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This post is sponsored by Musselman’s new BIG CUP applesauce.

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I remember the moment so clearly. It was a warm night in July, and the Husband and I were just settling down on the couch to watch TV. The baby monitor crackled to life, and I heard Henry call out. I peeked at the monitor and say that he was sitting up in bed, babbling sleepily. Any other night, I would’ve let him put himself back to sleep, but I felt pulled to his room. In the darkness, I picked him up, cuddled him against me, and sat down in the rocking chair.

 

My baby boy groggily looked up at me, gave me a quick smile, and closed his eyes peacefully. I remember rocking back and forth, back and forth, smelling the top of his little head and feeling the weight of his 22-pound body in my arms. In just over a year, 6.5 pounds to 22!  It’s hard to describe the intense love – a strong emotional and physical reaction – that I felt for my son at that moment.  I felt so happy that I had come into his room to cuddle him; he’d been getting squirmier and squirmier lately, and cuddling his momma for long stretches – especially during daylight hours! – no longer held quite the same appeal.  And then cliché popped into my head:  The days are long, but the years are short.

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Like many new moms, I was incredibly anxious during Henry’s first year.  I’m sure this was apparent on the blog!  I’d hold him in my arms and worryIs he eating enough?  Sleeping enough?  Is he hitting developmental milestones? I Googled a lot.  I even tracked his poops via a iPhone app! I think about to how incredibly emotionally wrapped up I was in breastfeeding and pumping, and it makes me feel a bit… sad.  Hell, I had to schedule an emergency therapy appointment just to be okay with stopping breastfeeding. Don’t get me wrong – keeping a newborn happy is challenging (and that says nothing about parenting babies with health issues!).  It is worth noting, of course, that most of this worry came from a deep, intense place of love.  But I look back on his first year and remember feeling a disproportionate amount of stress, and 90% of it was self-created.

 

Back then, I thought that being a new mother meant worry.  And that’s not even counting the worry I felt from all other aspects of life. How’s work going? Did I finish that proposal?  Oh, I need to call so-and-so back.  When is my next deadline? Is the house clean? How strong is my marriage?  Am I seeing my friends enough? Worry. Worry. Worry.

 

So, on that night in July, I added up all this worry and realized one thing:  it had accomplished nothing!  I had spent hours – maybe days! – with my mind far, far away.  At that moment, with the seriously intoxicating smell of baby hair in my nose (it’s a real thing!), I decided that I needed to get a grip.  Life is fleeting.  Nothing made me more aware of that fact more than having a child.  You blink your eyes and POOF!  Your baby is a toddler.  It happens way faster than you could’ve ever imagined.  While there’s room in life for analyzing and planning, I think it’s so important to corral those thoughts to the right times.  And don’t even get me started on the time that I’ve ‘lost’ mindlessly browsing on my phone.

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Over the past half a year, I’ve been attempting what can only be described as a personality tweak.  I’m slowly but surely taking myself from an always-plan-ahead person to a here-and-now person. My goal isn’t to morph into Super Zen Caitlin – I just don’t think I have that in me!

 

My goal is simply to be 50% more mindful – to take at least half of the moments that I’m mentally and emotionally somewhere else and focus instead of what’s actually happening.

 

‘Mindfulness’ is definitely a buzz word, but the practice of being more mindful in my daily life has had serious and profound effects.  It’s not only made me a happier person, but I believe it’s made me a more engaged and present parent.  I’ve sprinkled talk of some of my changes and new habits throughout random blog posts, but I thought it was time to compile them all in one list.

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The basic principle behind mindfulness is observing.  Instead of being consumed by thoughts of what could be, you try and focus on what is.  Many mindful practitioners will recommend that you practice mindfulness when doing routine things, like eating lunch.  You try to focus on the taste of the food, the feel of the sandwich in your hands, the quiet stillness of your house.  So, being mindful is not about loving every single moment of life, which I think is especially important to recognize if you’re trying to be a more mindful parent.  You don’t have to love the tantrums!  No one does. :) It’s just about being present and focused on the now, not the later.

 

I’m new to the practice of mindfulness, but here are five ways that I integrate it into my daily life.

 

Take a Pause:  Especially when I’m interacting with Henry, I take a moment to remind myself to focus on what I’m doing – even if it’s a mundane parenting tasks.  Again, mindfulness isn’t necessarily about enjoying every moment; it’s just about living in it. I take deep breaths and try to memorize the scene. I focus on what we’re wearing, talking about, and how Henry’s little face looks.

