When you are a working parent, you get pushed in so many different directions; from meetings to playdates and everywhere in between. It can be challenging to keep it all together and stay connected to who you are as both a woman and as a mama. Giving yourself time to pause and reflect can do wonders to breaking out of the frantic daily routine, and it’s something we plan on incorporating more regularly. During our recent Mindful Parenting event at Citibabes, we learned so much from our esteemed panelists: Elena Brower, author of Practice You and Art of Attention, Colleen Wachob, Co-Founder and Chief Brand Officer of Mind Body Green, Colleen Campo, MA Licensed Mental Health Counselor, and Julie Wald, Founder and Chief Wellness Advisor of Namaste New York. Read on to check out some of their tips on how to balance motherhood and life.
1. Give them your attention: As working moms, sometimes the amount of work you have doesn’t stop when you get home. We love the tips we learned from Colleen Campo who stated that it’s important to always attend to your kids, then deal with any work issues later. She noted, “designate the first 20 minutes to your kids.” This can include giving them a snack, feeding them, bathing them, or helping them with their homework. She added, “then you can switch gears and send that email or have that call.” Julie discussed the importance of repetitive practices that will evolve as the kids get older. She stated, “when they were babies there was a lot of breathing and rocking.” Now, she simply gives her kids hugs. She also had a great suggestion for connecting to your kids when you haven’t seen them all day. “When I haven’t seen them I always say, I’m so happy to see you.” She noted that this statement feels more real to her (as opposed to asking how was your day).
2. Create an unplugging routine: Living in a digital age, our phones and computers are the source of our livelihood. The panelists had a lot to say about their own unplugging routines, which they acknowledged is always going to be different for every women. Colleen Wachob confessed to using a flip phone on the weekends. She shares, “technology has an affect on me, so the flip phone is a way for me to separate and make myself disconnect. I’m not a capable parent without the disconnect.” Lisa keeps two days a week open for kids with no activities as well as forces a family ‘digital detox’ where no phones are allowed to be used after 6pm. She also puts an auto response on her emails on Friday evening to give herself permission not to check email over the weekend. Elena is also a fan of having free days during the week for her child and promotes a chill vibe at home where they cook and relax together. She also proudly stated to the audience, “the best way to unplug is to get rid of your TV. You don’t need it.”
Find women and a community who share your values.
3. Create a mindful practice: On talking about mindfulness, each panelist shared their own way of how they disconnect and focus on themselves. Elena noted, “my mindfulness practice is my own. I wake up at 5am and I never ask my child to join me.” During this time she practices her Asana, sits, or writes in her journal. She believes that her son is seeing the transformation in her, and she hopes he will join her when he is ready. Colleen Wachob, who has a nine-month-old baby, stated that she doesn’t have the time to concentrate on the mindfulness practices that she used to use, however (her and her husband) find ways to keep their cups full (such as getting a shiatsu massage) so that they can give to their daughter and still feel fulfilled.
4. Go towards the good vibes: In work and in life, there are all types of people that we have to interact with. However, if you are around overly negative people, it can have a direct effect on how you go through your day and feel about yourself. Colleen Wachob stated that women and mothers should “share yourself with the people that share your values. You can get too caught up in other people. Find women and a community who share your values. (hello, heymama!) Ask yourself: “Do you feel better or worse when you are with certain people? Focus on putting your energy (and time) towards the good vibes.”
5. Appreciate the small moments: As moms and women, we have a lot going on and it can be hard not to feel overwhelmed. In those situations, Colleen Campo noted that it’s important not to lose your temper and to have gratitude. She also noted that life is full of so many moments where we can all be grateful – from the newborn stage to allowing them to develop their own personalities. She stated, “soak it all in, it goes so fast.” Elena also provided us with real tips on how to create calm by using oils. “They go to your brain. You can rub them on the back of your kids’ neck or involve them in the process by giving them a few to choose from. Let them breathe them in to create a feeling of pause and centeredness.”
6. Accepting yourself and your emotions: Life can be very emotional as a women with the juggle of motherhood. Elena noted that it’s important to teach our kids that we can lose control and when that does happen, we have to apologize. She noted that the biggest challenge is being honest all the time when you lose it, but you have to be willing to give confident, truthful and heartfelt apologies without pause. She stated, “I realized how empowering it is for [my son] when he comes into an issue at school, he apologizes. I’m so proud.”
7. Empower your kids: Colleen Campo reminded us that we shouldn’t project onto our children who we think they should be, “It’s important to trust them as they figure out where they are going.” Julie added on this discussion when talking about not being around all the time. She stated. “As a working mom, there are going to be times when we can’t be everywhere. It’s not healthy for kids to be overly comfortable – you don’t raise children to be resistant and for the world to rise up to them.” Julie noted, “They are ok – they are better off often times when they are learning to tolerate some discomfort or disappointment. You are preparing them and being a good mom.”
8. Find your balance: Balance is a tricky word when you are a working mom. Elena noted that she does not entertain guilt, adding, “It does not exist.” Colleen Campo added that we have to give ourselves permission to have a longer lunch to see your kid, or work later. She noted, “Own what you are doing in that moment and ask yourself: What do I need to be doing right now? With either your kids or your work. You decide and own it.”
We are so grateful to our panelists for this open and honest discussion, and for providing tangible tips that working mamas can all incorporate into their lives. If you missed this event and want to experience more like it, Citibabes and Namaste New York have joined forces to create a Mindfulness Curriculum that’s full of activities for preschool-aged children to help them learn how to be present in their bodies and minds. The new curriculum, which launched this fall, will also provide ongoing mindfulness tips and events for parents and students, helping to planting the seeds for a lifetime of greater well being.