my privilege for the body I do have. I am aware that whilst I may judge my own body harshly at times, I do not face judgement and stigma for my body. I know that many others living in larger bodies do along with those whose bodies are judged simply for being different. I know that my value and worth is not defined by what I look like and that and that I am so much more than my body.

I take a moment to breathe and show some gratitude to my wonderful stomach that housed my two beautiful babies and I am grateful for the lines and marks on it that show their journey into the world and mine into becoming their mother. I also show gratitude for the fact my stomach works, is fully functioning and does an excellent job of breaking down my food to give me energy. Working as a dietitian I have seen lots of people who have issues with digestion or functional problems with their stomachs. I know that this too is a privilege. I breathe and step back from my thoughts focusing on my breath and spend a bit of time simply breathing and being.

This technique provides me with the head space I need to achieve perspective and calm. I can use it to give m