 

Wear a Watch: I would check my phone to know the time, and then I’d slip into a wormhole of emails, Instagrams, and tweets.  By wearing a watch, I automatically picked up my phone less.  And speaking of my phone, I really had to re-adjust the way I used it.  I mentioned a while back that I decided to stop instantly replying to non-urgent work emails, which was a huge relief.  Emails were a huge source of stress for me, but over time, I realized that I was creating this stress.  I also stopped carrying my phone from room-to-room (that text could wait!), putting my purse in the backseat so I wouldn’t be tempted to use my phone at redlights (unsafe anyway!), and almost totally eliminated the use of my phone in bed.

 

Practice Mindfulness in Bed: I started off with a 10-minute meditation session before going to sleep, but I’ve added a shorter session in the morning when I first wake up.  I’ll admit that I’m not great at clearing my mind of stress and worry, but I try to think of just my breathing – and NOT my To Do List.  I love practicing meditation in bed because it makes me sleepy at night and puts me in a good mood in the morning.

 

Respond, Don’t React:  I read this article on mindful parenting and it really struck a chord in me.  One of the primary philosophies was that you should respond (positively), not react (negatively).   This is extremely challenging for me because I’m a rush-rush-rush kind of person. When I want to get out of the house, I want to GET OUT OF THE HOUSE.  Get your shoes!  Get in the car!  Let’s go!  I react to situations because I’m rushing.   I’ve been taking inventory of the moments that I feel rushed and trying to dial it back.  How can I respond to this situation in a more positive way?  Is there really a need to hurry up?  What am I missing out by pushing everyone out the door?  Basically – chill out.

 

Get Organized:  I realize this item doesn’t relate directly to mindfulness, but getting organized has been a huge part of helping me focus on the now.  Part of why I worried so much before was I felt disorganized; I had to keep all my To Do’s in my head or else I would forget them.  Getting a paper planner has improved this tremendously.  I’m also working on organizing and de-cluttering our house because I firmly believe that a calm house creates a calm mind.

 

I leave you with this thought:

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(Source)

 

Have you made the decision to live more mindfully?  What changes have you made to your daily life?

 

This post was sponsored by Musselman’s BIG CUP applesauce, which contains six ounces of delicious applesauce. When Musselman emailed to ask if I’d share the news about their new BIG CUP applesauce, I was so excited to read their writing prompt, which was “50 More.”  I feel like I’ve been trying to subtract the negative and add the proverbial 50% more into a lot of areas of my life, including being more present.  Also – you should see Henry scoop up their unsweetened applesauce; it’s one of his favorite snacks. :) As always, all opinions and thoughts are my own.  Thanks for the support of HTP.

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{ 46 comments }

 

Leave a Comment

  • Aishah @ Coffee, Love, Health February 28, 2014, 4:40 pm

    Such a peaceful, well-written post. I tend to worry a lot now and I don’t even have kids yet. Heck, I’m not even married yet. So I am trying to work on “living in the now” more these days. It can be so hard having your mind in a million places, it simply takes away from the joy of what’s happening in the now. I love the quote you ended the post with. And I can’t wait to try the unsweetened Musselman’s apple sauce :) Thank you for such a positive and peaceful post <3

    Reply
  • Lyndsey February 28, 2014, 4:48 pm

    Great post. I’m going to think of ways I could be more mindful on my commute home. I think it will be a great transition into a must needed weekend.

    Thank you!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 10:45 pm

      I wanted to let you guys know that I thought a lot about what you had to say, and think you are right. So I’m going to start doing somethings a little bit differently on HTP. I made some changes to the post based on your feedback; namely, I reminded readers right away in the text of the blog that it’s a sponsored post. I’ll be doing this on all sponsored posts in the future. And I’ll continue to do the standard disclaimer at the bottom, too, just like before.

      The category “Giveaways and Reviews” have always been at the top of the post, and I usually remind people of the sponsorship after the post’s brief introduction, but I think I can be clearer, and I want to be. This introduction was longer (and more intensely personal than a grocery store review!), so I think the later mention was more jarring for some. This was poor writing on my part.

      I’ll also continue to do the “click to read more” option on the sponsored posts, which I do for several reasons, once of which is so readers can have a choice to continue reading.

      I usually pick sponsored post opportunities in two ways: it’s a cool product and I believe my readership would be interested OR it’s working with a brand that I like/use/follow and they have a really intriguing writing prompt…. like this one!

