Tomorrow kicks off my personal 21-day mindfulness challenge! I am already starting to take note of how I need to improve my daily interactions with others as well as my own routines. I didn’t realize how much my mind wanders to the overwhelming to-do list looming ahead or the regrets of yesterday until I made it a habit to check myself throughout the day.
I wanted to prepare for this time by making my intentions clear. I thought about why I decided to do this challenge and I was brutally honest with myself about the areas of my life that I HAVE to change. After a few days, I finally came up with what I want to achieve from this experience, what I really want to change, and the tools I want to use to help me become more rooted in the present moment.
Today, I’ll start with this question:
What Do I Want to Change?
I want to start being more present with the kids and husband
I’d like to think I am a pretty involved mom. I like to play games, watch movies, eat snacks, and cook with my 4th grader and pre-kid kiddo. We love taking trips to the park, museums, and local beach. I show up for as many things at school as my schedule allows and I have been a participant in many (fake) clinics, restaurants, and salons. I like doing things with them and seeing how different their personalities are despite having the same parents.
I am fortunate to work from home most days, so I walk my 4th grader to and from the bus stop each day. It’s a great opportunity to spend some one-on-one time with her and see what’s up in her world. But, I am not always as in tune as she needs me to be most days.
She will be going on and on about her friends and projects and my mind is already on my work for today. Or worse, I am scrolling through Twitter or checking an email and halfheartedly listening until she checks me by pointing out that I am not listening. Ouch.
My husband has also gotten on me (and vice versa) about zoning out of a conversation to check emails or the glow of my phone screen in the bed at night. In my mind I didn’t do it “that much” but this week was a major wake up call. I noticed all of these bad habits and the sting of being called out by my family was quite painful.
I have to start putting the phone away, stepping away from the computer more, and becoming fully engaged in conversations no matter what the topic because they are all important in their own way. I may not care about what my kid’s classmates do but my daughter does and she wants me to know about her life.
And, I want both of my kids to know that I am down to listen. Of course, they can’t talk to me every second of the day, but there’s really no excuse to not listen unless I am engaged in an important task. This is the same for my husband. Life gets so busy and days go by quickly and its easy to get lost in homework, social duties, cleaning, cooking, and all the other daily activities. The moments we spend together are precious and I need to treat them with more respect.
I want to stop excessive pre-worrying
Pre-worrying is my arch nemesis. I’m working on an article due tomorrow and I am already worried about the four articles next week. It’s a relaxing Sunday afternoon and I am suddenly anxious about a Wednesday social function. I have a tough time enjoying the present because I am already thinking and pre-worrying about something that hasn’t gotten here yet. I’m human and it happens to the best of us, but I want to spend more time enjoying each day without my mind being constantly in some other time period. I hope my mindfulness challenge will teach me to focus more on the moments I have right now and see the beauty, love, and happiness in my daily life.
Make My Bedroom A Sanctuary
Remember what I said about the glowing phone in the bedroom? Yeah, that’s really a problem. I want to keep the phones, tablets, and other distractions out of my bedroom and make it a place of rest and peace. I can sit and read positive/inspirational material, look out of my window at the stars, meditate in my corner, and sleep restfully without distractions.
I want it to be a place where I can think, reflect, be in silence, and feed my spirit, not where I get my last hit of social media drama before I struggle to fall asleep. I want to be mindful of the moments I spend in this personal space and head to bed with a clear head.
Control emotional responses by fully processing them first
This is hard to admit but I know it’s a truth for many moms. Sometimes, I am a mean mom. I’m not talking about in the taking away privileges for discipline or being hella judgy of other moms way. I mean that I yell and overreact about the smallest offenses and sometimes I am flat out angry with my kids for doing kid stuff….and it happens more than it should happen.
I know that no mom is sunshine and rainbows all the time because parenting is difficult. It’s hard to not get frustrated when you feel like you repeat yourself all day long and the kids’ listening ears are nonexistent. It’s hard to not feel upset when it’s been a long workday, the house is a wreck, dinner is a mystery, and the kids are arguing with each other and nagging you. Honestly, kids have a way of testing every nerve in your body, but it can be a great lesson in patience, humility, and (of course) mindfulness.
But, I don’t want to react to so many offenses with anger, yelling and frustration. There HAS to be a better way and I think part of that way is through mindfulness. I want to take that extra moment to breathe, to assess the current situation, and think about the most effective and kind way to respond to the current situation.
I want my kids to love and respect me because I show them the same, not because they are afraid that I will turn into a griping troll because they made a mistake (even if they make it multiple times). And, it shows them how to be better humans in terms of their reactions to challenging situations. It’s all about leading by example.
A big part of being in the present moment is understanding your emotions, taking control of your thoughts, and redirecting that energy so it will be effective. It’s never too late to admit your faults as a parent (or person) and make an effort to change.
Do I expect to never yell or react emotionally to my kids, husband, or others again? No. But, the more I can replace those negative interactions with positive resolutions, the better off everyone will be in the end.
I want to reclaim my consistent prayer and meditation life
I love to pray and meditate but I am terrible at being consistent. I spent some time doing both this week and I quickly realized that these two moments are prime time to be mindful of the present. When I pray, I’m not anxious about the future or thinking about my past transgressions. It’s just me talking to God and allowing myself to be open and vulnerable in the most authentic way.
This is amplified with meditation because there are no spoken words. It’s just silence and being as my consciousness leaves my body and puts me in a state of peace. Yes, it’s hard to not let your mind wander, but it is a skill that has to be practiced and mastered. When I was meditating religiously, I could block out all outside senses. I miss that feeling and this is my time to reclaim that slice of mindfulness, peace, and clarity.
I hope you will join me in this journey of finding more value in the present. I plan on sharing a ton about what happens to me as well as more details about what I will be using to get my desired results.