By Caitlin Cady
For me, being a distracted mother is the surest way to a shame spiral at the end of the day… hello #mumguilt.
I hate feeling like I haven’t shown up fully for my kids. That I haven’t given them every possible ounce of presence and patience.
Parenting is the highest stakes (and most humbling, honouring, challenging) job I’ve ever had. So when I feel like I’ve left some parenting potential on the table, it feels like an irreparable and substantive failure of the worst kind.
Bottom line: the only thing my kids want from me, the only thing they really need, is my attention.
So showing up as a chronically distracted, multi-tasking mother means I’m denying my kids their greatest, most precious, most primal need.
And it means that I’m completely missing out on these most precious, fleeting moments, too. Missing the whole damn point really.
MULTITASKING VS BEING PRESENT
I’m a working mother, so distractions are pervasive, patience wears thin, multitasking can feel like the only way, and presence is something that can feel like it comes at a price.
At my core, I know that multi-tasking is a bullshit way of working (and living), that distractions be damned, and that whatever the price of my presence is (missed emails, a mountain of laundry, paperwork that gets sent a day after deadline…) it’s most certainly not worth it.
I use meditation to keep me on track. It helps me stay present and to really show up in the moments of my life that matter – and it’s usually the small moments that matter most. It helps me multi-task less, listen more and has expanded my reserves of patience.
Meditation has trained me to remain mindful in all the moments of my life.
I still make mistakes and have slip-ups, but the more I meditate, the more I succeed in the art of staying.
HOW TO FIND TIME FOR MEDITATION
As a mother of three young wildlings, trust me, I get it. It’s not always possible.
In fact, it’s usually not possible. But if it’s silence you desire, set yourself up for success by picking a time with the best odds.
If you have kids, it’s unreasonable to expect a quiet house at 8am when they are bouncing off the walls with reserves of well-rested exuberance.
So get up before they do and get ‘er done. Or if they’re school aged, do your meditation after they are out of the house.
Alternately, if you have a parenting partner, ask them to wrangle the wildlings while you take your meditation al fresco on the front stoop, back porch or nearby park.
CREATE YOUR OWN ‘CONE OF SILENCE’
If you listen to guided meditations, a great way to create a little bubble for yourself and plug into your meditation is to, well, literally plug in a set of headphones (noise-cancelling headphones for the win!)
This creates a little virtual container for your meditation and helps to create a bit of space between you and the din of domesticity.
LEAN INTO THE BACKGROUND NOISE… AKA KIDS!
The bottom line is this: some background noise is almost inevitable, but you don’t have to let it ruin your meditation.
Don’t use it as an excuse not to meditate, and try not to let noise become a point of frustration.
You can actually invite the noise in as part of your meditation. Just as we allow and observe our thoughts without engaging with them or passing judgement on them, we can take the same approach with the sounds in our environment.
Rather than tuning into the sounds, or judging them, or getting involved with them, just let them pass, like a cloud, sailing
through the soundscape.
I definitely prefer having some solo time for my morning meditation but when that’s not on the menu, rather than ditching my meditation, I invite the wildlings into the meditation.
I figure that their occasional chatter is no more distracting than the occasional internal chatter of my mind.
It’s also an opportunity to really embody the attitude that Done Is Better Than Perfect – that an imperfect practice that happens regularly is a hell of a lot better than a perfect one that never does.
And at the very least…. what a beautiful example of self-care, stillness, and silence you’re setting for those beautiful babies, by meditating in their midst, hey?
For me, all of that adds up to a practice that is still worth doing, even if my eyelids are occasionally being pried open or someone is whispering pleas for blueberry pancakes in my ear like it’s a mantra or something.
THE EARLY DAYS OF MOTHERHOOD: MEDITATING WITH BABIES
It’s well documented that meditation soothes the nervous system, which is something that many mothers could really use!
Many of us enter motherhood in wonder and joy, but often there is some trauma, fear or worry that comes along with that.
And then we find ourselves up in the middle of the night, alone, feeding the baby with time on our hands and devices at our fingertips.
I know that for me, late night social media scrolling and midnight delves into parenting forums were a recipe for more worry and fear.
Early motherhood is a time where we feel primed to protect our babies and when we layer that with all of the inputs from social media, news and forums, it can tip our protectiveness into the treacherous territory of hypervigilance. Meditation (and remembering that what we choose to focus our attention matters) can help balance that.
It can also help build patience, self compassion and self-trust. All things that deeply support us as parents.
And sleep! Meditation or yoga nidra are both better than a shot of caffeine or a slab of chocolate for sidestepping that 3pm slump. Meditation can actually be more restorative than sleep because it effectively calms the mind and leaves you feeling energised and wholly renewed, both physically and mentally.
HAVE OLDER KIDS? INVITE THEM IN
Meditating with (or in front of) your kids sets an important example and lays the groundwork for them.
Even if they are just imitating you and not actually meditating, their awareness of your practice gives them an example of self-care (and the boundaries required to carry out that self-care.)
It offers them familiarity with silence, stillness and inward focus, the most fundamental principles of meditation.
So lead by example. They are watching. It’s that simple.
Raise your vibration and your babies. It’s a win-win.