Are you feeling overwhelmed, over stressed and over Summer (and it hasn’t even started yet!)?? Could mindfulness help?

Well author of the Irish Better Birth Book and Founder of the award winning GentleBirth antenatal program Tracy Donegan, shares a great technique for coping with stress this summer.

sumer is coming, summer holidays, mindfulness, tracy donegan, gentlebirth, summer stress, summer camps

Summer is coming and like many parents around the world you’re scouring the pages of the local summer camp brochures trying to figure out how to keep the family sane. If you have younger children then summer camp might not be an option. Being pregnant and entertaining a 5 year old for the summer can be stressful.

As a Gentlebirth mum you know how important your daily practice is but between practice times you have a multitude of opportunities to use the tools every day.

Forget the meditation cushions and incense – and even the headphones (hardly practical when you have twin toddlers racing about the house).


Your daily practice isn’t always about lying on the couch with your headphones on (wasn’t it so much easier on your first pregnancy)? The reality is those moments of madness are often the best ways to bring your focus training out of the GentleBirth App and right into your kitchen.

Author and meditation expert Jon Kabat-Zinn says children are like “live in Zen masters” and it’s so true. I guarantee you’ll have at least 10 opportunities to practice your Heart Breathing every day this Summer (particularly each time you hear the words “I’m bored”).   Try out the practice below and before you know it you’ll be paying more attention to how you’re reacting to the daily stresses of life, you’ll start to differentiate between what you can and can’t control and by doing this you’re activating brain circuitry which is protective of your mental health. Does that sound like something you don’t have time for? Focus training doesn’t mean adding anything else to your day – you’re just being more present in what you’re already doing (loading laundry, preparing dinner, changing diapers).

When you find yourself feeling stressed – what can you do in that moment to respond differently (in a way that is good for you and your family)?


BreatheTake 3 deep breaths right down to your belly.

Find your feet – look at them if you can and wiggle your toes if you’re barefoot. Are your feet warm or cold? What else do you notice? (Pay no attention to the remnants of the pedicure you got for that wedding 6 months ago or that’ll just invite judgy mind to join in). If you’re wearing shoes do they feel comfortable or tight? Stay with this exercise for a few moments more – as you can probably tell this exercise has really nothing to do with your feet but it’s reducing activity in one part of your brain and activating another healthier brain circuitry.

sumer is coming, summer holidays, mindfulness, tracy donegan, gentlebirth, summer stress, summer camps

So let’s say F- THAT to Summer stress (or any kind of stress you’re experiencing at work or home) with this mindfulness technique.


Focus – stop whatever you’re doing

Feel your breath – breathe in and out deeply

Find your feet – notice how they feel, wiggle your toes and respond with Fierce kindness towards yourself.


The school holidays won’t magically become a fairytale when you become more present with mindfulness but you’ll have some tools to make it a little less stressful for everyone.

#SelfcareSunday #mindfulness

Toddler Tales 32 jpeg

I absolutely love the summer. The days are longer and people are much happier. There will be no holiday abroad for us this year as too many work commitments and trying to get a new business off the ground but that’s ok as I’m making sure we get to do a lot of fun things at the weekends here. We recently visited Seafield hotel in Wexford and James just loved the walk to the beach, which is like a forest trail and we had great adventures. The beach is peaceful and beautiful and James ran and ran and laughed for hours. I had some spa treatments, which were incredible, but my only complaint was that there is no air conditioning in the hotel, which made for a very uncomfortable sleep. James was sweating and I didn’t sleep a wink so I was a little cranky coming home.

James is at an age now where all the girls and boys in his class tell stories about their weekends in circle time. James is really starting to notice everyone talking about his or her dads and recently he told his class he spent the weekend with his dad, which broke my heart, as he’s never met him. I know he’s only trying to fit in but its tough for him even at this tender age of three as he feels a little left out. I’d love to see schools/preschools and parents talk to their kids about all the different kinds of families there are out there now. I know some parents feel this is not their duty as they are married and did everything the right way (yes this has been said to me) and to be honest I never gave single parents or any other type of parent a second thought before I had James on my own. One thing I know for sure is that if we teach our kids to be more accepting from a young age it will help to ease the teasing and bullying of kids who have maybe lost a parent or are from same sex couples or indeed separated. Life is hard enough and no one knows what heartache can be behind people’s stories. One thing we can change though is how we treat each other and our children are a reflection of us.

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Hi Alison,

I need a travel cot and was wondering are there any you recommend?

Thanks, Gina

Hi Gina,

Even since James was a baby travel cots have come a long way. If you are looking to take the travel cot abroad or indeed visit relatives or staycation in Ireland the one I would recommend is the Nuna Sena travel cot / playpen. Its light weight and makes traveling with your baby easy and convenient. It has a clever zigzag leg design, which pops open easily and then refolds again with just one hand. It’s also the only cot I have come across with an upper cot that folds with the frame, which is great for newborns and changing. If you’re abroad this is also a safe place for the baby to play especially in rooms and apartment that are not baby proofed. Skid proof feet keep sleep quiet and still, padded edges prevent finger pinches and the aboveground base makes it draft-proof. What more could you ask for! €185

Cherish Me  - Nuna Sena Travel Cot (1)Let your angel sleep and travel in comfort in the Nuna Sena travel cot / playpen €185






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vita coco water kidsWe’re rehydrating the kids with Vita Coco 100% Natural Coconut Water, a brand new range of naturally fruit flavoured coconut waters that little ones will go coco-nuts for! I’m delighted as I love coconut water myself and the health benefits are endless. There are two delicious flavours that James adores. You can pick them up in Tesco’s and health food stores! VISITING either Dublin Zoo or Fota wildlife park. These are two of my favourite places for families in Ireland. We live right beside the zoo and go almost every week and no two weeks are the same. And as I say to James it’s the only place you can get away with acting like a monkey!