Mom of Multiples – Shweta Ganesh Kumar

There comes a time in your life, when you are down to the rocks and need all the inspiration you can find to hoist you upward. Last year, when I was struggling to be a parent of two children under two, I found comfort and inspiration on the internet. Not through books or written guidelines, but through mothers who were balancing the fine art of parenting more than one child and their lives with realistic ease.

Mom of Multiples is a series of such feature stories and the first to feature on it is Shweta Ganesh Kumer a.k.a. Times of Amma. An expat mom with the Sridevi like charm and travel stories that make you want immediately pack your bags, Shweta is an author, fitness enthusiast and a Malayali who loves finding her roots even on foreign sands. Her style of parenting her two children and the ease with which she connects to mothers across the world makes her the perfect start for this series. Find out more about here in the interview below:

 

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1.Rewind to the day your second child was born. Were you prepared mentally for the shift in scenario? How did you prepare your daughter for the newborn’s arrival?

As an only child and an absolute bookworm, one of the first things I did to prepare for my second child was to arm myself with any and all available literature on the subject. I read up on coping with two and mothering two and handling two and so on and so forth. I adopted the same strategy with my daughter as well, by sourcing story books about welcoming a new baby and becoming an elder sibling. I also included her in the process from early on by taking her to the ultrasounds and letting her talk to the baby bump and make the “baby” talk back to her. For her, the baby was a real part of our lives even before he actually arrived. That being said, no matter how mentally prepared you are, welcoming a child home is always an emotional experience and it is hard to be completely ready in all aspects apart from being ready for whatever it is that life will throw at you.

2. As a mother who has been moving from country to country, what is your biggest challenge of parenting away from home?

I feel that my biggest challenges are cultural as I’ve lived in countries that do not have a sizable Indian or rather Malayali diaspora. As an expat kid who grew up in Muscat, I was brought up speaking Malayalam and watching Malayalam movies alongside Hindi. But I struggle to get that balance with my kids as it is mostly just me trying to give them a taste of their roots.

3. Nuclear parenting or parenting with elders around? Which do you enjoy the most?

Whilst I love it when my parents and in-laws are around so that my husband and I get time to ourselves and it is also wonderful for them to get that bonding time with my children, I prefer nuclear parenting. My husband and I have our own sensibilities about religion, LGBT and gender rights and politics and we feel that nuclear parenting works best for us as we try and bring up our children our way without having to fight for our right to parent in the way we choose.

4. Managing work, home and children without help (maid/nanny). What is your breaking point and how do you regain composure after it?

My breaking point usually comes when my husband is away. He has to travel quite frequently for work and that is when I have to take on the kids, my work and the house alone. Being in a foreign land, where we don’t have as much support as we used to, I also find myself stressing about imaginary “what ifs” – For example : What if I slip in the bathroom and break my leg and who will take care of the kids till my husband comes back?

I know that worrying is pointless and I do try and push unnecessary anxiety away by burying myself in work, but it always plays on in an endless loop in the back of my mind. When my husband comes back, I blow off steam by either having a nice long self-pitying cry or a hot bath and some chocolates.

 Mundane solutions that do the trick.

5. What is the one trick that you would like to share with moms of multiple children who manage household and children on their own?

One of the things that I learnt the hard way was to reduce the number of things on your to-do list. Pare it down to the absolutely essential.

There was a time when I used to impose unrealistic expectations on myself and try and keep every ball in the air. I failed miserably and spent a while beating myself up about it. I realized later that it is ok to give myself a break and that not everything needs to be done right away.

In my case, housework comes last – so I just do maybe one household related thing a day – like cleaning the kitchen on Mondays, vacuuming the corridor on Thursdays and so on instead of trying to do it all everyday and collapsing.

6. Parenting is also the father’s game. How much does your husband contribute in raising the two kids and what do you like the most about his parenting style (presuming that both of you have different approach towards parenting)

My husband is a very hands-on father and a feminist one at that, which I love. I like how he lets the kids take the lead with activities unlike me, who prefers having a list or at least mental note of activities that I would be doing with them that day. He also inculcates in them the art of slowing down by making time to just sit and observe or loll about in a park or laze around. This is diametrically opposite to my own nature of wanting to maximize the day and keep at it. I also love how he is so very serious about their vegetable intake. Left to my devices, my children would grow up on dairy and carbs. But my husband makes it a point to get them to taste new foods and have a certain amount of vegetables per week.

