Saturday, February 06, 2016

How to snatch a siesta from the jaws of 4-yr-olds

Long ago when I was in school I read a piece about a dad who devised games to ensure he got his forty winks each afternoon. I have no clue why it stayed with me. Perhaps God was preparing me for the twins even when I was a carefree teen. Faced with long summer afternoons when I couldn’t keep my eyes open unless I stuck my lids to my brows while the twins bubbled with unfathomable energy I came up with my own games to keep them busy while I caught my nap. 

Read on and you might find something you can use.

 1. You Lilliputians me Gulliver
So Gulliver is washed up from the ocean and lies sprawled on the shore (that’s you on your cool bedroom floor). The Lilliputians (that's the twins) busy themselves tying him up to sofa and table legs, making speeches (Who is this giant? Where did he come from?) and organizing meetings (What should be done with him? How shall we feed him). And you get your siesta.

2. You Ram/Raavan me Kumbhakaran
Ram might have come to Sita’s rescue in this classic Indian tale but it was Kumbhakaran who will come to yours. What’s not to like in a giant who got to sleep six months a year, ate for the other six and threw in a punch or two when required? While the kids fight it out as Ram or Raavan you catch your forty winks. Let the drums beat on and the trumpets be blown, Kumbhakaran shall sleep on. The nose ticking can get to you once in a while otherwise life’s good. If your child is anything like my H he’s sorted for Raavan. The other can choose between the righteous Ram or the tragic Sita.

3. You Prince Charming me Sleeping Beauty
You of course are the sleeping beauty (whether you’re a mom or a dad is quite immaterial). Your child is Prince Charming hacking and fighting his way desperately through the enchanted forest to save you, while you hope and pray he takes his time.
The other twin poses a bit of a problem. If she is like N she might fancy herself the princess. All you have to do then, is to convince her that the role offers no chance to show off her acting prowess (yeah, we parents are creative). And so she shall become the evil fairy slyly putting obstacles in the noble prince’s path. The prince is delayed (Yay!) and both are occupied (Double Yay!).

4. You the parlour help me a customer
Set out interesting looking paraphernalia – a bottle of spray filled with imaginary water, (there’s nothing worse than being shocked out of a blissful sleep with a cold spray of water while you’re probably dreaming of deep unending sleep), some bowls with tiny bits of cream (hand them over the bottle and rest assured they’ll empty it out) and some slices of cucumber. Find a soft sofa or bed, close your eyes and bliss out.

Caution: Don’t let small things like spilt water or half eaten cucumber slices faze you – you did get your siesta, didn’t you?

5. You captor/saviour me the hostage
This classic game was absolutely designed for parents. One of the kids is your evil captor and the other your noble savior. Give them soft bits of twine (Stoles, scarves and dupattas work best) and let them tie you up – make sure you’re comfortable. Let them drag you to a deep dark cave (essentially your bedroom, with the curtains drawn and lights switched off). Let them fight it out then while you sneak in your catnap.

PS: Don't let gender issues put you off. If you're ready to play Gulliver/Sleeping Beauty your son/daughter will be Prince or Sita or Raavan happily. Kids have incredible imaginations. And it's a good place to begin smashing the stereotypes, what say? The siesta is the icing, or was it the cake to begin with?

Happy Napping folks!

This one is done for the prompt 'How to...' given by the the wonderful folks at Marathon Bloggers.

Tuesday, February 02, 2016

Why holidays without kids are essential for moms

I wasn't born an Obsessivemom. Truly I wasn't. Like I said before I wasn't even a kid-friendly person till the twins came along. And then I was transformed into a mum - all of me. And I'm not complaining. Well most of the time I'm not. Oh okay... I don't really mean it even if I do.

Every mum needs a break

But mums need a break, even obsessive moms. Not just from the kids but also from home and the entire shebang that comes with it - Is there bread for tomorrow, Did I put the curd for setting, The printer's down again, Did the kids finish their homework? What shall I make for lunch, Ah the maid isn't coming in again --- A break from the mental preoccupation that comes with the territory.

Last week, after much debating (with myself) and plenty of prodding (from friends and family) we planned a break without the kids - three of my pals and I. I won't write about what we did there. No, we didn't paint the town red, we didn't booze till the sun came up, we didn't break into a song and dance in the market place - yet it was a holiday we're not likely to forget in a hurry.

It was a holiday where the usual everyday stuff was special in its simplicity, only because we were four relaxed women shorn of our everyday responsibilities and worries. We had no agenda, no places to visit, no shopping to do, no hurry to get anywhere.

I recommend it strongly for every mum - in fact the more you are into your kids the more you need to do this.

Here's why:

It puts you in touch with your before-the-kids-came-along self 

- often the more fun carefree you. With the kids you become a different person - you need to be a different person - responsible and grown up and more than a little anxious.
While on holiday we broke our own rules. We had snacks for lunch, roamed the markets till late at night, stopped at whatever took our fancy, stayed up talking books past midnight then lazed in bed next morning and lingered over breakfast.
An outing like this puts you in touch with the fun-relaxed you, reminding you of the joy of letting go once in a while. When you come back with that reminder you become a more fun-relaxed mum - and that's good for the kids.

It's gives you a reality check..

...bringing home the fact that the kids can survive without you and happily so. Which, for a sane mum, is the most liberating of thoughts. It makes you less clingy, (If you thought only kids were clingy, think again) encouraging you to give the kids more freedom, equipping them to handle more responsibility which is good for them, right?

