Dear Single Moms, we get to meditate too.
After a broken washing machine during a neighborhood lice infestation, I’m pretty sure I can handle anything.
To be honest, I did have an ugly cry into the sink and found the idea of meditation nearly impossible. However, finding small moments of breath and joy is a saving grace for single mothers.
For those of us living on the single side of the parenting world, our plates (and hands) are full—overflowing quite literally most of the time—and those are just the dishes and laundry.
Between groceries, homework, choir concerts, last-minute trips to Target for science project supplies, making dinner, bath, and bedtime routines, our energy and time is spent.
If we want to recharge, it’s (yet another thing) that is solely up to us. We need to make a conscious effort to give way to our unconscious mind, in small moments of breath awareness wherever we can squeeze it in throughout the day.
Even in the school drop-off car line in the morning, finding a deep meditating breath in and all the way out is daily ritual of sanity-saving that is of benefit to us all—less stress noise and honking horns going out into our universe.
Here are my real-life meditation and mindful awareness tips:
1. Use the in-between moments.
Traffic lights: Let go of the need for the light to change, and instead, appreciate the moment of pausing to breathe. Grocery shopping: take five deep “into the lungs” (or Om sound) breaths before getting out of your car to go into the store. I choose to use breath counts instead of timers. With the rest of our world run on alarms, bus schedules, and dentist appointment times, I prefer my meditative breath time to have freedom.
2. Meditate with your kids.
Kids love to visualize and play pretend, so we have a vast opportunity to help them grow this part of their mind. I like to have them imagine their favorite place on earth, somewhere they’ve been, or hope to visit someday. Some kids like the imagination freedom of this, and others prefer the guidance of a specific place. My oldest daughter and I created a secret garden and we would close our eyes and go there. We describe small things and then both go quiet into our own experiences. Another simple way to find meditative time with our kids is while playing board games. The ease of a deep breath before rolling dice or while thinking of a Scrabble word, helps us to pause and clear our minds.
3. Spa anywhere.
Light extra candles and take that bath you’ve been putting off. Use all the salts and essential oils you’ve been saving for someday (Psst…”someday” is today or every day). Sometimes we have to bring the spa to us. And do it when the kids are awake and playing on their own—give yourself permission to skip the dishes. This is a great example that Mom is taking care of her body and mind. And a great practice in respect of self and example of returned respect of time and space.
(Not “Wheels on the Bus”—unless that’s your jam, of course.) Take ownership and freedom of music moving through your body. Set a playlist and drive to work, or wherever, paying attention only to the lyrics and rhythms. Let go of thinking and to-do lists! Just listen and feel.
5. Take a mom nap!
Fifteen minutes before making dinner. Nap meditation is heaven. Especially before the stress of dinner with multiple requests or picky eaters—I love this lesson for my daughters. After we debrief from our day of school and work, I can say, “Mommy is going to take a 15-minute meditation rest before we start dinner.” I usually like this time alone, but if (on a rare occasion) one of them would like to lay next to me during this time, then we let it happen, with respect to the meditation silent rest space (aka no talking).
6. Meditate past guilt.
Chant words: love, light, lift, sink. I like to choose four words with intention. These four remind me of my purpose in the moment to give and be love and light to myself and my kids (and project that into the universe). The last two, lift and sink, remind me that I can lift up and let go of the pressures of the day, the unrealistic expectations I’ve put on myself, quiet my busy mind, then sink back into the earth below me to feel grounded, centered, and present.
7. Meditate to sleep.
Calm the busy mind. None of the issues from the day or the next day’s worries will be solved with your head on the pillow—the priority is rest. And just as we learn in meditation practice, label those thoughts “thinking” or something else that works for you, and visualize them floating away. You can do nothing about them in your present moment, therefore they don’t actually exist yet. They are just mind manifestations clogging up your sleep channels.
One frightening statistic, is that single parents have twice the depression rate as dual parent homes. I admit that I both agree and disagree with this statement based on my personal experience, and more specifically in cases where the marriage or partner relationship is strained or dysfunctional.
We can, however, find common ground in the fact that two hands are still, only two hands, and sometimes we need to re-center ourselves in order to be of benefit to ourselves and our children.
Meditation is an excellent practice, big or small, it can make an impact that matters in your daily life. (Hint: There’s no right or wrong way—it’s just you and your mind.)