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Shifting Base,Toddler and All

The Parentrics family was completely out of online action for some time and we have a very reasonable explanation. We survived moving base from one end of our congested city to another, toddler and all. Oh yes, we are all in one piece – thanks for asking!

There is something about an empty apartment that awakens the dormant housekeeper in me. So when we decided to move back to our own place, out came the design apps and housekeeping magazines. Photos were ‘hearted’ and ideas were ‘pinned’. In my head, I was Lady Suri, floating weightlessly (fantastic!) around my picture-perfect abode, smiling radiantly at the imaginary compliments. I had planned for all eventualities, except for one jarring reality – the toddler in the house.

I thought I had packed that!

Remember those mind-numbing maths puzzles were one tap fills a well and another empties it – leaving you with a very dry pit, despite herculean efforts? It was surreal being part of a live problem where boxes of toys were emptying faster than they could be packed off. I suggested issuing a restraining order on the little brat but apparently it is not legal to keep your own ward at bay!

The Imperfect World

There is nothing like a shifting exercise to showcase the imperfect lives of tired parents. The stark evidences of our lackadaisical parenting lay around us after the packing was done – unmatched socks, incomplete toy sets, limbless dolls, <shudder>.

Décor, Toys, Filth what’s the difference?

My fantasyland turned quickly into an amusement park for the three feet man cub. Decorative pebbles, ceramic curios, cutlery, crockery – aaaargh, what was I thinking! After couple of hours of trying and negotiating, I resigned to the idea of living in a pig sty.

pg-diy-toddler-toys-intro-01-full

Pic Courtesy: whattoexpect.com

This is what I learned…

#1 Pack your kids off to someplace safe before shifting – summer camp, grandparents’, daycare – doesn’t matter, as long as they are far, far away from your boxes.  If that is not possible, pack them off in cartons. If someone objects (unfair), at least keep them in room arrest of some sort with abundant resources and entertainment

#2 The word you are looking for is ‘minimalist’. Buy nothing – no furniture, no books, no bedding, no linen. Trust me – one day you would have to move. And then they would rise against you in mutiny and drown you in wood and cotton. Be safe, live like a hermit!

#3 What you have from your ambitiously settled past is most probably not going to survive the journey. Take time to say your goodbyes to those lovely china sets, photo frames and vases. Also, to prevent future heartbreak, buy everything you must in disposable plastic – hang the environment! (convenience over life – right?)

#4 You will have no routine for at least a month – get used to anarchy. Remember, all we need is a little push.

#5 You will not have that house from House magazine ever! At least not until your kids have moved to a different postal code. Might as well get in a relationship with endearing mess.

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Discipline and the Hapless Parents

My personal three word horror story – “Strong Willed Child”. Boy, is T strong willed or what. It really is a euphemistic phrase since calling your own child names may seem demented. Her will must have been left for a whole extra hour in the foundry during manufacturing. Absolute statesman standard hardening!

Long story short, we have never been able to make T do anything that she has not signed up for on her own accord. Add to that, the sanctimonious positive parenting lectures and then fathom our absolute haplessness.

After many episodes of complete meltdown for baby and us, here are a few approaches we are beta testing:

#Choose the battles: The sharp little thing has grave opinions, on important things like clothes and schedules, that often contradict mine. But mere difference from my personal standard of perfection is no reason to start the war. It has really been our journey of learning to let go on issues that would not shake the earth.

#Give her choices: When the horns are locked, one thing that often helps with T is to give her a choice between ‘our way’ and ‘our way’ – if you know what I mean. It gives her the freedom of making a decision and she often signs up peacefully. Every time she takes this bait, I do an inaudible Scooby Doo whoop!

#Time-outs: Yups, good old fashioned deprivation sometimes helps. The hardest thing here is to decide the timeline and stick to it like we mean business. Any softening of stance from any member of the adult brigade (grandparents cave easy), can literally turn the tables on this one.

#Proverbial Carrots: The promise of a gift is not my favorite move. It feels too close to bribing to be morally acceptable. But then, some might argue that the idea is to make the kid ‘goal-oriented’. Wonder whether politicians put it like that to rationalize.

