WHY IS IT SO DIFFICULT TO BE A MOM THESE DAYS?

We talk about how our mothers had brought us up so well and with so much ease. We wonder how they do it. Our grandmothers had 5-8 kids and we struggle so much with the 1 or 2 we have. How did they do it??

I have worked so closely with moms for the past few years that I think I finally have an answer to this age old question. Why is modern mothering so tough??

Lets start from the beginning.

Our grandmothers- mostly uneducated, had 5-6 siblings of their own, got married off before the age of 14, never worked for a living, single handily managed house and kids, lived in a joint family and went on to bear 5-8 kids of themselves.

Our mothers- educated but mostly for matrimonial purposes, had 5-6 siblings too, married at the legal age but not beyond 22 or 23 years of age, some worked for a living, having a maid post marriage was becoming common, the rise of nuclear families had started in their era and they usually went on to have 2-3 kids.

Modern moms- highly educated, have 1 or 2 siblings, marriageable age is being pushed to over 30 now, almost all work or have worked at some point, maids have taken over most of the household work, majority live in nuclear families and they have 1 kid since raising two seems impossible these days.

What this shows is how society has changed by leaps and bounds in the past 3 generations. The condition of women in our grandmothers’ era was dismal. Women needed to be empowered. And rightly so.

Denying education to girls, child marriage and the extreme physical labour women had to do at home while bearing 5-8 children is reflected in the fact that the average life expectancy of a women pre independence was just around 30 years!! Also since children were born to underage mothers the infant mortality rate was as high as 280 which means 280 out of 1000 kids born used to die. This picture sure was grim. That is why post independence we see a lot of rise in causes related to women health, women empowerment, rapid decline of child marriages and steep rise in women education. As a result, in the modern age life expectancy is around 70 years and infant mortality rate is as low as 30!

While all this really is nice, how is it related to my post about making modern mothering so tough? All these changes especially women empowerment campaigns have rescued women and allowed them the freedom to move out of their houses and contribute to society. But the modern form of women empowerment it is taking away the respect women should be given for being women.

What is a woman?

Think about it! What is the difference between men and women? The difference is only in the biological roles of reproduction. Hence our bodies are made differently for these roles. No difference other than that.

So true women empowerment is when women are accepted as women and allowed their differences in biological role.

How is it empowerment when working women have to pump milk in their office bathrooms so that their child gets breastmilk? How is it empowerment when a new mom cant have a work from home option and leave a tiny 6 month old behind? How is it empowerment when big offices with huge women workforce don’t have daycare facilities in-house? How is it empowerment when an educated woman is ridiculed for giving up everything and becoming “just a mother?” How is it empowerment when a woman is shamed for breastfeeding without covering up?

We have taught the modern woman that respect comes only from visiting cards, salary slips and long working hours! Because that’s how it comes for men.

So what we have done is that we have rescued women from home but have enslaved her in a cubicle now!

And thats why it is not easy being a mom anymore. You are not allowed to be a mom. Because being “just a mom” is not a good social status. You have to be a corporate honcho, a social media queen and a crusader for women rights. You have to be everything to be respected in society.

Thats why it was easier for our moms to be moms. Because in the past women were allowed to give birth and be mothers. The entire household would make arrangements for her early mothering days to be comfortable, she was given the space and time to breastfeed, she was allowed to be completely invested in the early childhood of her child. So yes, women then did not have Google or parenting blogs to read. But they had a very strong instinct to be moms. Because there was no shame in being a mom. Nowadays “ghar baith ke bacche paalna” (be at home and raise kids) is almost a curse word!

How is it women empowerment when the most crucial biological role provided to you which defines your biology as a woman is undermined, overlooked and ignored? Working or not. Being alone or in a joint family. Having a full time maid or no help. These are all secondary. A woman’s most crucial role and contribution to society is birthing a child and then raising him/her to be a good person. Till women are not respected for this miraculous job, there is no use of any other form of empowerment.

So I plead women all over the world. Please raise your voice to demand respect for being a mom and for all roles associated with it. It doesn’t matter if you are working or stay at home. If you have a boy or a girl. If you have one or many kids. You are a mom. And you should be put up on a pedestal and applauded because you are doing the most important and rewarding job!

The day we allow women to be moms in peace having children wont be such a burden, birthing will not be associated with so much anxiety and raising kids would be a joy and not a liability.

In Susan Hallum’s words “I don’t understand when a woman says she is just a mom. Remind me again…which other job on the planet is more important?”

For all those who ask what moms do all day at home

All moms, especially stay at home moms, have had to go through the mundane interrogation of being questioned about what is it that you exactly do all day? Whether its non-moms or older moms who have forgotten their times or genuinely concerned friends who miss you at the social events that you were earlier the life of- we all have been asked that one horrible question at some point or the other:

“But what is it that you are doing all day?”

