By Liz Lockie
Liz Lockie chats to Emma Martin, a UK-based mindfulness practitioner to discuss how mindfulness can help when dealing with the challenges of working alongside parenting.
Last week as I set up my Zoom, I waited ready to see Emma’s lovely face pop up on my screen. Emma runs her own mindfulness and wellbeing business (www.emmamartinmindfulness.com) on top of being a mum of two. She, along with so many other parents, understands the juggle of parenting and working for yourself. I first met Emma when I attended a mindfulness class for mums as I needed a bit of help switching off. In a world where everyone has access to each other 24/7 – those lines can often be blurred between work and home, making it tough to remain present in either.
Whilst talking to Emma about why she started her business, she spoke about her diagnosis of post-natal depression along with post-traumatic stress disorder following the birth of her son in 2016.
After finding a local therapist, she was introduced to mindfulness and found whilst doing the exercises, it was the first time she really felt present. She talked of how her mind really calmed and wasn’t plagued with anxiety or intrusive thoughts. It was from that moment – she got the mindfulness bug!
She talked of how her mind really calmed and wasn’t plagued with anxiety or intrusive thoughts.
She started researching and studying to become a mindfulness practitioner to support mums who had been through similar experiences. Wanting to campaign for Maternal Mental Health, she received her qualifications and continued training to expand her offerings into the local community. She now works online and in person to deliver mindfulness, self-care and mental health/wellbeing workshops, courses and bespoke training sessions for corporates, schools and communities.
We talked about how wonderful it can be owning a business as the flexibility it brings makes the world of difference when it comes to family life. Not always, but often it means you can be at your child’s Christmas play or take a bit more time off in the school holidays. Not to mention, endless appointments and unexpected sick days that come with children.
If you find a way to put yourself first, you’re then often met with feelings of guilt for doing so, making it a real struggle. Mindfulness can help us to ditch the guilt and start to cultivate more self-compassion in these circumstances.
However, where does that flexibility become a hinderance? As a parent, I think it’s fair to say our needs, dreams and hopes are often put to the bottom of the pile (certainly in those demanding early years). Whether it be childcare, time, financial stability, or simply just already being mentally overloaded – there always seems to be a hurdle in the way. If you find a way to put yourself first, you’re then often met with feelings of guilt for doing so, making it a real struggle. Mindfulness can help us to ditch the guilt and start to cultivate more self-compassion in these circumstances.
Emma explained how she must be strict with boundaries in relation to her working hours in order to ensure her mental health is protected, thus keeping herself in the best possible state for her family and all those she works with. In her mindfulness training, she uses the term “filling up your own cup” to explain this and I think that rings true for so many. So many parents (mums especially) feel guilty when practising self-care as it’s not seen a necessity – this is something that needs to change to alleviate the pressure we often feel to “have it all”.