When did you start focusing on mindset? Why?
I started focusing on mindset about a year ago when I realized the way I was dealing with conflict with my children just wasn’t working and therefore just ineffective. I was getting frustrated, sad and angry while only heightening there already sensitive emotions. I didn’t understand how I could do so much for my children and they still just wouldn’t listen. As much as I loved my children, some days I just didn’t want to be a mom. I was tired and fed up but I knew it wasn’t that they just didn’t want to listen. For example, perhaps, like me, cleaning their bedroom was overwhelming. It was something they hated to do but I forced them and yelled when they didn’t comply. We had begun a cycle of talking, crying, yelling, more crying, more yelling and the room still wasn’t cleaning! We needed help! Or maybe I needed help in order to help them.
How did you begin to implement these tools in your life?
I began to notice how the frustrations and stress in my life affected my mind, body and spirit and I did not like it to say the least. I began to get irritable, overthinking, overwhelmed, sad and/or mad over everything and that just wasn’t who I am. Because I was familiar with the symptoms of anxiety, I knew that I was developing more intense anxiety than ever before. I didn’t want to live like that so I started meditating whenever I felt like that. It helped. I realized that I needed to focus more on myself if I wanted to be the best mother to my children. How can I effectively teach my children how to deal with conflict when I am struggling to manage the conflict within myself? As a result, I began meditating more regularly, drinking mood-boosting smoothies and making time for myself when needed.
What are your daily mindfulness rituals now?
Every morning before I wake the kids up, I spend at least an hour listening to meditation music, drinking my coffee and working on my business and/or browsing social media. It is my time to be alone and relax before my chaotic day begins. In addition to having my own children ages 5 and 8, I am a pre-k teacher and never know what type of day we will have! I have also started learning more about essential oils and lavender is my favorite. I put it in the diffuser (along with some of my other faves) and on my wrists throughout the day. These are my go-to rituals because they really play a role in calming me down and/or keeping me calm.
How has your mindfulness practice changed after becoming a mother?
To be honest, before I became a mother, I didn’t really practice mindfulness. Since becoming a mother, I realized that the way I parent my children now will either positively or negatively affect them in the future. I have no intent on putting my children through trauma that they will have to deal with as an adult. My father was a yeller and his mood was so unpredictable and I always hated it. I didn’t want to create that environment for my children. However, I am sometimes quick-tempered and yell out of frustration but in the process, I am hurting my girls because this form of parenting only heightens their emotions and they can’t comprehend the real issue at this moment. More recently, I have really been learning and practicing Conscious Discipline.
Conscious Discipline basically suggests that if we as parents can effectively regulate our emotions, we can teach our children to do the same. The program has been known to decrease problem behaviors, power struggles, impulsivity, and aggression, while increasing resilience, self-regulation, emotional health and overall achievement. It is a program that we utilize in the classroom but I have also adopted it in my home because it is aligned with what I was already trying to do. Not to say that I never yell anymore but it has drastically decreased. I am more conscious of how I say things to them, giving them choices and connecting with them regularly. I’ve learned to not only listen to the cues my body is giving off but also the cues of my children. I’ve noticed that when my daughter is missing some quality time together she acts more baby-like although she is eight years old. I am able to be more proactive when I notice this whereas before I may have gotten frustrated that she isn’t acting her age and possibly fussing at her. Instead, I remind her how to use her words and talk to me about how she is feeling and how I can help her feel better.
How has mindfulness affected your parenting?
Mindfulness has affected my parenting by allowing me to become more aware of my own emotions and feelings. I’ve always been very good about communicating different things with my children and so they know that sometimes mommy gets anxious or upset and needs time alone. Since this is something I had to learn as an adult, I am teaching them early the importance of taking care of yourself. We all feel the same emotions at different times and we have that right but being able to recognize them and deal with them effectively really makes a difference in your mental health. My self diagnosed anxiety has subdued a lot because I am practicing mindfulness. I didn’t want to have to be treated for it by a doctor without trying other options first. I knew if I changed the way I thought, I could change my life. Furthermore, I am able to understand my children in different ways now that I am consciously choosing to be present “in the moment” and not just going through the motions. I am more intentional with my children based on what’s going on in their lives even more so than before. For example, my eight-year-old is obsessed with her second-grade teacher (for good reason) but she gets really sad when her teacher is absent. A few weeks ago, we both knew her teacher was leaving early one particular day. Since I work at her school, I was able to come to visit my daughter at lunch, rub some lavender oil on her wrists, give her a hug and let her know that she can handle this and to continue making good choices. This was intentional because I knew the way she handled her sadness in that moment, would determine how the rest of her day would be. I recognized and acknowledged her feelings and that made her feel safe and loved!
What have you learned about yourself throughout this journey?
The biggest thing that I have learned throughout this journey is that my mood dictates my children’s’ mood. I have seen so many adults who still don’t know how to regulate their emotions in healthy ways that I refuse to allow my girls not to have the necessary tools to function in society. I’ve also learned that I have given too much power to others around me for the way I think and feel and I had to take that power back. I am in control of my thoughts and feelings and if I change my thinking to more positive thoughts, I can truly manifest that within my life. I am happier when I am calm and my children will be too.
What advice would you give to any mother who thinks she’s too busy to put energy towards mindfulness?
You are crazy!! Lol. Honestly, I wish I would have started this journey sooner. It really makes a huge difference when done consistently and especially if you teach your children as well. I know that being a mother means that you have a million and one things to do at any given moment and it always seems like you have more things to do than time to do them. However, investing some time and energy towards mindfulness can really make being a mother easier than ever before. The biggest kicker for me is that I started this journey because of my kids but it has helped ME in ways that I couldn’t even imagine. You have to find what works for you but definitely make time to practice mindfulness. It may look different for everyone but the outcome is all the same and we all want to feel happiness and peace. Mindfulness will get you there. I still have ways to go but I’m very optimistic about the effects of mindfulness so far.
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