Of course with a seemingly independent toddler, a house maid for help and growing conveniences to cut time in the kitchen and other tasks it does seem that we should have much more time than we claim as moms. Probably that’s why we do get asked this question once our kids cross the 3 year mark. They are in school in the morning, with friends in the evening and sleeping at night. What is it that stay-at-home moms really do? Why is it that working moms still want to hurry back home to their toddler?

Well let me explain it to all the ignorant- those who ask out of concern and even those who ask out of contempt.

Mothering is not only about cleaning diapers and feeding the kid. That anybody can do. Even a non-mom. If I tell my maid to change diapers or I tell my mom to feed my toddler when I am away- the task will be done- equally well done as I would. Probably even better. My daughter seems to have all her eating tantrums with only me!

Mothering is not about keeping a height-weight chart or about vaccinations either. Yes, as a mom it is our responsibility to take care of the physical health and growth of our kids. But it’s not the only defining role of motherhood.

Mothering is also not about getting admissions in the best schools in nursery. In fact, it’s the least about that! After a recent frantic conversation with a mom who had recently undergone the ordeal of admissions in a city like New Delhi, my heart did go out for her. She recollected those days with so much stress. She admitted to crying out of pressure and anxiety. I can only imagine how mammothic the task must be! Yet, I am sorry frantic mom, mothering is not about getting your kid into XYZ school either.

So what is it that I would label as the defining role of mothering?

Mothering is about shaping a human being.

Mothering is about giving a nation a citizen who is an asset.

Mothering is about giving the world an emotionally and spiritually sound individual.

Mothering is about giving the neighbourhood a great friend.

Mothering is about giving a person a great life partner someday.

Mothering is about giving a corporate a great leader.

Mothering is about giving your grandchildren a great parent.

Mothering is about giving the world a person it would be proud of!

The hate and intolerance we see around the world today could be just uprooted if we all took our priorities as mothers correct and delivered to the best of our capacity.

We would have more Picassos, Messis and Ramachandrans if the mothers knew the strengths of her toddler and what she likes to do.

No teenager would be sucked into peer pressure if he is mothered to be a strong and independent individual with a sense of good and bad.

No country would have to fear guns if the toddlers are mothered to have the sense of right and wrong.

No individual would ever think of gunning down a bar if he is mothered with love and care and attention in his toddler days.

As a great summit is being held in Turkey at a moment when humanity is ashamed of itself, I would like to give my suggestion to the world leaders who are brainstorming to come up with a way to tackle the problems of the world- if all mothers are given enough time to spend with the kids, enough respect about what they are doing and enough support to encourage them to be “just mothers”- the next generation would be alien to such atrocities and the world would become a better place- for you and for me.

(This post was first published at TOI blogs on NOv 18 2015)

Raising a perfectly imperfect child

We all strive for perfection. We all wish to be the epitome of perfection. Be it in beauty, success or relationships — we wish for a perfect life.

This seeps down into parenting too. We wish to raise perfect kids. And I feel that is one of the earliest parenting mistakes.

My blog is aimed wholly and solely at being a Nirvanama — a mother who is at ultimate peace and calm. It doesn’t aim at being a perfect mother— because alas, there is none.

I would twist the logic around and say that there should be none. If you wish to strive for something that is naturally (and physically and mathematically) impossible, you will just end up in misery.

Unknowingly, we are passing down this misery to our kids too — by trying to raise perfect kids and trying to teach our toddlers to be perfect.

Everything in his world is divided into good and bad since day one. Don’t cry because good kids don’t cry, bad kids do. Don’t get angry because good kids don’t. Don’t yell because good kids don’t.  All we are doing is programming our kids to strive to achieve the holy grail — The “Achha bachha” (the good kid).

And our little obedient toddler who clings onto every word her heroes (mom and dad) say sets out on a journey to become the ultimate achha bachha!

I am definitely not against teaching good and bad to kids. They should surely know the difference. They should definitely know the repercussions of their choice. There are some great techniques for the same that I would love to discuss in another post.

However in the effort of drilling down this fact, we as parents, tend to forget to teach one important thing — we are all made of imperfections. We all have shortcomings.

As important as it is to teach moral values, it is equally important to teach our children to have a sense of humor and laugh at their own imperfections. To be able to take their own imperfections in their own stride.

For that you have to first let them know that it’s okay to have shortcomings.

I have been open about the fact that I have the worst memory in the world. My daughter sees me tracking my phone around the house half of the time. She sees me reach the mall and realize I have forgotten to carry my wallet.

But, most importantly, she has seen me laugh at myself for it. I keep telling her how I waste my time just searching for my things. And how my things won’t be lost if I had kept them in the right place.

