Thursday, March 31, 2011

Comfort Eating

I am struggling with comfort eating. As the day wears on, even if it's been a good one, I find myself reaching for chips or chocolate. Carrot sticks and hummus just don't cut it by 3 o'clock. Why is this? Despite my good intentions I feel powerless against the urge to scoff whatever is in the cupboard. Luckily, I don't keep many tempting treats in there, but have been known to bake some cookies just so I can eat the mixture.

I imagine this issue plagues other stay-at-home mums, who find themselves either bored or stressed by the end of a day listening to grizzling. Overeating is also easy to do when you've had no sleep and need some energy. So, an action plan....

1. Stock nothing unhealthy in the cupboard. At least then when I scoff things they will be moderately healthy.
2. Try to stop and think about why I'm eating. Am I actually hungry? This doesn't always work but it does sometimes make me eat consciously.
3. When I bake a treat, save a small portion for myself and take the rest directly to a friend's house.
4. Don't bake any treats.
5. Drink lots of water. Sometimes I find that this fills me up and stops me from eating too much.
6. Do something that is pleasurable and doesn't involve food. Maybe go for a walk or paint.
7. Try to eat slowly. We just started having dinner after Scarlett goes to bed so we don't have to rush it and get indigestion.
8. Stop buying Carmen's Yogurt and Fruit Muesli Bars. They are ridiculously delicious and too morish. They may be healthier than other treats but is it ok to eat three in one sitting?

All these things help but I have to stay mindful of them, or else, chocolate feast! I want to relish a small treat now and then, not treat chocolate like a cigarette that I need to get me through the day. Do any other mum's have any ideas on combatting overeating?

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Four Ways to Feel Like a Good Mum

"It doesn't matter if you play a small part or a big part, but play it well" - Paramahansa Yogananda

Sometimes I get caught up in feeling like I should do something fabulous. Sometimes it feels like being "just a mum" is a small part to play in the world. There are no awards for being a mum. There's no money in it. All the satisfaction you gain is to be savoured quietly, at home, alone with your child. No one notices whether you've managed to clean the house AND keep your baby entertained. But you do. Being a mum may seem like a small part to play when others are out earning big dollars and travelling the world. But playing your role well could mean the difference between contributing a happy child to the world or letting a little terror loose.

Yogananda's quote reminds me to focus on how to be the best I can be in the small role I am playing. This means being present and focusing on the small things instead of daydreaming about being a big "someone" out in the world. Some ideas for playing my role well are:

  • Notice and congratulate myself when I do a good job, whether it be cooking a nice meal or teaching my baby nursery rhymes that she enjoys.

  • Focus on the small things and do them well. Eg, wash the dishes properly, make my bed each day and read to my baby in an animated voice.

  • Limit facebook time. Is it just me or is everyone on facebook enjoying one constant party?

  • Make a gratitude list. When I think about what I am grateful for I realise how full and successful my life is.

    • These are some ideas that can make all mothers feel successful just for being themselves. Anyone have anymore suggestions?

      Tuesday, March 29, 2011

      Experiments in Kindness

      Kindness seems almost unfashionable these days. You don't see people putting "kind" on their resumes, beside "great team player" and "calm under pressure". But imagine if everyone valued genuine kindness in the workplace above all other qualities? There would be no bitching, gossiping, manipulation or backstabbing. Then, imagine if kindness was the number one value in the world. Imagine if being kind was something to be proud of. Our world doesn't always value kindness, but we can. When I "remember" (it doesn't always come naturally) to be kind I feel much happier, regardless of whether anyone else notices. So this week I am going to experiment with being kind. Here's how:

      • If I notice that someone looks nice, I will compliment them.

      • When I'm in a bad mood I will look for something nice to do for someone else as a distraction (instead of eating cake and watching telly or taking my mood out on them).

      • I will dream up little gifts to give people, just because.

      • I might even write a letter to a friend and send it by snail mail.

      Although I haven't figured out how to promote this blog and as yet have no followers, I will document the results of my experiment in kindness in a few days.

