Friday, July 18, 2014

Checklists work for me

Some days you just wake up with a sense of happy anticipation - like something wonderful is going to happen. And nothing seems to be able to dampen your spirits. Not cranky kids, not the power cut in the gym, not the fact that the husband has to travel... Nothing.

Well that's what yesterday was. Rains have arrived here, finally, so the weather was just perfect. At least four wonderful people I know were celebrating birthdays and the warmth and love from Facebook kind of spilled into my day and made it even sunnier.

Feeling very inspired and determined to hold on to this feeling I went over the day trying to identify possible trouble areas.

One of the most testing times of my day, I realised, is when the kids get back from school. They are tired and probably hungry, yet are bursting with things to tell... both of them simultaneously. I have a hard time keeping up two full fledged often very different conversations.

Then there's the issue of lunch. For me the top priority is that they get cleaned up and get to their lunch/snack FAST, since it's four by the the time the bus drops them. For them that's about 100th on the list. 

I end up hurrying them, barking out a bunch of instructions which seem like an unending list - a huge and painful one at that. They dawdle and bicker and end up in tears.   

A few days back a friend shared the idea of having a task checklist. Well I decided to come up with mine..... with an incentive too.

A tick in each column for ten straight days gets them a small gift. 

When I showed them the list they seemed cynical at best. Sure sign that they're growing up! I refused to let my enthusiasm were off cajoling them to at least try it.

It was a slow start (why do we have to put our shoes inside? Whey do we always have to wear chappals. But soon they were running around the house doing stuff, giggling, ticking it off - oh it was fun and they got most of it done.

Of course it's just day 1 and they might/will tire of it and that will be fine, because the idea is NOT to turn them into tiny robots but to get the basic habit in place. It's like 'oh today I forgot to put my tiffin for washing.. Rather than see ma today I remembered to put it for washing.

Monday, July 14, 2014

An experiment in freedom

Saturday began on a very very sour note. H threw a huge tantrum bemoaning the fact that he had to follow too many rules. Washing his hands before eating, wearing his chappals all the time, putting his clothes for washing after changing, wearing his night suit, brushing his teeth, not getting enough screen time (computer/TV) ..... Apparently I was forcing him to play, to eat, to sleep... 

To be fair to him he is a pretty independent child. He enjoys his studies and is very meticulous about them. He's not a fussy eater either. In fact I have few complaints other than his computer addiction and his resistance to rules. He likes to do things his way which is often not the right way, of course according to me. And he argues! Gawd how he argues!

The Husband and I reasoned with him for about an hour. Then we both gave up and left him crying.

Freedom Day declared!

I got chatting with friend and blogger Shailaja and she directed me to a blogpost here by Sangeeta Sundaram on Freedom Day - a day with no rules, which children could be left to do what they wanted. Since we were at the weekend and as a mum I am always ready to try anything for a happier more peaceful home I decided to go with it. Besides, it was just a day, I reasoned, how bad could it get?

So Saturday was declared Freedom Day with just two rules.. No fighting and no messing the house.

H was ecstatic, though a bit unbelieving. N also thought it was a super idea. 

The computer was switched on right then and H flitted between the television and the computer all day without signs of fatigue or boredom. He would come to check on me periodically to make sure I wasn't angry. He'd dart in for a hug or an 'I love you mama,' every hour or so.

N meanwhile ran off to play throwing an 'I-can-come-whenever-I-want-na, mama?' over her shoulder. 'Yes,' said I and that was that.

At lunch time...

I have to admit I am a bit of a Nirupa Roy when it comes to food. I strongly believe that half of the crankiness of kids is either food or sleep related. A little after 1 pm H was hungry and just as I was about to suggest lunch he said he wanted to eat mangoes. So mangoes it was. By 2, though outwardly calm, I was pacing up and down mentally.

N turned up after 2.30 and sat down to watch TV.