Is this the reason that has made her overtly cautious about keeping her things well arranged- I would never know that for sure. But I do know that for a 3-year-old, she is OCD-level organized!

I did, however, happily witness one outcome of this technique yesterday. While visiting a local Gurudwara, my daughter fell into the shallow water pit where one is supposed to wash one’s feet before entering. She was drenched wet from head to toe! Soaked completely. And while I waited for a reaction, she amazed me by laughing loudly at her public debacle. She carried herself up and visited the Gurudwara all dripping wet. She told the priest and everybody she met how funny it was and how clumsy of her to fall.

When your 3-year-old learns to laugh after a public disgrace and not get embarrassed or scared or start howling, there must be something to the technique. Isn’t it?

Yes, there are umpteen things we need to teach our kids. We have a Pandora box of knowledge and experience we wish to pass down in the best and fastest way possible. And there are equally high numbers of blogs, books and advisors which tell you about tips and tricks to transition your baby into the most successful, most intelligent and most healthy kid.

However, I would request you to make a little change and incorporate what most books forget to address- “teaching a sense of humor to your kids”. This is such a powerful technique that you shall see the results in a few day of incorporating in your active parenting.

Having a happier kid is an obvious direct outcome of this strategy. But there are many positive outcomes- you seem to reach your kid better, your kid understand you better and it’s a great teaching technique.

You shall also be addressing many issues of later years in one go that we see cropping up in teens today- frustration, peer pressure, depression and performance anxiety. These have led to an increase in teenage suicide rate and childhood depression. And all these have their root in a small and simple issue — lack of ability to accept and laugh at our own failure and shortcomings.

So, this week your task in parenting is:

“Have a sense of humor. Have the ability to laugh at yourself. And pass this on to your kid. ”

This will set you on your journey to become Nirvanama and raise a Nirvana kid.

Happy parenting!

(This post was first published at TOI blogs on oct 28, 2015)

Why being a second time mom doesn’t mean you know it all.

From the minute my home pregnancy test turned positive till the time I delivered- my second pregnancy was treated with an air of nonchalance. By both me and the people around me.

The doctor did not bother to go into details during my prenatal check ups. Because I already know it all. After all I already have a baby.

The radiologists was eerily quiet during my scans as though she had seen an alien developing inside me. When asked, she gave me a casual shrug of shoulder and said: Oh you know it all. You already have a baby.

Even I would plead guilty here. The numerous “what to expect” books and articles I had consumed like a bookworm during my first pregnancy were catching dust.

I already had a baby. I was supposed to know all that stuff anyway.

However when my second little angel came into this world I realised I knew nothing anymore. Nothing that I expected was happening. It seemed like I was a new mom who was lost in the woods! The exact same way I felt when I was handed my first born. Probably now I was even a little more lost!

Ideally it should have been easier this time. Like everyone was saying, “After all I already had a baby. I had done this before!”

While some things, like breastfeeding, were easier the second time around; there were parts of my life that were frustrating and emotionally exhausting.

Why did I feel this way then? Why was I so lost? Trying so desperately hard to keep my head above water again!

Why did I not know it all? After all I had done this before!

After much introspection I realised that the feeling of being “lost” the second time around too had its root in something I keep stressing upon in all my parenting workshops- We mother from a wrong source.

In modern mothering, society and various external factors have such an imprint in our mind that we are slowly deviating from “pure and natural” mothering. The kind that comes from instinct. We are too conditioned!

Modern mothering has become so much about height-weight charts, sleep patterns, diet charts, daily routine and timetables that we forget what really mothering is all about.

In my workshops I go by a simple thumb rule-“whatever you can be substituted in, is really not your main role as a mother. A mother is and should be un-substitutable.”

For example, a paediatrician can work out height-weight charts for your kid and comment on his growth, a dietician can design the best charts for your kid to give him optimal benefits and a good teacher can teach your toddler/child what the syllabus requires. Of course you can do it better. But, God forbid, if you cant or don’t have time-there are these professionals who can take over that aspect of your mothering.

So clearly these areas are not part of, what I like to call, “un-substitutable mothering”.

Then what makes up un-substitutable mothering? The answer to this question also holds the answer to the dilemma of the second time mom.

Mothering compromises of four main aspects- physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Physical mothering is taking care of the physical health of your child. Mental aspects include taking care of his school and grades. Emotional mothering means making your child an emotionally sound and a mentally strong person. While spiritual mothering means guiding him on his journey about universe, purpose etc.

While all aspects are important physical and mental mothering are the ones that are NOT un-substitutable. As mentioned before, physical (height-weight charts, meals etc) and mental (grades and academic performance) aspects can be well taken care of by any professional care-giver.

