The last almost two years of my life has been such a huge learning journey. From handling a newborn to managing all the household work plus some more with a toddler around has not just made me better at multitasking but also as an individual (or at least I would like to believe so). The fact that we live away from home with almost no family support for most part of the year only makes us work twice as hard to keep things going.
I am not going to paint a rosy picture here. Contrary to what a lot of you seem to think (going by my IG feed), my son isn’t an angel who just keeps smiling and generally being well behaved all day, everyday. I mean, he is an angel, yeah, and he is well behaved and sweet for most part but he does have his fair share of meltdowns and tantrums too. Who doesn’t? If you were to document my life, I am pretty sure these would still be a part of it in spite of me being an ‘adult’. So, it needs to be understood that ‘Instagram or it did not happen’ isn’t always the way to judge the truth. After all we all choose what we want to share with the world, don’t we?
There are days when I feel like an utter failure of a parent or guilty for feeding my child a junk meal or two or days when I don’t want to be a gentle parent and end up losing my temper when I should have actually been patient and matured without trying to reason with a toddler who in all probability isn’t going to understand what I am trying to convey anyway.
I am far from being a perfect parent and in all honestly I think it is something I will probably be doing for the rest of my life. But there are some things that have helped me cope with the day-to-day hustle and bustle and still have some patience left to deal with whatever comes my way.
One of these things is to do things I love. This could be anything from making a favorite meal to baking something to just lazing around for a few hours putting everything in the back burner or pinning 100000 things to Pinterest boards in 10 seconds or listening to your favorite music. Whatever works for you!
If you are a weirdo like me, even cleaning the house, or doing/folding laundry can be therapeutic. Yep, nothing makes me happier than a clean house and an empty couch (don’t tell me I am the only one who uses the couch to dump clean laundry). Occasionally I even use this time to do a little DIY activity or something I have been eyeing on Pinterest for far too long.
Take some time off for yourself. I was the mom who felt guilty for sending my 18 month old to daycare/playschool for a few hours a week. The comments from various random people asking why I was sending such a young kid away weren’t helping either. But it did not take me long to realize that I needed that space, that time for myself. I decided I wouldn’t respond to such questions anymore.
Even if I spent that time cleaning and putting away his stuff, I still needed those few hours of baby free time. Because I wasn’t doing everything while constantly being worried about making a noise and waking him up. I could drink my tea/coffee while it was still hot and maybe even eat a biscuit or ten without having to share it with someone, listen to music of my choice without being asked to change to ‘duck’ (five little ducks on YouTube), go get my eyebrows done (and feel like a totally new person) to name a few.
It gave me the time I needed for myself and helped me feel less stressed (you don’t need a full time office job to feel stressed, believe me) while it also made my son a more social person and got him to interact with other people, kids his age instead of being stuck at home seeing my face for most part of the day. It also helped me worry less about not being creative enough to keep my son busy and engaged all day like some of the moms on the various groups.
That said, I am not trying to say that you need to send your child to daycare too but what I am trying to convey is that you need some baby free time every now and then to continue doing your best. Leave your child with your spouse, or friends/family who can watch your kid and go out for a while, get some shopping done for yourself maybe or grab a coffee and sit and people watch or refresh FB on your phone for the 1000th time, just do whatever makes you happy and helps you relax.
Next, get your partner involved in the household chores as well as baby duties. In our household, I take care of most of the daily chores (because I am a little too finicky about things and prefer it this way) while my husband bathes, changes diapers and keeps the toddler busy when he is around. So get into an agreement depending on what works for you. This results in lesser bickering and more peace of mind for everyone involved (trust me!).
Last but not the least, keep in mind that there is no set benchmark for measuring how good a parent you are. Stop comparing yourself or your partner with other parents. Giving your child a little screen time doesn’t make you a bad parent nor does letting them eat some fries. If anything, these things give you a moment or two to catch your breath. We all strive to do our best and it’s all good as long as we know that and are true to ourselves. There are days I feel great just for having kept my son alive. Not even kidding.
This is no way an exhaustive list of things that keep me going. Rather these are things that have worked the most for me. What are some things that help you keep calm and parent on? Tell me!
PS: If you have made it this far, thank YOU!
PPS: If you want to thank me for the tips, please feel free to send some good wine/beer or cake or both (DM me to get my address). If you think I have become one more of those unsolicited advice giving people, feel free to pelt some stones(don’t DM me for address).