7. What’s your ‘me time’ like? Do you take time off from kids and the home to recharge yourself? Workout/spa/dinner with friends? 🙂

Much as I would love to make me-time a priority as I advice other parents to, it is hard for me to translate that into big ticket items like spa time or dinner with friends. I feel like my son is still a tad too young and I am also the kind of person who genuinely enjoys hanging out at home rather than heading out to restaurants and parties.

I take my me-time in small doses throughout the day in the form of two fifteen minute low-impact work-outs and quiet cups of coffee. I’m not afraid to admit that I use the big guns of Netflix and YouTube to attain these me-time oases, but I feel it’s a worthy price to pay for my well-being.

8. The most challenging part of being a mother who works out of home is to find the time to work. How do you prioritize your time and also spend time with the kids effectively?
I make a list of things to do and I make sure I go back to it whenever I get patches of time during the day. I work around my daughter’s school timings.
And I try and get maximum of the auto-pilot work done when there is only one kid to manage – so that means work out, folding the laundry etc. I work on my writing when my son naps and after the kids are in bed. I put my kids to bed comparatively early – they are asleep by 8:30 and I’m very disciplined about this for their sake and mine.
9. Finally, If you were to share a message to mothers out there (mothers like me who are currently walking on the tightrope with two small children) what would it be?
I’m trying to think of something that doesn’t sound like a cliche and I realize I can think of nothing.
So, all I am going to say is, maybe our parents did not tell us that this is going to be this hard because they didn’t want to scare us away from this amazing journey. But it is hard and frustrating at times but it’s the hard days and the smiles at the end of it that we will remember when our kids are grown up and no longer our’s to mother. So, hang in there and ride it out. Ask for help if you need it and always know that you might not be the best mother in the world, but you will always be the best mother ever to your children. Cherish that privilege.
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I would like to thank Shweta for immediately agreeing to be a part of this feature, because it means a lot to me. Does her story inspire you too? Do you know of a mom who is winging parenting two kids or more with ease? Tell me about them so we can get them featured here as well and inspire more moms like me and you!

Joining the sustainability movement – my contribution

Let’s talk periods. Actually not. Let’s talk sustainability. In our own small ways, many of us are taking steps towards becoming sustainable. We try to use less plastic bags, not take straws while ordering juices, carry our own water wherever we go and so on. This is great! Because it is high time we started picking up after our own mess. As a homemaker, I am in charge of amping up our sustainability game inside the house, right? Here’s how I have truly learnt that ‘Charity and everything else, begins at home’.

If you live in a community set up, you would have been handed two dust bins or a letter that asks you to segregate your waste – decomposable and non-decomposable. At first, it felt like a hindrance. ‘Why can’t I just chuck everything into the bin together? It’s all waste anyway!’ is usually the initial thought. But slowly, you turn conscious about how much you are wasting and how much of it is the kind of waste that does no good to the environment.

For me, as a mother, this enlightenment happened when I discovered cloth diapering in 2015. My in-laws had never warmed up to the use of disposable diapers. My mother-in-law and mom were game on washing dozens of nappies, because they felt it was the best for the child. I know so much laundry sounds exhausting, but the winning point is the eco-friendliness and baby friendliness. With Lishaan I cloth diapered everywhere we went. I sort of became an evangelist of the CDing movement. It was a great high. You were reusing, not adding to pollution and of course, finding cuter bum cover options than the regular whites. If this was for him, then what about me?

IMG_20180217_081003-01.jpegPeriods every month meant close to 15 sanitary napkins. This multiplied by several months and years sums up to a towering number. SCARY! I remember discussing a menstrual cup with my gynecologist at one point. I got pregnant with Isha so I never got around to using the cup until about three months back. And i decided to jump the sustainable menstruation wagon this time for sure.

Before I talk about how cool reusable pads and menstrual cups are, I must admit I am guilty. I couldn’t cloth diaper Isha as I wished because it was too much handling two kids as it is and I really didn’t like the scene of dirty diapers waiting for me to wash them clean. I went the disposable diapers way and I think my idea of equating that imbalance was to join the sustainable menstruation movement.IMG_20180217_080949-01.jpeg

For about three cycles now, I am what people call a ‘cupvert’ and it has been a liberating experience. There’s very less to go wrong with using a cup and if you get the basics right, you literally feel period-free. The cup holds almost a day’s quantity of  blood and is pretty leak free. The best part is that you can pick a size that would suit you in terms of height of the stem and the cup size. One cup can last you years. I am a newbie cupvert, so I suggest you read THIS to know more about menstrual cups. Apart from it being convenient, it also is healthy and very safe. Again, if done right, you can enjoy a stress free cycle and involve in activities that you wouldn’t have thought of while on a pad. I must also add that younalmyou forget that you have your periods because there’s no bulky wet mess moving side to side in your undergarment  nor is there the fear of overload and leaking.