      I love the creative writing prompts, and I do try to make sponsored posts interesting, detailed, and authentic (whether I’m talking about something highly personal or just sharing a delicious recipe or talking about a workout), and I hope you’ll continue to read them if the topic appeals to you. Posts like this allow me to make a living writing, which I am grateful for (and choosy with!). I appreciate everyone’s support and thoughtful feedback. I hope these changes address your concerns, and I appreciate your readership a lot.

      xoxo

      C

      Reply
      • Ali March 1, 2014, 1:04 pm

        Thank you for listening, Caitlin!

        Reply
  • hillary February 28, 2014, 4:58 pm

    I have to say the fact that this post contains an ad really cheapened the message. I take no issue with ads or sponsored posts on blogs as I understand that this is your business, but as a long-time reader I was disappointed to see you place an ad right in the middle of what appeared to be a very thoughtful post. I had no idea at the start of this post that it was an ad and to all of a sudden have you shout out the praises of applesauce in the middle was really jarring. The fact that this brand offers 50% more applesauce has absolutely nothing to do with living in the moment, and in my opinion including it here really took away from the message of your post. I hope in the future you can find a better way to integrate a sponsored post.

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 5:04 pm

      So sorry you didn’t enjoy it! I wanted to relay these thoughts for a while and thought it was a good prompt for me to do so. Thanks for your comment though.

      Reply
    • Ali February 28, 2014, 5:35 pm

      I’m sorry, but I absolutely agree. The first line about Musselman’s in the middle of the post really made me go, “huh?” It didn’t fit and I really just kind of skimmed the rest. I think this could have been really pertinent to me as I’m trying to dial back work from home 24/7 on top of my regular work week and having to be everything to everyone (and I’m not even a parent), but the sentiment was lost through the applesauce add.

      Reply
      • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 6:03 pm

        Perhaps you should give it another looksie then :) Good luck finding balance, it’s so challenging but so worth it.

        Reply
  • Kendra S. February 28, 2014, 5:07 pm

    Great perspective, Caitlin! I am the same way with the stress and the worry but also the hurrying. Even on a weekend when we don’t HAVE to be at the zoo at a specific time, there I am still rushing everyone around like we’re going be late for tea with the Queen! I need to chill and the hardest part about it is how hard-wired it is… changing habits that are so ingrained will be a challenge but the outcome of being mindful and present will be worth it. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
  • Michelle @ A Healthy Mrs February 28, 2014, 5:28 pm

    Great post — lots to think about, and a great prompt for me to do some “mindful” evaluating. Love the last quote as well — so true!

    Reply
  • Alina February 28, 2014, 5:49 pm

    LOVED this post! I feel like as a university students who’s also juggling a job, volunteering commitments, and extracurriculars, all I’ve been doing lately is worrying, and I’m especially prone to doing it as soon as I’m in bed for the night. On Tuesday, I purposefully told myself as soon as the light went out, I wasn’t allowed to think of ANYTHING but good, peaceful thoughts. I had the best sleep I’ve had in MONTHS.

    Reply
  • Jennifer February 28, 2014, 5:57 pm

    That’s the beauty of the second child. Twice the fun and much less time worrying :)

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 6:02 pm

      That’s what I’m hoping for :)

      Reply
  • Katie February 28, 2014, 6:12 pm

    FYI…I’m pinning the quote so I can come back to this post. Such a sweet post, but also, this is how I like to see sponsored posts done! Nice work!

    Reply
  • Janelle February 28, 2014, 6:23 pm

    I love this post – the writing and the sentiment. Being present in the NOW seems so simple, but it can be so hard to do! The mention of applesauce did throw me a little (haha), but I don’t fault you for making a living. If they asked me to write a post, I totally would!

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 6:27 pm

      Haha, clearly I did not transition that part of the post well. :) But I appreciate the people who are commenting about their own desire to be more mindful. It reinforces my desire to be more mindful, too!

      Reply
    • Margaret February 28, 2014, 9:34 pm

      Gotta say, the transition to the promotional aspect seemed a little abrupt to me, too! I see now that it’s tagged under the title as sponsored post, etc., but I don’t usually pay that much attention to those when first reading a post.

      Lovely thoughts about Henry and living in the moment though! I like your note about wearing a watch. I’m definitely guilty of the “look at my phone to check the time, and then check fb, twitter, etc.” too. I stopped wearing a watch because I realized I always had the time available on my phone, but…

      Reply
  • Lee February 28, 2014, 7:00 pm

    Your first year just described the past 6 weeks of my life, down to the tracking of poops with an app!

