Recently my hubby went on a ‘Stag Weekend’ so I was left flying solo with the three tots. Now we are officially in our ‘late 30s’ Stag and Hen dos are few and far between. So I geared myself up for the weekend and contemplated how I would approach it mindfully.
In preparation for all that the next 48 hours had to throw at me I reminded myself of some of the core principles of Mindfulness – empathy, ‘beginners’ mind’ and staying present:
I reminded myself to empathise as much as possible with the children. Their frustrations, concerns, worries and tantrums. For example I would be ready for the late afternoon ‘scraps’ and have strategies to cope (namely the telly!!). They tend to get a little rough with each other at this time and who can blame them? They are often tired, ‘hangry’ and frustrated about being cooped up in the lounge while I’m getting tea. I have learned to my cost that this is not the time to try and enforce creative ‘junk modelling’ time or some such. In our house, where everyone is early risers, downtime is definitely the order of the day at this point.
I gave myself a ‘pep talk’ about how important it is to allow the children the time and space to explore the world with their ‘beginners’ mind’. Therefore with the eldest this means being patient when out and about; to build in time for random stops (like when a heron was spotted looking incredibly dignified but also very much out of place in the urban wasteland behind Lewisham shopping centre – I totally missed it and would have walked on by had he not pointed it out). And to build in time for random questions too (like ‘what do snails eat?’).
For the twin tots this means ‘reconnecting with my breath’ A LOT. When the kitchen cupboards are being emptied again, when soil is being dug up, when snails are being brought to me (what is it about my kids and snails?!) in the kitchen, when they are ‘helping’ with the washing up…you get the idea!
Finally I remembered the importance of being present for my children and giving each child myundividedattention when they needed it. For example after a tumble, when there is an important (in their mind) question or comment (about bugs, creepy crawlies and slimy things usually – see above), or when a new developmental milestone has been reached and is to be celebrated (twin 2 started to use her fork at the weekend competently and twin 1 began to put two words together when Daddy was away).
So this all sounds like a good plan doesn’t it? What could possibly go wrong?
Then it dawned on me as I was running up the stairs ‘two by two’ on the Saturday morning that being mindful all the time and being in sole charge of 3 tots was not entirely compatible. There would be times that weekend when choosing the mindful route would NOT be a good idea.
As Ruby Wax commented (and I paraphrase) in her recent ‘Frazzled’ tour if we are mindful all of the time then nothing would ever get done. Mono-tasking mindfully is wonderful but there is also a time and place for multi-tasking too and a weekend when it is 1 parent and 3 children is very definitely THAT time. There was no way that I would be opting to shower ‘mindfully’ that weekend either; immersing myself totally in the experience, feeling the water on my body, listening to the sound of the water droplets, watching the steam rising and smelling the lovely shower lavender gel that I had purchased... Who was I kidding?!Instead I needed to follow my perfected two minute shower routine where a shower cap and dry shampoo are integral to proceedings, whilst keeping my ears peeled for World War 3 breaking out downstairs.
I was reminded of this again when I was enjoying a lovely interaction in the garden with twin 2. She was dancing and laughing – a real moment to be mindful of. However, in the background I could see twin 1 just about to launch herself at one of our cats who seemed to be in a feisty mood. I ended the mindful moment pronto in order to rescue the cheeky cat-teasing tot from a brawl with a potentially grumpy creature.
It was similar on the Sunday too. We’d met friends for a picnic in the park and twin 1 (who is clearly the adventurous one!) was intent on wandering far and wide looking for ducks and squirrels. There was no way this was the right time, nor the right place toimmerse myself in conversations with other people and give them my full attention as per the mindfulness mantra. As many parents will appreciate I nodded along with conversations and dipped in and out as much as I possibly could whilst doing all I could to keep three children safe and well in a public space.
Finally my hubby returned on the Sunday afternoon with a bunch of flowers (AND a hangover of course) with him. This mindfulness malarkey is rubbing off on him and so he wanted to show me how grateful he was that I hadn’t complained (too much) about the weekend away. I allowed myself a moment to really study the bouquet. I drank in the colours, the textures, the fragrance, the sound that was made when I arranged them in the vase, and it was lovely. Then I brought myself back to reality and went back to multi-tasking – it was teatime after all.
However, not before looking around at my three sweet and mischievous offspring running around the place and allowing myself my own feeling of gratitude. I may not ALWAYS be able to approach life as mindfully as I aspire to at the moment – but I really wouldn’t have it any other way.
What strategies do you have to cope on weekends when you’re ‘flying solo’?
Have you ever had a go at incorporating mindfulness into your daily routine? How’s it gone?
