Category: Parenting

Slowing down

Slowing down

This past week has been one of the busiest, not just for me but for the children as well. After the rather lazy Diwali vacations we were all struggling to come to terms with our schedules. The weekend promised to be even busier what with the children’s hobby classes, a PTM to go to (which takes up all morning with some 10 to 12 teachers to be met) and two birthday parties.

My head was reeling as I tried to schedule pickup and drop timings for both the children while also trying to make a few hours to help them with their studies and also adjust the maid-timings!

My SIL called up to chat and raved about a must go-to exhibition that she’d spent three hours browsing through. She offered to accompany me if I could make time over the weekend. I am rather reluctant for such a plan on a busy weekend but this time I was sorely tempted. A quick mental check and I figured I could squeeze it in.

A little later, however, on an impulse, I cancelled the trip. Yeah I flip-flop a lot.

Sure enough, as I picked up H from his guitar class, the exhibition had lost all its charm even though barely half the day was through.

Instead of running home to let the maid in, I called and instructed her to get the keys from the neighbour and took H off for a coffee/drink at a close by cafe. I was done with the driving around. I ordered a huge Latte while he got himself a tall glass of Iced Tea. There was still an hour before N had to be picked up and so we settled down for some one on one conversation.

We talked about our tentative move to a new house next year. He said he’d miss his classmate who lived close by and we planned future play dates. We discussed his teacher’s comments at the PTM that he needed to mix with other children apart from his two closest buddies. He told me about his much-hated football coach who had been nasty yet again to another friend of his.

We got back relaxed and in good time to pick up N. Not going to that exhibition proved to be one of the best decisions I made.

There was a time I would load up my day with a list of things to do and would go through it systematically. At the end of the day the ticks on that list brought a huge sense achievement.

However, I can no longer do that.

I find I cannot go through a list of back-to-back tasks as easily as I used to. Click To Tweet

The physical effort might not be too much but the mental effort of not just planning but also of getting the children ready, the constant calling out to them, of sorting their hundred tiny disagreements and listening to and solving their myriad problems is exhausting. And so I’ve learnt to take things easy, to slow down.

As we drove back home the image that remained with me was of H carrying the tray with our drinks, his tongue stuck out as he concentrated on not letting them spill. Nothing I’d have found at the exhibition would have been as precious.

 

 

Linking up with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

Make time for a one-on-one with your child

It was N who reminded me that one activity on her list of ‘things to do after exams’ was pending. With just a weekend left for school to reopen we are struggling to get through said list. She had labelled this activity ‘N and mama day’. That reminded me of my resolve to set aside separate ‘we time’ for each child. Despite my best intentions that hasn’t happened frequently enough.

Though we try hard to look out for both of them, they do end up sharing a lot more than just their room. Individual attention is not always possible.

Why it is so tough

Even if you have a single child you might like to think about how much time you set aside to spend with him or her alone, away from your gadgets and chores, when you give the child your complete attention doing something he or she enjoys as much as you do. With two children (or more) it becomes even more difficult to make time for each one separately.

First, there are practical issues, specially in a nuclear family like mine where another family member isn’t around to be with the other child. Then there’s the fact that H and N suffer from a huge case of FOMO only and only when the other sibling is involved. So handling the ‘why not me?’ is hard.

However, they are growing up

…which is a great thing because they’re old enough to be left alone. Their interests are becoming more defined and diverse and they’re getting less clingy.

That they still clamour for alone time with me is extremely gratifying. It also makes me ever so aware of the time when they won’t want me around at all and reminds me to make the most of this time.

We are able to hold more meaningful conversations and share deeper secrets. That makes talking-to them ever so satisfying. Oh, they have plenty of secrets to share. You’d be surprised about the things they tell me when we’re alone. I have to remind myself constantly to keep my face impassive and my comments non-committal but It really is a lot of fun.

Also, I am hoping these moments will be the building blocks for the time when they will really need advice or support for serious issues as they enter their teens.

Here are a few more reasons why a one-on-one is such a great idea.

Why one-on-one time with each of your children is a great idea Click To Tweet

It is the best time to share secrets

If I were to name one single reason for alone time this would be it. One might think siblings, specially twins, would share their deepest darkest secrets with each other. Not true. I find they open their hearts much more readily when they are alone with me. We’ve talked about troublesome teachers and bullying coaches, heartbreak over lost friendships and all kinds of real and imagined insults.

It gives them a sense of ‘self’

Since when the children were babies I’ve encouraged them to be their own selves, to not be clubbed as two parts of a whole. Alone time reinforces the fact that as a parent I appreciate them separately for what they truly are.

It is great for their self-esteem

..because for that half hour or one hour they have mine or The Husband’s complete attention. And that tells them how important they are.