    Reply
  • Maggie February 28, 2014, 7:09 pm

    Well thought out and well written. I thank you for this post.

    Reply
  • Heidi February 28, 2014, 8:17 pm

    Are advertisers not going for straight up ads on blogs anymore? So many great ideas and thoughts here, but combining the applesauce sponsorship makes it feel less real and worthy of reading. I am sure all of you bloggers have been struggling with whether to accept the sponsored posts deals, but it does take a piece in a different direction that makes it less appealing to at least me, as a reader. And I write this as a print journalist, so I fully get the ongoing challenges of shifting ad dollars.

    Reply
  • Jaime February 28, 2014, 8:22 pm

    Love, Love, LOVE this post!

    Reply
  • cj February 28, 2014, 8:52 pm

    Have to agree with a couple others who pointed out that how this well written post actually turning out to be an ad cheapens the thought behind it. I love what you do but this kind of stuff makes me question the credibility of the blog. The lines between writer and advertiser have just become too blurry for me. I’m sorry!

    Reply
  • Kath February 28, 2014, 9:31 pm

    Love this whole post (applesauce included!) I am working on this too. I think it comes with being a mom. Our kids live in the moment and we should too. And I really agree with your point about being organized playing a part- that’s a huge part of me being in the moment too.

    Reply
  • Xenia February 28, 2014, 10:11 pm

    Hi Caitlin! As a longtime reader of your blog, I was so excited to read this post. I actually work for a company that develops a mindfulness app, Mindfulness Daily, but I was new to mindfulness when I first started working there last year. I’ve been trying to integrate it into my life little by little, whether it’s not automatically pulling out my phone while I’m waiting for a friend, or choosing not to check my email and eat at the same time. It’s not always easy, but I agree with you that it helps me cope with stress and feel more balanced! Anyway, if you’d like to check it out, you can download the app for free here: http://itunes.apple.com/us/app/mindfulness-daily/id701112447?ls=1&mt=8

    Reply
    • Caitlin February 28, 2014, 10:47 pm

      Awesome resource!! Thank you!

      Reply
  • Jessica February 28, 2014, 11:39 pm

    I can’t even begin to explain how much i feel like this post was for me. I just had my first child on feb 17th. He is only 11 days old and I feel “crazy” with worry. Obviously my hormones are still a bit out of whack, but I am constantly concerned if I am doing it right, is he eating enough, too much, etc. The tears keep coming, and as I write this I am just reminded that I will miss this time and although I’m extremely exhausted and don’t quite feel like myself yet again, I have been blessed With the absolute love of my life, my “perfect” to me son, Ethan Maxwell.

    Tonight is the first night I’ve been able to read your blog since his birth, and this post couldn’t be more perfect for me, Thank you Caitlin!

    -Jess
    Jnrfinallymarried@gmail.com

    Reply
  • Lauren March 1, 2014, 7:30 am

    I think practicing mindfulness in daily life is so important. I’m actually doing my thesis in psychology at the moment on the relationship between mindfulness, emotional regulation and well-being and after reading study after study on the ways in which mindfulness changes how we think/perceive the world around us (and has even been found to change neural mechanisms of emotional processing) I think everyone would benefit from trying to be more mindful and present. Even having an alarm on your phone twice a day to just remind you to stop and really experience whatever is happening in that present moment will have an impact over time. Great post :)

    Reply
  • Lauren March 1, 2014, 12:40 pm

    Hi Caitlin, thank you for a great post :) I tend to skip sponsored posts when I feel like the entire post is dedicated to “selling” the product, but I loved how this post had it’s own message, and such a powerful message at that! To me, having the little ad about applesauce at the bottom is no different than the ads on the side of blogs. I do appreciate the fact that you are trying to make a living being a writer, so if there must be sponsored posts, I would hope that they resemble this one. Plus, your posts have been so full of quality content lately that I don’t mind a sponsored post here and there.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 1, 2014, 3:05 pm

      Thank you so much for this comment. It truly made my day in so many ways and I appreciate the time it took to write. Thanks for reading!

      Reply
    • Laura Ann March 2, 2014, 10:15 pm

      I agree! I also prefer this over an entire post on applesauce.