I'd made their favourite Aaloo-puri in a sly bid to tempt them to eat on their own. I even filled my own plate, pretending to eat and sat watching that wretched Doremon with them to no avail. Finally H picked up pooris, just pooris, and munched on them sitting on the sofa while watching TV... And I kept my mouth shut. 

N, the non eater was celebrating by not eating at all. Finally at 3.30 I left them to the tele and walked off.

Freedom is not everyone's cup of tea

A little later N came in.. Crying. 'My head is hurting ma', she said, 'may I sleep with you?' I agreed then suggested.. 'Maybe your head is hurting because you haven't eaten anything'. That brought around a fresh bout of tears..
'I don't want this freedom say sobbed N. May I have lunch?'
I have to admit I felt a smug kind of happiness!!
And that was it for her.

But some truly take to it

Televiion junkie..

H continued to have a ball till about 10. He refused his friends when they asked him to come down to play. N crashed by the television. H had major plans of staying awake till after 12 but exhausted by the marathon computer session he too agreed to go to bed when The Husband suggested it.

What now?

Now I am a bit confused about the outcome of the experiment. N told me pretty categorically.. She preferred an 'Angel Day' .
But what about H?
I have to admit there was total peace at home. The children didn't fight at all which is just so rare, it might be the single reason I try this out another day. They coordinated with each other taking turns at the comp and the tele. In any case since N is a more outdoor person there was barely any clash. 
However, is it okay to let H spend the entire day at the comp? Or for N to stay outdoor for four or five hours at a stretch? Maybe it is, since it's just a day... I'm not sure at all. What do you say guys? Is it okay to have a Freedom day say once in a month?

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Battling Bloggers Block

 It seems the world is conspiring to rescue my blog from inertia. I've been trying to get back to posting regularly but nothing seems to be working. First I did a week-long Drabble Fest. I struggled to sit at the computer each day, posting my entries late into the night. Once the Fest was over I was back to square one.. Idealess, inspirationless.

Now I get a second chance...
Write Tribe asks us to list five ways to tackle bloggers block. If I don't make use of this bit of introspection to help myself, I truly never will. So here goes...

The first thing I should be doing is 

Read read read

...blogs. I find reading other blogs often opens the floodgates of my creativity. Something somewhere sparks off an idea - an agreement, a disagreement an add on - And voila.. I'm off. Then there are times (like now) when reading doesn't do it. So then I look for ..

Blogging prompts

Sites like Write Tribe throw up prompts which are a great way to begin that conversation with your blog. I often weave my current state of kind into the prompts. Not just is that a bonus but it also helps me open up my heart. And that's how blog posts happen for me - from the heart. Less mind more heart!
If that doesn't work either, I try a..

Free write

I often win my battle with the block by pushing myself to sit down with the sole purpose of writing. That in itself is a task - no browsing, no FB, no tinkering with the kids' projects... just writing. It's hard, often. However, once I make myself sit I simply write the day's happenings. Mundane details like what I did, where I went, how I felt - a good meal, a nasty neighbour, a challenging day with the kids, a spot of good behaviour from them - anything can make for a post. Of course a bunch of such free writes never get to hit the publish button and languish in my drafts.  And that's where I go scavenging when I'm at my wits end.

Going through my drafts

...and trying to rework them helps sometimes. Seen days or months later from a new perspective they throw up new insights. 
And my final astra against the bog block are


.. articles written as lists. I try some easy ones...
5 reasons I love blogging
5 reasons I enjoy going to the gym
5 kinds of people I cannot stand
5 ways to handle cranky kids
And that normally does it for me.

Still stuck?
If my top five didn't work for you, do check out Write Tribe for more bright idea from some of the most fabulous bloggers. Good luck!

Monday, July 07, 2014

The heart-throb

One look at him and the years melted. She was a teenager again. The smile that made her heart beat, eyes that looked into her soul, the look that made her feel beautiful. Two decades and nothing had changed! Her hands shook as she extended them.

'May I have your autograph please,' she asked shyly. 


And with that we come to the end of the week-long Marathon Bloggers Drabble Fest. The topic for today's 55er was 'Her hands shook'.


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