There I was, lying on my back, having a few mindful minutes in the middle of a busy, family filled weekend day. I was enjoying the warm sun, listening to the wind rustling through the leaves and marvelling at the changing trees…… when this little head pops into view. Does anyone else experience that instant feeling of irritation and then instant guilt at irritation when small people interrupt the few moments you’ve found for yourself? And then guilt for feeling you needed a few minutes for yourself in the first place. You see where I’m going. It doesn’t feel very mindful.
I know from teaching mindfulness to many parents that I’m not alone. The stories about mums and dads hiding in pantries, taking extended loo breaks, pegging out the washing VERY slowly – in the rain – and so on are enough to make you weep with laughter. Of course we all need space to gather ourselves. It makes us better, saner parents. It’s important. So what do we do when self care time is cut short by eager faces?
When I first started practicing mindfulness I have to admit I didn’t have the skills to respond well to these situations. I was irritated that the little people in the house had the audacity not to respect that I was DOING MINDFULNESS. I bought a sign to put on the door and issued threats that I was not to be disturbed, neither of which worked and the odd time I was interrupted, I would get angry and stay angry. I know, shocking, and a big indicator that I really needed mindfulness in my life.
Two years later I’m far more skilled at dealing with these situations. I no longer DO mindfulness. I can BE mindful in the face of interruptions. I still experience the instant irritation and guilt, but I can quickly notice it and respond. When this little head popped into view, after a moment I noticed the eagerness and joy. She loves mindfulness. She laid down beside me and looked at the tree with me. She spotted a birds nest and patiently described where it was so I could see it too. It didn’t last long but we both finished this practice feeling better.
Eventually these little curveballs to practising mindfulness become opportunities for mindfulness, not barriers. So when you’re diligently trying to fit in those practices around little ones at home, notice that irritation and then see how you can include them, even if it’s only for a moment. You won’t regret it, I promise.