Thursday, November 26, 2015

Anger management 101 – A yelling-free childhood for my kids!

Don’t get me wrong I am not against discipline. I do not believe that kids need to be let lose to do whatever they want, whenever they want and however they want.
I am among those who believe that I am a steward to this tiny life that God has entrusted me and it is my responsibility to raise this life into a responsible, loving, caring and complete person.

So yes I discipline my children, they are told when they do something wrong and corrected. In our house disobedience is especially not tolerated. But discipline has nothing to do with the ‘Y’ word. Yelling is the worst form of any speech I must say! In the recent couple of months I have realized that the pitch of my voice has especially reached very high decibels. I do it in the name of correction and discipline. But I have reached so far beyond the point of discipline that from where I stand and yell, discipline looks like a dot! Yelling is just a form of venting! Unfortunately my kids do not understand ‘venting’! My kids do not deserve ‘venting’! Most days as I think of how I need to protect my kids from the dangerous outside world, I now think of how I need to protect my kids from ME!

When I expressed my fear and my frustrations, DH calmly told me to stop yelling. Yes! More easily said than done. DH is a much calmer person than me. He does occasionally yell, but it take a lot to push him to that point. As a result I began to feel more and more like the monster in the house! As I started trying to make changes in our daily routine, I noticed a couple things that made the yelling a lot less.

Distractions: We are a homeschooling family and the first half of our day involves some active learning and sit down time. I am the one who spends the first 4 hours with my kids and guess who comes along with me to class. My phone! I think if I were sending the kids to a school and the teacher in the classroom was checking her emails or messages during class, I would be pissed. The past one week, I decided to set aside my phone for the morning hours. I turned off my WI-FI for most part of the morning. The thing with the phone and the internet bringing the world closer, it also brings my problems right to my fingertips. While I love Whatsapp and Facebook, not all messages and posts are fun and if there is conflicts/ arguments/disagreement via messages, guess who bears the brunt of it! Yes the kids! So now during the morning time I turn of my Wi-Fi on my phone. I leave my phone on vibrate and enjoy my one on one time with the kids. School has become easier and calmer since this has started. But more importantly since I am not distracted, Isaac and Ziva respond quicker to what I am teaching them. Less yelling! The past two - three weeks have been especially good! We finish math quicker and there is even laughter at the study table!

Guilt: In addition to being a homeschooling mom, I am also a WAHM (work at home mom). Some days I am unable to get anything done. What with trying to rush around and get school stuff prepared, the kitchen set for breakfast, lunch and dinner and the house half orderly, I am barely able to put in the required hours per day. This brings about a lot of guilt. As I try to juggle being wife, mom, employee and house manager, I end up doing a terrible job in all my tasks. So now I have started outsourcing. I ask the maid to make breakfast and some days I even ask her to feed the kids. Some days I ask DH to help with math or just read-alouds. I order in groceries and supplies for the month or week so I do not have that additional thing on my mind. As these tasks get completed in the right amount of time, no stress and therefore no GUILT. No guilt, much less yelling.

Take a break!: Sometimes the kids need a break from me and sometimes I need a break from them. Usually this break is needed right in the middle of a routine busy morning. It feels like if I could just get this one more page of reading or writing or math done, the world would be a better place. But I am learning to let go! So every time we finish something, I take a break and they take a break. Isaac runs around the room and sometimes flips upside down on the couch. Ziva finds a spoon and starts to play with her doll. It does take longer to get them back at the table and focus on what they are doing, but I have calmer more willing kids to deal with and much less YELLING!

In the past two days I have been able to look at Isaac and tell him that I am not happy with what he is doing. Whether it is disobedience or annoying his sister, I have managed to convey across to him with no words that he has crossed the line and will soon be disciplined. This is not a look that indicates anger, or displeasure or emotional ‘athaychar’. It’s just a look. Our eyes lock and he knows, that if he continues with his actions he will be in serious trouble. Sometimes he stops, sometimes I believe he just wants to test the waters to see how far he can go. I also know from the gaze in his eyes that he is not afraid of me, but he is definitely afraid of the consequence of his actions. No yelling! It is still hard to capture four-year old Ziva’s attention. But I have learned that yelling does not help either.
I know it’s too early to say all of the above works, I will never yell at my kids and celebrate. Like every addiction and every diet, I may crash land to a much worse spot. But I then have this blog to remind me how I had that one week of yell-free time and the joy on my kid’s faces as they enjoyed their time with me.
I do not want my children to tremor in front of me or be afraid of me. I want them to have a yell-free happy childhood.

