Tuesday, January 20, 2015

The Ten-Minute Tactic that Works!

Are you a working woman? 

Are you a Stay-at-home mom? 

Are you constantly snowed under commitments related to work, 
housework, parenting, chores, cooking, cleaning and more?

 Are you a robot?

Have I got your attention yet? Ok, then I can do away with the bold font and the italics ;)

I belong to a unique breed of mothers. I am the Stay-at-home-mom-who-holds-a-flexi-job-and-works-from-home-sometimes. Oh and I blog too. Across three blogs. And run two active Facebook groups. YES, I said that. It's a real thing!

So, it stands to reason that I am always busy and unable to take calls, respond to text messages or acknowledge the flood of jokes that are delivered to me via whatsapp. I ought to be strung up from the nearest tree.

I have always been a bit of an organiser. Blame it on numerology. Apparently, those born under the number 6 are designed that way. Without actually getting onto the sticky wicket of whether or not numerology works, let's just say, I love to organise. 

Which is why it came as a rude shock to me a few months ago to discover that I had no idea where I had put away my favourite yellow top. I also could not find my list of blogging ideas that I had meticulously written down in a notebook that was lying unused in my daughter's desk. I positively cried when I realised that a personalised, author-signed copy of an anthology was missing!

That's when it hit me. I had fallen into this littered wasteland of dis-organisation and it hurt. Mostly, my ego took the largest bruising, I must admit. So, instead of weeping buckets (which I did anyway), I rolled up my sleeves and decided to tackle this in the best way possible with the strongest tool at my disposal.


I am a time freak. I need to be everywhere on time. Sometimes, before time. Which looks positively weird, especially if it is at a birthday party and I am sitting there in the party hall, before the hosts have arrived.

I was reading my copy of The Happiness Project and realised that getting organised with all our commitments was not difficult, but just needed some dedicated discipline. So,  I adopted the ten-minute tactic.

Assume you have a task, say, putting the washed vessels away into the shelves. If you really think about it, it takes only ten minutes. But, it is so boring! So, what did I do? I found a song that I loved, which was all of ten minutes and 23 seconds long, played it in the background and set about completing the task before the song ended. And it was done! With two minutes to spare!

The same goes for any of the routine tasks. Making a bed, folding the laundry, writing down to-do lists, they all take only ten minutes. What happens is we multi-task and that doesn't get ANY task done.

So, once I understood this, I did the following:

  1. I got myself a Diary where I could write everything down. (Insert joke about 'diary of doting mom' here)
  2. I write down my list each Sunday, planning for the week ahead.
  3.  I make a list of things to do everyday.
  4.  I take them in chunks of three and space them out over the whole day. 
  5. I set my timer for ten minutes, complete one task and head over to the next.

It would be wrong to say that my life is completely back on track. I still cannot find that yellow top or that blogging ideas notebook. But, I DID find the author-signed copy when I cleaned out that one shelf last Wednesday! Yay! So, you know that this works!


What about you? 

Do you have an organising tip? 

Does a Diary help you too?

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Promises & Exceptions- A Mother's Word

Today is the eighth day of January. It somehow seems fitting that I write my first post of 2015 on this blog on this day, because Gy is eight-and-a-half now. It is equally necessary that I put down my promises for the year together with the exceptions that each of them will carry.

My readers must already know by now that I wrote a Wish List for my daughter at the end of 2014.

As parents, most of you will acknowledge that this whole idea of bringing up a person is no cakewalk. It comes with its share of belly laughs and exhausting nights. You are simultaneously exuberant and depleted at the end of  a day in an amusement park. Watching a child sleep is at once immensely satisfying and fear-inducing that the slightest noise will wake them up!

This is all fine when they are those tiny beings that you can easily shape, the ones who nod along sagely when you suggest something and believe that you are the absolute truth. Hey, I enjoyed that phase! Honest!

But, time has a nasty way of catching up with you. One day that innocent ball of cuteness will stare at you, hand on her hip and say, 'I don't like it when you scold me;' OR 'I wish I was always staying with my grandparents' AND the kicker, 'I wish you were not my mom.'

