Mindfulness for Mums and Kids | An Interview with Izzy Judd
To celebrate the launch of kids' mindfulness content on Yoto, we spoke to the musician, author and mother of two, Izzy Judd, about mindfulness for kids; how parents can create a mindful pause; and her new book "Mindfulness for Mums: Simple ways to help you and your family feel calm, connected and content".
Firstly, let’s chat about your fantastic new book! Can you tell us a bit about Mindfulness for Mums?
I wrote “Mindfulness for Mums” to share short, simple and effective mindfulness tips that can be introduced into your day to help you find the calm in the chaos of motherhood.
As mums, we can find it difficult to be present, life is busier than ever and the challenges can at times feel overwhelming. We constantly ask ourselves if we’re doing a good enough job and our mind is spinning with the mental load. Mum guilt hangs over us and the daily noise of demands and expectations often means that our own wellbeing is overlooked.
Where did your journey with mindfulness begin?
Ever since I can remember, anxiety has been a part of who I am. It has challenged me most during times of change and when I’ve felt out of control. I discovered the power of mindfulness in my early twenties following an extreme period of anxiety. The simplicity of learning how to focus my attention on the present moment rather than catastrophizing the future became a powerful tool for helping me look after my overall mental wellbeing.
After a long and winding journey towards motherhood, what’s something that surprised you about being a parent?
My husband and I spent many tough years trying to start a family, so by the time Lola was born I realised that I hadn't given enough thought to the reality of becoming a mum. So much focus had been on a healthy pregnancy and I don’t think I was quite prepared for the reality of motherhood.
I felt very guilty for finding it tough after longing for a family for so long! Motherhood is the greatest thing and the toughest thing all at once and the moment this tiny person arrives in your world nothing ever feels the same again.
You’ve spoken about mindfulness giving your kids the tools to deal with life’s ups and downs. How can a mindfulness practice be helpful for kids?
Children are our best mindfulness teachers as they are naturally mindful and observe their surroundings as if for the first time every day. Encouraging a mindfulness practice from a young age helps them to access an inner calm and the ability to understand when the mind and body are relaxed. It helps to develop key skills such as concentration, discipline and focus.
Bedtime is an important (and troublesome) time for many young families! How do you approach bedtime with your kids?
I’ve found it useful to follow a bedtime routine with the children to help us all keep calm through one of the most tricky times of day; when everyone is over tired! I like to include a “body scan” which helps the children understand that we are turning off our tired bodies for sleep. We also play some simple breathing games including Teddy breathing.
As babies, we naturally breathe slowly and deeply from our tummies. But as we get older, our breath rises to our chests and becomes shallower and shorter. The key to practicing mindfulness is learning how to connect back to our breath, and we can do this by consciously deepening our breath. The breath plays such a crucial role in calming down the nervous system and yet we can all go through a day without noticing our breath once.
Teddy breathing is a great exercise for practicing breathing with your children, helping us all to slow down by taking a moment to simply breathe. Teddy breathing is now part of our bedtime routine and helps to settle us all after a busy day.
Here’s how it works:
- Lying down, ask your child to place a teddy on their tummy. You can place a teddy on your tummy too!
- Ask them to watch the teddy moving up and down as they breathe in and out.
This isn’t about changing anything or slowing down the breath; it is simply teaching them to notice and observe their breath and hopefully begin to connect with it.
What advice would you give to parents beginning a mindfulness practice for themselves or their children?
As a mum, it can feel like we don’t have time to practice mindfulness in our already hectic days. But actually there are lots of pockets in the day that you can take a moment to briefly pause and take a breath. Here is how you can take a mindful pause and take the first step to bringing mindfulness into your day.
Something that affects us all in motherhood is the volume of noise. This could be the general busyness of our minds or the noise from our children’s overexcitement, whinging or crying. Something I hear often from other mums is how much we all crave peace!
Taking a mindful pause allows us some quiet space and a chance to mentally check out of the chaos before stepping back in, hopefully with a sense of calm and clarity.
Begin by grounding your feet into the ground, drop your shoulders and release any tension in your body. Notice the single task you are completing in that moment then continue by breathing in for a count of four, hold for two, breathe out for four. As you breathe out, you can think or say a mindful affirmation.
Here are some suggestions about when to take a mindful pause in your day:
- The moment your feet touch the ground in the morning
- Brushing yours or your children’s hair
- Waiting for the kettle to boil
- Starting up your laptop
- During your children’s bath time
- As you put your key in the door when you arrive home
And what exciting things do you have planned for the rest of the year?
This time last year I was right in the middle of writing Mindfulness for Mums. Little did I know that the year it would be published would be the year our perspective on life would be so drastically challenged!
I’m very excited to be working on a new project which I hope will not only help us through this next chapter - which will test us all in completely new ways - but will also hold our hands through the ups and downs of motherhood. That’s a journey that will continue to test us and push us to our limits!