As I mentioned in last week’s post, I believe mamas have a lot of influence when it comes to raising happy, healthy, well-adjusted adults. I don’t say this to pressure you to be perfect. Lord knows, there’s already enough of that out there! I say it to (hopefully) motivate you to prioritize your mental and emotional well-being.
Parenting educator, Dr. Laura Markham, has said that the #1 responsibility of a parent is to manage her own well-being. Why? Because it directly effects your child’s well-being, including how connected they feel to you!
Okay, so what do I mean by well-being?
To give you a flavor, you might think back to a time you felt at peace. You weren’t worried about the laundry list of house chores. You weren’t beating yourself up about how you snapped at one of the kids earlier. You were just there, freely enjoying the moment.
Another example is a time you felt strong and confident in the face of a challenge or important goal. You weren’t sure how it would go, but went for it anyway. One of those moments you look back on and think, #momwin.
Well-being is a Skill
As it turns out, well-being is a skill that everyone can learn, just like learning to play an instrument or riding a bike.
This means that well-being isn’t only available to you when you’re on vacation or at the spa. It’s something you can access in the throes of daily life in order to find more joy in the mundane or keep your cool when the kids refuse to do what you (repeatedly) ask.
How do we do this? According to Richie Davidson and his colleagues at the Center for Healthy Minds, there are 4 key skills that build well-being. They include:
- Positive Emotion. This is about allowing yourself to experience good feelings. Sometimes mamas are so task-oriented that we forget to appreciate the little pockets of joy that make-up life as a parent – and human being.
- Resilience. This is about quickly recovering from stressful situations. Learning how to bring our bodies back to a calm, balanced state once we’ve been triggered is hard work, but so worth the investment.
- Mindfulness. This is about training the mind to be more present with yourself and your children, and learning to let go of thought patterns that limit you, such as, “I’m not doing enough. I can’t do this. It’s not perfect.”
- Compassion. This is about being generous and kind to people you know and people you don’t.
Since these are teachable skills, a helpful starting point is to assess how you currently use them.
- Positive Emotions: Do you make a point to notice the good things you and your loved ones do? Do you occasionally slow down to appreciate the moment?
- Resilience: Do you let go of stressful situations once they’re over? Or, do you find yourself replaying (and reliving) what you or someone else did wrong?
- Mindfulness: How often are you present with the people you love? Do worries or anxiety make it hard to focus on what’s happening in the moment?
- Compassion: Do you notice opportunities to comfort others when they struggle? Do you cut yourself a little slack when you don’t feel up-to-par or you make a mistake?
What would it look like to make a commitment to building these skills, just as you might commit to a physical exercise routine? I get that you don’t have a boat load of alone time to journal, reflect, and practice for long periods. But what about a moment here and there to more intentionally care for your well-being?
I’ll say more in the coming weeks on short practices mamas can readily implement in daily life!