Let’s face it, there are too many books for the amount of minutes in the day that we, as busy mothers, could ever hope to read.
To be honest though, I think most of the parenting books out there are aimed at how to control the children just enough to create moments of calm.
Making them fit into how we want to live.
As though it relies upon the children crying-it-out (I.e. crying themselves to sleep), or an over-reliance of a to-the-minute strict routine – so it crowbars in time for parents to do as they wish.
Great, if that’s what works for the family.
I promise, I am not here to judge.
But what if, strict routines just don’t work and mamas and babies just don’t have the capacity to do controlled-crying too well? (Please note, I’m not saying that encouraging self-settling is beyond me, it’s just that leaving little babies to scream alone is.)
What can we do?
What advice is there for us – the ones who ‘bring it all on themselves’, allowing chaos with the ‘bad habits’. Insinuating that gentle, intuitive mothering is ‘making a rod’?
No wonder we are feeling overwhelmed, right?
Wrong. There is calm in every moment.
Even amongst the sea of toys, and snack-time crumbs and tantrums.
One of my A Mama’s Mind absolute mama-bibles has got to be Everyday Blessings: Mindfulness For Parents by Myla and Jon Kabat-Zinn.
Without adding to the to-do list, reading this will save sanity.
This refreshing book encourages the reader to slow down and be mindful; to take parenting moment by moment, and to not be in such a rush all of the time.
After reading the book for the first time, one of our contributors, Jenny, discovered it had an immediately profound effect on how I approached parenting and the to-do list:
“Suddenly all this space opened up for me and my children. The space to enjoy them. The housework and the tasks could wait. The world didn’t end.”
“Most interesting of all was how apparent it was that I had to work on my internal voice. I was constantly beating myself up with stuff. I was always at a loss: no time, no energy, not achieving = rubbish Mum. This then affected how I turned to my children. How I faced the day. How I treated myself. I didn’t know it, but I was coming at it from completely the wrong angle.”
Take a breath
“The practice of mindfulness is a life’s work, and although I had sworn by it in the past, the blur of motherhood had wiped all of that away. I’d forgotton all about it as a lifestyle philosophy that worked for me. Unconsciously I must have thought that now I no longer just had myself to consider, and enough time and space to meditate ‘properly’ (in a quiet and clean room, as per before) that it couldn’t work anymore.”
“I didn’t realise this actually this was the chance to really deepen my practice, especially amongst the noise and chaos and constant mind-chatter. And I needed to practice more than ever.”
“When I remembered this method and learnt how it could be applied to motherhood, I literally took the deepest breath I had in the months; in the time it took to create a baby and give birth and survive the early months. I don’t think I’d been breathing properly at all, I was so uptight.”
“This book helped me to learn to give myself a break. I was and am doing my best every single moment of the day and night. I am only human. My family and friends, with their well-meaning advice and ideas, are also only human and doing their best. I learnt to stop comparing. No, really stop comparing. It’s ok to do parenting differently.”
A minute at a time
Despite all of the influence and power that we have in our little people’s lives, we are really absolutely not in control.
That’s the lesson.
We can’t protect them every single minute of the day. We can’t plan every minute to a T and avoid dramas and meltdowns altogether.
Stuff always happens. Good and bad, that we didn’t plan for. That’s the magic of it.
Our children are their own people. They have their own personalities. All different. All unique.
We can’t suffocate our children and then expect them to become independent (at an age-appropriate time, of course).
By accepting that the baby doesn’t want to nap right now, and the task we had planned can be moved to later, and doing so without thinking we are rubbish at motherhood. It allows for a calmness that’s beyond words.
That’s true meditation right there.