#Spanking: Yes, we do it. There are times when nothing else is strong enough. It’s either the bum or the palm. And it makes us feel like shit.

To my utter relief, the first three are starting to work on most occasions!

 

 

 

 

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The “Have What I Like” plan

I am at home this week caring for my child and largely ‘unhooked’.  I am not working from home or finishing up a presentation while she watches television. At best, I am stealing hours of her naptime to be on my computer. She is unwell and clingy. I am exhausted and terrified of my beefy inbox. But amidst all this, I just discovered that she has started identifying the alphabets. She is singing a couple of rhymes I did not know she knew. She is more fond of Goofy than Donald. And she loves the Airforce planes that fly by my place in the afternoon. Glad to be updated!

We have all heard so many sides of the ‘have it all’ argument – including the one that disses the phrase itself as the problem. When many intelligent and thoughtful people debate on a topic across the globe without agreeing on a way forward, it is vain to try and figure out which side is right. But, I am planning to work on an operative model for self and see if I feel less pressurized. I call it the “Have what you like” model.

A few key elements of the model (Notes to Self):

1. There is no ‘All’. It is like the “Yeti”. Either forget it, or watch a Polar Bear after a few tequilla shots and convince yourself that you saw it. Don’t go too close – they are lethal despite the apparent cuteness.

2. You love your job – keep it. You hate the friggin’ guts of it – dump and run. Whoever told you there was a prize at the end was lying. Nobody has seen the end. Just ensure you will not starve – that could turn out to be the ‘Have nothing’ model, not pretty!

3. Look put together on the days you want to. Wear pajamas to the grocery store when you care two hoots. Nobody is keeping score. Unless you are a Kardashian. Then you will be out of business unless you wear what the producer tells you.

4. No ‘Before-After’ because there are no ‘ever after’s. One second you are not watching and you are ‘Before’ again. How embarassing! Have a threshold instead. An alarm system of sorts – any more/less, correct the situation.

5. Exchange notes all you want. Make a day of it – cozy up with all the notebooks you have picked up and read in solitude. Only, don’t start measuring yourself against each protagonist. There’s a reason someone else’s story is called fiction.

So that’s my ‘smell the roses, slow down, have what you like’ operative plan. A happy Have What you Like to you too!

 

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New Year uploaded, your move Parents..

I wish time knew that it was New again. I wish it stopped, did something remarkable or absurd to start off afresh. Human beings, though, cannot just keep going forward. They want a cycle of doing, evaluating, re-doing. And hence years and the imagined newness of time. So, just to humour us, time is young again. It has shed the infinite years of existence as baggage and has rewound to 2 days old. This is our chance to reset life to maximize happiness. And all this effort, calculation and organization would be in vain if every year looked the same in our lives.

Thankfully, with the baby, every moment is one new adventure. She is learning to talk (that includes some unwanted curse words, ahem), decide and demand. As parents, we either evolve or perish! So here are my five parenting resolutions for the new year:

new year

#1 Read with her: While I am thankful to the faster internet and baby-appropriate content for saving my bum, I do want Baby T to grow a fondness for the good old, printed medium. I want her to be able to turn to a book in times of need and get lost in the pages. I would secretly swig a champagne the first time I have to punish her for hiding a novel in her school books. So, I must read with her – everyday.

#2 Listen to her: My baby is saying her first sentences. They are mostly cute and sometimes hilariously inappropriate. She is absorbing her world and reflecting it back to us. It is our chance to see the world from her unsullied viewpoint. So I resolve to listen, not just be present distractedly. I want to hear her repeat herself ten times over and enjoy the exhilaration in each repetition

#3 Try something together: This one is on my bucket list. I want to have one passion in common with my baby. Now that her cognitive skills are developing, I want to be able to pick up one of her interests and practice together. It could be dance, music or croquet. I might be a novice or an afficianado of the same – I do not care. I don’t want to relive childhood vicariously, I want to fall and learn with her.