It is the emotional and spiritual aspects that should be on our prime duty list. Growing your kid’s attitude and a personality while kindling her spirit is the most crucial part of mothering. It is, according to me, the only thing a mother should be really worried about.

If my child is in the bottom 3 percentile in weight, then yes, I will be worried. But if she is a scared, timid child with a lack of confidence; then I have doomed her for life! A 90% height-weight chart cannot guarantee a happy confident kid, but a happy confident kid can surely guarantee a healthy child!
Do you see the difference?

And thats why as second time moms we feel lost. While we tend to go into it believing that it will be easier because we know it all, we forget that what we have experience in is actually really only the physical aspect of mothering. We know height-weight mapping, we know what diet to follow, we know how to soothe a baby to sleep, we know to identify signals of hunger, pain or sleep in the newborn. Thats about it.

However, the new baby is coming with her own unique blueprint. She is a whole new and different individual from your first born. She has her own unique set of quirks, likings, mentality, temperament, attitude and above all-a whole new unique different purpose in the fabric of this universe.

She will need to be guided differently. She will bring out new set of emotions in you. She will need to be talked to in a different way. She will need to be understood differently. You will need to become a whole new and different person than what you were with your first born.

And thats why mothering, especially the second time around, is so damn difficult! You have to metamorphose into a whole new individual to tune with your new baby. While at the same time keep going back to the individual you had metamorphosed to in the first place for your first born. And you need to keep shuffling between these two forms to meet the emotional and spiritual needs of both your kids.

Its almost like you become split personalities. You are three individuals in one packing- your own self, the one who is in tune with your first born and the one you become to understand and raise your second born.

No wonder mothering can be so difficult and upsetting sometimes.

But once you understand the real purpose of your mothering and tune in with the emotional and spiritual needs of your kids; these different personalities will come naturally to you.

So the next time your husband says he cant understand you because you have so many different sides to you, please take it as a compliment. It means you are mothering well!

(This post first appeared on TOI blogs on Aug 30th 2016)

The lines that every mother should steer clear of

“There is no harm in doing it.” “How does it matter?” “Karne mai kya farak padta hai?

These lines are usually passed around as logic to persuade someone to do something they might not be very convinced about. But these are the lines that are actually plaguing the society as we see it today. And as mothers we have more reason to be worried.

Meaningless rituals, practices, narrow-mindedness and stereotypes make their way down from generation to generation because of these lines.

Wear full sleeves clothes when you got out….how does it matter? Sleeves wont make you look ugly.

Don’t wear shorts while playing football in the field…. Will it matter if you play in your track pants?

Don’t go to the temple when you have your periods…how will it matter if you dont go for a day?

Fast on Mondays to get a good husband……. no harm in trying! Karne mai kya farak padta hai?

Enough! Please stop!

Agreed you don’t need to always wear short clothes to look sexy…..agreed that football can be played wearing a burkha too….agreed that going to the temple for a few days wont destroy my faith…..

But that’s not the logic to do these things.

Turn the reasoning on its head and you will realise how this approach is making our society stagnant and retrogressive.

You are sexualising naked arms and legs by telling your daughter  to cover up. You are objectifying her. You are not only making her feel miserable about her body but also you are also telling your 5 year old son (who happens to be listening to this conversation) that girls who wear sleeveless clothes are to be objectified and they are “asking for it.”

You are making a basic human function like menstruation look dirty and unhealthy. The reason you are here in the first place, the reason every human on this earth was conceived and created and the reason you have mothers fathers daughters sons is thanks to the woman’s reproductive system. You just made the reason behind this whole magic look disgusting, dirty and shameful. Not to add that your daughter will be “ashamed” of having her period. Over the years every 5 days in a month she will not be herself. She will also most likely miss school, college and work. You just snatched about 60 days in a year i.e. about 3000 productive days of a persons’ life (considering menopause at 50 years). Can you live 3000 days feeling miserable and ashamed of something that is natural??

And don’t get me even started on rituals and superstitions. Don’t you realise that these are business gimmicks of the millions of spiritual goons who feed on our fears and insecurities? I had written an article about when I was told to follow a particular protocol on a lunar eclipse day during my pregnancy. Senseless things like not cutting food, bathing at a particular time, not scratching myself etc were told to me as precautions. And if I dint abide by them my unborn child would have to pay via horrendous outcomes like cleft palate (twisted lip syndrome), ugly birth marks on face and what not! When I expressed my absolute horror on being told such things and advocating progressive thinking and logic; I was also given the age old blackmail of “It wont kill you! Do it for your kid’s sake. What harm is there in doing it”

There is harm.

