For me, living in the present moment is being fully immersed into the experience I am living, being 100% here, not thinking about the future, not living in the past. Present with all my mind and cells of my body.
What’s the point of living in the moment?
Time flies by. Days. Years. Decades. I can’t believe I am married and I am a mum. I remember being 18 and carefree, feeling like my 30s were miles away. They’re now upon me… So many things have happened in 10 years, yet I barely had time to blink and they were gone! Since becoming a mum, I’ve been increasingly aware of the ephemeral nature of life. I’ve become scared about leaving the world too early. I think that’s what having children does to you. You just want to be around for as long as possible, watch them grow up and see who they become. My time with my husband and my children is precious and the last thing I want is to look back in 20 years and realise that I don’t remember much of their childhood, that I could have had more quality time with them, that I could have been more present. What’s the point of living in the moment? I don’t want any regret. I want to have enjoyed every second of my time with my family. I want to lead by example so my kids learn to slow down and appreciate little things in life. I want to be a mindful mum. Not only does being mindful make me better at managing my stress in my everyday life but it also makes me feel more alive, whole, happier. And this has a positive knock on effect on my relationships with my husband, my little one, my friends. My full presence in the moment is a gift to myself and a gift to my family and friends.
Since Babou was born, I have made a conscious effort to ‘do’ less and ‘be’ more, even if it means compromising on housework and work itself. He comes first.
Here are 4 ways that keep me centered and fully present in the moment
Baby care and activities
I’ve found the best way to tune into the moment is to connect with my senses. Whatever I’m doing with Babou, I try and be 100% present with my body and mind. For example, if we’re having a cuddle, I notice the warmth of his body against mine, the feeling of his little hands on my face, the sound of his breathing as well as mine, the movement of his abdomen and mine rising and lowering, the smell of his skin, the intensity in his eyes… This is a moment I will never get back, a precious cuddle I want to cherish and engrave in my memory, my happy place. One day Babou won’t want these cuddles anymore and I’ll regret not having savoured them.
The same applies with any other activity, feeding, bath time or play time. I pay attention to the sounds of his voice, his laughter, and I talk back to him, I watch him drink his milk, feel the contact of his body against mine, I notice how peaceful and safe it makes him feel.
Listening and engaging fully in conversations instead of just hearing
When you have a baby, it becomes very difficult to switch off completely and be 100% present in conversations you have with people. You have one ear on what they’re saying and the other one on ‘alert ‘ in case baby needs something. Most of the time, you have to stop and start the conversation several times, it’s tiring for the mum and frustrating for the person you’re talking to. On several occasions, my husband pointed out to me that I was only partly listening to what he was saying. And it was true. Since then, I’ve been making a conscious effort to fully engage when we interact, not ignoring the baby but learning to let go a little and give our relationship and conversations the attention it deserves. As much as I can, just like with the baby care or activities, I use my senses to stay focused on our discussion and fully present body and mind. I don’t try and do several things at the same time, I stop and look at him, listen intently and engage.
Breathe and relax
Motherhood is far from being stress free. There’s always things to do and babies are unpredictable. I’ve found myself running around getting stressed a few times since Babou came into the world. I’ve since noticed that my own state of tension affects him and he responds to my stress by tensing up himself and being difficult. When I’m patient, relaxed and zen, he tends to mirror and be the same. I’ve learned to let go and accept that I will rarely tick off the tasks on my daily to do list. When I feel the stress bubbling up, I instantly tune into my breathing and my body. I take a few minutes to breathe out for longer than I breathe in, abdomen rising on the inhale and lowering on the exhale. I scan my body from head to toe and consciously relax and let go of any tension I may feel on my face, neck, shoulders, back and legs. This is usually enough to reset and start afresh.
One thing at a time
I’ve tried multitasking before, putting the load of laundry on whilst trying to make a bottle, answering a text and holding the baby… It took me much longer than if I’d done all these things separately and it created stress. Now, I focus on the task in hand, get it done swiftly and mindfully, and then move onto the next. I’ve become much more efficient and relaxed as a result.