IMG_20180217_081045-01.jpegThe pads? They are leakproof cloth pads made by EcoFemme (you get many other brands too) and I am using them as a backup to keep any leak in check.o

Together these save you money & embarrassment (well, I felt queasy with the hiding a pad, using paper to dispose it silently or even worrying about someone seeing a flashy green plastic in my bag) and of course the sustainable menstruation movement helps you do your bit for the world you live in!

 

~ The Lazy Parent

Rising above the clutter – 1

Part 1 – Making friends with toys

All things children are like rabbits; they multiply so fast that you have no idea where it all started. Clothes, toys, books, mess, just about everything related to kids accelerates within minutes. That’s my learning from cleaning up my kids’ stuff this September.

Until September, I was pretty offhanded about the things that belonged to my kids. Clothes always found space, toys always found shelves. It was almost like the Akshaya Paatra of storage 😛 I could clear everything up without ever making it look messy. The jolt happened in September when we finally found a beautiful home in another city and had an entire month to relocate. Now, an entire month as such is a very long time. But with kids, it passes by in the blink of an eyelid. So, mid-October I was sitting in a room full of things, almost close to tears looking at the colossal waste of money, time and effort – my kids’ stuff. Where do I begin? What do I sort these into? My head was spinning in circles faster than the Sudarshana Chakra.

To the rescue – pen and paper! Believe me when I say that nothing works like a handwritten list and ticking things off that list once you are done. BLISS!

So, I made two lists – one for toys/books and another one for clothes. From there it became pretty easy to sort things and discard them too. How? All hail Marie Kondo! I might not have succeeded in reading her books, but I caught onto one phrase that was life altering – ‘Spark joy!’ That’s right!

What is Spark Joy? Marie Kondo (the queen of decluttered AND joyful living) says that one should only retain what gives them joy. If you look at something and it does not give you joy, remove it pronto!

Here’s how I applied that to my kids’ stuff: (you can apply this to your life too, but I am sharing my experience mainly)

I am breaking this post down to three parts. You can read it all or just jump to the portion that you want to read:

Sorting the toys:

Gifts are the biggest reason why we have an overload of toys at home. SOMEONE must stop this gifting a toy culture unless it literally makes sense to the child. Nope, crawling caterpillar isn’t my thing.

To begin with, sort all your child’s toys into three piles – what he uses, what he might use and what is beyond his stage of development. It’s easy to break the whole dump into three piles. The hard step starts from here.

  • Pile 1: What he is done with – Rattles, teethers, pull along toys fit into this category. If you don’t plan for another kid in a year or so or don’t have another kid already, look to distribute these with people who have younger kids. Things that are hygiene based (teethers etc) can be discarded, but sensory toys might find takers.
  • Pile 3 (I will come to #2 next): What he might use. It is very tempting to stash most unused toys under this category, but see if it will hold interest for your child in about six months. If not, gift them to kids who will enjoy them right away. Six months down the line, you would have forgotten about the toys and your child would have moved to other things.
  • Pile 2: What he currently uses. This pile works on rotation. If your child has 10 toys, bring out 2-3 every few months. Rotate the toys and repeat for another few months. This way, you haven’t used up ALL the toys in your arsenal and your child can revisit a favourite with newer ideas in future.

Storing of toys:

The good thing is, we relocated to another house and here, I have planned a space for the kids to be more responsible about their stuff. Hail Ikea for ideas and products. I am not sure how much I will buy at the moment, but definitely having a set space (as opposed to an entire room) for toys makes it so much easier to plan and hey, if I can get something ready along the similar lines to my necessary dimensions , then why not? 😉

The layout at Ikea Singapore for a kid’s room. Totally love their Trofast shelves and storage boxes.

I do like how parents give their kids toy rooms. It means there’s a designated area for play stuff. But, in many cases I have seen kids (parents, honestly) go overboard with toys and ending up in a huge pile of toys with parts and pieces missing.

So, regardless of whether you have a toy shelf or a toy room, unless you have it and leave it organized children will see no point in it either. For this reason, minimal toys (thanks to rotation) ensures there’s less to mess and less to clean up. Seriously, I would rather pick up four upturned boxes of toys than fourteen of them!