#4 Give her space, yes already: As my tot becomes more and more interactive, I can feel my world shrinking a tiny bit more around her as the center. I can see myself getting addicted to my desperate need to be her guiding star. But, much as she needs my guidance, she needs time with her own self – yes already (she is 2+ today). She needs to explore and discover, fumble and pick herself up, learn and unlearn without someone cosseting her every move.

#5 Learn to share: Baby T struggles with the act of sharing. But it would be foolhardy to believe we are good at it. This new year, we resolve to share our happiness with as many people as we can, reach out to our loved ones more often, provide our time and companionship and share our material belongings with those who need it. We often mistake mere giving away with sharing – when you share you feel one with the person and not alienated from them. So here’s to our learning of being one with as many lives around us as possible!

 

 

 

 

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5 Types of New Parents

Finale of the throwback week – to a time when we started the journey, close to two years back!

Nobody is ever ready for parenting. Parenting classes, DIY books, the wiseacre aunt or the internet – nothing ever prepares you for what hits when the baby shoots out. We all react in varied, mostly hilarious, ways. Here are a few types of New Parents we tend to become:

new parent

#1 The OMG Parents: This couple has gone to every class on offer. You saw them at Lamaze class, Breastfeeding Symposium and Smart Parents Club (early parenting edition). They know the theory of parenting better than Einstein knew relativity. Being around them with a new born is like clearing the Minesweeper game – there are warnings getting flagged at your every move. And even marginal deviations would be met with resounding OMGs.

#2 The Que-Sera-Sera (QSS) Parents: The OMGs can’t stand this variety. The QSS parents have tremendous faith in the survival instinct of the human race. Mom probably rocked a glass of wine a day till the last day of pregnancy. They haven’t considered baby-proofing ’cause everything is pre-destined anyhow. Caution is boring and knowledge is corrupting.

#3 The Google Parents: These are your garden variety parents who are always wondering whether they are screwing it up. They missed the classes or weren’t paying sufficient attention, but are now stumped at every single move. Mom is usually feeding and surfing the net at the same time. Dad has Baby Centre in his favorites. They visit the clinic one too many times and are chased away by annoyed paeds.

#4 The Midwife Parents: This type learnt all they had to from their grandparents. The baby is most likely to be covered in black dots, threads or the local variant of a protective omen. They discard allopathy as a modern consumerist conspiracy. For eg: They prefer cloth nappies to diapers and seriously doubt the efficacy of exhaustive vaccination schedules. There is a homemade solution to every baby problem – just ask them!

#5 The Outsource Parents: The outsource parents have given up trying to understand this complicated game. Most likely, they are part of a large family and the baby is always rotating from one loving snuggle to another. The Outsource Parents assume that it is best to leave it to the experienced kind and go-with-the-flow. They follow instructions from all other type of parents and manage each situation differently. There is absolutely no formula they would emphasize.

D and I were type 3 although I would have gladly done type 5 if there was an opportunity.

What other types of new parents have you seen? What was your type?

 

 

 

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5 Steps to Date Night for Parents

Step #1 : This is an optional step, depending on the husband’s alignment to the idea of outing without the baby. Mine’s just a sycophantic baby pleaser!

Convince hubby on the strategic importance of date nights. If the tide doesn’t turn, research post natal depression on the home computer and leave the page open for accidental discovery.

Step #2: Research a place that has no babychairs and limited ambient lighting.

Step #3: Assume an air of non-chalance – like you have all the time in the world. Wear pajamas as long as humanly possible before a date. Consider changing date night 3in the car

Step #4: Try to put the baby to sleep before leaving. Consider filling the house with white noise and sleep hypnosis. Don’t fall asleep in the process (yups, has happened to us!)

Step #5: Once out the doors (finally), force self and partner to discuss at least one topic beyond the baby. Indulge a little in the togetherness. Try not to spend the entire evening missing the tot.

That’s it – the formula to the perfect Date Night. I will let you know how it went when I have one!

 

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5 Baby Products for my Mommyhood Mystery Box

It feels like ages since I shopped for the unborn/newborn baby. I was like a bratty teenager with a sponsored credit card. I bought stuff because they looked cute, felt important or were made in a country other than China.