Immense harm. If I had done those things and my daughter would be born without a cleft palate (which she anyway did!), I would have associated the two things. Years later when my daughter would be pregnant and a lunar eclipse happened to occur; I would fish out the same advice to her because I had succumbed into the pressure of my own irrational fears. And if she would have objected I would have doled out the same lines to her “Karne mai kya farak padta hai?”

By succumbing to these lines, mothers, we are passing on age old superstitions, rituals, backward thinking and many evils of the society like gender discrimination etc from one generation to the next.

So next time you feel that when will our country and society progess, please do your bit and stand up against the emotional blackmail of “no harm in trying” logic, especially as a mother.

Whatever you do should be thought out and should make sense to you. Set an example for your kids that you don’t let anybody feed on your fears. You know what you are doing. You are strong to not do things that don’t make appeal to you. You don’t care about being “odd” or “different” just because you don’t conform to popular belief.

You shall be doing the greatest service to your kids by teaching them this. You shall be cleaning society of retrogressive thinking. You shall be bringing up a generation that has risen above narrow-mindedness. You shall see many vices in the society die a natural death. Probably then we shall finally have the country of Tagore’s dream:

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

(This post first appeared on TOI blogs on May 2nd 2017)

Unconditional love

We have always been told that a mother’s love is unconditional. Bollywood movies and soap operas have squeezed every opportunity to emphasise about the greatness of moms, their sacrifices and kaise maa ke pyaar ki seema nahi hoti.

But what is unconditional love really?

Is it the fact that no matter how hard the day might have been for the mom she will still love her child?

Is it that no matter how tired she might be she will still get up to play with her baby when he asks her to?

Is it the 45 different dishes that a mom makes in the hope of her fussy eater gobbling down at least one of them?

While all the above are true when it comes to the vastness of love a mother holds for her baby, unconditional love has a greater meaning. A meaning that most of us don’t even think or know about. That meaning is different from the literal meaning of unconditional. The dictionary meaning of unconditional is:

adjective

not subject to any conditions.

synonyms: unquestioningunqualifiedunreservedunlimitedunrestrictedwholesale

So while the soap operas and movies are minting money using this literal dictionary meaning of motherhood, the true meaning lies elsewhere.

The word “unconditional love” when used in mothering can (and in fact should) mean “love that is not conditioned by society or prevalent norms.”

There are loads of examples I use during my parenting workshops that talk about this aspect of mothering. A mother can really do what is best for her child only if she is not burdened, scared or bound by what society tells her to.

Most of us can vouch for the moments when our mothering instinct and popular societal norms pulled us in different directions and left us in dilemma. Should I listen to what societal wisdom is telling me or should I go with my maternal instincts?

Always…..always…choose the latter.

Then you shall be truly in a place to think and do what is best for you child.

A son who tells you that he is gay, a daughter who wishes to be a sailor, a ADHD child who wants a fidget spinner, a kindergarten boy who refuses to cut his hair and loves his long locks, a daughter who tells you she has a crush when she is just 10, a boy who wishes to marry a girl from a different religion, a son who wants to give up his MBA and be a painter instead…….

All these circumstances call upon you to react contrary to popular societal norms and wisdom. And life is bound to throw these curve balls in your mothering journey….not once…but time and again.

Our kids are pure and like a blank slate when they are born. They don’t know and don’t care about what society tells them to. And during their journey into adulthood we stunt their dreams, hamper their spirit and force them to mould themselves according to the bottle that society wishes them to fit into.

If we wish to set our kids free and actually develop, we need to first gather the guts ourselves to think in our child’s interest first and about society later.

That day you can truly say that yes, my love for my child is unconditional!

 

(This post first appeared at TOI blogs on 8th June 2017)

7 ways to avoid anxiety when your child is unwell

A child’s health is always a cause of concern in moms. Until the age of 5, kids keep falling ill so often. And each time they do, our heart sinks and we get anxious no matter how many years into motherhood we might be.

I freak out every other day too. And its perfectly okay if you do too. There is no mother who can fight anxiety when her kid is unwell. It just creeps in. However over the years I have found some simple ways that do help to deal with your anxiety. And am sharing those with you. Hope these simple tips help you cope up with some anxiety related to your kids.