Same goes with books. Many friends of mine are raising avid readers and I love how beautifully some of them have their books organized. The key idea is in keeping things accessible to the child, but also bringing in a sense of organization. I am all in for organized chaos, but NO parent wants to find lego parts under their bathroom rug or the leg of a barbie in the kitchen drawer.

Inspirations and printables:

My biggest ‘to-do’s on this holiday was to visit the Ikea store in Singapore. Why? I can see why they thrive – organization goals. Be it minimal or out in the open, they have options and I for one, am drawing ideas and inspiration from this company for my son’s toy storage.

One of the most organized toy/book spaces I have seen among my friends is Sharmilla’s. Both in Bengaluru and in Coimbatore, she had made one of the most comfortable and easy spaces for her son to play in. Here’s a pic of their Coimbatore home. The key thing that she follows is: ‘One toy at a time and all back when done’. Neat right?

I will be sharing more of how we put Lishaan’s things together in the coming few days on my Instagram handle. Until then, tell me if this works for you! 🙂

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If, like me, you are motivated by to-do lists and items that you can tick off as you go along, here’s a free Decluttering Checklist you can download. This printable was designed for We Are Real Moms‘ December 2017Challenge – Reflect, Reset, Recharge.
 
The file has 3 pages.
Page 1 has the list partly filled in for you and you can fill in the rest.
Page 2 is a completely blank checklist and you can completely customize it for your home and your needs.
Page 3 is to record the items you have put in storage and where so you can find them easily in future when you need them. 
 
Click here to download the high resolution, watermark-free printable!

The Lazy Parent’s Guide to Parenting Zen

Parenting and Zen, like the opposite poles of a magnet. While you try to bring the two together, they spring back stronger. No amount of books, online material or groups can bring your Zen to you. They can guide you, of course. It’s easy to say ‘do ABC and you would be on the path to find your parenting Zen’, but no one except you can make your Zen mode happen.

I love to quote my wise aunt who enlightened me about children. She said ‘if you think 3 month old babies are a pain, wait till they turn one’. She said this with the straightest face there is; because she meant it. Things improve, but relatively. I think what mainly improves is your capacity to tolerate, survive and excel in parenting.

The last few months have been extremely trying for me as a mother. Raising two kids under three with near zero help has been like trying to do one of those underwater dive things; you invariably resurface sooner than imagined to grab some air.

Between giving up several times over and starting again, I can say that I have seen my Mom Zen. Not attained it, but seen it. Like the ‘beacon of light’ at the end of the tunnel, I have seen how awesome I can be and life can be when that Zen mode is turned on. So, I think it’s only fair I share my ‘thoughts’ with you.

Firstly, I started looking for my Zen mode thanks to the book ‘Yell Less, Love More’. I picked it up at a time when I was at an all-time parenting low. I picked it up at a time when I really needed an anchor to keep me going and boy, has it helped! I am not a self-help books kind of person, but this book can really put things in perspective for you. Whether or not you take up and complete the 30 day challenge, reading each chapter through the month helped me immensely. I am no Orange Rhino yet, but I have seen that side and would love to become that mom one day.

So, here’s how I keep my Zen beacon glowing (most of it is about talking to yourself):

1. Look away. Distraction is the key. When something momentarily (mostly what your child is doing) bothers you, just distract yourself for a few minutes. Count to five if you have to, because suddenly the anger will fizzle and you would be able to apply logic and sense to the situation. This comes from someone who flips the lid at the drop of a hat. Yep, THAT transformational!

2. ‎Ask yourself if it’s really that bad. ‘Lishaan don’t play in the water!’ I almost yelled third day in a row. Then I thought to myself ‘If he isn’t going to fall ill and if it manages to keep off my hair for about fifteen minutes, what harm does it do?’. So, I said instead ‘Lishaan, you get 15 minutes to play. Then we go inside.’ Fifteen minutes later, he bought five more minutes’ time and then promptly came inside. Yay! No free drama for the neighbours 😛

3. ‎Is it them or is it you? This is my favourite takeaway from the ‘Yell Less, Love More’ book. 80% of the time, I was getting worked up with the kids because of something I had to do. I had an email to send, a message to reply or a row to knit. It really wasn’t them. When you give yourself a second to see who actually is the problem, there won’t be any stress.

