Mothers never stop thinking.
We plan, reschedule, worry, make lists, argue, calculate, create, and imagine things in our minds constantly.
This morning I woke up at 5.30am. Not because my alarm went off. Not because a child had woken me. I just jolted awake before dawn had even broken and it only took my mind a millisecond before it started planning, thinking and worrying.
How am I going to manage today’s ballet and swimming lesson schedule? When am I going to get to the shops to get the groceries? Have I got enough for breakfast? I think I have some bread left, but the girls shouldn’t be having too much bread – it’s not good for them. Did they have any fruit yesterday? I really am worried about the amount of fruit and veg Greta is eating….
And on it went.
As the rest of my little family slept soundly, I was working myself into such a frenzy in my mind that I was unable to stop tossing and turning in my bed – as if I was physically trying to get away from my own thoughts. I was very much awake and had no chance of falling back asleep before my two little ones would wake and start their day anyway.
I know I wouldn’t have been alone. If I could have looked down on the earth at that moment, I know for sure that there would have been mothers all over the world running dates, times, budgets and routines through their minds. Whether lying in their beds, standing at the kitchen bench, in the shower or in the car – a mother’s mind is never at peace.
But what if it could be? What if, by changing that frenetic pace of running every possible need of our family and our careers through our minds, we could embrace that energy and use it for good? What if we could use that amazing ability to multi-task our multi-tasking to focus on the positive. On the things we are grateful for. Or simply the breathe?
I remember when Scarlett was only a few months old, and I was obsessed with trying to get her into a routine. I would plan out our day over and over again in my mind. “Feed at 6am, then one hour of play, then sleep. If she sleeps for an hour, then that’s up at 8.30, and I can’t feed her for four hours, so I’ll keep her up longer, and then feed her at 7…” and it would go on and on. I would be so tired, I would have to count out the hours on my fingers. Recently, I dug out my old copy of Robyn Barker’s ‘Baby Love’ – my ‘bible’ for routines and advice – to lend to a friend, and inside it I found scraps of paper with timetables and baby routines desperately scribbled on them. Even my handwriting looked stressed.
What if I had just stopped the frenetic pace in my mind long enough to just breathe, and focus on the positive? What if I had been able to simply replace the routine stress with a simple statement like “All is good. I am a great Mum. I trust my instincts.”
Well, four years on, and I am relieved to say that that is exactly what I did this morning. After about ten minutes of running through every possible scenario of my weekend in my mind, I suddenly recognised what I was doing. I was panicking myself again. I was having a Midnight Freak Out. And so I stopped tossing and turning, laid on my back in a relaxed position, took a couple of enormous breaths, and focused on two little words: Let go.
With the rhythm of my breath, I repeated the words for a couple of minutes. Every breath in: Let. Every breath out: Go. My whole body relaxed. After a few more breaths, I started listing all the things in my life I am grateful for. I turned the energy that I was using to freak out about my day into working through all the great things in my life. If I got distracted or my thoughts started wondering back to the panic, I came back to ‘let go.’
Next thing I knew – I woke up an hour later to the sounds of my four year old creeping into our bedroom. No more panicking. No more negative thoughts running through my mind. And an extra hour’s sleep.
Now that’s Mummy gold.