Today is my last post of this series and end of a hectic month of daily blogging. When sometime last year I decided to take on this challenge, I knew it is not going to be easy – but it became all the more hectic because of the lockdown. Working from home full day, along with managing household chores and three kids plus daily blogging (11 p.m. onwards) – phew! (thankfully both our mums are here and nanny and dear husband has been pitching in too – otherwise there is no way I would have been able to do this!) well anyway, to cut the matter short – all I can think of on the last day of the #blogchatterA2Z challenge is Z for Zen. Zen is a variety of Buddhism – but here I am using it in the way it is used in conversational language. It is the feeling of peace, relaxation and contentment.
But I haven’t picked Zen because of my state of mind. I think this is a state of mind that one should be seeking in life – more than joy or happiness, which I think are more momentary. At the end of my life, I know I want to be content and at peace with myself.
If my blogs from A to Y seemed like a parenting marathon, take a deep breath and exhale! Parenting was never easy and is definitely becoming more complex as the external influences on our children continue to increase. Less and less remains in our circle of influence. Hence it becomes important for us to be in touch with our children’s inner selves and try to understand what is going on inside their minds to guide them accordingly. Our key contribution to their development is the values, attitudes, skills and tools we give them as they get ready to take on the world.
But you know as I do that none of us can be perfect parents and neither will our children be perfect. I would be the happiest person on earth if by writing a parenting blog, I could become a perfect parent and successfully tackle all the challenges of modern parenting. But no, the reality is that I can just strive to guide my children in the best possible way. I get frustrated, so do my children, we have out tantrums and then make up. We have our set backs and then we start again. In all of this my companion is Zen. To be happy with what I have and to have known that I am trying my best. And yes, trying your best always is exhausting. So I take down time as and when I need it and so should you.
So coming back to Zen – it isn’t a quality I am suggesting to you only, this is something we should also inculcate in our children. For when they are adults and get weary with the treadmill of life, Zen is what they should be looking for. Or when they are frustrated by the constant race they are running, they should learn to stop and be content with what they have achieved and be happy with their efforts.
Let me share with you the last set of tips I have:
- Slow down: Make time to smell the roses on the way. Yep, I know that is difficult. But try to focus on the most important things you need to get done in the day and encourage your kids to do the same. Try avoid being all over the place with zillions of things to do. Draw a up a simple schedule for the day for yourself and your children and you will feel much more content at the end of the day when you see the ticks against work to be done. Make time to do the simple things in life together – have dinner together, engage in simple conversations, play games. Try to keep the weekends simple, at least a few of them, where we just focus on spending time with each other or friends and family. Cut out the excess noise from your life. Your way of living will definitely percolate down and influence how your children will decide to live their own lives.
- Simple Living: “Saada Jeevan, uchcha vichar” “Simple living, high thinking”. Try and cut out unnecessary things from life – I know it does sound a bit impossible – but after more than a month of living in a lockdown, most of us have come to a realization of how little we need to live. Overflowing refrigerators, spilling cupboards, 20 types of shoes and bags are not really necessary. As you start leading simpler lives, your children will also learn to value the same.
- Don’t put constant pressure: don’t always have unrealistically high expectations from yourselves or your children. Don’t push for perfection. Sometimes, without realizing, we set our children up for failure. It’s great to be at the top or win the race or come at the top of the class, but it is not the end of the life if one doesn’t win. One can’t be on the stage all the time, there needs to be someone in the audience too. Just encourage your children to excel and put in their best efforts. Praise the effort and not the achievement. Always focus on the efforts and not the results – because it is a fact of life that you win some and lose some. A focus on efforts means that you will be satisfied as long as you have put in your best, the result is not always in our hand. Sounds a bit like the famous shloka in Geeta – “Karmanye vadhikarste, ma phaleshu kadachana” “Karma karo aur phal ki chinta mat karo” “do your job and don’t worry about the result”.
- Learn to be thankful: all of us who are reading this blog are amongst the most privileged in the world today. You have sight and you can read – i.e. your brain has its basic faculties. You have a device with an internet connection, if you are not a native English speaker then it means that you are privileged enough to have had a good education. You are easily able to afford 4 meals a day and then some. Your basic needs are easily met. Let us learn to be thankful and teach our children to do so too.
- Let’s not compare: comparison will never ever do us any good. Never compare your children to their siblings, friends or cousins or any other child on this planet. Do not compare yourself with how your batchmates are doing and how much they may be earning and how happy they seem compared to you. Or don’t get smug thinking you are doing too well or your children are the best. Because this is life – and things change. Learn to be happy where you are, be happy with your choices. Make informed choices and then don’t regret them later or compare them to other’s choices.
- Don’t take life too seriously: I am sorry I do. I am not practicing what I preach here – but it is an ongoing effort at my end to become a little less uptight!!! My husband who seems to be my total opposite in this aspect has been working on me for the last 15 years! His attitude shows in his parenting – he is able to make our kids have fun in any circumstance and get them to do anything. Just this morning I wanted to examine Abeer’s teeth (he is 3) and I was trying to get him to open his mouth without much success. Kapil just had to say “show me your dinosaur teeth”, and pop the mouth opened! Well the only point I am trying to make here is that deal with even serious situations light heartedly, don’t make big issues out of even the really big issues. Tone them down and look at them objectively. Learn how to get through to your kids and they will open their hearts to you.
- Practice mindfulness: I have already written about the importance of meditation in the blog on neuro efficiency. It helps create an inward focus and self awareness. It also promotes an indirect and subtle way to be thick skinned and be able to deal with situations objectively and in a calm manner.
- Smile, breathe and go slowly: finally, just smile as often as you can, breathe deeply and mindfully and enjoy the way more than the destination.
Bye bye and thank you so much for being with me in this journey. I hope to come back next year with another A2Z series and till then I hope to be doing my other regular blogs on parenting, disability and inclusion, inspiring women and travel stories. Do subscribe if you have enjoyed reading my posts.
Read my other blogs on the series here:
C is for Courage of Conviction
R is for Remembering your Roots
T is for Thinking Outside the Box