4. Don’t say anything. Most of the time, Lishaan knew that he had gotten my attention when I repeatedly said ‘ Lishaann, no! Don’t do that!’. So I decided to get his attention instead. If your child is up to something you don’t want them to be doing and they KNOW they have your attention, don’t say a thing. Better still, walk away. My son immediately drops what he is doing and comes behind me asking me what has happened and why I wasn’t looking at him. Job done 😉

5. ‎Be easy on yourself. Don’t work yourself up. No one is awarding you with a medal of Honor for brilliant parenting. EXCEPT, those little ones who are constantly watching you. What you do and don’t do reflects directly on them. For me, food, laundry, cleaning and work can wait if it means that the kids are getting what they want – a mother who is available and receptive to their needs and feelings.

6. Set aside cuddle time. With two kids, I can see jealously creeping in almost every waking hour. They both know I love them equally, but each one wants more of Amma than the other. So, I set aside time to cuddle up each one of them separately. We so group hugs and bed rolls, but 10 minutes with Lishaan when Isha is asleep and 10 minutes with Isha when Lishaan is napping does a great amount of good. Gosh, all the love hormones comes overflowing when we do these cuddle sessions can be such a stress buster!

7. Make good use of your ‘Me time’. As moms, our time is the first thing we compromise on. I realized that no ‘Me time’ meant a VERY cranky Amma. So, I got the husband to take the kids out/stay home with them while I got some real ‘Me time’. Try to get out. Dress up and move your butt, literally. Take up a class, go meet a friend, go get a coffee by yourself, go to the parlor. Do something that doesn’t have to do with your kids or your house. No grocery shopping! That’s so not me time!

8. ‎Finally, express. Unless you say what you are going through, no one is going to know. Even if my husband doesn’t have the best solution available, I tell him what is bogging me down (to the grossest details) and it just feels so much better. Keeping things inside for long can have a huge volcano like effect on your emotions. Instead, constantly emptying your emo-bin helps you face the next day and the day after with better enthusiasm and energy.

I must admit that I do yell a lot less these days. So much so that even the husband and family see a stark difference in attitude. Brownie points for the number of times mid-toddler-tantrum I have told me husband ‘It’s okay Mama. Don’t react. He is just finding xxx difficult’ and my husband would give me this ‘Is that you talking?’ look ?

So, what do you think? Do these tips sound doable? Do you have suggestions that help you keep calm and carry on? Let me know, pretty please ?

Oh, and this list is bound to change as I discover better/easier/simpler ways to keep calm. So, keep checking!

Do me a favour – Part 2

So, I finally got help. After months of deliberation, I met a counselor to discuss my issues. What issues? For months now, I have been having mood swings and tides of low moods that have been causing a great deal of distress. If you have been following me on IG, you would see me talking about it.

Well, who discusses such things? I mean it’s natural to have a child and find it difficult to cope, but who goes to meet a doctor about that? Don’t say ‘no one’, because sometime help helps. After a good three hours of talking and sobbing *drama queen much?* I ended up feeling much lighter and happier.

Firstly and thankfully, I do not fall under the category of depression. What I did suffer from was anxiety. Now, if you know me (in person or online) you will think that I am a HIGHLY confident individual who’s just managing everything like a piece of cake. That might be true to some level, but I have been battling a lot of low self-esteem issues of late.

You see, what happens to women when they become mothers is that their world radically tilts and shifts. You could have a battalion of family and staff support but still feel like shit. Birthing a child and providing for it can be a huge challenge. This change also makes women vulnerable. Women who are new mothers (first, second or third time moms count too) can be very sensitive and touchy. They could be feeling cornered for no reason, but it isn’t their fault. Babies don’t come with an instruction manual. It is hard to figure them out initially. Why are they crying? Why do they need the boob so often? When will I sleep? and so on. The questions are endless and the answers aren’t readily available. A lot of trial, error and tears give you the answer. By then, you are exhausted; sleep deprived and sanity deprived. At such a juncture, the last thing you want to hear is some grading you as a parent. ‘You could do better’ is like a poison dipped knife slowly being thrust into your sides. AGH!

That’s exactly and almost what someone who barely knew me told me. Let alone one, I was balancing two kids when someone sweetly stepped into my life for a whole of ten minutes to tell me that I should be putting more effort into loving my children *MAJOR EYE ROLL* . Well, major eye roll now, but back then it hurt, stung and killed any iota of self-confidence that I had. Was I being silly? No! But here’s my take away from all of this.

