After a long day, have you ever started a countdown to bedtime in your head? You know that feeling around 7pm (or earlier) when you think “Just one more hour and then I can _____.” Usually these thoughts are followed by feelings of guilt, but your’re just so tired! Spending all day (or even a part of your day) with little humans is exhausting! At the end of the day all you want is quiet time to unwind. I’m here to tell you, you are not alone in your desires! These feelings are not selfish and you should definitely not feel guilty about it.
The challenge is - why wait until the day is over to completely collapse? How can you find little pockets of time throughout your day to refresh yourself?
In her book, Breathe Mama Breathe: 5-Minute Mindfulness for Busy Moms, Shonda Moralis gives us easy exercises we can use throughout the day to keep our sanity. Here are a few of my favorites to get you started:
3 Breath Hug
This one is so easy and can be done at any time of the day. When you are hugging your child, take three synchronized, deep breaths together. Drop your shoulders and relax your muscles. You can start your day with it, use it when you say good-bye or use it in the middle of the day to calm a tense situation.
The STOP Mindful Break
Stop. Take a breath. Observe and proceed. When you are in the middle of a tense situation it is easy to get caught up in emotions. It takes practice to be able to STOP in the middle of the emotion of a situation, but if you can follow these four steps, you’ll be able to find the best solution.
The Driving Mindful Break
This one is perfect for when you are on the go, as you drive check in with your body. Are you feeling tense? Are you worried about being late or relaxed and at ease? Have your thoughts wandered off the road? Take a moment, maybe at a red light, to drop your shoulders, relax your grip and enjoy the ride. Relax knowing you are on your way and will get there soon enough.
The Waiting Mindful Break
We often feel like a spare moment in our day is meant to be filled, often by looking at our phone. Next time you find yourself waiting, do a quick body scan. Start with your feet and scan up your body, feeling the sensations at every point. Stretch your legs. Relax your belly. Soften the small muscles around your mouth and eyes. Notice your breath, thoughts and feelings.
These are just a few ideas to get you started. There are so many other great exercises, like the Just Dance Mindful Break, Mommy High 5’s and After Meltdown, it was hard for me to choose just a couple to highlight! No matter which one you choose to do, if you can make time to take these small breaks throughout the day, you will be less emotionally exhausted at the end of the day. Don’t worry if you forget, these all take practice. If you can work at least one of these practices into your day, you will see (and feel) a change.
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I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.