Parenting is very hard. And I write this fresh in the memory of a horrible day. Waking up to a viral fever yesterday was tough. But I trudged on and continued to mommy. I pumped myself with cold and flu meds hoping that I would at least have the strength to drop and pick my son from school. And I prayed he would play by himself while I updated my blog yesterday.
Boy, was I wrong about what lay ahead. The boy asked for water which I went to fetch and when I got back I saw he was closing the laptop and in doing so jamming a really hard plastic device between the screen and keyboard. The LCD went kaput and my laptop screen died. I turned pale as if I had seen a ghost, and then the wails began. My life seemed to be over.
An hour later the tears dried up. I had nothing to do but wait for the husband to arrive with his laptop so that I could write again. Until then my baby and I played blocks. We painted. We read a million books. We played hide-n-seek and catch. We snuggled in his teepee and read Goodnight Moon. He told me a story about Cinderella whose name was Rapunzel. Ok that didn’t really make sense to me either but I can see where it came from. By the time daddy got home we were both rolling in laughter on the bed. All in all we found joy again.
Joyfulness is much needed in our lives. Sometimes the humdrum of parenting, the daily routine and plans and schedules take away much of this joy. I am a very “present” mother to babyT and I didn’t think we missed having fun together. Despite playing and reading together almost everyday the joy we found yesterday was something else.
Day to day life today never seems to pause. We are rushing from work to the supermarket to the school pick up to the activity classes to the kitchen to the bed and even there we have our gadgets. We may spend a lot of time with our family and children but is it quality and quantity of quality?
Finding the joy in small things
Needless to say it is always the small things in life which matter the most. They are also the lowest hanging fruit. You don’t need much preparation or props. Most of the time you don’t even have to plan them (like my laptop dying on me.) But that ten minutes of focussed time you and your child spent playing hide-n-seek will matter more than any precious gift you got them. Devoted time without any gadgets or phone calls or other interruptions (even the whistle on your cooker) is what your child will find endless happiness in.
Grant a special responsibility
A great way to spend quality time together is to involve kids in chores. Apart from the fact that it gets things done around the house, kids, especially toddlers find a deep sense of fulfilment that an adult trusted them with a chore. My son is the official potato and onion stacker in the house. Whenever there is a fresh addition to the pantry he comes running to find the potatoes and onions and stack them up in their storage bin. It is his sacred place and having him around in the kitchen watching him fulfil his special task is a joy to behold. No one loved potatoes and onions more in that moment than him.
Whistle while you work
The Disney version of the 7 Dwarfs (and Snow White) were right when they sang their hearts out to “Whistle while you work” Singing and movement while you work is a great way to make work fun. But more than anything else it bonds the people who sing it together. Ever seen the tea leaf pickers with the big baskets on their heads, humming and smiling as they go about the mundane act of picking at tender leaves?
If you don’t feel Shakespearean enough to pen poetry, YouTube songs to go with dressing, brushing, wearing shoes, setting the table for dinner and washing up after. The online world can offer a lot of support.
Build a family ritual for yourselves
Do you watch the American drama series “This is Us” While Jack and Rebecca Pearson are serious couple goals their parenting offers many inspiring ideas. An oft repeated image and event in the 2 season old series is the one around Thanksgiving.
Come what may, the whole family jing-bang gets together every year since the triplets were 9 years old and does the exact same thing. Firstly they go for a hike, make cheese-dogs on the heater and pull wool yarn and watch Police Academy 3. A very offbeat thing to do on Thanksgiving but they did this on one epic Thanksgiving day and since then it is tradition.
Read – Beans on Toast
Build yourself a weird but comforting family ritual. Rituals and routines provide comfort, joy and most importantly bind the people that follow them.
Sometimes a break from the routine is great too. Drive up to the coconut water seller (or ice cream) after picking up your child from the school run some day. Surprise the little ones.
Talk a lot
The other day I read an article in the paper about how children these days don’t speak. They are highly expressive but only on social media and chatting apps. Talking is a dying art. And a family that talks together is a happy family.
While chatting apps have immensely helped bring extended families that live across the 7 continents together, it is somewhere distancing the ones who live under the same roof. Make it a habit to talk a lot with your children and spouse. It will fill their days with memories for a lifetime to come.
Remember how we reminisce about our childhood – we talk about the time we went sightseeing with our parents or diwali shopping or those times when mom and us cooked the family favourite on Sunday mornings. Joyful moments spent in the cosy confines of home and the family are what makes life worth living for.
This blog post is part of a series for the #AtoZBloggingChallenge where my theme is
New Age Parenting: Parenting in 201x.
Read my theme reveal post here.
To read all the posts for the #AtoZChallenge go here – #AtoZ2018
You may also find this post on Hygge Parenting – How the Danes are getting parenting right very helpful.