I sometimes wonder, if I were to be given a Mystery Box, a la Masterchef, to survive early mommy days, what items would I wish for. Following is my list

#5 Graco Stroller Citilite: I was very clear that I DID NOT want a stroller that could replace a tank during wartime. I had once witnessed a harrowed mum trying to close this massive contraption while balancing a babe in her arms – watching her gave me a shoulder ache. So we got this light weight push chair that T still enjoys from time to time. And it’s 5 kgs, I mean thats literally lighter than my thunder arms.

Price range: $$$

#4 Babylove Carry Rocker: There are so many outrageously expensive variants of the rocker. But this lovely gift from Granny and Gramps was T’s sanctuary of peace. She ate, slept and moved around in this. I am sure she would have wanted to get married in it if she could fit in. There were days I fantasized about putting her on the bed and enjoying the rocking myself for a bit – the thunder arms came in the way!

Price range: $

#3 Quick Dry Sheets: Do you remember the old school rubber sheets of the ’80s. They were cold, slippery and it took a chinese balancing act to avoid a mess. Quick dry is like a big, thin diaper that can be carried around in the purse. It comes in all kinds of sizes (up to the size of a full scale double bed) – so let the baby roll! It is my all purpose, go-to cover all. Click here if you are looking for this lifesaver!

Price range: $

#2 Avent Microwave Bottle Sterilizer and Pigeon Bottles:  Ok, I know those really are two items and I am cheating a bit. But it’s my game, my rules. I have lost a small fortune trying a gazillion bottle types and boy, have I seen some weird bottle nipples. T rejected each one of them – the more expensive ones with greater vengeance. I was at a stage where I was blueprinting the idea of cloning a human breast when suddenly, she took the Pigeon Peristaltic variant at 5 months. I am not that into the Almighty, but that moment came very close to a Miracle! The sterilizer could finally be put to the use it was manufactured for (we had been storing condiments in it till that point). Both proved extremely useful and lasted forever.

Price: $$

#1 Fisher Price Precious Planet diaper bag: Once the diaper bag replaces the handbag as the fashion accessory, you have arrived in the mommyworld. I can totally see myself going ‘I am wearing Victoria Beckam today, the bag is Fisher-Price’ on the red carpet! Till date, this bag follows T around like the little pug in the Hutch ads.

Price: $$$

What baby products are you picking ‘to-be’/new mom? Give us a sneak peek of your list!

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5 things about co – sleeping with your toddler that’ll change your mind

I don’t co – sleep. But sometimes after her 5 am bottle of milk, I would be too lazy to put her back in her crib and let her be on the bed with us. And repent it, always! How my laziness overpowers my ability to learn from the past.

 So here are 5 things you haven’t heard about co – sleeping yet or have, and are still considering it as an option.  In which case you are beyond help, my friend:
#5 : That their legs have the magical powers to find your face. No matter how many times you move them back to a logical orientation, they would be right back kicking your teeth. Every. Single.Time.

#4: That they would sleep in the middle. And kick the blanket. And you will wish you were wearing overalls that covered your little feet which would be cold, cold, cold!

#3: That those little, beautiful, angelic things can snore, or wheeze, or whatever it is that you call the sound they make. Sometimes, when you are just dozing off nonetheless, they would scream. Just like that! Pointlessly and only long enough to wake you up completely.  When they are ascertained that you are no longer sleepy, they’ll go back to peaceful slumber. You would be left sleepless, wondering what horsepower God set these little engines at, to enable so much noise making capacity.

Adorable from any angle. Love the one with the bottle – reminds me of my younger days 😛

#2: That they need space. And I don’t mean commensurate to their size. The little pest will rotate and revolve and do flips in dimensions that you didn’t know existed till this point. If you are experienced at fighting for your spot on the bed (think of your worst sibling war for space), then you might just still be latching on to the bed in the morning.

#1: That they would look Sooooooo frikkin’ adorable doing all of the above, that you would blame yourself for needing space or blanket or sleep.

So co – sleeping is just what the doctor prescribed if you are looking for some eye bags and low self esteem.

Off to buy that crib yet?