  1. Believe in the power of breastmilk: There is nothing as powerful in this whole wide world as breastmilk is. No medicine is as potent as breastmilk. No illness is beyond the reach of breastmilk. If you have an infant below 6 months of age, you can be rest assured that even if they fall ill, they will recover quickly if you are exclusively  breastfeeding them. Even later on in life, the immunity conferred to a child who has been breastfed is phenomenal. I am not saying that breastfed babies don’t fall ill. They do. But they have the capacity to recover really quick. If your baby is unwell, the breastmilk changes its composition and gets loaded with antibodies that will help your infant fight off the disease. There is now research coming up that talks about how a feedback mechanism works between your baby and your breastmilk. The minuscule amount of your baby’s saliva that touches your nipples during breastfeeding is absorbed by your body. This saliva acts as a sample for your body to check your babies health. And based on the feedback your body gets through this saliva, it changes the composition of breastmilk to help your baby fight any illness s/he might be facing. Thats the power of breastmilk! So listen to your doc when she tells you the benefit of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding and give it an honest and good try. It just works wonders.
  2. Believe in the power of water: Even if your kids have not had the luxury of 6 months of exclusive breastfeeding, its really not the end of the world. There are many other factors that will help him. Water is another miracle substance. Infants below 6 months cant have water, but you sure can. So load yourself up with lots and lots of water. Water is a magic element that can flush out any toxins from your body. And if your body is toxin-free so will be the body of your breastfeeding baby. If your kid is beyond the 6 month mark and has started water, ensuring good amount of safe drinking water through out her life will keep many diseases at bay for her too.
  3. Believe in the power of yoga: There is no age too young to start yoga. Even a 2 year old can be part of your yoga sessions and do whatever little she can. Yoga is something that will not only build a sound body but also a sound mind and soul! So there is no need to emphasise on the benefits of yoga.  If you have not started yoga. Do it now! And if your kid has not started yoga, hook her on today! It is not only a good cure for many illness but also the best prevention.
  4. Believe in the power of chant: If you are not a religious person like me you probably think of chanting as only restricted to God’s name. However, chanting is not only taking God’s name. It is about saying words that immediately bring positivity in our body, mind and soul. It could be the simple chanting of “Om” or “Hey Ram” or “Allah” or “Waheguru” or “Jesus” or whatever it is that gives you power and positivity (probably even your kid’s name!!). When down,depressed or anxious chant the word that gives you most power infinite number of times. It will surely  uplift your mood and give you the fighting attitude you need as a mom on a daily basis.
  5. Believe in the power of projection: Projection is a wonderful concept that can trick your mind into becoming happy and stress-free. Whenever your kids are unwell, cook up a mental image of the future where they are healthy and happy and playing around as they would on any given normal day. Project this image in my mind many times a day. Your mind is fooled into believing that it is the present reality. There are numerous studies and research which speaks about the power of the mind. Diseases like cancer can be cured with the power of the mind. So a child’s cough and cold is really nothing! Try projection next time your kids fall ill. You will see it works wonders. Of course, you need to truly believe in the projection you are feeding your mind. If you have an ounce of doubt in your heart, your mind wont be fooled!
  6. Believe in the power of company: Usually if we are alone we tend to get more anxious. I find calling a friend or family over if I am alone and one of my kid’s falls ill. It not only provides emotional support, it also makes trip to the hosptial/doctor easier to manage if someone is around with you.
  7. Believe in statistics: Last but not the least, when nothing seems to get my mind off my sick child and my hypochondria has got the better of me, I just believe in statistics. One of my paediatric friend once told me that out of 1000 kids coming to her usually just 1 is really unwell that requires medicines. The other kids just get well on their own even if she doesn’t prescribe any medicine. And out of 1 lakh kids coming to her just 1 is ever seriously ill to be admitted to a hospital. So, in short, if your kid falls ill one lakh times then only once do you really need to worry!! The stats are so much in your favour. Believe in them!

Of course as moms a life without anxiety is not ever guaranteed. However going through these 7 points will surely alleviate the stress you take each time your kid falls ill. And with practise, sick days wont be as depressing as they used to be!

Google Vs Mommy

Google has one of the most interesting stories about how it was set-up. Two grad students at Standord, Brin and Page, changed the way internet is used today by developing this amazing search engine. So much so that Google is now a verb.

If we don’t know the answer to something we just advise our friends to “Google it.”

Google seems to know it all!

However Google is actually just a tool. Its a web-crawler that matches your search terms with the vast data on the internet and publishes the best matches for you.

Google is a software. And like any other product, there are also ideal ways to use it to its optimum. It is not a psychic telepath who can read your mind. Nor is it an individual with a brain sitting inside your computer.

Google has some codes and programming it runs by. It searches the web based on some algorithm. To use Google to the best of its potential its good to have some working knowledge about the algorithm Google uses. For e.g., did you know that Google does not use articles (a, an, the) and conjunctions (and, if, but) in its searches. This was done to increase the speed of searching the net.

That is why typing full sentences like “How to make my 4 month old baby girl sleep through the night?” is as good as searching “ 4 month baby sleep throughout night” because finally it is these keywords that Google uses to search for your earlier long sentenced question. Needless to say using a question mark at the end of the sentence is also not going to get you better results! Unlike your husband, Google is not confused by whether you are asking or informing!

The other day I was thinking about mothering and how it shares stark similarities with Google.

