Motherhood has taught me quite a few things for sure and the most important thing is Patience. I was a very impatient person by nature. I used to lose my cool at the drop of a hat and would go on a yelling spree but things have changed for good after I had Daughter. It’s not that I have turned into a saint but my self-control has improved a lot from my previous days. Just after I had her, I remember I was very overwhelmed by the fact that this puny little baby will depend upon me for most of the things. Of course feeding, bathing and changing diapers were least of my worries. The thing that would scare me most was her future lay at stake on how hubby and I would bring her up. It literally frightened me. It was then that I realized how easy it was for us to blame/question other parents and how difficult it actually is to be in a parent’s shoe. This is not a post to frighten those who are contemplating on becoming parents. It’s just about our family and what worked for us the best.
One thing I always did with her right from the very first days is talk. Yes I talked and talked and talked to her. For me it was no big deal because I love talking. Talking to her made me feel really good. I would talk to her, sing to her read her rhymes and stories. I remember hubby would get back from office and quickly freshen up and would lay next to her and talk to her about his day. Believe it or not, he would also ask her how her day was. Very early on we started getting rewards of our talking. She started to babble way before other infants and said her first word around four months. I always made it a point to explain everything to her. Each evening around 8 when the bell would ring, I would tell her ‘baba’ and one day without preamble she uttered her first word, ‘babba’ on hearing the doorbell in the evening. After that there was no looking back.
The other thing that we always did was fill our home with books and music. Both hubby and I love music. On any given time you will hear music in our home. We hear from Rabindrasangeet to Scorpions. Be it a long road trip or sitting with a glass of wine on a cold winter evening Rafi, Mukesh, Kishore always manages to be a part our lives. And Daughter also loves music. We used to get a lot of toddler CDs for her since very early on. Nowadays she hears almost anything. Her taste in music is very versatile. On the weekends if she is the first one to wake up, she goes to the living room and the voice of John Denver fills our house. Same thing with books, she loves reading and is an excellent reader.
I also strongly believe in the reward system. I don’t like calling it a bribe as to me, first she gets a job well done and then we reward her. They are mostly not expensive things and can be any regular stuff. Hubby and I generally decide and then we give her a few options and she can have the final say. I first started with the Reward system when we were getting her off the diaper. I told her each time she told me she had to go poop/pee and did the job in the bathroom, she would get a sticker. I started this when she was around 18months and believe me she was completely off diapers by the time she was 2. I remember that time our bathroom door was filled with stickers. I still do the sticker thing with her studies now. Each day that she does a few pages from her activity book, she gets a sticker on her room calendar. Each month she counts how many she got. When she does exceptionally well in something we buy her a gift. I think it helps her keep motivated.
The other thing is option vs force. As I said I am not a saint nor am I anywhere near being a perfect parent, the ropes of parenthood is something I am trying to learn as well, so I have my bad days too. There are days I do things wrong and make wrong choices. There are times when I am not particularly having a good day and end up being a little impatient or a little too hard. Those are the worst days of all. It is on such days that to get a job done, rather than being reasonable about it, I tend to pull my mommy-knows-it-all card and we get in a head lock situation. This is something that works 100% with Daughter, if I force her into something the outcome is crying/acting stubborn or a flat refusal but if I give her an option she almost always makes a good choice. And one thing that I am trying to work very hard is give her some space and freedom. Let her make some of her choices. If one day she refuses to have a fruit or a vegetable, just let it be. Nothing is lost in one day. I know sometimes I act a little too paranoid but I am getting better. If one day she refuses to have a banana then I try and coax her into eating an apple. If that doesn’t work either I tell her the importance of healthy eating and also tell her not eating a fruit is ok as long as she doesn’t do it every day. 9 out of 10 days she would end up telling me ‘ok mama I will eat my fruit now. Eating fruits are healthy.’ It’s a win-win situation. These days I try to give her various options be it during study time or dinner. I am often surprised at how much smoothly things sail if I handle things in a matured way.
One thing that we had decided very early on was never to scare her of the unknown. Just to save our breath we never told her ‘don’t go in the dark, there is a ghost’. Often we found people doing this so that the child would sit under their nose and not venture in any other part of the house. We always told Daughter not to touch any electrical socket and thankfully she listened. I always told her she is not allowed in the kitchen as there are hot stuffs but other than that she was allowed to venture everywhere in the home. So the transition to her own room happened very smoothly. We made sure she understood that she can come to our bed anytime she wishes and we are right in the next room. She took the concept very sportingly. Yes she still calls for us in the middle of the night and gets in our bed sometimes but that is mainly because she wants to snuggle with us not because she is scared. To her ghosts, monsters and vampires only exist in story books.
Another thing that does help me is a Time Out. Daughter is or has never really been very naughty or brattish. But on those rare occasion when she has acted out a time out has really helped calm things down a lot easily then a yelling. It actually gives her time to think about what she has done and gives me the much needed time to calm down and think of a way how I want to handle things. I honestly think it helps me more because from the moment I start to scream she automatically gets in her crying mode and nothing gets resolved.
Discipline is also something that is very much needed. We try to stick to a routine so that Daughter knows what to expect next. Generally discipline is something we try not to compromise upon. That way things run a little smoothly. Now that Daughter is also growing up she knows when to push us and when not and we too have learnt when to push her and when to let her off the hook easy.
It is a never ending learning process. I think all of us try to do the best we can and what works for us may not always work for you. But implementing little changes here and there has helped us in being better parents so much. But no matter what we do it is so important to patiently deal with them. Be it in answering their innumerous queries as to when, why, what. Be it in gently pushing them to try new things. Be it easing their little minds to rest after a nightmare. Be it to reassure them that we will be there no matter what and its ok for them to tell us anything. After all the key to successful kids is a secure and happy childhood.