Who else out there struggles with parenthood sometimes? I mean, yes we love our children and feel deeply blessed to be parents — that’s not up for debate. But it’s okay to admit that not every moment of parenthood is pure bliss (and doesn’t this ring even more true now that we’re all at home during the pandemic?). Our kids’ jobs are to challenge us, push boundaries, make messes, fight with their sibling(s), and more. This can all be exhausting and overwhelming.
If this is you (as it’s me), I urge you to check out an app I recently discovered: MamaZen. It was created by husband-and-wife team Irin and Jake Rubin (MA, CHT) after Irin suffered a near breakdown in 2017 due to the stresses of motherhood. She asked Jake, an expert in Mindfulness Meditation and a Board Certified Hypnotherapist, to help her as he helps his clients. He did, and from his efforts, MamaZen was born.
How it Works
Once you download the MamaZen app, you will first select the goals you want to work on, and from that, the app will curate and show you the sections that most fit your needs (of course you can listen to any session at any time — not just the ones highlighted for you).
From there, you’ll get access to a variety of 5-15 minute sessions all conducted by Jake, that use hypnotherapy, meditation and mindfulness to help reduce the stress, overwhelm, guilt, impatience, fatigue, burnout, negative feelings, etc. associated with parenthood (FYI: though this app is geared towards moms, there is a section for dads called Dad’s Zone. In it, there are 6 sessions to choose from, ranging from learning how to slow down and enjoy fatherhood, to reducing anger, yelling and impatience, and being more present with your kids).
You can also search for sessions based on your children’s ages, beginning with pregnancy all the way through grade school-aged children (5-12 years old). For instance, in the newborn library, you’ll find sessions on managing the hormonal postpartum roller coaster, recovering from a C-section, feeling good taking “me” time, staying calm when the baby cries, and so much more. Some examples of sessions you’ll find in the toddler and preschool library include handling a child who is strong-willed (I’ll be listening to this next!), having patience with homeschooling (timely), tantrums, never-ending bedtime routines, and more.
Many of these same sessions exist in the grade school section as well, with the addition of topics like setting boundaries, learning how to discipline effectively, feeling more empathy for your child, and being there for your child when he or she feels misunderstood, etc.
Think of this app as a life coach, for parents!
When you don’t have a ton of time (what parent does?!), you can listen to 7-Minute Emergency Sessions, which cover topics like letting go of anger, how to release stress and anxiety, and ways to feel happier now. I escaped to my car and listened to one of these last weekend during a three-way tantrum between my children — it was a far better alternative than my usual method of screaming at everyone in my house. Who feels me?
What You Can Expect
Jake starts his sessions with guided hypnosis, encouraging you to find a comfortable spot, take deep breaths, close your eyes, and allow yourself to enter a calm, meditative state. From there, he leads you through the session, using an abundance of imagery, positive affirmations and heartfelt encouragement. You can choose whether you want to be awake or asleep at the end of the session (I’ve only ever chosen “awake,” but if I were doing this right before bed, I would choose “asleep”). It may feel hokey at first, but even if you don’t believe in hypnosis or meditation, simply breathing deeply and listening to Jake’s words will help you feel more relaxed and confident.
I’ve been using MamaZen for a week now. I was skeptical at first (I’m not much of a meditator or a fan of hypnosis… ), but I can already see a difference in the way I parent and handle parenting situations that used to trigger me before. In short: it’s working for me.
I’m now remaining much calmer when my kids are fighting loudly with one another (a serious anxiety trigger for me); I’m not losing my patience as quickly or joining in their chaos like I used to; and I’m giving myself permission to step away when I need to (i.e. the car break) to take 15-minutes of calm and peace for myself. I believe the reason it’s working so well for me is because Jake’s words speak directly to me as a mother — he cuts right to the heart of things, assuring me that I’m a good mom and that I matter.
Confession: I actually started crying while listening to the sessions on reducing mom guilt and increasing my confidence as a mom… they truly spoke to me, and I guess I really needed to hear that I am the mom my kids need (even when I don’t feel like it), I am enough, and I’m doing the very best I can. What parent doesn’t need to be reminded of these things from time to time?
The only downside I see to this app is the price — $14.99 seems like a hefty amount to pay each month, especially if you’re not using it on the regular. Though there are shorter sessions, it still takes time and effort to step away to a quiet place, turn on a session, and truly relax and get the most out of it. That said, parents are worth it — and it’s important to take time for self-care.
I hope they keep adding new sessions — there are quite a few already, but I can tell I’ll be moving through them swiftly, especially as parenting continues to become more and more challenging due to the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic.
I know it can be hard to take time away from your kids to take care of yourself… but if you don’t, you’ll burn out. Plain and simple. MamaZen can be another tool in your personal self-care kit — something you can turn to when you need to recharge and find some peace. I, for one, am grateful that an app like this exists, and I really think it will help me stay more present with my kids, enjoy motherhood more and feel a greater sense of calm and confidence in my role as a mom.