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Whether you’re a new parent whose entire world has just flipped upside down, or a seasoned pro who’s wrangling a family of 4 while maintaining a full-time job, parenting can be — in a word — stressful.
When you have kids, caring for them becomes priority numero uno, and often times your own health gets pushed to the back burner. The way back burner.
That’s why, in addition to your physical health, it’s important to find some time — even a minute or two each day — for some mental self-care. One beneficial way to tune into your body and mind is in the form of meditation.
Meditating can help improve your emotional state by decreasing levels of stress, anxiety, and depression, explains Emily Guarnotta, a licensed clinical psychologist in Merrick, New York who specializes in working with new parents.
“Meditation can enhance people’s emotional intelligence (which refers to the ability to understand and manage your own emotions) and has also been found to improve certain executive functions, including inhibition, which refers to controlling your own behavior,” Guarnotta says.
“It’s a great first line of defense for people who would like to experience less stress and enhance their quality of life,” she adds.
If that sounds like you (::raises hand::), it may be time to try adopting a meditation practice. Luckily, that’s easier than ever thanks to meditation apps that you can download right onto your smartphone.
“Meditation apps make it feasible to practice mindfulness almost anytime of day, such as during your lunch break, on your commute, or between meetings,” says Guarnotta. “Everyone can find a few minutes in their day to play with meditation.”
Whether you’re just starting out on your meditation journey or are a seasoned meditator, here are some of the best meditation apps out there that cater to the parenting set.
Some of these meditation apps are recommended by experts in the mindfulness and mental health fields. A few we picked based on positive reviews from users.
Either way, all the following apps were chosen because they met the following criteria:
- highly rated in app stores
- offer a wide range of meditation and mindfulness styles
- includes content designed with parents in mind
- compatible with both iOS and Android devices
Price: Monthly or yearly subscription
Created by a licensed child, family, and school psychologist after her own struggles with postpartum depression, this just-launched app is on a mission to provide moms with an outlet to unwind and connect with their own thoughts.
Mindful Mamas offers guided meditations, breathing techniques, mantras (i.e. “I Am Worthy”), mini-pauses, visualizations, and more for every stage of motherhood, from TTC through toddlerhood and beyond.
If you’re expecting, this app was made for you.
Mind the Bump’s goal is to help parents-to-be learn important mindfulness skills to help them manage the array of uncertainties and emotions that come with the pregnancy and new parenting package. We especially like Mind the Bump’s focus on inclusivity for single parents and same-sex couples.
This app was created by two Australian mindfulness and mental health organizations and offers a combination of techniques. The meditations are brief, lasting no longer than 13 minutes, and cater to the trimester you’re currently in.
The tools you’ll learn during pregnancy are also intended to come in handy months down the line when you’re holding your little one in your arms.
Price: Two-week free trial followed by a monthly subscription
Though its name is a bit deceiving, this app isn’t only for pregnant folks — Expectful also caters to the conception and postpartum periods.
“Expectful offers hundreds of meditation sessions that are designed to encourage ease in those TTC and find calm in pregnancy,” says certified holistic health coach, Alessandra Kessler, who’s a personal fan. “It also offers tools for bearing with the everyday challenges that accompany parenthood.”
And while most parent-specific meditation apps focus only on the journey through pregnancy and motherhood, the guided meditations and sleep aids on this app are for expecting partners, too.
Price: One-month free trial, followed by a monthly or yearly subscription
Headspace makes meditating extremely user-friendly, even (and especially) for rookies. That may be why it’s one of the most popular meditation services around, with more than 62 million users in 190 countries.
Or maybe it’s because the founder, Andy Puddicombe, has one of the most soothing voices you’ll ever hear — you be the judge.
“Headspace offers a beginner pack and tailored meditations for a whole host of parenting-related struggles like sleep, happiness, stress, relaxation,” shares Dixie Thankey, founder of Thankey Coaching. “They also have well-produced cartoons that capture the attention of children, so it’s great for any parent wanting to bring meditation practices into their kids’ lives too.”
Price: Basic version is free, courses and offline listening require a monthly or yearly membership
Insight Timer offers a huge selection of 40,000 free guided meditations, with an entire section dedicated to parenting (including titles such as “Mama Me-Time” and “Relax and Recharge for Busy Mums”) and meditation for kids.
Also available with a premium membership is a series of podcast-style discussions with expert commentators about tough subjects like burnout and dealing with judgement.
It’s a favorite of Emma Sothern, a certified yoga teacher and guided meditation leader. “I love it for the sheer variety of meditations, guided singing bowl recordings, and educational courses,” she says. “It includes meditations from plenty of different teachers and styles and has a handy filter option to narrow down your search.”
Price: Free with optional in-app purchases
No matter your level of meditation mastery, there’s a great place for you to start in the Breethe app. This simple, user-friendly platform was designed to help relieve the stress and mental fatigue brought on by day-to-day life.
Breethe offers guided meditations that take up as little as 5 minutes of your time (which is sometimes all you can scrap together in those first few months of parenthood), as well as motivational talks and master classes that cater specifically to parenting. Example topics include how to deal with impatience and developing better conflict resolution.
Price: Limited version is free, premium version requires a monthly or yearly subscription after a two-week free trial
This is a basic meditation app that caters to beginners, especially those suffering from a lack of sleep (hello, new parents!). After creating a profile and selecting a clear purpose behind your practice, you can opt into reminder notifications for the time of day you prefer to meditate.
“For any new parent, this little reminder could be the difference between creating a daily practice versus a more haphazard approach,” shares Thankey. “In addition to their guided meditations, there’s a music and storytelling section, both created specifically to help calm the body, sleep, and relax.”
There’s also an entire section devoted to parenting with brief courses including “Conscious Parenting,” by Dr. Shefali Tsabary.
Taking time to focus on your own self-care is crucial for parents at any stage.
Yes, finding the time and energy to invest in yourself can feel impossible when you spend so much time taking care of everyone else. But luckily, there are a handful of meditation apps out there that make taking a moment of mindfulness for yourself a little bit easier.
It doesn’t matter how long you meditate, or if you think you’re “bad” at it. Just give it a try. Two minutes, five minutes — any amount of time dedicated to your own health is time well spent.