When you have kids there are always toys to clean up. Even though I teach them to clean up after themselves, I always end up helping them, especially my younger daughter. There are days when I get really annoyed about this; after telling them hundreds of times, you would think a kid would know the routine.

One day I noticed myself getting really irritated because I already had a lot going on. I noticed my shoulders feeling tight. I noticed I was holding my breath. I noticed anger coming up. As I became aware of my physical and emotional state, I said to myself, “STOP, right now. Take a deep breath in and all the way out. Notice the cool air moving into your body and all the way out, and close your eyes for just a moment. With each inhale I felt my belly expanding, and as I exhaled I noticed my belly move down. I said out loud, “I am OK. I can handle this. Breathe.”

After three minutes of breathing, I started to feel calmer and to notice my thoughts shift to a more peaceful place. My thoughts became: “I am so glad my kids have fun with their toys and use their imagination to create their own world. I should invent a fun game and sing a song when we put things back where they belong. That would make it fun to do! So what if it sometimes becomes a mess in the rooms? At least the house is lived in. One day my kids are going to be out of the house, so let’s just enjoy the time together.”

After a while my daughter helped me clean up, and life was feeling a lot better as the room became more organized one toy at a time.

Ditteke Ederveen-Gorman helps people incorporate mindfulness and meditation into their daily lives. For more information, visit www.ditteke-