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Finding ‘Inner Piece’

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Each morning when I leave for work, clutching my boi who is to be dropped to playschool — I make sure that have a good look (almost appreciative) at my living room, clean wooden floors and empty table tops. “Your space is clean, Momma,” I tell myself as I exit.

Every evening, when I turn the key on my door, I know what will greet me — visibly tired looking grandparents lounging on the sofa, sipping their evening tea, a-fresh-from-nap-and-thus-a-very-active toddler who has strewn his blocks (all shapes and sizes), books and some wooden alphabets all across the living room. I can barely see the floor somedays. I get the creeps. As I scoop my boi up and do my routine kissy-huggy, all that my eyes capture and transmit to brain is ‘this cleanup will be a killer.

So each night, before I tuck myself and boi in bed, sorting the wooden blocks, magnetic ones, odd pages of boi’s favorite picture books, scooping missing pieces from under the sofa/TV cabinet have now become part of my daily ritual. I can’t go to bed when my living room or boi’s room is not organised to it’s original state. In fact, if I had my way then I would eliminate all these darned blocks from my home but sadly, they are an integral part of growing up (and a steady route to turn mommy into a mumbling hag). Arts & crafts, and construction/building play  — I’m told — are ways for children to express their creativity, encourages focus and concentration, and develops fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination. It is said to allow children feel proud of themselves and gain a sense of mastery after they have created something. Perhaps flinging the blocks too has some deep psychological impact — only positive I hope.

Call me crazy but everytime I see my child throwing his stuff around, I fast forward the scene to envision an adult version of my child living with his partner, and throwing his stuff about with no regards about cleaning it up. It is cringeworthy. I want to raise a happy thoughtful boi who will grow into caring and considerate man.

“If a child is old enough to get out a toy to play, she/he is old enough to put it away.”

Now this sounds logical on paper but believe me it doesn’t always work. I have tried singing songs to have my boi join me in cleaning up, tried to cajole him with “fun stuff we would do” post-cleanup, and even tried scolding. It does not work. Finding those inner pieces sitting under the sofa or cupboards is going to be my nemesis.

UPDATE: I ordered big covered stowaway bins from Groupon and they have arrived! I am taking the easier way out, hereon. Stashing the toys in one bin, favourite books in another and current favourite blocks in third one. Boi will be given one bin at a time, without overwhelming him with too many things to play at once while encouraging his creative play.

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It’s All About Survival

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He’s 2.4 years old and occasionally that ‘sweet agreeable baby’ whom I love to LOVE. But then comes this ‘wilful toddler’ to surface that leaves me wondering if this boi was switched at birth. This screaming “thing” is not mine — or that’s the public expression I wear.

Let me tell you upfront that there are no guidebooks/ blogs out there to help you with YOUR child — just like they say no 2 pregnancies/childbirth are alike. You will stumble through pitfalls of toddlerhood like “should I be using timeouts?”; “what’s the best response when my toddler is flat on his back screaming on the floor at Toys R Us?”; “when he thinks spraying his drink from his mouth is a fun thing!”

Think ‘Survival’, find the nearest Exit and BOLT.

I have locked horns (pointlessly) with the boi. I have tried reasoning with the screaming child (in the most ridiculously sweet motherly tone I could muster) while my ‘logical adult gauge’ shot through the roof of my head. I have tried cajoling him when he insists riding every Lift/Elevator in a mall on a loop. NOTHING WORKS.

What follows, instead is tear-works (that can melt) and makes her want to claw her way back to some cave. It’s no secret to my blog readers or friends, that I’m barely scrapping through this parenthood thing. It’s one heck of a job (not in a good way), metaphorical paybacks and severe mental paranoia at all times.

I figured — on my own — that anger too is a valid emotion, just like happiness. Mommy anger too is a justified thing, after all I have been a logical adult for 30 years (and couple more) before motherhood. Sometimes it feels like my squalling kid is stuck in a screaming vortex long after the issue has been resolved. I often wonder if he even remembers what he’s screaming and carrying on about and that when I try to marshal great patience, stamina, creativity, determination  — and a robust sense of humor to help me get me out mommy anger mode.

