Being a parent means living a busy life. There's work, managing the family and household, spending quality time together and often, parents put themselves at the bottom of the to-do list – if they think of themselves at all.
We're also in a mental health health crisis in the UK. 850,000 children and young people have a diagnosable mental health disorder, with half of all lifetime cases of mental illness beginning by age 14. Early intervention is key, and parenting plays a big part.
Mindfulness is a true game-changer that has proven results, and is essentially free. Mindfulness can reduce parents’ destructive behaviour, increase their ability to disengage from emotionally charged stimuli, reduce stress and enhance their emotional availability, therby improving their children’s behaviour.
DJ and mum-of-two Edith Bowman and mindfulness expert Tessa Watt, who teaches at the House of Commons, are behind the launch of a new mindful parenting app called Quility. Here, Tessa Watt talks about what inspired her to create it.
What's the thinking behind the app?
There's been an explosion of interest in mindfulness in recent years - with numerous books, courses and trends - but nothing exists which is specifically for mothers.
Mothers in the 21st century face a lot of pressures. We realised there's a huge requirement to recognise a mum's needs and talk to them in the right language. Generally speaking, it’s mums that feel more guilty than anyone else if they focus on themselves, and naturally find it hard to make space for themselves in their daily life.
They’re often bottom of the pile after kids, job, husband, housework, etc. Yet it’s mums that have the most to gain from mindfulness.
So the app was born. We want to create a supportive community and platform to tell mums it’s OK to take time for yourself. By doing so and practising mindfulness, you can improve how you feel and act, and ultimately the dynamic of your whole family.
The type of person who actually needs to use the app is the person who would say: "I don't have time to practise mindfulness!" So what is different about this app?
It’s firstly about creating awareness: helping mums to understand and be aware that it’s OK to put themselves first sometimes. It’s not selfish; it’s essential. Mums need a sense of being looked after and supported to understand the impact that their mental and emotional wellbeing has on their children.
Quility offers short practices that can be done almost anywhere. Each meditation is offered in 5-, 10- and 20-minute segments and, as mums start to schedule a small amount of time for themselves every day, they’ll find that they actually have more capacity to tackle the magnitude of tasks and responsibilities in their lives.
In a recent interview, Edith Bowman praises the app and says how it has changed her approach to parenting. ‘My knee-jerk reaction is to tell the kids off. This has helped me rewire my brain and be in control of my reactions so you don’t then beat yourself up about how you’ve responded. And mindfulness helps me filter out what’s worth worrying about. It allows you to check in with your brain before it runs off.’
For more information, visit quility.me