Meditating Mum — How to STOP

A technique to rise above the tantrums whether your child is a toddler or a teen

I remember holding my first baby when he was just a few hours old and being hit by a shocking realisation. I was never going to be alone again. In that moment it wasn’t a positive thought, it was an overwhelming feeling of responsibility. Was I up to the challenge, could I cope without ‘me time’? Then my son fell asleep, I took the opportunity to meditate and the answer hit me in the face. Taking time to pause and connect with the calm stillness , buried deep inside was going to be more important then ever.

Whereas I’d always followed the mantra of RPM (Rise, Pee, Meditate) it was now RFM (Rise, Feed, Meditate as soon as baby falls back to sleep. Ignore emails, washing, voicemails, tidying up, forget posting latest cute photo and just do it).

Together with the joy it’s natural to feel overwhelmed when you become a parent and that feeling returns in waves at each milestone — weaning, walking, tantrums, choosing schools, supporting them through illness, when their friends are unkind or even planning the long Summer break. Plus children know exactly what buttons to press to activate our stress response.

Is there a way to keep calm when your child asks their 100th question to prolong bedtime or when they deliberately pour their drink on the floor to see how you react?

Whilst there is no panacea that will prevent your fuse from ever igniting there are easy and effective daily practises that will help you spend more time being the loving, calm and present parent we all want to be rather than the stressed out and overwhelmed version.

Mindfulness techniques that help us get back into the present moment have been shown to be enormously helpful in mitigating the negative effects of our stress response.

When we drop into the present, we’re more likely to gain perspective and see that we have the power to regulate our response to pressure. One simple but powerful technique is to remember to STOP where each letter represents a step away from a stressful encounter.

So picture the scene. It’s late and you want your children to settle. You’re midst a work crisis and every time you pick up your phone there’s another ten emails awaiting your response. Your daughter demands another story, your son has tipped over the lego box you’d carefully sorted which now lies in a multicoloured heap on the floor. Instead of losing your temper follow these 4 steps -

Stop — literally back away from the situation. close your eyes, shut your mouth and just tune into the sensations inside your body from your head to your toe.

Take a breath — Take a few deep breaths. Your heart is probably racing. Breathe slowly and consciously until you feel your heart rate begin to slow down. Follow each inhale and exhale without trying to control it.

Observe — watch the thoughts racing around your mind as if you’re a witness. Imagine you’ve stepped out of your body and are simply observing. Name your feelings whether it’s frustration, exasperation, fatigue, impatience.

Proceed — with care and compassion. What will help you in that moment? Maybe giving and receiving a hug from your child, giving your tense shoulders a little massage, calling your partner or a friend.

World renowned mind body expert Deepak Chopra explains that the highest power we can develop is the ability to observe ourselves having the reaction to react.

The STOP technique can take as little as 3 minutes to complete but provides a lifetime of benefits.

We might be multitasking supermums but we all deserve a little STOP time.