23/03/2017 11:03 GMT | Updated 24/03/2018 05:12 GMT

How Our Children Help Us To Live Mindfully

All I really want this Mother's Day is some quality time with my children.

Apart from cherishing this special family time, they always remind me to see the world with a childlike curiosity and that is certainly a gift worth receiving.

This is especially true because some years ago now I was diagnosed with clinical depression. Importantly I accepted the diagnosis and also accepted help. I was relieved to finally be able to access some support. Relieved that I now had a name for my despondency and tearfulness. Relieved that I could begin to explain how even though I had successfully secured a promotion a few months before, had a loving and kind husband and some very special friends - I still felt like this. Why did I have a susceptibility to misery? Why did I hold it together all day and then get into my car and sob every evening? Finally I was beginning to get some answers.

Fast forward eight years and three children later and I am only just starting to be more open about these topics of conversation. This is important because I don't want my own children, nor the teenagers whom I teach, to feel there is a stigma connected with mental illness.

Life now is generally hectic, busy and on the whole happy. However, as I observed at the beginning of this post, these three little miracles have also helped me so much with my mood. They have spurred me on to live more mindfully and to relish the little things in life.


Photo credit: author's own

They help me to see life through a child's eyes and with their wonder - watching the clouds in the sky, enjoying collecting sticks in the park, ambling slowly to the shops and commenting on the colour of the leaves and the flowers that we pass, noticing a sleeping cat and feeling its soft fur and listening to its easy purr. Fully using my senses to connect with the present moment helps me stay healthy. Mindfulness helps me stay healthy. Children are amazed by the world around them and this means they avoid the 'mental time travel' that adults can be so guilty of. They stay in the moment and this is a real skill. Children's curiosity, giggles, kisses and cuddles are infectious and lighten the most grey of moods.

So this Sunday I am looking forward to some quality family time altogether. We will keep it simple. We won't rush and we will appreciate some of the little things in life along the way. In a few years I will talk frankly to my children about mental illness and the techniques and strategies I use to look after myself in order to be able to look after them too. However, most importantly I will thank them for helping me to remember to savour the beauty in the present moment.

This is a revised version of a post I first published for the Time to Change blog for Mother's Day last year.

If you would like to read more about my attempts to juggle a busy life as a mum and teacher while trying to practice mindfulness then please visit my blog. You can also find me on Facebook.