Saturday, 28 January 2012

Why be a mindful mother?

Here's why:

I am a little kid for you to love.
I am a little kid for you to hug and kiss.
I am a little kid for you to say,
"you are so special, yes you are", to.
I am a little kid for all of those things, and more.
And when you feel and say and do all of those things,
I will be a little kid who will love you.
I will be a little kid who will hug and kiss you.
I will be a little kid who will say to you,
"You are so special, too, yes you are."
I will be a little kid who will do all of those things, and more.
And that is what happiness is all about.

Mattie Stepanek, 1990-2004

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Yet another resolutions post ....

Welcome to the first edition of the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival, hosted by Authentic Parenting and Mudpiemama!

In the month of January, we start afresh, a new year, new ideas. Hence, our participants have looked into the topic of “Birth and New Beginnings”. Take a look at the end of this post to find a list of links to the entries of the other participants.


Welcome to my first post for the Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival.

January is the month where we start afresh, take the plunge again and leave the old. What are your new year's resolutions?

Well, you might be forgiven for thinking one of my resolutions is, mostly, to do stuff (such as making resolutions) weeks after everyone else. This is probably a little bit true (I've got two kids and my time-management skills are variable), and even though I’ve been reading Leo Babauta’s Effortless Life and blog-posts on goal-free living, I still can’t help but compile a mental list of all the things I am going to do, improve, achieve, perfect and complete in 2012.

There's not too much. It's certainly not overwhelming. Eminently 'do-able', I'd say (except I won't ever say 'do-able' because it's a silly word). 

In no particular order: lose the last 20 (ok, 30) lbs of stubborn baby weight, do yoga and pilates every day, save lots of money and live well within my means, eat well, go to bed early every night, read all of the unread books on my book shelves and on my Kindle, maybe write a few more myself too, write more articles, develop a children's book series, declutter the house, live more sustainably, be kind to everyone all of the time, be better at keeping in touch with friends, finish all of the tasks in my sewing pile, start up two or three new businesses based around ideas I've been toying with, walk everywhere instead of taking the car, never let the kids eat too many sweets, switch off the tv more often, meditate regularly, and be a beatifically calm paragon of zen parenting at all times and under all circumstances.

Easy, no?

Ok, I probably won't manage to tick every single one of those off my mental checklist (I'll probably have to use the car sometimes), so, in the interests of manageability, I'm narrowing it down to these:
  • Complete and publish a children's book 
  • Be nice 
'Be nice' may only be two little words, but it is by far the bigger undertaking. It encompasses every aspect of my mindful intentions, and for someone with a short fuse (me!) it isn't going to be easy.  But that's kind of the whole reason I started this blog.

Happy New Year, everyone

Visit Authentic Parenting and MudpieMama to find out how you can participate in the next Authentic Parenting Blog Carnival!
Please take time to read the submissions by the other carnival participants:
(This list will be live and updated by afternoon January 27 with all the carnival links.)

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Mindfulness and mothering: hand in hand & poles apart

‘Mindfulness’ was not in my vocabulary before I became a mother. Eldest child’s position in my life – fully central – determined my parenting approach. I did whatever seemed most natural: we were baby-led in everything, we co-slept, we breastfed. I followed my instincts, even though this was often in opposition to the ‘wisdom’ of the majority of baby books, health professionals and random old ladies in public places who felt that their day was not complete until they stopped to impart the benefit of their crystallised knowledge (NB: it is not true that babies cannot digest bananas unless they are mashed with sugar. Just putting out there, in case she stops you too).

Everything was going swimmingly, but I started to feel the need to be more mindful (even though, at first, I didn’t know that was the word for it). What I did know was that she was changing so very quickly, and I felt like I was letting a lot of those snapshot moments slip away.  It’s easy to lose your focus amid the nappies and the laundry and the paid work and the bedtime battles and the shopping and the cleaning and trying to find the time to fit in a selfish trip to the loo ~ your child can easily become another thing on the long list of chores and responsibilities. Sometimes I had to remind myself that she was more than just a list of things to be ticked off the list (Fed? Yes. Changed? Yes. Books read? Yes. Park trip done? Yes, yes, tick, tick, tick  … )

And then you blink and they’re a day older, a month older, a year older. Your newborn is walking and talking and there’s already a hint of the teenage ‘tude to come in the defiance and tantrums that pepper each day.

Being a more mindful mother might just help me to make the most of each moment.

But aside from what a more mindful approach might bring to me, the real beneficiary would be my child. By remembering to be mindful, I’d be more present, I’d be looking her in the eye and really listening to her, not muttering ‘mmmmm, yes …’ while wondering which of the twenty pressing tasks on my list I should do next. She’d know she was important, she’d know that I was fully there with her, rather than just in the same room as her.

Ironically, while mindfulness and parenting go hand in hand, it’s hard to master. There’s nothing more conducive to slipping into auto-pilot than reading the same story 45 times in a day. I’m not going to pretend I have the answer to this, but I’m working on it.

 (Oh, and if you do have the answer, could you pop it in the comments, please?)       

A couple of links you might want to check out, by Cassandra Vieten ('Mindful Mothering'):