Though mothering is the most natural thing that comes to us when we deliver a baby, we are also lost at many points. There are innumerable blogs, books and online resources about various aspects of mothering.

But if mothering is such a natural thing then why are parenting books and blogs one of the biggest selling businesses in the world? Why do parenting related searches top the list of internet searches?

Its because most of us don’t know the software by which mothering runs. Just like when you know Google as a software and know its codes you end up using it better than anybody else, same goes for mothering.

We are forgetting the basic rules governing mothering. We are unaware of the evolution of motherhood. We know nothing bout the wiring in mothers’ brain that guides them through the journey.

Hence we are not able to optimise this process and turn to Google for help!

Mothering is a pure skill. It is supposed to flow in you once you become a mom. Look at other mammals- dogs, cats, wolves, elephants- they all mother without Google. And they do an equally good job as us. That is why their species is surviving and is not extinct yet! So clearly you don’t need external guidance when it comes to mothering.

But then why do we? Its because we, humans, have been actually so conditioned by outwardly rules and society that we have lost touch with our pure inner self.

At some point or the other haven’t you all wished that our kids came with a manual?

Well, guess what!! They do. And its called MATERNAL INSTINCT.

Its just that we don’t tap into our instincts because the voice of our instincts gets drowned by outwardly rules, society, advice, suggestions and various other external stimulus including random posts about mothering we read on Facebook.

All the books and searches we do will be in vain if we know how to keep the conditioned mind out of our mothering process. If we know how to tap our maternal instinct. If we don’t let the voice of our instinct die.

But this requires guts. Because many a times our instinct tells us stuff that is contradictory to popular belief and societal theories.

But mothers are strong and would do anything to raise their kids well, won’t we

So lets promise ourselves that we will allow our maternal instincts to guide us. We will follow them to a T. We will train our hearts and minds to block outwardly conditioned stimuli and bring up our kids based on our pure instincts.

However this brings up many questions:

How do we do this? What really is instinct? Is it true all the time? What does it mean to tap into our instincts? How do we keep away from conditioned thoughts and stimuli?

One post will be too short to do justice to the power of maternal instinct. So follow me as I continue with more posts about this topic. Come join me as I embark this journey of discovering, analysing and incorporating maternal instinct into our lives.

Till then, let your “gut feeling” guide you and rule you. It is your best companion in your journey of motherhood. Make it your best friend.

We will talk more in the next post……?

(This post was first published in http://www.mycity4kids.com)

“Substituting mom”-the new parenting trend?

Mothering is not an easy job. The ups and downs in the journey can get the better of anyone. You need to be strong yet soft, polite yet firm, accepting while disciplining- all at the same time.

So if you have had thoughts of leaving it all and running off to the Himalayas at some point or the other, you are not the only one!

Mothering sure is overwhelming!

Parenting is getting more complex in the modern society with the internet, social media and youtube posing as potential threats to our childrens’ health. However there is another change in the modern society that is influencing and changing parenting without being very obvious upfront.

Couples nowadays have the luxury and buying capacity to buy many conveniences and luxuries to make their parenting journey smoother, easier and less manic. Be it in the form of gadgets and equipment or keeping 3 extra maids at home, many urban couples can afford these. Then there are daycares, activity classes and what not to help your child get through the day.

While it is nice that the Indian middle class is becoming financially stronger, how beneficial is it in terms of parenting is another debate.

To put things in an easy (and unoffending) version let me say that it sure is great to get some time off from the kids in a day to unwind and relax. Physical gadgets allow your kid some entertainment without having you to be involved directly. The dedicated nanny plays and feeds your kid all day because thats all she is paid for! The activity classes again give your child some great exposure and time-off from the routine while you get some time alone too.

What we are forgetting, however, is these luxuries that we can easily afford now are meant to make our life easier as a mom and NOT to substitute us as moms.

Unfortunately these luxuries are doing just that- replacing mothers in the lives of the kids!

Come summer break and we are frantically looking for camps to put our kids in. The logic? Its better the kid does something constructive with her time than watch Youtube all day! But the (ugly) and unsaid reality? We don’t know what to do with our kids if they are left to us for the entire 24 hrs! And no please don’t think I am blaming you. I am equally guilty as charged!

We are always on the look-out for some back-up to take care of our kids- grand parents or nannies. The logic? So that the kid is not entirely dependent on you and can be taken care of incase you need to step out of the house- for work or for leisure. The ugly truth? The minute we do land such a nanny, occasional help slowly leads to daily bathing, feeding, care-taking being done by her.

