How to Meditate When You Have a Baby or Toddler

Over the years of my health journey, I have dabbled with meditation. I’ve found guided meditations really useful and thoroughly enjoyed doing them, but I still struggled to incorporate meditation into any kind of regular routine. Maybe you can relate?

Vedic Meditation

One of the most rewarding experiences I had whilst on maternity leave was attending a four day babes-in-arms meditation course, with The Broad Place. The course was in a specific kind of meditation, called Vedic Meditation. This involves repeating your own personal mantra given to you by a Vedic Meditation teacher. The aim is to meditate twice per day for 20 minutes.

The investment in the course was enough to keep me committed initially. My daughter was 8 months at the time, and was having two naps per day. It was therefore pretty easy for me to meditate as soon as I put her down for her nap. I wasn’t back at work yet, so this was our routine for about 5 months. It was easy and it worked – my daughter couldn’t cope if she missed a nap, so she always had 2 naps which meant I always meditated twice per day. The benefits I received from meditation were phenomenal. You can read all about the benefits of meditation here.

Life in meditation land was going great until I returned to work this year and my daughter also dropped her second nap. Suddenly my easy meditation routine was out the window! With a few modifications, I have developed a new version of my meditation routine which I share with you today.

Attach meditation to something that is already a fairly consistent habit in your life. 

If you have a baby or toddler who is still taking a nap, use some of that time (even if it’s 10 minutes) to meditate. For me, I would rock my daughter to sleep in my bedroom, put her in the cot and return to my bedroom to meditate. If I came out into the kitchen or living room, I would inevitably start cleaning up, make something to eat or simply become distracted. I would even go to the bathroom before putting her down so that I was ready to meditate once she was asleep.

When Piper dropped her second nap, I decided to have a second meditation break immediately after dinner. As soon as I finished eating, I leave the dishes and go off into my bedroom. My daughter is still pretty content in her highchair (often she is still eating), so I leave my husband to mind her while I meditate.

Meditate when you wake up or when you go to sleep.

This hasn’t actually worked as well for me as I would hope. As mothers, we often have been woken up several times throughout the night to tend to our little ones. Therefore, I am no way inclined to wake up earlier than my daughter in order to meditate, as she is already an early riser!

Vedic meditation does not recommend meditating immediately before bed, as it can often energise you and make it difficult to fall asleep. I therefore don’t practice Vedic mediation before bed, but I will often listen to a guided meditation or evening visualisation.

Meditate in the car (not whilst driving!).

When my daughter was still a baby, she would often fall asleep in the car, but she was impossible to move inside without waking her up. If I predicted in advance that this might happen, I would plan to arrive at my destination 15-20 minutes earlier than required so that I could find a quiet street to park and meditate.

I have a friend who arrives at the school pick up earlier than the bell to meditate in the car beforehand.

Now that I am back at work, I often go out to my car in my morning tea break to meditate. I’ve also arrived at work earlier than required to meditate before starting work. I personally find this easier to do than meditating as soon as I wake up.

Involve your little one.

If you are a breastfeeder, you could meditate while you breastfeed your bub. Personally, this never worked for me as I had a very disruptive baby while I attempted to breastfeed (you can read all about my breastfeeding challenges here if you’re interested).

I’ve also tried meditating whilst my daughter is playing, but it usually hasn’t lasted long. It’s like once she sees that I’ve slowed down, she wants to involve me in her play. This is so adorable and the invitation is hard to ignore. I’m hoping once she is a bit older she might be more interested and sharing a few quiet moments of meditation with me!

Be kind to yourself.

As I said earlier, I was very diligent with meditating twice a day when my daughter was taking 2 naps and I hadn’t returned back to work. Nowadays I just can’t be as strict with my meditation practice. I now just aim for once a day, and if I squeeze in two, then that’s a bonus. Some days when I go to work, I just don’t have time. I’ve learned not to let this be an excuse to chuck in the towel. Instead, I just wait for the next opportunity, whether it be before bed that night or the following day. Be gentle and kind with yourself while you are creating a new routine. I find it’s better to lower your expectations of yourself and celebrate the times you are able to follow through. As mums, we already have high expectations of ourselves. Don’t add to it!

2019 update.

Now that my daughter is 3 and a half, she is deep into role modelling me, and it means that she has to be right beside me wherever I go and whatever I’m doing. So my meditation practice now looks like this: once a fortnight if I’m lucky! And I’m totally okay with that. We are not that much of a TV family (well after Piper’s bedtime, its a totally different story…), but I have resorted to letting Piper watch an episode of Playschool when I’m really overwhelmed and need to meditate. But she likes to be able to see me, so I lay my Shakti Mat in the middle of the living room and do my best not to be distracted by the TV!

I always thought that when she gave up the naps, I would wake up early in the morning to meditate before she awoke. In reality, I’m still catching up on sleep from those newborn days, and getting out of bed any earlier than is absolutely necessary is just not in my overall best interest. Maybe when I’ve caught up on sleep that will change, but for now on a as-needed basis is all I can manage. And maybe that’s all you can manage too? Again, the message here is: be kind to yourself!

 

 

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