new online art project Glow rethinks mindfulness for new parents

As a new mom to a 6-month-old “bonny” boy (as several doctors have described him), being frazzled sometimes seems like part of the job.

For the first three months of my baby’s life, my wife and I rarely slept more than two or three hours at a time and felt like we were on a treadmill of nourishment, change, healing and, let’s be honest, panic.

Glow, a new online art project, invites moms like me and others caring for new babies to slow down, connect, and breathe.

This project, created by a group of Australian artists, includes a series of audio and video “Moments”.

There are “We Moments” designed to be listened to by caregivers with their baby, and “Me Moments” designed to be listened to or watched alone.

Moments include a combination of soothing music, meditative poems or affirmations, or tips on activities you can do with your baby to connect and relax together.

A profound lack of sleep

As a sleep researcher, I was all too aware of the potential effects of interrupted and disturbed sleep that I could expect after our son arrived.

I knew to expect things like fatigue, mood swings, poor cognitive performance, and maybe even times when I would be so tired I shouldn’t drive a car.

For many new parents, the effects of poor sleep are compounded by feelings bordering on burnout, with many parents experiencing depression, anxiety or high stress levels after having a baby.

Babies need sleep, but so do parents.
Minnie Zhou/Unsplash

Nearly 60% of new mums sleep poorly, with one in five mothers and one in ten fathers or partners reporting depression or anxiety during pregnancy or after the baby arrives.

Being woken up every few hours for months on end is something people aren’t supposed to do, even when employed on the most extreme work schedules.

For shift or on-call workers – whose sleep is often interrupted, shortened or of poor quality – these negative effects are usually managed head-on, with regulated management strategies, employee assistance programs and on-call support calls. Mental Health.

New parents, on the other hand, are usually limited to the (online and rare) support available from local family and health services and/or our local GP – in my case, at least.

Read more: What is ‘normal’ baby sleep? How evolutionary cues, not cultural expectations, can help new parents

Moments of mindfulness

Glow’s Moments Online presents the idea that perhaps the best strategy for relieving those feelings of exhaustion and exhaustion is to give new parents a space to practice a little mindfulness as part of their day.

The term “mindfulness” generally refers to being present and aware of what is happening around us at the moment.

Mindfulness practice usually involves a meditative component, where you can focus on your breath or the sensations and sounds you experience – to keep your mind from wondering if you left the oven on or if the laundry is ready to be suspended.

Over the past few decades, mindfulness has taken on a life of its own, with mindfulness retreats, smartphone apps, and clinicians embracing all of its potential benefits.

baby feet
To be aware is to be present in the present moment.
Alex Passarelu/Unsplash

For new parents, there is plenty of evidence to suggest that mindfulness can be effective in reducing depression, anxiety, and stress.

Mindfulness practice can improve the parent/infant bond and increase feelings of self-efficacy (belief in your own abilities) and self-compassion (feelings of kindness to yourself).

When I listened to the Moments featured on the Glow platform, I found myself breathing more slowly and deliberately.

These recordings and their beautiful, soothing illustrations are soothing to an almost unexpected degree.

The first Me Moment I listened to — heartwarmingly titled “Put the Kettle On” — brought a sense of calm to an otherwise hasty task (“The kettle takes too long! Why are we always out of coffee? pre-ground?”).

In addition to mindfulness that parents can do on their own, Glow provides soothing background sound for shared activities with your baby, like taking a bath or playing with a cloth wrap. To me, that’s the genius of the Glow platform.

Telling new parents to do mindfulness tasks with their five minutes of free time during the first crazy days of parenthood might not be realistic — but adding mindfulness to the tasks you’re already doing? It’s just a good use of time.

Glow, by Threshold, is now available online.

Read more: How effective is mindfulness in treating mental health issues? And what about apps?

About Michelle Anderson

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