It helps ease off sibling rivalry

Individual attention takes away the need for them to fight for it. Oh it’ll be ages before they admit it, even to themselves. Don’t we all grow up believing our parents love the other sibling more? However, I am hoping once they realise they don’t have to fight for our attention the edge shall wear off their rivalry.

It is extremely relaxing as a parent

..because this is the one time I can agree or disagree with that one child without worrying about appeasing the other. It’s a huge relief to focus on one child’s needs, his triumphs and failures even if it is for a little while only. Also, I’m not sure this holds for everyone but my children are the soul of decency when they’re separated from their twin. They offer to carry my bags, aren’t fussy about food, pick up thoughtful gifts for the other one and even refuse a second helping of ice-cream!

And so we’ll be heading out to the mall for some girl-time. After all that ‘Things to do after exams’ list is sacrosanct.

Do you make an effort to spend a one-on-one time with your child? What’s your favourite ‘together’ activity?

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

Candlelight dinners and other diversions

It’s that time of the year again when the twins start to dabble in all of their long-forgotten interests and hobbies. Nope, it isn’t vacation time – it’s exam time.

Remember this post I did last year?

Just as the exam dates drew close N decided she had to have a candle-light dinner…. at home, mercifully. She collected all the candles from around the house and lit them up, switched off all the lights and the three of us huddled around the dining table peering at our plates in semi-darkness.

If I ever complained that The Husband never asked me out for a candlelight dinner, this was the time to send out an apology. And a heartfelt thank-you to Thomas Edison. Seriously, candlelight dinners are over-rated. It’s worse if you’re in the middle of the monsoon season unless of course, you like your food seasoned with a bunch of fluttering moths.

So there I was, trying to figure out whether that black thing in my dal was a jeera or a keera, while thinking how soon I could get the children back to the study table without hurting N’s rather delicate feelings, which become even more fragile during exams.

H however, had no such compunctions. In true sibling tradition, he declared he hated the whole idea and went around the room switching on the lights while N ran after him switching them off. When I finally got them to sit down he resorted to saying things like, “I cannot see your Ffface’ and that he was too ‘Fffaar fffrom the light’ and that ‘we must never do this again in Fffture’ and kept blowing out the candles while N kept re-lighting them.

I gave up all hope of them studying that evening.

Then N decided she wanted to knit

For a long time she has been mildly fascinated with the idea of knitting. Now suddenly she wants knitting needles and also that I teach her how to go about it. I probably would have gone looking for the needles except I have no clue where to find them. Or for that matter how to teach her. Whoever knits these days?

.. and they’re ‘giffing’ 

I’m not sure that’s a real word but here’s how one goes about it – You pick a word or a phrase, couple it with an expression and repeat it over and over and over again till you drive everyone crazy. As if WhatsApp wasn’t bad enough I have real-life gifs walking around the house saying things like ‘Freedom, I want freedom!’

via GIPHY

..and they’re cooking up spells

They jump out from corners brandishing ‘wands’ and shouting out never-heard-before spells. ‘Magnifera Indica’ screams N and H replies with a ‘Triticum vulgare’, which sounded scarily like Valar Morghulis and I wondered where they’d heard that Game of Thrones line. As it turned out they were simply practicing scientific names of fruits and animals. Those  were mango and wheat respectively! Such a relief! Though the shouting still gets to me.

Finally, H decided he wanted to make comics

…to make science easy for other children,’ he said. All his comics have a rather grisly theme – an insectivorous plant-eating up an insect or a lion eating up a deer (I think) as part of a food chain. If he ever does want to take this up as a profession, he will certainly need an illustrator.

 

We’re at the fag end now and I’m hoping we’ll get through with my nerves intact. Keep the prayers coming.

 

Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

A happy sidekick

A happy sidekick

This past weekend I was demoted from my undisputed seat as the main villain to a very contented sidekick. But I’m getting ahead of myself – let me explain.

The children’s exams are in progress – they go on for three whole weeks. During all of that time, I transform into the main villain (or vamp, if you like to nitpick) of their lives.

With the long weekend, The Husband came home and rather unsuspectingly,  offered to help them with their Math, which he is quite good at.

Since he’s out most of the time he has no clue that being good at something and teaching that same something to two reluctant and distracted tweens who have much else going on in their lives and who do not have ‘exams’ in the top 10 or even 20 places of their priority list, are two very different things.

Anyhow not one to refuse a good thing when I see it, I handed over the reins to him with a heart full of gratitude.

It started off pretty well. The children were on their better behaviour and The Husband was all enthu too. However ten minutes into the lesson and N had already visited the washroom twice while H had his head stuck in the refrigerator complaining, ‘We never have anything interesting to eat’ – yeah, twice within ten minutes.

