Take a moment. Pause. Take a deep breath. Close your eyes. Tune in to what you hear. The air conditioner running? Dogs barking? Birds Chirping? The sound of your infant grunting himself to sleep through the baby monitor….
Tune in to what you feel. Low-back tenderness? Pressure in your forehead? The comfort of the couch? Hunger?
Tune in to what you smell. The blend of essential oils running through the diffuser? Coffee brewing?
This is a very simple exercise in mindfulness that can be practiced at any time of day. It takes just a few moments to pause, breath and tune-in to our senses. It gives us pause and brings us to the present moment. When I feel that anxious and frustrated feeling build up in my chest– the one that feels like someone is squeezing my heart and I want to burst into tears instantaneously–I try and remember this exercise. Most likely, whatever is bringing up these feelings is not a big deal in the scheme of my life
Taking pause gives me the time to rationalize and be present. This moment won’t last forever. Being upset and anxious about it will not change the circumstances.
Just last evening I got overwhelmingly upset. I had been taking 20-30 minutes to get our son to sleep all. Day. long. He took 5 naps.
Reality: He is 10-weeks old. He is becoming more aware and easily distracted from the task at hand of napping. I let him get over-tired. This is one day. One temporary moment. I am okay. He is okay. We are still learning and adapting and changing all the time. I can’t control this situation. What I CAN control are my feelings, behaviors and thoughts. What HE does, not in my control.
My anxious thoughts: I have wasted hours today trying to help him to sleep. I have a million things to do for school. I haven’t had any time to myself. How am I supposed to be a great mom and successful in school if I can’t get my son to take a nap? I can’t study for only 2 hours each day. I will NEVER be successful!
But here’s the deal. We can’t change reality. We can’t control the length of time it takes for our children to fall asleep. Especially at this young age. He is still learning. I am still learning. I have moved his napping location to be more conducive for sleep. It is new. It is a change. We will get better at this napping routine. It won’t be like this forever. Although there will be other changes and similar moments will recur.
What we can change is how we react to the circumstances. We can pause. We can be present. We can remember that this moment is fleeting and will not last forever. We can stay optimistic and keep a positive mindset. What happens when we don’t? Well– I tend to spiral into a crying vat of self-pity and waste additional time being upset— and now I’ve wasted even more time getting caught up in my own drama. I definitely believe crying is a release and sometimes you just gotta get it out. And I do. All the time. But what I am trying to do is to keep staying present in the current moment, changing my reactions to what I can’t control and telling myself all the time that:
I am enough. I am strong. I am patient. I am doing my very best. I am a great mom. And I am successful. And I am doing it all by giving myself a lot of grace. I am doing the best I can for where I’m at and what I know.