The huge screen time debate is not without reason. My own daughter spends more than an hour everyday on youtube and I must say I am not proud of it. How does it all start? The logic? All her friends do it so we can’t absolutely isolate her and hell, there are some great videos on youtube that are educational. The ugly truth? When we are tired or don’t have time, we just hand over the iPad to the baby so that she remains busy for an hour without bothering us!

No there is nothing wrong in keeping nannies, enrolling your kid in some activity class or letting her have her screen time. But the point we are loosing touch with is that these are meant just for those times when we are really not upto it. Those rare times when we are too exhausted to carry on as a mom for a second longer. But what these luxuries have become are parasites that are slowly eating away into the traditional set-up of mothering.

We, as mothers, are using these luxuries so that we have to mother less each day.

Like it or not, we are allowing ourselves to be substituted in the lives of our kids! And how can that have any good outcome?

It is very tempting. I know it because I have been there. I have given into the temptation of the clean nice loving nanny feeding my kid all her meals so that I can watch TV (or write my blog on mothering!! Ironical, right?)

It is natural to want to give in and sit and relax if there is someone willing to take on our job. We tell ourselves that we deserve this break.

Mothering is an active job. It involves giving your child lot of time, physical contact and attention. The breaks you can and should afford are minimal. Then why are we all looking for an easy way out?

We knew it was going to be tough, right?

We need to be very careful to keep a check on whether these luxuries are taking over some of our job as mom or are they taking over our role as mom? And we need to keep this balance in control so that we don’t end up unknowingly substituting ourselves in the lives of our kids.

(This article first appeared on http://www.mycity4kids.com on 14th July 2016)

This type of mothering is the best

Having talked and interacted with many moms and studied various parenting styles across different cultures, I think I can safely claim to have found the holy grail of mothering. The one foolproof mothering technique that is unparallel. It can never fail you or your child.

You might think that something that is so powerful must be very difficult to achieve. Well! The good news is that it is not! Really, it is the simplest little trick that can escalate you to the epitome of good mothering! Excited? Dying to know the secret elixir of mothering? Here you go ladies…..

The best mothering technique is “MINIMAL MOTHERING.”  You heard me right, gals! The best mother is the one that is least involved! I am not advocating total abandonment and disregard for your child. I am suggesting something that I like to call “mothering from a distance.”

Modern parenting has become very suffocating. We are always hovering over our kids physically, emotionally or mentally. We are there to jump in and help our toddler with that last piece of the puzzle she is struggling with. We are always there to buck up our kids with phrases that we think will help in elevating her self esteem like “Good job.” “You are the best.” “Awesome princess you are!” And to boost our toddlers mental capacity we enrol him into Vedic maths classes or make him join a brain camp (yes! Such things exist!). We are doing it with good intention of course. As parents we feel responsible for our child’s development and future. Hence we encourage him with our cheering, we enrol him into various activities to ensure he is getting an all round development and we try to raise a secure individual by making sure we are there for him physically as much as possible.

What harm there is then, you ask? Frankly truth be told, even I have been through this whole parenting attitude because I thought I should do what is in the best of my capacity. And also because everyone else around me was doing it too. So why should my child be left behind?

But if there is no harm doesn’t mean that there is good either. If you ask me I think                   modern parenting is like running on a treadmill. You are running for sure. But you are not getting anywhere!

Planning and preparing so much for our child’s present and future is based on the belief that we can actually control and modify our child’s future with our actions in the present. I would call that very optimistic. Considering the fact that we actually have no control on how anybody’s life unfolds.

Is there no correlation between a Harvard degree and a top paying job? Yes, probably there is a direct correlation. I don’t mean that. But see the argument inside out. Is there no highly paid person from a B grade local college? There are those too. And quite a few.

What I mean to say is that our fixation about sending our children to the best of school, getting them the best of scores and swarming their resumes with extra circular activities is just building a good resume, not a good child.

Modern parenting fixates a lot on what the child does rather than what the child is.

Teach your child love for knowledge and curiosity. She will go on to apply to Harvard on her own when the time comes.

Teach your child responsibility and duties. She will soar high on the corporate ladder on her own then.

Teach your child the importance of happiness and peace. You shall have a warrior in the worst circumstances automatically.

Because what you are is a parent. Not a coaching institute. Not a tutor. Not a corporate employer.

You have to raise a child, not a resume.

And all that I have listed that a parent needs to teach can be done through simple examples. When your child sees you as a loving, caring, responsible and empathetic person he himself imbibes that. No need for any micromanagement after that.   That is exactly what mothering from a distance means. Go on teaching your child by setting an example through yourself, answer his queries if she has any and let nature take its own course after that.

You will have a much happier healthier and smarter child then. Will he get into Harvard? I still cant guarantee that. But I sure can guarantee that he will be a success in whatever he sets his hands on.

(This article was first published in http://www.mycity4kids.com on 1st jun 2017.)