I’ve been giving some thought to today’s post, taking a little break from my journaling to look at how you can create a calm day today. Yes, you can do it even with small children and/or a busy job/demanding commitments. So grab a cup of tea and spend five minutes with me while we look at the tools that have helped me to create a peaceful life around the varied demands of a large family.
It seemed like a good time to share my personal circumstances with you so that you know that I am writing with parenting experience. I have four children, now in their teens and twenties, but it wasn’t that long ago that I was lugging four little ones around a supermarket.
Feeling my stress levels rise as my baby cried and yet another old lady said “Oh dear” in a patronising tone. I wanted to create a sign to hang around my five-year-olds neck saying “Please just ignore me, I’m trying to get round this shop in a HURRY!”
It was hard work!
These were the days before online shopping was created and the food shop was a military operation for everyone involved. I remember the winter in particular. Four children to dress warmly before venturing out, “Have you been to the toilet?” to one child “Yes you have to clean your teeth EVERY day!” to another whilst making sure that their needs have been met so I could get in and out in record time.
It amazes me that they survived as I would get home and realise that, in my stress, I had only bought bananas, lettuce, Branston pickle and a tub of Ben and Jerry’s. With the best will in the world, I’d challenge Heston Blumenthal to create a meal out of that strange mix of food. I was hardly Deliciously Ella.
So that’s a snippet from my existence a few years ago. I dreamt of ‘help’ but it never came. My parents had both died when I was younger and I had no siblings to be ‘Fabulous Aunt’s’ so there was nobody around the corner to come in and save the day.
The practices that I talk about are ones that I have used for many years. I have had my ups and downs so I won’t pretend that I have been diligent in my practice, but I always come back to it and I feel so much better when I’m doing it.
1. Breathing – being conscious of your breath and taking deeper breaths to really get that oxygen flowing. Really thinking about your breath is such a great tool as you realise how you hold your breath at times. I learnt this whilst giving birth. My body took over and I birthed my last two using my breath to provide comfort during labour. It’s a memory that I have been able to hold on to and I use my breath anytime I’m in pain or stressed.
2. Meditation – using the Calm app on my IPhone at the moment. It’s really helpful to use an app as the guided meditations are super for new meditators. There are a few out there so it’s worth finding one that suits (and is free!).
3. Morning Pages – mentioned in previous posts.
4. Affirmations – twice a week.
5. Essential oils (more about my choices of oils in the next post). I use them on my scarf so that the wonderful scents waft around and help me to feel calm. You can also put a few drops on a tissue and leave on the window ledge or radiator (depending on how tall your children are).
6. Clothes that feel nice on my skin. I like to wear linen and cashmere which feels great but I realise isn’t great if you have babies! The point is this, find something that works for you, is easy to wash but feels nice. If you feel comfortable in your own skin, your confidence will grow.
7. Becoming conscious of the sounds around me. It can be very noisy with small children at home so I played calming music to help counteract the stress. It helped both me and my children. My son has just graduated from university after studying music so it must have had an impact! My personal love is the contemplative sounds of classical piano music but anything peaceful can help create a calm environment. Spotify is fabulous for creating playlists of meditation music.
8. Keeping some areas of your home tidy!! Yes, I hear you. I know it’s a tough one. On one hand, I’m telling you to make time for yourself and now I’m asking you to tidy the house!! “Liz, make your mind up girl!” However, I speak from experience when I say that keeping a small tidy area in your home will create a calm space in your mind where you can retreat to when it’s busy and loud.
9. Reading. Watch what you read. It may feel good to keep in touch with what’s going on in the world but the effect of all that negativity can really bring your down. Try one of the lovely little books on mindfulness which are on the market at the moment. Small and easy to read, perfect for the busy woman.
10. Change your drinks! Try a lovely herbal/fruit tea instead of coffee/black tea. There are so many herbal teas on the market so take your pick. Refreshing and calming. A perfect accompaniment to your me-time with the scent of aromatherapy oils and the sounds of Chopin in the background.
I would love to hear how you are all getting on adopting some of these practices. Even if you just take on one this week, I feel that it will be a great start to a quieter, calmer life for you and your family.