All the while the poor man sat twiddling his thumbs ready to walk them through their LCMs and HCFs, his enthusiasm waning rapidly. I could see where this was headed.

I hustled H back to the study table only to find he had no exercise book and his pen had run out of ink. Off he went looking for them.

Meanwhile, N was still in the washroom. ‘I think I have an upset stomach’, she announced when she finally stepped out, suspiciously redolent with talcum and cream, not at all looking like someone whose stomach wasn’t in perfect working order. When The Husband pointed out that she didn’t look unwell, she answered with profound wisdom that her stomach was not well on the inside. ‘It doesn’t show, you know,’ she explained.

H meanwhile had returned with a pen, which turned out to be N’s and if you have two children you’ll know where that is going. The LCM and HCF were quite forgotten as The Husband focussed on maintaining peace while clutching onto his fast evaporating patience.

I didn’t blame him one bit when the lid finally blew off. And at that exact moment I was displaced from my main villain’s seat and relegated to a sidekick’s place – a much-preferred sidekick with a very soft heart, I might add. Like a faithful sidekick, I thoroughly enjoyed adding my two bits here and there, ‘Listen to papa’, ‘Get your own pen, please’ and so on without raising my blood pressure one tiny notch.

Half an hour later, peace had descended, the children though sulking still, were getting along with their sums while The Husband begged me for a cup of tea because ‘his throat was all dry.’

I have to admit handling the children isn’t half as bad when one doesn’t have to do it himself/herself. In fact, it can be quite an enjoyable thing, funny even, if you’re watching the whole ‘performance’ from the sidelines.

 

PS: I didn’t even know I had a sadistic streak. I swear I had no clue till this weekend.

PSS: We still have another week to go, The Husband’s gone and I’m back in the main villain’s seat. Pray for me, please.

 

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Linking up with the Write Tribe Problogger October 2017 Blogging Challenge #writebravely #writetribeproblogger

 

and with Mackenzie at Reflections from Me #mg

Am I doing it right?

Am I doing it right?

This post is a Tangy Tuesday Pick at Blogadda

Once upon a time I used to be this easy person, happy to drift along whichever way life took me with the Husband for company of course. I was passionate about my work and had plenty of work-friends. We went out, frequented food festivals, attended plays, watched films, and browsed exhibitions. A lot of it was part of my job and things couldn’t have been better.

We never bothered with a master-plan for life. And it didn’t really matter.

Once we decided to have children, that changed. We had to have a plan, we had to make decisions, not just for ourselves but also for two other people and I found myself stumbling around in the dark, unsure, unprepared.

It was terrifying. It is terrifying.

Parenting is like handing over a company to a trainee with no experience and no option of quitting. Click To Tweet

Two companies in my case! And so very diverse ones at that :-).

There I was, expected to excel at the most important job of my life with only my instinct to guide me and the whole world judging me. Is that crazy or what?

Not to worry, I told myself, and got on with the task, with bits of advice from doctors and counsellors, family and friends. Soon, the bits grew into a deluge that threatened to drown me. It’s like the story of the man, the boy and the donkey. There really was no one right way.

The first few years I thought it was the physical demands of motherhood that were the toughest – the unending feeding, cleaning, boiling bottles and the long sleepless nights. I was wrong, for that was only temporary.

What didn’t change, hasn’t change even now, is the constant doubt, the indecision and the big question – am I really up to this task of turning babies into decent adults? That, is the hardest part of parenting.

The hardest thing about parenting is never being sure if one is doing it right. Click To Tweet

It begins with: Is the baby waking up too frequently because I use cloth nappies for him? And conversely: Did he get that rash because I chose diapers instead of cloth nappies?
Then : Will my baby grow up to become clingy because I opted for co-sleeping? Or Will he feel deserted because I let him sleep in the crib?
Is she refusing to eat solids because I introduced them too late? Or did she take a dislike to them because it was too early and she wasn’t ready for them?
Am I destroying his spirit because I am too strict or will he grow up spoilt because I’m too lenient?
Am I pushing her too much or am I not pushing her enough? Should I lend a hand or should I let him figure it out himself?
Will I distance my teen if I am too strict? But then how do I ensure he is safe?Should I be a parent to my child or should I be a friend?

And then there are the big ones:
Am I doing enough?
Could I have done more?
Am I doing it right?
Should I have done it differently?

Even after a decade of being a mom somedays, specially on the bad days, I am badgered by these fruitless ‘What iffs’ and there really are no answers.

The thing to do then is to tell myself the one thing I am absolutely hundred percent, sure of – No one loves my children more than I do. And that is the beginning of convincing myself that I am doing the very best I can.

How can I not?

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Linking up with Deepa and  Amrita for #MondayMommyMoments.
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