It’s common knowledge that becoming a parent is life-changing. However, it’s not until you actually have children that you realise just how everyday activities have been completely taken for granted. Simple things like sitting down and eating a meal in silence, having a relaxing shower, visiting the toilet without an audience, or being able to meditate aren’t as easy to come by.
I learned Atma Kriya Yoga back in 2008 and enjoyed 5 years of regular daily practice. Just over 5 years after being initiated, my first son was born. As a newborn, it was relatively easy to meditate with him whilst breastfeeding. However, once he became active and developed mobility it was impossible to meditate in his company. I began to wake in the early hours of the morning, in between night breastfeeds, whilst he was sound asleep to meditate. I desperately wanted to do my practice but was starting to feel exhausted, so sought advice from my teacher who helped me let go of what I thought I should be doing.
Two years later my second son was born and needless to say time was even more scarce.
Fortunately, my husband is on the same spiritual page as I am. He learned Atma Kriya Yoga at the same time I did and later became a teacher, so he’s acutely aware of the situation.
We love our boys dearly and also feel it’s important to maintain our spiritual practices, so we work together to create the opportunity for each of us to have time to meditate. This time can be as little as 5 minutes and as much as an hour.
The key to success here is planning and being adaptable. As the children grow and develop their needs change, so often our routine has to be adjusted to work harmoniously within our family dynamics.
When my husband goes away on business trips there really is no child-free time so, at bedtime, I try to involve the kids in some relaxing japa. I turn out the lights, lie down with my boys, and do japa with them. We say the mantra out loud together a few times and then I continue chanting internally until they are asleep.
In fact, japa is a technique that I try and do throughout the day, internally chanting while doing my various chores. Practising japa this way may not be the quintessential image of one meditating. Most people conjure up the image of one sitting down in the lotus position in silence, but doing japa during daily tasks is just as powerful. My day is always more fulfilling when I remember to do my japa.
The kids have always had access to wherever I am meditating or practising yoga which, at times, makes a somewhat challenging practice of being poked or climbed upon. However, seeing me do these practices is normal for us and as they grow older they are starting to respect the space and with time they are getting less noisy. More recently the boys will walk into the room: kiss, cuddle and whisper ‘om namo narayanaya’ to me. Sometimes they may even sit down with me for a few minutes. During these brief moments, they get to experience an element of meditation. They are developing the understanding that spiritual practices are a major part of our lives while being aware that it does not conflict with their needs for love and attention.
I have found that it takes a little time and some effort to plan and then it takes discipline to stick with that plan. It also requires the ability to let go of expectations and surrender to the moment should things not go to plan, as is often the case with children.
It may seem impossible to find time to meditate once you have kids, but in fact, it is just a matter of changing your perception of what your meditation practice should be or how it should look, and then being willing and able to adapt to your current situation.
To recap, here are some ideas for finding time to meditate when you have kids:
- Work together with your partner or the other adults in your life to make space in everyone’s day for meditation and the things they love
- Japa is an incredible practice that you can do anytime, anywhere. Make that foundational point of your practice and get your kids involved early too.
- Lose your expectations - meditation can look like a lot of things. It’s more about what’s happening inside than outside. Figure out what meditation looks like for you right now and be flexible as your life changes.