      Wednesday, March 23, 2011

      Six Ideas for Changing Your Values

      As mothers we often fall victim to society’s skewed value system. Here is a list of mainstream society values (although there is evidence of change everywhere): Hard work, efficiency self-focus, extraverts over introverts, coping under pressure and a high stress threshold, material wealth and external beauty. While I started out my adult life with these values, they did nothing to improve my happiness. I began to reassess them a few years ago, honing in on what really made me happy. I found that when I achieved something big externally, I often felt empty when I should have felt elated. On the other hand, when I simply extended spontaneous kindness towards someone I felt good immediately, even if nobody knew about it. I also discovered that struggling could often be bypassed by tapping into universal energy through meditation and intention. As soon as I began to do this, my desires began to manifest without much hard work. Taking action after tapping into universal energy is vastly different to struggling against the world. Taking positive action doesn’t FEEL like hard work. So I decided to rethink my values and realign myself with those of the universal force. Here’s what I came up with:

      • Kindness and generosity

      • Moving slowly through the world

      • Building inner richness

      • Achieving goals calmly, without struggle

      • Maving through the world slowly

      Although I still struggle to live these values on a daily basis, it makes me feel happy to remind myself that I have them.

      Tuesday, March 22, 2011

      Imperfection Anxiety

      As a mum, I feel like I'm in a state of permanent guilt. My baby is sleeping too much, not enough or at the wrong time. She has too much of a routine, then too little. I'm feeding her too much or the wrong stuff. I'm using disposable nappies instead of cloth. I don't space breastfeeds out enough. The guilt list goes on and on until I've forgotten that I have a healthy, happy little baby. Feeling guilty is almost addictive, like I'm not a 'real' mum without it. How to chill out?

      I realised during my meditation yesterday that although I have been meditating on and off for a few years, I have never really just OBSERVED my breath. I have been controlling it. So I sat down with the true aim of just watching it - and it worked! As I watched the breath I said to myself, 'let's see what it does now', then, 'let's see where it goes now'. It was ridiculously simple, yet so relaxing. It turns out that the breath is naturally really peaceful if you leave it alone to do its thing. I am now practicing this technique on a minute by minute basis to combat my anxiety. When I feel a tightening in my chest or hear my mind yelling about all the things I'm doing wrong, I try to notice my breath (much different from breathing deeply or controlling the breath). This is working a treat.

      I am also hammering this affirmation: I am doing my best and my best is good enough.

      There's no point worrying when you are doing your best. So, two experiments for managing imperfection anxiety and pointless guilt: 1. Notice how peaceful your breath is. 2. Chant 'I am doing my best and my best is good enough' (mentally or verbally). Hope this helps someone as much as it helped me.

      Monday, March 21, 2011

      Learning From Our Kids

      Our children are the greatest teachers life can produce. They give us the opportunity to grow as people simply because we desire to do the best we can for them. With this in mind, I want to create a an online community of mothers who share ideas on how to nurture ourselves and our children. Through my own experiences as a new mum to 6-month-old Scarlett, I am experimenting with life skills that I hope will help me be a calm and loving mother. Through this blog, I will explore:

      - Emotional Intelligence: The knowledge of our own emotions and how to manage them.

      - Spiritual tools for tough times: Nobody can tell us how to raise our kids, as every child is unique. So how do we know the answers to our problems? Yoga and meditation often help me to go within and sort out my own issues. I want to look at different techniques and tools that are doable for time-poor mums.

      - Healthy bodies: To raise healthy kids we have to eat well and learn to love food. We need to enjoy physical activity and find exercises that suit our individual preferences. Mums need recipes that are quick and healthy and exercises that can be done with babies and kids.

      This blog is all about the small things that increase our happiness and ability to cope with the demands of motherhood. I will include posts on my own passions – food, art, books, travel and spirituality – and hope to review different ideas and approaches to motherhood. I also look forward to comments from other mums on how they deal with the highs and lows of looking after a little person.