Non-Attachment for New Moms

As a new Mom I know nothing about non-attachment. Seriously. I carried my baby for 41 weeks in the womb, and have worked diligently over the past 15 months to create and nurture a healthy, long-lasting bond. Now suddenly I’m being faced with the suggestion of non-attachment.

Say what?!

I can’t say that “letting go” is a particularly strong skill of mine. I wasn’t good at it before my kid was born, and now it feels like a ridiculous and impossible mountain to climb. I suppose non-attachment doesn’t come easily or naturally for many of us, since as human beings we share an inherent desire for survival and connection. While by design, I am wired to care for and nurture my baby, I had no idea of the infinite and unconditional love I would feel for my child—it is beyond anything I have ever known. That my capacity for suffering and joy would grow. That my heart would break open and ache with love. The attachment I feel for my child runs deep in my veins and through every cell of my “Mama Bear” being. The desire to cling is always there, just below the surface.

As a parent, there are endless opportunities to practice non-attachment. A hard one for me is allowing my child to struggle or make harmless mistakes on his own and learn from them. For example, as my son learns to walk, the temptation to protect him from falling is constant. Another example is simply allowing him to enjoy his food, or a smoothie, without interfering and trying to contain the mess. Or better yet, last night (during a rare moment without a diaper) I found him peeing on the rug! Instead of freaking out, I actually started laughing by surprise. Is my practice working Now?

The truth is, it feels safer to be in control than to trust and let go.

There are countless examples of where I struggle with non-attachment. An easy one to spot is with the Mega Bloks. My son loves his Mega Bloks (they’re basically Legos, but larger blocks designed for toddlers). He’ll come towards me waving a block in the air with pure excitement, inviting me to play with him. We start building. I’m taking this project pretty seriously, looking for the proper “foundational” pieces, thinking strategically about where and when to place the next block for the optimal build. Meanwhile, my little one is completely in the moment, just happy to have my attention, as he stacks one odd shape on top of the other, before abruptly tearing it all apart. Wait a minute! We were “getting somewhere” and suddenly, like that, it’s gone. Rather than enjoying the creative process with my little one, I notice myself wanting to lead the activity, getting mildly irritated, and feeling attached to the finished product.

This pattern plays out day after day, whether I’m busy managing his meals or outfits, trying to contain messes, tidying the toys, getting his backpack fully dialed and stocked with the right gear. There’s truly a sense that as a mom, I know what’s best, and I feel responsible to set everyone (especially my husband!) up for success. Some might call it micromanaging, but I like to think of myself as highly organized with attention to detail and precision. The truth is, it feels safer to be in control than to trust and let go.

A helpful reminder comes from Patanjali’s Yoga Sutra 2.39. Aparigraha, one of the five Yamas, is often translated as non-possession, non-grasping, or non-attachment. It’s the practice and art of consciously softening one’s grip and unraveling the desire to possess. It is said that when one is established in non-grasping, there is knowledge of the nature and purpose of existence.

I’ll admit that as my little one gets older, I find myself enjoying a new found sense of personal freedom. Simultaneously, I’m intimately aware that there is a part of me that still wants to be needed, especially by my baby. Yet as a parent, isn’t it my job is to raise a kind, caring, and emotionally intelligent human being, who will ultimately become independent of me? Perhaps as a new mom, non-attachment is not about getting rid of my natural deeply-woven attachments, but rather a suggestion to free myself from the outcome, and the belief that this person’s success in life is solely up to me. Can I hold my child with love, like the wings of a butterfly – gentle, amazed, and with a sense of curiosity and wonder?

There’s a rumor that non-attachment takes practice. Relaxation and awareness are key. Here are 3 Simple Practices for New Moms that have helped me gradually unravel sticky spots, loosen my grip, breathe easier, and recenter myself.

  1. Slow Down

    Take a moment to Pause. This might be on the toilet, while you’re washing dishes, folding laundry, watching your child play independently, on a walk, or driving.

    Bring your attention to your breath. Notice the quality of your breath for 1 full minute. Afterwards, allow for a gentle inhale, and then exhale everything… all the way down to your toes, clearing and releasing any build up of tension in the mind and body.

  2. Soften Your Grip

    Notice areas of tension in your physical body. Scan your face: eyes, brow, jaw, and mouth. Notice where you can soften a bit and let go. Draw your awareness down through your shoulders, heart, arms, and hands. Again, notice where you can soften any holding, clenching, or tension.

    Bring your awareness to the heart. Rub your hands together. Let your palms open and release face up on your lap. Now draw your awareness from the heart into the center of your palms. Allow your hands to feel light and fluffy. Soften your jaw. Notice how you feel.

  3. Practice Wonder

    Practice seeing the world through a child’s eyes. Observe the subtler miracles of life, like a leaf dangling on a spider’s web in the sunlight, or the feeling of the breeze caressing your face. The miracles are endless, especially in nature.

    When you wake up, ask yourself, “I wonder what is going to happen today.” Play with asking questions that are out of your control, like, “I wonder how long my baby will nap for today,” or “I wonder what new milestone she’ll reach.”

Personally, I find these practices help to soften the inner tension and broaden my perspective, reminding me that there are visible and invisible forces at play, and all I can do is my best. Ultimately, when I start I let go and trust, the ride becomes more enjoyable and wonderful than I could have ever imagined. I suspect my little one feels it too.

Alana Mitnick
About the Author

Alana Mitnick

With an interest in drawing awareness into the body through breath and sensation, Alana offers yoga classes that are accessible to people of all ages, bodies, and abilities. You can practice with her on Yoga Anytime for Prenatal Yoga, Postnatal Yoga, Gentle Yoga, Good Morning Yoga, and more.


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