Yes, that hurts. More than the moment when you rip the band-aid from a fully healed wound. In fact, that pain subsides after a few minutes. This one doesn't. Regret and guilt start gnawing away at you in tiny, bite-sized doses and you wonder what on earth you did to merit those soul-crushing moments.

Okay, I exaggerate. Not soul-crushing! But, it is saddening, nonetheless.

However, there is something I must share with Gy as well as other kids who may be reading this post. (Ha, I kid you!) These are things I can unequivocally promise you which will each come with their points of exception.

Picture credit: Modified from Pixabay

So, Gy, in case you didn't know these already, here they are:

Promise 1: 

I will always be here to stand up for you, fight for you and protect you
 like a tigress whose cubs have been threatened.

If you are in the wrong, I will unabashedly tell you so, without flinching.

Promise 2: 

I will always encourage you to learn, explore and go beyond the written word.

 I will expect you to respect other people's points of view, 
even if they are diametrically opposite to yours.

Promise 3: 

I expect you to listen to your parents, your grandparents, your teachers, 
your peers and your subordinates.

If you choose not to listen because you do not agree with something, 
do it kindly and not out of defiance.

Promise 4: 

I will always hug you when you are sad, upset, hurt and in the need for comfort.

The only time I will not hug you is when I am angry, because I believe that touch is powerful 
and I would hate for the hug to be meaningless or worse, transfer that anger to you.

Promise 5:

I will never love anyone else as much as I love you with all your quirks of hearty laughter, 
dimpled smiles, ridiculous frowns, snarky defiance, muddy pants, carpet spills, 
bone-crushing hugs and breathless kisses.




If you liked this post, do drop me a comment.

Monday, December 29, 2014

Wishlist for 2015: A Mother's Hope

The last few days of December are here and I am bundling up a year's worth of memories, regrets, new wisdom, some learning, lots of love, fresh friendships, rekindled relationships and looking into what 2015 may be holding in the openness of its embrace.

As I write this post, sitting at my workstation, surrounded by the images of things that are familiar- my daughter's clothes, her wardrobe, a favourite cartoon character on the wall, magnetic letters stuck on an almirah, a bookmark that she made this year- I am trying to envision what I truly, sincerely pray for as the New year pokes its head around the corner.

Resolutions for specific goals (material in nature) don't make sense to me anymore, since well-intentioned is not nearly the same as well-executed, so I would prefer to envision what 2015 should be for an eight-year-old who has the wisdom of a sage, the heart of a blue whale, the curiosity of fifteen cats combined and the love that only she is capable of.

For you,my dear, I hope that the world never fails you in your hour of need and that you can always give back as much as you get from your surroundings.

I pray that you stay safe and protected from the dangers that abound- both physical and emotional- with your wits about you and your values in place.

I may sound annoyed when you pepper me with your endless stream of questions, but know, that secretly, I always enjoy your wide-eyed look of wonder and curiosity and the fact that you consider me to be a treasure trove of information (however mistaken that may be).

I honestly confess that I feel mixed emotions when you are away from me- a sense of quietude that brings with it relief as well as loneliness, in the most inexplicable way. Know that this will never change, no matter how old you grow.

Finally, my wish for you is that you change only in the things that matter- your horizons and your compassion, which must both continue to grow; and that you stay unchanged in the way you look at me and hug me every single day.

Happy 2015, dearest Gy!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

Five Maxims my Mom Friends Taught Me

 December is here. It's the end of another year, winding down with all the bottled up emotions, feelings, resolutions and promises of the year gone by. We have kept some promises, we have broken a few, renewed others and plan to do it all afresh once 2015 hits us in under a fortnight.

But, here's the thing.Unless we learn from our errors, the past has no value. It is just going to be a repetitive train wreck where we crash into our mistakes, pick up, dust ourselves off and go careening down that same track all over again.

However, what if we had someone to help us out? What if that person talks you down from a cliff of indecision? What if she reaches out and gives you a hug to say that things may look bleak now, but they are certain to look up very soon?

