We often hear this phrase when discussing our toddlers and older children. But did you know that mindfulness is just as important during pregnancy and the postpartum period? And what is mindful parenting, exactly?
Mindful parenting is a focus on creating a present mindset. It is about bringing an awareness to your days that give a sense of purpose and intention. Being mindful helps us make logical and well thought-out decisions that are best for us and our families.
1. Set your intentions.
Just like the food we eat nourishes our growing babies, the thoughts we have and the emotions we feel nourish our baby as well. They are connected to our neurological systems. During pregnancy we should strive for our emotional and cognitive environment to be positive, loving, and connected.
Journaling is a great way to help set intentions for you and your baby. Spending 5 - 10 minutes during the day or even once per week can help you feel more connected. What do you want the bond to be like between you and your baby? What do you envision doing together?
Adequate rest is never easy to get - especially if you work and/or have other children at home that need your attention. The physical discomforts of pregnancy or the demands of a newborn, combined with a lack of sleep, can add to your irritability and make mindfulness feel nearly impossible.
Aim for 10 minutes of rest per every hour of being on your feet. Nap when possible. And try not to fall into the trap of staying up late to finish all the tasks you may not have gotten done during the day. Your nighttime sleep is valuable.
3. Time blocking.
Dividing your day into blocks of time will give you a general map of how your day will flow. You can mentally prepare for times of the day when your full attention will need to be on your child, as well as look for spots when you will have time for yourself. Remember to be flexible. Your day will never go *exactly* as planned, especially when children are in the mix.
4. Put down the tech.
We are all guilty of it. The baby needs fed again, and in that quiet moment it is easy to pick up the phone and scroll through social media, put together the grocery list, or shop on Amazon. Try to spend at least one of those quiet moments during the day focused on your baby and the bond you have. Staying mindful and present will strengthen that bond as well as create the sense of calm that new parents crave (and need).
5. Don’t do it alone.
During the current times, it feels difficult to find and ask for help, but it is more important than ever. Think of specific tasks that would alleviate a burden and allow you to stay mentally focused. Would having your groceries delivered alleviate stress? If your baby is struggling with sleep, hiring a sleep coach may make your daily lives feel more manageable and positive. Enlist your resources- be them family, friends, or professional services.
Practicing mindful parenting early on will set the stage for a present, well connected, and strong family. The benefits are long lasting and it’s never too early to start.