When it comes to motherhood, people are brimming with suggestions. In fact, there’s not much you can do without someone popping up from nowhere to let you know that this is, actually, a terrible idea which will spoil your child’s happiness for life. Then you follow their advice, only to find that someone else has exactly the same opinion about whatever you are doing now.
In this I’m a little apprehensive offering mother’s advice, because they are already swimming in it. However, in the maelstrom that motherhood brings – including the contradictory emotions of immense happiness, stress and worry, and sheer exhaustion – taking up meditation can be a really good way to find some moments of calm. It’s also something that completely belongs to you, a rare piece of “me-time”.
Having a Happy Pregnancy
Before motherhood, there’s pregnancy – and people’s experience of this phenomenon seems to vary wildly. Some mums-to-be can find themselves achy and nauseous throughout their entire pregnancy, while others seem to breeze through with barely a twinge. Whatever your experience, meditation in pregnancy can be a great way to deal with any stress you encounter, and it also gives your baby a really good start – even before they’ve been formally introduced to the world!
While there needs to be more research, it seems that chronic prenatal stress may well have an effect on the developing fetus, but for expectant mothers to avoid stress entirely in the modern world is simply unrealistic. Meditation provides some hormonal balance, reducing the stress hormone cortisol while also releasing lovely meditation-induced endorphins.
It seems that, when talking idly about having children, no one ever lets you know quite how much things will change when you do. Working meditation into your routine so it becomes almost unconscious, like brushing your teeth and taking a shower, can offer a point of emotional stability in the midst of commotion. As mornings are usually a bit of a whirlwind, meditating when your child is (hopefully!) asleep and you are just about to go to bed could be an option.
Life doesn’t stop throwing challenges at people when they’ve had children, and dealing with all the other life stuff while caring for another being can be quite overwhelming. Meditation can increase positivity and reduce feelings of stress, adding a much needed background note of calm. It also allows you time where you can just be quiet with yourself, something you may not otherwise get much opportunity to do.
For many parents, an uninterrupted eight hours of sleep is not something that they can rely on happening every night, but something that may happen again one day in the hazy future. Hopefully in a few years, they promise themselves feverishly. Combined with an emotional rollercoaster and, when children are young, constant vigilance, this can lead to a tiredness like no other.
Meditation can offer some repose, and blast away sluggishness. When people meditate they get to relax on a profound level, and the practice improves the quality of your sleep itself. Its restorative powers can leave you feeling refreshed and full of energy, ready to face everything parenthood throws at you. Meditation is a powerful form of self-care that reminds you that while your child’s wellbeing is a priority, your own health and happiness is vitally important too.
As children get older, age-appropriate meditation techniques have been shown to have such positive effects that schools in San Francisco have made it part of their timetable. In these schools suspensions and absences were reduced, behavioural issues were alleviated and academic performance improved. Growing up can be scary and confusing at times, and meditation is something that can help children deal with the hard bits.
It also something you can do together, taking a bit of time out from a very hectic world and giving your mind a chance to let go of any worry or distraction. With something always ready to occupy your time and keep your brain whirring, both adults and children can really benefit from a few moments of simplicity, the chance to enjoy some “me-time” together.