A mother, new or otherwise, is working overtime. Whether she’s a homemaker or a working mom, she is putting 100% in order to keep everyone happy and the house functional. What she needs the most is acknowledgment of what she is doing and appreciation of that. Remember, it’s not a sacrifice that she’s making but it’s her choice. But going through with this choice is hard without appreciation. If you can’t say something good, don’t say anything at all. We hardly know the life of that mum behind the scene. We only calculate her ‘motherhood’ score based on the two coffee dates and twenty Instagram posts that she puts up. That’s bloody unfair.

That’s all I ask. Say a good word or say none at all. With that, hundreds of mothers out there will walk with an additional spring in their step and their head held high (no matter how sleep deprived they are). Is that doable?

 

Monster in my head

The monsters in my head whisper all night long. ‘Toss her away… Run away. Don’t come back. Cut yourself up’ they keep whispering in my ears. I sing out aloud but their voice even fills the tunes of my favorite songs.

Leaving my baby in her crib, I run into the bathroom, throw myself into the toilet, trying to empty the uninvited guests with the bile like vomit.

‘ A break will do you good’ said my reflection in the mirror, looking at the spit stained woman staring at her weakly.

‘Yes, I need a break’ I tell myself. Wiping away my tears and the sweat, I walk out of the bathroom with a determination. Dialing that number on my phone I say ‘ma.. I need help’.

Postpartum depression is an ugly monster, isolating you from asking help. Reach out, take that break and talk to someone.anyone. don’t let the monster win.

I am writing as a part of the Write Tribe Problogger’s challenge. #WriteBravely #WriteTribeChallenge

What does pregnancy teach you? ?

It brings me immense pleasure to share that I, along with 23 other bloggers are celebrating #9daysofwomanhood throughout Navratri. I thank Sanjivini for introducing me. I loved her blog on the prompt for today. You can read it here.

 

Pregnancy, a nine letter word that can bring about extremes of emotions in people!

My own pregnancies have been pretty non-adventurous, but definitely have taught me a lesson or two in parenting!

From an exasperated ‘when will you both plan for a child?’ to a shocked ‘why a second child so soon?’, the society has shown me that bearing and birthing a child should be the sole decision of the wife and the husband. No one else, except maybe your gynaec, should have an opinion in it.

We had been married for four years, when we decided to have a child. We had skirted the ‘good news’ for a good part of the four years, but the tension that can mount on a couple thanks to the pressure is inexplicable unless experienced! My husband and I even have a spot in Chennai where I blew my top (sitting inside our car) thanks to the whole baby deal!

When our second baby happened, we were in a completely different city, with a toddler in tow. The whole pregnancy was on us. Up till my 8th month, it was just me, husband and the toddler. My second child’s birth was as fast as watching a Karan Johar movie and both these deliveries have taught me a lot. So, instead of boring you with my epidural laced birth saga, check out what I have to say about ‘pregnancy’:

  • It is one way road. No looking back!
  • Pregnancies are easier than raising babies
  • You are the mom, husband is the dad. Remember to involve your partner equally. It’s his baby too!
  • If you treat your very pregnant self as ‘normal’, then you can lead a very healthy pregnancy and be VERY confident of your birthing option/choices/decisions
  • Please avoid the trap of being pampered. Many girls I know didn’t lift a spoon during their entire pregnancy thanks to their families. Family waiting on them translated to a non-active pregnancy. This leads to unnecessary complications.
  • Read up a LOT! I stuck to the one basic book and it definitely helped my husband and me in understanding what to expect.
  • DIY! Do everything yourself – right from deciding the clothes, langots, soaps, diaper bags. It brings in a lot of happy hormones and gets your SUPER involved.
  • Invest in the baby – Ha ha! Not money, but make something for the baby. I started knitting for Lishaan and Crocheting for Isha. I made tiny hats and socks that never fit beyond week 2 but it gave me a huge sense of warmth in knowing that I MADE something for the baby.
  • Do whatever it is that you usually did (within limits). Shop, watch movies, and go on holidays, whatever it is that keeps you moving, just do it.
  • Pregnancy isn’t an ailment; it is a process that brings about change. So, accept and experience it happily?

Lastly, your pregnancy is your own. Enjoy it, remember it and be thankful for the safety cushions around you.

Do you have pointers that your pregnancy taught you as well? Drop a comment and share it with us all! ?

**** I would take the opportunity to introduce Dilpreet Kaur Dua who blogs at www.bhangrababies.com You can check out her blog to read her thoughts on this as well! ? ****

Do me a favor!

