As a mom of four kids ― two being babies ― one thing I do not have the luxury of is quiet time. The fact alone that a bathroom break during the elusive double-nap is something I now consider “me time” makes this point clear. But the thing that keeps my sanity intact happens to be meditation, and from all accounts I’ve ever read, it ought to be done for at least 10 minutes of silence (ha) and on a special meditation pillow in your designated space (HA).
So, I just do it on the fly. In the shower (if I am #blessed enough to get one that day), while I’m doing dishes (OM... out of detergent) or, my favorite, while grocery shopping.
Come on, you know those places zen you the eff out, right? The cool air, the quiet? A perfect place for personal reflection for the “is this shirt stained?” set.
So, here’s what I do. I start in produce and give each baby a banana. Bananas provide the perfect balance of difficulty, pleasure, and potassium for the 30 or so minutes to come. The smell of this area is particularly pleasant, from the citrus to the blasts of moisture used to keep that lettuce fresh. Enjoy the mini facial and begin.
I look around and start becoming mindful. Mindful grocery shopping helps with menu planning, less impulse buying, and reduces your chances of picking the wonky avocado from the bin. You know which one I’m talking about.
Now that you’ve taken in your surroundings, start to focus on you. Take a few deep, cleansing breaths (by now the air should smell like banana and formula burps) and do a body scan. Start at the top of your head, and just notice the feelings in your body. Tight shoulders from a poorly adjusted baby sling, check. Crumbs in my bra? Double check. Something poking in my back? Oh, that’s just a lego that made its way into my undies from the laundry pile.
After the body scan, I try to then do the pretty well-known guided meditation where you imagine yourself being slowly drenched in light, from head to toe. Only in mine, I’m on a Krispy Kreme conveyor belt, waiting for that sweet, sweet drizzle. By aisle five, I’m blissed out and licking cereal boxes. The babies, fresh off their banana high, now want something crunchy. I nab a box of Ritz and let them have at it, while my mind wanders.
Tight shoulders from a poorly adjusted baby sling, check. Crumbs in my bra? Double check. Something poking in my back? Oh, that’s just a lego that made its way into my undies from the laundry pile.
I remind myself how this is a short season of my babies’ lives, and soon they’ll be sassy and reject hugs like my older kids. I acknowledge how precious this stage is, and that as soon as tomorrow, one could be walking and the other talking. I thank myself for slowing down and truly making the time to pay attention to this crazy time in my life. I know that all too soon, I won’t have to use the grocery store for self-care, and I can use that three-hour chunk of pre-school time to either write or do a really long session at the gym. Or I can shower and catch up on “House of Cards.” The world shall be my oyster one day! But now, I pee with one kid on my shoulders and the other rifling through the bathroom cabinet.
By the time I hit the frozen aisles, I’m ready for my mantras. Mantras are amazing because, when said enough, they can reprogram your brain to believe anything! Every day I’m getting better and better. Be the light. If the ice cream is dairy-free, it has no calories. I continue my mantras into the final stretch, the detergent aisle.
Ahh, the detergent aisle. My mom used to take me down this aisle by request when I was a kid. I used to sniff the laundry detergent boxes and ask for my favorites. Most kids get cookies when they go out with Mom. I got Gain. Anyway, as this is the happiest part of my happy place, I take my time. Here’s when the funkiest of mantras come in ― the Sanskrit ones. Om Namah Padme Hum, Sat Nam, Sat Chit Ananda, you name it. These saying are glorious because they let your mind blank out even more since you don’t even really know what the words mean. You fake your way through it in yoga class, but in reality you’re eyeing the lemons in front of you and wondering when the next sale hits.
By this point, both my cart and my heart are full. The babies are as quiet as my mind, and although my bank account is drained (did I mention I was at Whole Foods?) I feel fully charged and ready to take on my day. I roll into the driveway, and my older kids greet me with excitement. I open the door, ready for their embraces, and they ask: Did you pick up the cake?!
I blink. The whole reason I went was to pick up the cake.
Hey kids, who wants to go to the store?!