      Reply
  • emily March 1, 2014, 3:16 pm

    I refuse to write anything long or coherent while on my phone, but just wanted to add my support and say that I thought this post was very well written. Sometimes sponsored posts do make me roll my eyes, but I’d still rather bloggers got paid versus not doing the sponsored posts at all. And I think something like this is worlds better than random gushing about a product.

    Reply
  • Kirsten March 1, 2014, 3:23 pm

    I loved this post. I am so guilty of not living in the moment and it was nice to see that I am not alone and some tips on how to be more mindful. As for the sponsorship/advertisement, I usually hate that stuff, but it appeared subtle to me, so much so that I skipped right over it and after reading the comments had to go back and see what everyone was talking about. Thank you for this post

    Reply
  • Cecily March 1, 2014, 4:45 pm

    Beautifully written post! As a Type A person, worrier, and perfectionist, I really needed to read this. Thanks, as always, for the amazing posts! :)

    Reply
  • Chattynatty March 2, 2014, 10:21 am

    Perfect- I too have been really thinking about living more in here and now. I’m making my “idea list” on how to get this incorporated into my life so really appreciate your insight.

    Reply
  • Luv What You Do March 2, 2014, 9:39 pm

    Being more mindful is my number one 2014 goal. Let’s all LIVE IN THE MOMENT!

    Reply
  • Laura Ann March 2, 2014, 10:13 pm

    I really enjoyed this. I like the 50% effort part too – I love your “let’s be real” attitude when it comes to making changes. I was just talking to a friend last week about my pregnancy and how I’m really trying to spend more energy savoring this time (it is going by so quickly). I also discussed my goal to be a mindful parent. She sent me a link to this blog and what you wrote reminded me a lot of this particular post (esp. the smelling the children’s hair). http://leftbrainbuddha.com/ode-shatterable-moments-parenthood/

    Reply
  • jameil March 3, 2014, 2:26 am

    IDK if this is weird but watching Henry grow up so quicky via this site has made me more mindful of my time with my 5-month-old. I’m so grateful for the time that we get to spend together. I still worry but that’s momma life. I let that stuff go sometimes when we’re together.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 3, 2014, 7:13 am

      I understand what you mean – I have the same reaction with other bloggers’ kids :)

      Reply
  • Eva March 3, 2014, 7:41 am

    Thank you so much for this post. I am not looking at this in your shoes, but this post reminded me of why some of the things in my own life have been slightly off lately. I think it’s interesting to note that sometimes you don’t even realize you’re not present. You don’t see anything wrong with the picture– and maybe there is nothing WRONG, per se, but it could be better. And whether or not you want to make it better, that’s also a personal choice. Sometimes i feel very alive and in the moment, other times i just don’t care as much, and i’m ohkay with that too.

    Reply
  • sara March 3, 2014, 8:50 am

    I so appreciate this post, and perfect timing for me, and so many others I’m sure!! I love your approach and you gave me a lot of tips to guide me through what I’ve dubbed ‘mindful March’ (and hopefully beyond!). I’ve been primarily focusing on adding at least a short meditation/yoga sequence in my mornings and or evenings and it really makes a positive difference in my mindset and my day! I also like to start the day with a positive mantra, but need to continue repeating it throughout the day when I veer off path. I love the concept of eating mindfully as fully tasting, and noticing your food. I am such a quick eater, and while I enjoy it and am such a foodie, I really need to work on eating for fuel not boredom, and appreciating what it does for me.
    Finally I have started a gratitude journal on my google drive and add to it every night before bed. It really helps me to keep things in perspective and remember that even on the toughest of days there are so many things to appreciate in life. Cheers and thanks again!

    Reply
  • Kristin March 3, 2014, 5:42 pm

    I have read your blog for years but I don’t think I’ve ever commented before – I just wanted to say that this post was like a sign from the universe for me. I have a . . . spirited . . . 16-month-old daughter whose job right now is to teach me patience. I spend too much time doing stuff like picking up the house, reading emails on my phone, etc. when I could be interacting with her. She is growing so fast, and won’t be my little sidekick forever so I really want to cherish these days. Thank you for the reminder.

    Reply
    • Caitlin March 4, 2014, 7:44 am

      <3 good luck, momma!

      Reply
  • Stephanie @ Whole Health Dork March 4, 2014, 7:31 am

    What a lovely post! I think we have similar personalitie and I think it would be incredibly beneficial for me to also be more mindful of being more mindful. :-) Thanks for sharing your tips and tricks and for letting us in on this part of your growth.

    Reply

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