By Deborah Rozman and Sara Childre
Many would argue there is no bigger responsibility in life than being a mother. And while kids can bring untold joy, meaning and fulfillment into their moms’ lives, the added stress is also often off the charts.
Moms are notorious for worrying about their kids: how they’re developing, their health and safety, their future…and moms have their own stresses just trying to juggle all their priorities. Trying to balance work and family life, sleep deprivation, caring for sick kids or elderly parents, chauffeuring them to activities, spending weekends at sporting events, pulling together healthy meals, earning enough money to provide for their needs, frequently feeling rushed and tired, wondering if they’re doing the parenting thing well enough. Children have needs that very often can’t wait, so parents have to respond even when it’s inconvenient. Stay-at-home moms sometimes get bored in that role. Then there are moms who overcare – when a feeling of true care and love that is regenerative starts to cross the line, allowing worry and anxiety to consume them too regularly. The potential parenting stressors are endless. Not to mention 90% of couples report a decline in marital satisfaction after their first child is born.
Mothers are the heart-center of the family, so engrossed in taking care of everyone else, they often put themselves last. But given how crucial their role is, they actually need to care for themselves just as well as they care for their children. Not just so they can continue to do all the things they do with more ease and balance, but because they pass on their emotional state of being to their child.
An important study showed that when a mother in a balanced and coherent emotional state placed her mental attention on her baby sitting in her lap, she became more sensitive to the subtle electromagnetic signals generated by the infant’s heart, demonstrated by her brain waves.
Although preliminary, these results support the suggestion that the electromagnetic fields produced by the heart may be a source of information exchange between people, one influenced by emotions. “These findings have intriguing implications, suggesting that a mother in a psychophysiologically coherent state became more sensitive to the subtle electromagnetic information encoded in the electromagnetic signals of her infant,” the study’s summary reported.”
The “state of the heart” of mom or the primary caregiver is extremely important in a child’s brain development, as well. It is well known that as a mother nurses her baby in a loving state, the baby’s HRV patterns will entrain or synchronize to the mother’s HRV pattern. Research at Institute of HeartMath has shown that when a parent is holding a child or even sitting or standing in close proximity to the child, the parent’s electrocardiogram (ECG) signal can be measured in the child’s brainwaves or electroencephalogram (EEG) and elsewhere on the child’s body.
So, if you’re stressed out, your child is most likely picking up on that and experiencing your stress, as well.
When a parent is stressed, angry, or anxious, a disordered HRV pattern is communicated directly to the heart and brain of the child. When a parent is peaceful, loving and caring, a harmonious, coherent HRV pattern is communicated directly to the heart and brain of the baby. In other words, the parent’s emotional state is contagious to the baby. As we all know, you smile at a baby and she smiles back. You get upset and baby cries. You can see an immediate shift in baby’s emotional state, muscle tone and whole body. And you can measure the shift in the heart rhythm and brainwave patterns. Imagine what’s going on when a child is being lovingly read to or talked to. This helps develop coherent neural structures in the baby, which are set in place for the rest of the child’s life.
Up Next – 10 tips to help moms reduce the stress load and restore emotional balance
The loving caregiver becomes harmoniously attuned to the child, and the child’s brain can then function more harmoniously. More importantly, the beneficial effects of loving contact or proximity between caretaker and child can be amplified by the adult consciously adopting a more sincere loving or caring emotional state, thus introducing increased heart coherence into the electromagnetic field.
10 tips to help moms reduce the stress load and restore emotional balance:
- Get into heart coherence and get attuned to your own heart. Take inventory – where am I out of balance? What is draining me? Get clear answers and take some conscious steps towards fixing what’s not working. Share the technique with whole family. Do it together.
- Lose the martyr role if you have it. It is actually counter to true caring for others – it creates codependency and heart incoherence, whereas true care for self creates balance.
- Your health is critical. People can endure chronic stress for only so long before they burnout and get sick. Make sure you’re getting enough sleep, adequate exercise and eating nutritiously for your body’s needs.
- Ask for help. There is no prize for doing it all and doing it alone. Join a mother’s club, reach out to friends, hire help, delegate chores and childcare to family members. It does indeed “take a village” to raise a child.
- Practice appreciation and gratitude. Send genuine feelings of appreciation to your child and if that’s hard to do because your child has become problematic, then connect with the feeling of love or appreciation you had when he/she was first born and send that feeling to your child now. This activates the body’s biochemical systems that help to diminish stress and stabilize your psyche. Also send some compassion to your kids and yourself.
- Communicate openly with your family about stress. Agree to give more latitude to each other so that if someone is irritable at times, it’s not taken personally. Be sure to explain this to your children, because they usually can’t understand the depth of what adults are experiencing. Be as positive around children as you can and reassure them when things are tough, they’ll improve. Have a family dialogue about what each member can do to have less stress in their lives.
- Enjoy each other. Be in the heart together – play games, watch or participate in sports, share meals, talk.
- Check out HeartMath’s helpful e-booklets: Solving Sleeplessness, Stopping Emotional Eating, Transforming Stress, Easing Fatigue, Understanding Care, Securing Our Children’s Future, and more titles for children and teens.
- Try HeartMath’s emWave® 2, our award-winning stress-busting tool. Using this feedback device to get into heart coherence, you can transform tension into relaxation and clarity.
- ‘Like’ our HeartMath My Kids! Facebook page. You’ll find free games, tips and age-appropriate techniques for teaching children how to shift to the qualities of the heart and build coherence.