How many of us can say that we have that one person? I am not talking about your spouse or your significant other. In no way am I discounting the presence and importance of that person in your life. But, sometimes, we just need our girlfriends , don't you agree?

It gives me a specially warm feeling to admit that I have not one or two such persons, but nearly 50 women I can reach out to, on any given day. Sounds surprising, I know. A very close-knit online community that I moderate has some incredible mom friends, those who will jump to the rescue of every other member on that group. The most interesting part of this is the fact that less than half of us have met face to face and just once in the last 6 months!

What, then, are the lessons that these incredible Mom Friends taught me?

We are all alike:

We may come from different backgrounds, hold varying political opinions, not concur on certain parenting practices, but underneath it all, that same heartbeat called Motherhood beats. It is that pulse which says, 'Hey, I know what you're going through and it sucks. BIG TIME! Do you want to grab a cup of coffee and let your hair down with me?'

We shouldn't Judge another:

Do you know how incredibly hard this one is to follow? The minute you see a toddler throw a raging tantrum in the middle of a supermarket floor, don't you grit your teeth and feel annoyed? Oh yeah!
When our group came into being, we laid down three simple guidelines:

  • Be Frank and Open
  • Be Supportive of Another
  • Be Non-Judgmental always
Photo Courtesy: http://nothingbutaquote.blogspot.in/2012/08/dont-judge.html

Simple maxims. And all it took was a conscious mindset to start following these guidelines. So, the minute someone vented about how her child was being defiant or how another spoke about the frustration that comes with every single thing about the daily routine, 45 other voices would jump in and say, 'Hey, I get where you're coming from. Breathe. Let it go.' 

That's it. No finger-pointing, no shaking of the head in a superior manner and definitely no shaming or criticism happen on this group. Ever. Suffice to say, that has extended to circles outside our group as well now.

Let Go of Guilt:

Parenting is hard. Let's not even begin to mask that under the pretence of happy Facebook photos and cheery status updates. As a friend of mine said to me, 'What you see on Facebook or Pinterest is what I like to call 'Curated Parenting.' The implication is that if you steer clear of talking about your guilt, your anger,your depression and keep focusing on the joys of life and the beauty that is motherhood, then you're set for life.

Um, no...Sorry. That doesn't work for me. I am human, like everyone else. I have yelled, screamed, thrown a tantrum, even as recently as a few weeks ago. I shouldn't be made to feel guilty. What I need is support, empathy and cartloads of love. With time, I have come out of that crushing burden of guilt and learnt to accept that it is okay to feel anything under the sun. For that, my mom friends are whom I need to thank.

Be Nice and if you can't do that, Say nothing!

We are all so ready and easy with our advice and opinions these days. Or maybe that is a human mindset, to give advice or criticise even when it is not sought? Every single day, I now start with my mantra from my guide: WATCH- Watch your Words, Actions, Thoughts, Character and Heart.

It is very tempting to jump in and be mean to someone because they disagree with you. But, it just takes a pinch of effort to hold back and say nothing at all. Try it, if you haven't already. It's worth it.

Do a kind deed for another:

Without going into the discussion about altruism and the motives behind it, let me just say that doing something nice for another human being is one of the most wonderful things you can do. I was in a pretty bad state a couple of months ago. Worry, stress and tension had caught up with me, spiralling me downwards into this infested pit of sadness. Absolute desperation made me share this on my group. Every single person there reached out to me. 

Two days later, although I felt marginally better, I was still feeling blue. There was a knock on the door and I opened it to see this delicious bouquet of pink roses, sent specifically to cheer me up. 

Did you know this fact about pink roses?

 Light pink roses are associated with gentleness and admiration
 and can also be used as an expression of sympathy.

Did I not know these lessons already? Did I need my friends to teach me any of this? Let's just say it doesn't hurt to have daily reminders of the things that matter. At the end of the day, you and I, we're just the same and we are on the same journey. It's just that our paths to get there, may be slightly different.


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