I am not sure if this will work for anyone else but … consider it my contributory drop in the ever-growing mommy tear ocean. If you do end up losing your cool, don’t beat yourself up, just try to use better tactics next time. It’s a tough gig, Mommy.

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Flu, fevers, vomits and nose goop in all forms

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The title disgusts you? Well, I am living those moments and cleaning all kinds of goop, shades of vomit with my hands (well, even the spouse is doing his fair bit of goop-vomit-poop cleaning). And that — according to people around me — is to become an inherent part of my+spouse’ life or till the time boi is schooling.

Boi has started play school early this year and with that inaugurated never-ending-series of infections and high-low fever bouts every week. Medical bills are on the rise, and mommy’s BP too. But more than the high fever and random infections we are fighting everyday, it is the sight of a sickly child sitting listlessly on bed that bring heartache.

And I believe that this is a pretty predicted turn of events for every parent. Yet, there are no books, no guidelines, no friendly warnings that can prepare you for the gross-ness of things one has to do/face/handle as a parent. Adding to my list of woes is the fact that a sick child means reduced appetite (a restricted one too), leaving very few options for this mommy to whisk before rushing out for work.

Hat’s off to parents who do this multiple number of times (read more than one child) … You guys are Super Heroes in my book.

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When I stopped trying to do it all…

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I see acquaintances on Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp making elaborate plans for weekends. Afterall, they are meant to be two days of pleasure, of not having to do anything you don’t fancy. Right?

Wrong. Weekends for me meant 2x times more pressure – social, parental, personal and domestic – to do something “fun.” I actively dread these two off days. Why? Beacuse, the mommy and wife in me, tried doing it all with military precision and ended up frustrated, angry, guilty, confused, super-tired and demotivated. I was annoyed with my husband. I was angry at everyone around me.

I am a Leo mom (zodiac sign) and suffer from a very bad habit of trying to do everything by myself with all my heart and with my head high in the sky. Motherhood is my biggest project (ongoing one) till date and I constantly battle with its growing ‘to-do’ list. To ease the chaos in my life, I tried creating a highly detailed and concise schedule for everything. I crashed and burned, again.

So, what’s different now?

Do a lifestyle audit on your schedule. Are there too many things being jammed into a short period of time — so much so that it’s practically unavoidable for you to go crazy?

I have redefined the term ‘Good Mom’ in my head. I think, a good mother isn’t necessarily a person who gets the most activities done in the least amount of time. Many moms, like me, get over-scheduled because they feel they have to be the most efficient, most giving, most sacrificing, highest achieving, “best” mother they can possibly be. (Anyways, I sucked at all of these) But moms don’t give themselves any downtime and that does no one any good. We want to excel in everything – including socializing, child rearing, domesticity and the works but it also stresses us to our roots.

My weekend stress sprang from my conflicting needs i.e. wanting a social life and a tidy house at the same time. Conflicting, right? So, last several weekends, I have tried to delegate my set of ‘to-dos’ or overlook the ‘cleanliness issues’ in order to spend some quality time with family and my toddler while giving myself an opportunity to relax. This also includes the accepting help — as humbly as possible, to manage miscellaneous mundane chores and a squirming toddler — without feeling guilty. I also had to control myself from hovering or micro-managing a task, once delegated to another family member.

My biggest struggle (even today) is finding time on weekends – the number one issue that I believe all working moms need to tackle. In past, whenever I found time to do any non-child-related activities, I ended up feeling super guilty while doing so. In my heart, weekends were meant to be dedicated to my toddler and family since on working weekdays, I had little energy to spare. Any minute I spent on my own led me to the Mommy Guilt Land.  Today, I do not allow guilt to take over. I learnt to mitigate it.

