Monday, November 26, 2012

When the Going Gets Tough for New Mothers

This post was first published on Mom and Me - one stop shop for Moms and kids.

It was naïve of me, before and during pregnancy, to think what work really could be with a tiny tot. Everyone kept saying ‘once the baby arrives, you would be very busy’. I would be bewildered, trying to imagine changing nappies and feeding really should not be that much work. As I said, I was naïve!

Perhaps only a mother understands the fact truly well that motherhood can be overwhelming. I have been on my own, with some help from dear husband in the evenings and the weekends, since the time my baby completed 2 months. Right from giving him massage three times a day, giving him bath (very difficult initially) to feeding him every 2 hours, from walking him around to sleep to changing nappies, with the fact that my body had gone through the process of child birth not too long ago; overwhelming seemed an understatement.

At every stage you feel, may be it would be better when he grows up a little more, but really the challenges and the work increases. As my friend pointed out, “pregnancy was really like being in Kindergarten” when compared to what lies ahead. Challenges are galore but there is not another vocation which is as blissful and as important.

Here are few things to deal with those tough times:

This too shall pass: Colic, waking up every 2 hours during night, baby’s sleep problems, breastfeeding issues, your own sleep deprivation and worse, if somebody falls ill in the family; such times can be frustrating and full of anxiety. Always keep this in mind that no matter what the issue is at that moment, it will be sorted sooner or later. So keep your patience.

Babies grow up very fast: When problems such as the ones discussed above make you miserable, remember that babies grow up very fast. These problems look huge at that moment but later on you would regret if you did not handle it properly. You will regret losing your cool, because babies will soon grow up and you would only have memories of those times. So why not make them good!

Take whatever help is at hand without feeling guilty: Accept help from whichever quarter it is coming, husband, family, parents, in-laws, domestic help, etc. You will not be able to do everything yourself. It is harsh to expect so much from yourself. Decide what you must do, and delegate others. I knew, I wanted to handle all baby related work myself, so I hired a cook for cooking our meals. I can therefore focus on my child and with cooking work out of my way, I have the patience and energy to be on my toes with my baby.

One day at a time: Live in the moment and do not worry about the future. You can deal with one single day no matter how tough it is; can’t you? So just deal with one day at a time, and always think every mother goes through these things, and comes out wiser. Enjoy the experience.

Read the book ‘What Mothers Do: Especially When it LooksLike Nothing’ by Naomi Stadlen: As a new mother, did it happen to you too that when somebody asked what do you do the whole day, you would say nothing really? This book made me realize as a mother how much we really do as mothers. No matter what we are doing, we drop off and run towards our baby when we hear him crying. We forget about deep slumber and outing with friends. Right from bathing, giving massages, feeding at least 8-12 times during the day (which can be back breaking), changing nappies, taking for strolls and putting to sleep are just few basic things we do, apart from thinking about their well being and how to be a better mother all the time. If you can, do read the book. It will make you feel good about what you do!

Having said that, I must concede that motherhood is a tough job but it has the best incentives in the world. The joy of seeing your baby’s face light up on looking at you is unparalleled. The bond which you share with your baby is always the most special and pure.

Despite all the challenges a mother faces every single day, she would not like to have it any other way.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

TV Blues

This was first published on Mom and Me - one stop shop for Moms and kids.

When we were kids, there were not many options as far as TV programmes were concerned. But I clearly remember when I would return from school, the time taken by me to finish my lunch would be directly proportional to the duration of the programme I was watching while having my lunch.

In the current scenario, with enough number of channels and umpteen numbers of programmes supposedly for kids, one can end up watching TV the entire day. I have other examples in my nephew and niece who don’t even bat their eyelids while watching TV!
Of course, there are arguments that kids learn a lot while watching these programmes, which they can very well do otherwise too. And the kids become so influenced by the cartoon or animated characters that slowly you get sucked into a whole world of kiddie merchandise and theme parties and well, what not!

Besides, being very addictive, I have another issue with TV programmes, sometimes they are full of pre-conceived notions and prejudices. Why should we condition the mind of our kids to think in a certain way or have certain opinions about say gender, race, etc. Our kids should have the opportunities to form their own opinions.

I also have strong objections to the kind of advertisements which are shown in between these so-called kid-programmes, junk food packaged in the form of multi-nutrient healthy snacks and milk supplements which promise to fulfill all nourishment required for kids, to name a few. Kids are shown making faces at veggies, which may be true in real life but I still find it mental conditioning of kids. Kids are influenced by their peer group. Moreover, many times certain ads are not even suitable for kids.

My baby is just 10 months old right now, and so far I have resisted the temptation to make him sit in front of TV and finish my chores. It is a vicious circle really. When my parents or in-laws are visiting, I am unable to stop them from switching on the TV but meal time is strictly no-TV time for my baby. No matter who is watching the TV at that time, it has to be switched off.

I have chosen to be a stay-at-home-mom and I think we, my baby and me, can both benefit by spending more time playing and doing activities together like singing, talking, etc. TV takes the attention away from kids and at such tender age, it can be hazardous too!

I know TV is great in moderation, everything is, but in a perfect world. I wouldn’t mind letting him watch Discovery channel or Animal Planet when he is older.

What are your views on TV?