My husband usually doesn’t appreciate certain topics that I touch upon in my posts. He says ‘people might think you are weak’ or ‘they might think you are complaining about them’. But there are some things that I would like to share and talk about and no, it’s not a complaint. Actually, THIS is a humble request to the society at large.

By now, we all know (whether or not we are parents) that becoming a mother is probably easier than BEING a mother. A lot of effort goes into raising a child; maybe not so much in creating one inside. That’s just me!

This time last year, I was at a surprisingly high social presence rate. People (I am not exaggerating) used to gape as to how I managed to move my 8 month pregnant belly and 22 month old toddler from corner to corner of the city, being a social butterfly (social enthu-cutlet, more so). I was actually out and celebrating Diwali 10 days before my delivery. Yes, my folks were shocked and no, I had no issues whatsoever. Once my baby girl came into the world, things changed upside down. If you know me (from my posts and rants), you will know that it’s a nuclear set up in our home and I manage just about everything except sweeping, mopping and washing utensils. So, for me another baby in the mix was a lot of work. When it came to being my social self, that part of life took a back seat. I would say I sent it to the boot.

Nod your head if you agree that dating, marriage and children have changed the width and type of your social circle greatly. I have THREE friends who have put up with my nonsense and loved me through my pregnancy and both kids. They didn’t have babies at that time, but they never said no to me. Post children, I forged different kinds of friendships – virtual ones. Maybe it is the fact that, like me hundreds of mothers find ‘ME’ time in between feeds and at weird hours of the night that brought us together. Props to Facebook, importantly. So, there I was happily forming a safety net online while in real life, I REALLY didn’t have the stamina to get ready and step out.

Seriously, dragging two kids and myself out of the house (looking presentable and not pooped) was an exhausting deal. I decided that I preferred the company of my TV, couch and crochet to that of the outside world, because I just couldn’t head out without wanting to throw myself in front of that Ola cab. It was too much of a task. But I did try! Why I gave up was because it didn’t seem worth it to have two fussy kids in each arm and a puffing-panting me at the end of it all.

You see, the biggest issue that haunts mothers (new and old) is anxiety and depression. Even without being a parent, if you feel neglected for some reason, you tend to put yourself into a lot of stress by over thinking. Especially with new mothers, it takes a LOT of push to keep them positive and going. Believe me, looking at spit-up stained t-shirts and bird’s nest hair every day in the mirror can seriously affect your head.  What kept me floating through my anxiety attacks and phases of depression is what I call the ‘sisterhood of motherhood’. Nope, it’s not a cult or something but these are the few people who were and are available for me to fall back on. These are the people who have always pinged, called, dropped even and even called my husband to check on my wellbeing. So what if I wore the same pants three days in a row? So what if the house looked like a mini hurricane had just worked its way through? So what if the children were BAWLING all day? They didn’t leave me alone. They pulled me through most of the difficult times in the past year and they are the reason I am writing this.

Kindly do me a favor and read through below.

If you know a woman who has birthed a child, for the first time or the millionth (not possible, unless she is Kunti), please do this:

  1. Check on her. Even if you are sitting in a cinema, just ping her and say ‘hey! I am at this movie that’s totally crappy. I wish you had been here, we would have laughed our derrieres through this!’. She can’t make it for the movie, but she just wants to know that she isn’t forgotten.
  2. Offer to help. Even if she’s as ridiculous as me to be sinking up till the neck but still refuse help. Offer nevertheless.
  3. Visit her once a while. Yeah, most times will be nap times or boob-times, but you will know that she feels great after a visit. Perked up, actually.
  4. Involve her. Even if she isn’t coming tequila downing on Saturday night with you, she’d like to know. Hey, everyone likes to feel a bit important.
  5. Be grateful for the times she’s helped you and been by your side. Don’t let her down when she needs you. Friends happen once and remain through ebbs & flows of time. They aren’t momentary. If they are, then they are just acquaintances.

Really, this is more than just about me. This is about not letting a mom who is already exhausted, feel further like crap. She would be better off without wondering why there were plans being made without her or why none of the friends from before (not you, my 4th standard ‘bench buddy’. I still hate you :P) have checked on her. Every woman deserves better and the least you can do, is send in some good vibes, right?

Of course, the good vibes do mean that she will be super teary-eyed when you give her a hug and might bake breads and cakes at midnight just to show you how much it means to her. But if you don’t do it now, you will never be able to do it again. Not to her, at least.

