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Live in the NOW: How you can get your mum mojo back

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MOJOBANNER

One NSM gets a crash-course in becoming a Mindful Mum with the help of the women from Mummy Mojo.


The first text comes on a Sunday night when I’ve just wrestled my nine-month-old daughter out of her Weetbix-covered clothes, into the bath, out of the bath, into her pyjamas and then into bed. I’m exhausted, although she’s as wide awake as ever, lying in her cot and chortling to herself. I’m settling into the couch for a break (with one ear listening out for the baby) when the phone beeps next to me. I look at the message. ‘Eeeek!’ I yelp to my husband. ‘The mindfulness challenge! I totally forgot it starts tomorrow!’ This is how I start my journey to being a more mindful mum – by completing forgetting about I was going to start being a more mindful mum.

Mindfulness is one of those parenting buzzwords I heard a lot while I was pregnant with my daughter. Being more mindful means being more aware of your thoughts and feelings, which makes you more ‘present’ in the moment and more able to appreciate it.  Debbie Emmerson and Amy Down, founders of Mummy Mojo, say that if you are in “that moment”, not living in the past or the future, you can feel truly alive and happy.

Before I had my daughter, I thought being mindful would be easy – after all, I was sure to want to spend hours gazing lovingly into her eyes and appreciating her every breath, right? Ha ha ha. WRONG. Once I actually had my daughter, I spent less time gazing lovingly at her and more time just trying to keep her (and myself) alive. Taking time to simply appreciate her existence somehow slipped down to the bottom of my to-do list, then dropped off the list altogether. Then one day I looked up, and my squashy, helpless newborn had somehow become a robust nine-month old baby with four massive teeth and a love of smashing things, and I felt like I’d missed it happening because I hadn’t been paying attention. Which is where the Mummy Mojo Mindfulness for Mums 14-Day Challenge comes in.

The Challenge

The two-week challenge, run by Debbie and Amy, aims to help busy mums slow down and actually appreciate their children in the moment. Once you sign up, you’re give a pack of materials that includes a worksheet that explains a bit about mindfulness and encourages you to set some goals for the two-week course, plus a stress e-book and some other bits and pieces to help get you in the right headspace for the challenge. While these were useful in helping me clarify what I wanted to get out of the course, for me the best part was the daily text you received with that day’s challenge.

Did it work?

Day one got off to a poor start. The challenge for the day was to head to a familiar cafe and challenge yourself to really notice everything about it as if for the first time- the decor, the sounds, the smells- in order to really anchor yourself in the present moment and appreciate your surroundings. I’ll admit, the day was pouring with rain and I was just too lazy to leave the house. So instead, I did a version of the exercise at home by making myself a coffee and then sitting outside, listening to the rain fall and watching as each drop slid off the plants in the backyard. And you know what? It worked! Just taking ten minutes to slow down and look around really had an impact on my sense of calm and stopped me feeling panicky about how much work I had piling up inside the house.

Other challenges included coming up with a mantra for yourself, using active listening, and do a digital detox.  As the challenge progressed, I noticed that each exercise really did slow me down and remind me to live in the present, even if I had to occasionally modify them a little to fit in with my lifestyle and from time to time I missed a day. But by the end of the two weeks I was less worried about the looming end of my maternity leave period and more able to appreciate the time I have so far enjoyed with my daughter.

Want to try it yourself?

Debbie and Amy recommend these easy ways to try mindfulness yourself on their website and blog at Mummy Mojo:

  • Mindful Eating: We seldom take the time to really gauge our hunger, focus on our food or even truly savour a few bites. As a result, we often eat when we’re not really hungry, and eat too fast, too much and too unhealthily. Diets that teach us to restrict our calorie intake or eliminate certain foods have proven to be unsustainable. Around 95% of people who lose weight by dieting will regain it in 1-5 years, because they are not mindfully eating. This can cultivate an unhealthy relationship to food. If you use your body’s cues to help guide your decisions to begin and stop eating, and ultimately how to eat the foods you like without guilt and without overeating, you will notice a change.
  • Mindful Tasks: When doing simple tasks such as making school lunches, tidying up, hanging out washing, driving the car, try to focus totally on the task you are doing noticing everything about the process of what you are doing and avoiding making any judgements about the process. This stops you thinking about other things that can create stress and anxiety, so the more you practice this, the more you mind will learn to slow down. We also suggest that you single-task, not multi-task, which will help you be more mindful about the task at hand.
  • Mindful Morning: What’s the first thing you do when you get out of bed each morning? If you check mobile for emails, latest news, works calls, you are not alone. It is an issue for lots of people. Instead of checking office emails or the notifications of your social media profiles, use that time for a morning ritual, which could include writing all you are grateful for in a journal, meditating, affirmations or mantras to start the day, some gentle stretching to wake up the body. There are other, more healthy ways to plan your day.  And best of all, a morning ritual will start your day off in a positive way and set the scene for you to be more mindful throughout your day.
  • Mindful Space: Create space between each of your tasks so that you always have time to complete each one in a mindful way. Don’t schedule things close together. Not only will this give you a more relaxed schedule, it will mean that you are a happier, more mindful mum, and your family will love you for it!
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