On Weekdays, my “being mom time” and “me time” go hand in hand. I take my boy out for a walk every evening (after I’m back from work). I make it a point to listen to my selected collection of audiobooks, music, or anything that will help me unwind, on my smartphone. Once at the park, its playtime for both boy and me.

On Weekends, I HAVE to have my time outs. Be it watching a movie in solitude, or tucking in a relaxed dinner with spouse fussing over the toddler, or walking all around the city, or perhaps just being out with family/friends & letting all those bath-nap schedules go to hell. I had to cross some things off my schedule permanently because I CAN’T DO IT ALL and it helped a good deal in cutting back my weekend stress. Occasionally, I also make an appointment with myself, get out of the house, away from everyone and do what makes me happy.

What on earth was I trying to prove by being a dedicated mother on weekends, a zealous house cleaner and family schedule organiser? Was I trying to prove to myself or to the world that I could be a Supermom, with Red Bull energy levels?

I don’t know.

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Learning a thing or two from my toddler

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Before this particular mommy phase began, I thought I knew the latest toddler-rearing theories (picked up from my elder sister who has capably managed two kids on her own — in the US — away from all ‘sorts’ of help Indian mothers bank upon). But I had grossly underestimated the practical challenges of raising a feisty toddler like mine.

My boi has just begun to test his independence and seems to be experimenting each day how far he can loop me before being reined in. Experts — and by that I mean fellow mommies — claim that this is normal and exactly what the bulk of their kind do at this age. Some babies, I am told, began testing the mommy’s limits as early as age 1.
*slow clap for those brave mommies*

Coming back to the subject of my boi — who is beginning to assert himself, can communicate likes-dislikes by shrieking, & act independently (as much as he can) — it’s beginning to hit me that I have to change gears as mommy and step back a little.

Children’s wilfulness and opposition can easily frustrate parents. It is hard to accept, at times, that a previously biddable baby could grow to toddlerhood and be so intent on doing exactly the opposite of what we want, or what is safe.

Yea, so the above is exactly what has happened in my household. One day ago, he was just a baby cuddling alongside and today he’s all about walking-eating-playing as desired. Frankly there seems to be no easy way to manage toddlers.

According to a fellow mommy,

They just need lots of time and lots of hands-on guidance. We always need to be on duty when we have toddlers because they keep jumping (at times literally) from activity to activity.

My boi (perhaps like every other toddler) has simply the shortest interest span. Give him a colourful book and he will happily turn a few pages before it’s abandoned for some thing else. On weekends, I have to tune myself closely to his world by making it safe (keeping hot pots out of reach, lifting electrical cords out of the way, locking cupboards that contain precious items) and by physically helping-directing his actions.

Be patient. This will eventually pass.

Or so tells me everyone. Right now, I am not so sure that this independent streak of my boi will ever pass.

And since he insists on opening kitchen drawers each time he is there, so I had to do some extra work too. Now all  I don’t have to scream “No!” all the time, boi is happy to explore as much as he wants, nothing gets broken although there’s some extra amount of bending to retrieve lids and flat vessels abandoned under the furniture.

I have to do some extra practice of resisting the temptation to take over and do everything myself to save time and frustration. Sample this: A bag of building blocks was recently added to boi’s play stuff. And while he seems to be getting a hang of putting the blocks together, it is no fun for mommy to keep retrieving blocks from all corners. So, I tried to teach him to put blocks back in the bag and this he has learnt but insists that on putting one block at a time. It’s very hard for me to control the urge to quickly shove all blocks back in the bag but I refrain myself from doing what is boi’s work.

Toddler-hood is surely going to make me a better ‘restrained’ human being if not a better mommy. Sigh.

 

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Laughing babies are intoxicating

There’s almost no bad mood that a laughing baby can’t cheer up and, therefore, it’s no surprise that laughing baby videos are among the most viral videos on the Web. Over the last couple of weeks, a number of new laughing babies have gone viral on YouTube, inspiring us to put together this list of 10 adorably hilarious laughing baby videos. Prepare yourself for cute-ness overload!