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Hooked - #RealTogetherness

There was time when I was hooked to Television. I could watch 6-7 hours of TV. I could watch and re-watch episodes. I had evenings and nights of ‘back-to-back’ watching all those detective series. And then I cut it off at the source. Yes I cut off cable. Its has been six years now since we cut cable at our house. Since we moved from the US to india, there was a mild urge to get cable back on the pertext of the kids watching Discovery and Animal Planet. But considering that I am so ‘hooked’ we have progressively been able to push of cable by buying DVD’s with the wonderful soothing voice of Sir David Attenbourgh talking about the ‘Life of Birds’.
You could say I found freedom from the addiction. And while that lasted a good deal of time, here I am again with yet another ‘issue’. Social media and its kind has taken over my life. I am hooked once again. Don’t get me wrong. I love Facebook and Whatsapp. I like that I can send my DH a picture of my little girl crying in an instant or post this blog for a hundred friends to read via my Facebook page. But truth be told – I am hooked.
As the convenience of keeping in touch becomes easier, as the world becomes smaller, as we network faster, the addiction is growing stronger.
A few days ago a nephew of mine told me for a 100th time that I was hooked to ‘whatsapp’. In his words, ‘Whatsapp was becoming my idol’. So I decided time to cut the tree and pull of the addiction from the roots.
Well, I wish it was that easy. Considering pretty much all communication for me is via Whatsapp and Facebook. I rarely pick up the phone anymore to call anyone. But there has got to be plan of action. At least let social media know – They do not rule my life.
The Kissanpur ad (see link below) is phenomenally cute and got me a little teary eyed. But I decided there were a few things I was already doing and  I just needed to add a few more things to my list and I would be on my way to freedom again.
A few months back I quit my vegetable garden due to a monkey menace. I recently started planting seeds again. I even plucked a few lady fingers this past week. But better still every morning last week from 6-7 am, DH and I went up to the terrace and started cleaning up the area to make space for my kitchen garden. We cleared up the pots, planted a few seeds and sad down with our cup of tea afterward to enjoy our menial work. We never took our phones up with us. This was step one to freedom.
This week I decided I would turn off my phone internet at least for a couple our hours during the day time and all night! I really do not understand why I have my phone data plan or Wi-Fi ON while I am sleeping. Unfortunately current communication methods, I cannot cut off WhatsApp completely – but I am on my way to freedom.
I have two more plans and if they are successful, I will blog about it. But for right now enjoy this simply cute Kissanpur Ad!

This blog was written for ##RealTogetherness

Wednesday, October 14, 2015

And then life changed forever! First time parents!

Every so often I do this thing where I check time in another country. Usually it is either US, if hubby is travelling or UTC because I forget to turn on my work timer.
Today I am thinking of a time long ago. 6 years to be exact. And so I typed into google ‘Time in US’
7:39 pm: Washington DC.
That sounds about right and since I was about 50 minutes from Washington DC I think I was in the mall right now. Columbia mall to be exact. I was eating my last meal as a married woman. Tomorrow I would be a mom! Yes October 15 2009 about 7 pm, DH dragged me to the mall for a walk and a meal. All I wanted to do was sit on the sofa.
I had hoped ‘Isaac’ would be born on October 15 since it was my father’s birthday. I really wanted him to be birthday partners with my dad whom I had lost about 18 months before. But Isaac decide he needed just a few hours more to come out, drawing the date to October 16 2009.
I still remember I ate ‘gyros’. Probably the worst ‘gyros’ every. DH ate his favorite ‘five guy burgers’ and I think he did share a few fries with me.
I waddled all over the mall. Yes literally waddled like a duck. All I wanted to do was go home and sleep. Little did I know that the night was going to get too exciting to sleep. Just as I hit the bed, I had to ‘pee’ yet again for the umpteenth time. I sat up and then it happened.
‘Suresh … my water broke!’
DH who had probably drifted off just a little into dreamland jumped off this bed. You could see the excitement on his face. I think he probably expected the baby to be there. Time on the clock was probably midnight. We had to wait another 15 hours to see our little boy. He took his own sweet time to arrive and could not be rushed any sooner.
The rule in the US was if you are not in pain you do not come to the Hospital. So when I called my midwife, she told me to eat something and try to sleep some. SLEEP some!!!! I was going to be a mom. There was no way I was going to sleep. We waited for a few hours and then unable to hold in our excitement drove to the hospital and got settled in.
And then the wait began. They say ‘No pain .. No gain’. Well whoever wrote that has obviously never been induced for labor pain. The actual labor pain started at about noon. By 1 pm I was begging for the epidural. At 2 pm I was fast asleep enjoying some pain free rest!
Finally at about 5 pm, Isaac decided to it was time to make his grand entry into the world. And just like that he opened my womb!
The beginning of a long roller coaster journey called motherhood.7 years of waiting, 15 hours of labor and then all else is bliss!