As true as the above quote may be, I feel it is incomplete. Does the child only change the life of a mother? Doesn’t the father’s life changes equally? Though I am a single mommy, I have witnessed some amazing fathers taking charge of not only the house but also their kids and being equally responsible for everything that the family needs.
While India and Indians still have a long way to smash the patriarchy, I think these men deserve a special mention for being instrumental in bringing a change at the root level, their family and home.
So I am taking the charge and reframing the quote to –
A little background on why I am writing this series – (You can totally skip this part)
I was extremely sick for a long period of time. There were days when I felt ok. But for most of these days, I had to be in bed. Being a homeschooling parent and a single mom that was tough for me. I was not happy at all because I could see my illness affecting my child.
Though she couldn’t understand how it affected her or even voice her feelings, I knew she was not getting the love, care, and affection that she deserved. There was always a smile on her face like any other 4-year-old, but not being able to be there for her made me feel guilty.
It made me depressed and anxious. Having gone to a therapist earlier, I knew what I needed to do, so I took out my journal and just wrote down 30 things I would do with my daughter for the next 30 days to make myself feel connected to her again and make myself a happy mommy.
Advise – You are only as old as your child is, so do not rush into things and take one day at a time to be a happy parent.
Day 1 – Me time
Don’t be surprised to read this as the first on my list! Today, yes right away, do something just for yourself and repeat it every day. Doing something for yourself or taking a break is not selfish. So while your child(ren) is busy with something, make that cup of coffee for yourself, or pour your thoughts in your journal. Anything that makes you happy, just do it without feeling guilty about it.
Start with this one thing a day for a few minutes and then add this “me time” to your schedule. This means that you “create” a few minutes/hours every single day just for yourself instead of doing something for yourself only when you get time.
Day 2 – Your mental health matters
Being emotionally and mentally healthy is equally important for everyone as is being physically healthy. If you are emotionally unstable, you might lash out at your child and that is something that we parents always regret. If you are mentally too occupied or are having a tough time, you are generally going to ignore the child (many times unknowingly) and in both the scenarios, you are going to end up feeling sad. So a better option is to confide in your partner or a family member/friend. Talk about how you feel. Most of the times these feelings are temporary and when you say them out loud, you understand them better.
But if you notice a cycle or same pattern that is repeating for more than two weeks, please see a mental health practitioner.
Day 3 – Dress up
Every day when you are home, chances are you are still in your nightwear/pajamas. Try changing into something comfy yet well put together. Try to comb your hair even if there no need for it and apply a lip balm or lipstick.
Wear a pair of earrings or any piece of jewelry/accessory that sparks joy in you. When you dress up, you tell your mind that you are going to someplace important. You convince your mind that the work you do is important. There is no regret for being with your family as it makes you happy.
When your child sees you all put together, the first question they ask is, where are we going mumma/papa? This will initiate a conversation about your work at home and your child will understand the value you create by being at home with them. Tell them why you love what you do. And most importantly, why you love being there for your family.
Day 4 – Be physically active
We all know and can see the physical benefits of exercising. But did you know that most mental health practitioners recommend exercising as the first option versus anti-depressants? Your brain produces more happy hormones and makes you feel less blue when you exercise regularly. It helps you to sleep better, sharpens memory, reduces stress and anxiety and helps in increasing self-confidence. So, go for that walk and complete those 10k steps today! Go for that swim or that run you have been postponing.
You can also walk and complete your preferred number of steps indoors if you cannot go out like me. I couldn’t get out of the house for 4 months except for hospital visits. Exercise is what kept me active.
Day 5 – Eat your veggies and fruits
We are quick to call out our children for not eating the vegetables and fruits right? But are we eating the ones we don’t like? Be honest.
Or are we even eating the veggies and fruits that we like? Believe it or not, I have received numerous DMs about parents skipping lunch time. Most times, the reason is that they are too tired to eat after all the cooking.
Just in case you feel this is you, try to sit down with your child when you eat and you both can feed each other. This will not only help you eat on time but also make your child(ren) feel happy and proud for feeding their parents.
Day 6 – Drink water
Every single day, drink at least 2 liters of water. Just like eating, many parents forget to drink water and staying hydrated. This, in return, results in episodes of low BP, feeling dizzy and drained out.
If you cannot drink water, try nimboo pani (lemonade), kokum sherbet, infused water, jeera water, green tea, etc. All in all, you need to focus on your daily diet to be physically, emotionally and mentally healthy. We ARE what we EAT and DRINK.
A tip – If you feel you are not feeling better even after drinking water, keep an ORS or Electral powder handy for emergency situations.
7. Update Yourself
Just like you need to update your apps from time to time for an efficient experience, You also need to keep yourself updated about what is going on in your child’s life.
An easy way to do that would be a playdate at home with their friends. You understand so many things when interacting with children. Their likes, dislikes, current favourites, what is going on in their friend circle, their lingo, and what is going on at school.
This will not only make you a happy parent also make your child happy. As their friends are an important part of their life, when they all let you in, it means they feel safe and comfortable to share everything with you. This bonding will definitely go a long way during their teenage years.
Day 8 – Last 30 minutes
Focus on the last 30 minutes of the day of your child’s life. It is important to be with them during their bed time routine. Let them take the lead and share whatever they want to. Listen to them and let them share whatever they want to. Just be there when they close their eyes and enter their own world of dreams.
There are quite a few incidents that made me believe that I should continue this 30-minute rule. The recent one was when my daughter told me about something she did. She knew what she did was wrong, but she couldn’t muster the courage to tell me. And I know why it happened. In the last 4 months, I was not myself. All the hormones made me only shout all that I actually wanted to say. The result? My child was afraid of me yelling at her about everything now. So she told me what happened only after 3 days, when she felt safe and comfortable.
When she felt I was her mommy again.
Day 9 – First 30 minutes
Just like the last 30-minutes rule, the first 30 minutes are equally important. Make sure you wish your child “Good Morning” and tell them to enjoy their day. My rule is simple. Listen, don’t talk unless they ask you to and understand, not react.
Day 10 – Don’t raise your voice
You have already read what raising my voice did to both me and my child and how it affected our relationship. And yet, we tend to yell at our children regularly, forcing them to do what we want them to do, instead of listening and understanding.
If your child is not eating food, it’s because they might not be up for it. Just like any adult can feel like not eating, they can too. If your child is jumping around, it’s because they might not be getting their daily dose of outdoor play. Whatever small or big things your children do, always first breathe and listen to them. Try to understand how or why something happened and never ever punish them.