Introducing The mindful Mummy mission
Hi there, I’m Hayley, the Mummy on a Mindful Mission or mummy_mindful on Twitter. I am a Mum to a 5 year old boy and toddler twins. A wife to a VERY lucky chap (ha ha) and a secondary school teacher in South-East(or Sarf-East if you’re a local – which I’m not) London. I blog about a mixture of these things at www.themindfulmummymission.com. As well as also trying to raise awareness about Mindfulness – it’s benefits and different strategies that can be used easily by parents….or anyone else leading a busy life really.
You can find Hayley on Twitter and Facebook. Pop over and say hi, don’t forget to say Pudding sent you 🙂
Like millions of women around the world, I feel the need to be like the Energizer Bunny. I plan absolutely everything, I make goals which I feel are realistic and I sign up for activities because it seems my help may be needed. It’s wonderful that I do these things-but then I forget to plan the time to get these things accomplished. I once had my doctor tell me that I needed to work harder on my treatment regimen and I told her that’d be totally doable if she was going to put more hours in my day! (she didn’t give me any more hours nor did she revise my regimen! ☹)
I finally came to accept that I fit in with probably 95% of all women all over the world. Ask any woman how they are doing and if they are completely honest with you, they will tell you that they are tired. I decided to take a harder look at my day to see where some adjustments could be made. I was not a happy camper when I didn’t find much moving room. I’m thinking you probably won’t, either. So what’s a gal to do?
After not being able to add more hours to my day, and not being able to really take any activities out of my day, I decided to work with what I had left: my appearance. Here are some of the things I have found helpful:
Figure out your face shape and use it to your advantage. I think long hair is beautiful. I always had long hair in my younger days. But now, long hair does something to my face that I can’t deny-it makes it look droopy and accentuates the puffy bags under my eyes (which I’ll address later). I have found that a chin-length bob works best for my oval-shaped face. From time to time-particularly in the hot, humid summer months-I’ll grow it past my chin but I usually feel like an old hag-and I’m sure I look it, too! So I finally just had to accept that even though I think long hair is beautiful, it just does not work well with my facial structure. Added bonuses to shorter hair: a) short hair elongates your neck which gives the illusion of additional height! I’m 5 feet so I always love to look taller – and thinner!; b) less hair products to use; and c) less hair to clog the drain (which makes my hubby happy!)!
Learn your skin tone and use it to your advantage. I’m fair-skinned and freckle easily. I figured out that soft colors look best on me. When I’m under the weather but have to keep it going without the world knowing, I opt for soft pastels in pink, lavender or blue. If you aren’t sure of which colors suit you best, you can go to Wiki.com and search for “How to Choose Colors That Flatter Skintone”. Or, you can have a little fun and try different colors and see how many compliments you get from close friends and/or acquaintances. We all have those best friends who will tell us like it is!
The eyes have it. This is a two-part section. For starters, learn which eye shadow colors work best for you. I have blue eyes so I prefer browns or maybe a brown with a pink undertone. I love color, so in my younger days, I played with many different colors. Over the years, I have also learned which colors do NOT work well: purple and green; blue I use in extremely small amounts. (This is very unfortunate because I really love purple eye shadow.) You can go to Google.com and search for “eyeshadow colors for eyes” which pulls up many articles to help you figure out which colors work best for your eyes. I have always enjoyed playing with colors on my own!
I suffer from sever under eye dark circles and puffiness. There are some mornings I honestly wonder if my husband hit me while I was sleeping! I have spent tons of money on products for this, but I have found two rather cheaper alternatives that I now turn to: a) Preparation H; and b) Yes to Cucumbers Soothing Eye Gel. Preparation H can be found in any supermarket but be careful to not over use it. I will usually use it only a couple of nights a week. I’m sure you can use it more, but I just simply choose not to. As for the soothing eye gel, I found it at my local Walgreens for less than $15. It is a known fact that cucumbers are a miracle cure for puffy eyes. After only two nights of using this gel, I could tell a difference in my “eye bags”. You can actually use it morning and night if you’d like. For my dark circles, I use my Estee Lauder Advanced Eye Repair in the mornings under my make-up. It really is a little expensive, but a little goes a long way so I really only buy a jar every six months.
There are so many other things to try-and believe me, I’ll keep trying different things! Actually, while I was getting this article together, I came across several things I want to try myself. I hope you’ve found this article helpful. Feel free to comment with what you’ve found helpful as we keep moving on!
Thank you for reading!
Introducing The Sunshine Spot
Melissa Langston is a blogger for hire and creator/author of The Sunshine Spot, a fun blog meant to encourage and inspire others. She enjoys relaxing at the beach and/or creek, shopping, playing the piano and being with family and friends. Check Melissa out on Facebook and Twitter for some more inspirational tips and ideas! Don’t forget to tell her that Pudding sent you 🙂