It shows you a new side to your kids

My SIL, who was with the twins while I was away, said she grew sick of listening to them saying, ‘Mama said… , ‘Mama said…’, 'Mama said...'. This was amazing because it meant they had actually been listening while I was talking and were doing what I asked them to in my absence. Woohoo a miracle! With this new found perspective I can perhaps begin to perceive them as somewhat responsible tweens rather than the babies I think them to be.... and that's good for them.

Oh and it’s rejuvenating

..which means you can get back to the task of mothering with ever more happiness and enthusiasm and the belief that you are on the right track. Which means you can be a better mum -- and that again - yes you got it - is good for the kids.

So for your kids' sake - take that break. 

Disclaimer: Let me clarify - this is just a way of selling the idea to mums who think they'll be deserting the kids if they go on vacation. You should do this more for yourself than for the kids or the husband. You should do it even if life for them isn't quite perfect when you're away. You should do it even if they protest. They'll learn to value you more when you're around. 

You owe it to yourself.

Thursday, January 28, 2016

If we were having coffee ... 2

If we were having coffee I'd probably be gushing today because I'm H.A.P.P.Y. You'd have to struggle to get in a word but you might as well give up because I'm too excited to let you have your turn. And then when you'd throw up your hands in despair because I wouldn't be making any sense in my eagerness to explain, I'd calm down enough to tell you that I was  going on a holiday... with friends... just us.

Our coffees would lie untouched as I'd go on about how excited I was because it was the very first time I was doing this in ten whole years - since I had the kids. The only other time I travelled without them was for my sister's surgery so that didn't really count (even though it turned out to be a kind of a Roman Holiday for me).

And no matter how much you rolled your eyes (because you're the cool, calm, collected kind of friend) or tried to say it wasn't a big deal my spirits would refuse to dampen because it was a big deal.

If we were having coffee I'd tell you of the crazy bunch I'm going with. How one was only thinking about the clothes she'd carry and the pictures we'd click while the other couldn't stop dreaming of strawberries and cream. And I'd tell you how all I was looking forward to was a clean quiet room to revel in for one whole day.

'Drink your coffee', you'd say and then proceed to ask How? What about the kids? And a tiny line of worry would probably cloud my forehead as I'd reach for my coffee and, even though I was feeling a tad unsure, I'd tell you they were well looked after in my absence. As I assured you I'd probably be reassuring myself too.

If we were having coffee I'd tell you about my SIL who had volunteered to take care of the kids. And then as I would think of her calm smiling face the worry lines would melt because I know she's good with them. She'd make sure N had a tiffin of her choice, she'd run after H mock threatening to embarrass him by hugging him as she dropped him off to school, she'd pamper them silly and they'd probably think I was back too soon.

And as I tell you this I'd fill up with gratitude for a wonderfully supportive family; for having people in my life who step in to lend a hand without my asking; who brush away my guilt trips with their no-nonsense talk.

I'd tell you how grateful I was for the way the kids had handled it with N making me promise to send her selfies 'on Bua's phone' while H had sacrificed a birthday party without much of a tantrum.

As we would drain our cups I'd feel better for having talked to you, for having aired my worries and chased them away. And I'd tell you how grateful I was to have you to share my joys and sorrows always.

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Flaunt your patriotism

It's Republic Day today. I woke up to the sound of Mere Desh ki Dharti being played somewhere on a loudspeaker. H picked it up and started singing it with the lyrics all wrong. That always irks me - another one of my pet peeves - this thing about music being just beats and no lyrics.

Anyway, in correcting H I ended up explaining the age old song to the kids. And then since I couldn’t remember the whole thing I googled it. The song is definitely dated but the pride of belonging to a wonderful country shines clearly through.

National Holidays used to be big days when we were kids – they still are back home for my parents, who make it a point to go to their alma-maters for flag hoisting. National pride was a big deal. Independence would still have had a new sheen to it, for our parents at least. And we caught the patriotism bug from them.

Somehow along the way, what with work and life, they became ‘just another holiday’ to me – a day to plan a picnic, or sleep in, or tackle that list of unending chores. Is it just me or does it have something to do with changing times? All of it just became uncool. I didn’t stop feeling patriotic, I always did and will always do, but it definitely became uncool to flaunt it.

Then along came the kids and in trying to teach them about India I am relearning too – their enthusiasm is contagious. When they were younger they wanted tricolour balloons and charkhis and tricolour food and tricolour clothes – the whole deal. And I did it all with them.

They’re growing up. N still childlike, revels in all the festivities. H is already reluctant to wear Indian clothes because ‘they are uncomfortable’ yet I persist. Patriotism is much more than clothes, I know, but this one day let's go all Indian when we sing the National Anthem on Republic Day, I tell him.  So then how can I not ditch my trustee jeans and pull out my orange/green/white salwar kurta too?

I do so happily, and I go down for the flag hoisting. I sing the National Anthem aloud, I eat the laddoo with relish and I try to make the day as special as I possibly can. I flaunt my patriotism as much as my self-conscious self will allow. I find I’m getting better at it and I’m liking it too.

I'll always be grateful to the kids for reawakening National Pride in me.

Leaving you now with one of my favourite songs from the film Purab aur Paschim. Manoj Kumar is corny and Saira Banu is downright ludicrous in that blonde wig and with the swirling cigarette smoke, but the song is to die for. It makes me all warm and proud to be an Indian. Do hear out the lyrics.


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