Do it for your sisterhood of motherhood. Stick around, don’t let go.

~ The Lazy Parent

Are you happy?

My husband gently asks me ‘are you happy?’ when we are at my in-laws’. I know that it is his most subtle way of checking if there is a bomb waiting to explode a.k.a. wife ready to turn Chandramukhi. It is such a strange question, this ‘are you happy?’

 

Happiness to my husband would be bagging that deal with the super fussy client; to my mother, it would be slightly better vision and money for her medication; to my son it would be limitless supply to biscuits without Amma staring at him; to Isha, it must be unending access to the boob. But to me, the real definition of happiness right now, as  of the 7th of September 2017, would be sitting in a plush soft white bed of a hotel, with food on one side (brownies would be good), Grey’s Anatomy marathon on the TV, chilled beer on the other side and a spa appointment shortly. ALL of this without children, husband, suitcase, diaper bags or laptops. Happiness is a very subjective term and trying to be ‘completely happy’ will only result in prolonged search for it and thereby, frustration.

 

For years now, I have had an ideal image of happiness in my head. This this and this would make me happy, I would think to myself, sipping filter coffee. But now, even an hour without interruption, pooping without someone (3 feet tall) banging on the door or sleeping without having to look like a tossed noodle is good by me.

 

So, am I saying it is impossible to be happy to the greatest extent? No. I am saying amp the happiness quotient slowly. If I looked back at myself in 2007 and compared that version of me to the one currently, I definitely am in a much happier place. Note: happier, not happiest. I think the –est version would not be possible as a one stop destination. It’s not like saying I will run a 5km marathon and be done. Then, your head (the in house devil’s advocate) will ask ‘5 done, why not the 10?’ and so you will keep going from point to point, trying to finally finish the ‘connect the dots to attain happiness’ game. Thing is, the dots don’t end and neither do they lead to a complete picture. Happiness is a journey and you better be prepared. How?

 

  1. Set expectations for yourself only. No point expecting your MIL to send you a friendship day card or your dog to toilet train overnight.
  2. Weigh your situation. You want to lose weight by walking, but who will take care of the kids while you go cross country walking? Plan for the doable instead. Wake up an hour or so earlier and do suryanamaskars in your living room. Same effort, different method.
  3. Treat yourself occasionally. Buy yourself a bag, a new shade of lipstick, go out for a massage or just load an extra scoop of ice cream in your bowl as you binge watch some series. (yes, a lot of my life revolves around food :P)
  4. Keep a backup plan. If something does not make you happy, but has to be done nevertheless what can you do to minimize the teeth grinding frustration? I negotiate something out of such situations. I do A if you can let me do B or if XYZ isn’t asked of me.
  5. Remember that happiness is relative. Unlike when you were a chain-smoking rebellious teenager who didn’t have to care about the next person reacting to your showdown, the married version of you is invisibly attached to other human beings, no matter how annoying they are. So, if throwing a tantrum makes you feel better, it might make your husband feel uncomfortable and thereby give you a prolonged evening with a sullen faced man-baby. Not worth it.
  6. Remind people of what makes you unhappy. If possible, avoid such situations totally. I have mastered the art of widening my eyes so much, that suddenly they look like dartboards. I don’t like, I don’t do. Simple.
  7. Konmari the shit out of unhappy stuff in your life. Spark fire if you have to, but get out of that Facebook group, WhatsApp club and email subscription if it as much as makes you twitch with uneasiness. Not needed. EVER!
  8. Keep sugary treats accessible. I become a monster if there isn’t something sweet to pop into my mouth accessible. Which is probably why I am grumpy at my in-laws’ (lolz) but these sugary pieces of guilt calm you down instantly and then you can just think better.
  9. Find a hobby that does not need 100% attention. Find something that doesn’t need 100% attention but works well to cheer up your spirit. Cooking and books do that to me. Crochet comes after.
  10. Taking lines from the Def Leppard number – walk away if you want to. Its okay if you need to. Happiness lies in not exposing yourself to something you think causes unhappy feelings. I don’t read the news these days. Reading news makes me unhappy. Likewise, I don’t talk to some people these days. You get the gist! 😉

 

Happiness is very subjective and each one of us finds happiness in small things. I am not going Zen on you saying ‘look at the butterfly and its wings. Ah! Happiness’ I am saying set realistic expectations and also please don’t expect others to make you happy. Unless you are paying them 😉

 

So, how do you keep your momtastic life happy? I would really like to know!

~ The Lazy Parent