Toddler lesson – Practice never giving up

You can learn many things from children.  How much patience you have, for instance.  -Franklin P. Jones

Every day, almost every second of every minute lately, I seem to learn something from my toddler. I’m sure all parents feel the same way about their kids. What we choose to see and what we decide to take away is up to us. Amidst the chaos & the never-ending chores of parenting, it’s easy for us to ignore the subtle lessons life throws our way, even in the form of cranky, stubborn menaces, a.k.a kids 🙂

Babies don’t just walk & talk overnight. Toddlers don’t just jump & run out of the blue. Kids don’t just speak & write all of a sudden. They practice. Constantly. Every waking moment of every day until they master the skill. Why don’t adults do that? Simply because the adults’ brain is not growing at the same rate as a toddler’s. It might possibly also be that adults have real responsibilities and tasks to get done, unlike kids. Taking care of kids, for instance :). However, we can choose to do something to mimic this behavior because it is in our best interest & health to do so.

What if we

  • were passionate & interested in everything we see around
  • put our mind to something & do it until we are close to perfection
  • were curious about the world & always ready for the next adventure
  • smile & laugh at everything that comes our way – people, animals & things.

And…

Most importantly, what if we resolve to never ever give up?

Here’s a few things I’m going to try and follow in my toddler’s footsteps:

Have multiple projects at a time

Kids have lot of things going on at the same time. As they grow, sadly, I think they are taught by adults to concentrate on a single thing for better concentration & productivity. There was a time when multitasking was hot. Then people started believing that a single task in hand and being minimalistic is the way to go.
Personally, what works for me is working on many things at a time in an organized fashion. Planning and variety are my keywords. I tend to get complacent and less productive when I’m just thinking of one problem to solve. So my solution is to have things to do in many areas of my interest at all times. That way, when I need to find perspective or take a breather, I can still be productive while having fun at something else.

Here’s how it works. Think of 2 things you are passionate about. Think of 2 things you’d like to improve on. Think of 1 new skill or hobby you want to develop. Have something going with all 5 at all times. Could be baby steps, that’s ok. Have a next action plan for all 5 projects & have them with you at all times. Whenever stuck or frustrated with one, pick another and do something.

My 5 things or what I like to call as PIN list:

What I’m “Passionate” about

Writing – I have one writing assignment I give myself each week & I am trying to get good at blogging regularly. I try to read at least one book a month and have countless articles in my “to-read” pile.

Flamenco – I used to be a regular student until my son was born, but where I live now there is no Flamenco dance. Many haven’t even heard the word. So this one’s going to be tough. For now, I plan to practice at least one step a day mostly learning from you tube & such.

What would be “Ideal” to add to my talents

Fitness – My long term plan is to get a trainer certification. But the short term goal is not that lofty. It would be ideal to work out at least three times a week and eat right.

Cooking – I haven’t been a bad cook my entire life. That doesn’t mean anything because “not being bad” is not a qualification. Or excuse. It would be ideal to try different healthy recipes my son would enjoy.

Could this possibly be my “Next big thing”?

Finance – I am neither a finance major nor an expert in anything to do with budget, investments & portfolio. But that’s a path I’d like to venture. Lack of an automation makes it a little difficult to track cash flow in India, but my goal is to find a way to iron out the wrinkles & have a working plan for my family. Who knows, may be I’ll start a blog on this topic once I learn about it!

Switch topics when bored

Have you noticed how kids have many toys, books & stuff lying around and they keep moving from one to another as they please. This actually helps the brain think clear and not get bogged down by any hurdle in the task – big or small. The happiest & most productive memories I have of work life is when I handled more than three things at a time – studying full time, teaching math for students & being a yoga instructor (among other things). It helps me change roles and feel multi-dimensional while having the option to immerse myself into one area whenever I feel like.

Yell and kick when frustrated

Kids don’t take anti-depressants or bottle up their frustrations. It’s true they lack the maturity to control their own emotions. But what good came out of us adults being controlled and mature? I’m not suggesting that we all throw tantrums & hit each other when we are angry. Sometimes it takes a while for us to realize why we are angry or frustrated because of the innumerable responsibilities we face & burdens we carry every day. It helps to have something that emulates the yelling & kicking a kid does – perhaps something like kick boxing or karate. My favorite is going in to the bathroom, letting the water run and yelling while hitting the bucket.

Share happiness with someone

Kids crave an audience. They want to announce the whole world when they get something right or finish a difficult puzzle. They smile and hug & expect nothing but a warm smile & appreciation in return. Next time you are happy about accomplishing something share it with someone. If you are outside, share it with a stranger. You might be surprised at how it makes them feel and most of all, how it increases your happiness instantly as well.

Go to bed with a clean slate

I discipline my son when he yells. I explain to him why he is supposed to put his toys away which annoys him. I teach him how to wear his clothes and shoes which he’s not happy about it at all times. I try to reason with him why he can’t have ice cream when he has a cough and of course, who needs reason instead of ice cream. Invariably, we have our tiffs in the process. Many a times, I don’t seem to get through and he feels frustrated that I don’t understand what he says. This tug of war happens for him at his play school, with a kid in the neighbor or someone in the park or with a grand parent. But he doesn’t ponder over all these things when he’s in bed. He goes to bed with a clear mind. He falls asleep peacefully and gracefully. That’s how it should be with adults as well!

What do you want to practice & what is your “PIN” list?

Ticking clock

“You do not know the clock ticking unless you are aware that a clock exists”

I cannot say I was wise. I cannot say I will be wise. What I can say is that I am trying my best to be wise right now. That’s what matters.

I don’t think I was very happy. I don’t know if I will be very happy. What I know is that I have the choice to be happy right now. That’s what counts.

I know I was not much of a success. I know not if I will be much of a success. What I can ensure is that I have the ability to work for success right now. That’s what sparks.

Having a baby changed me in ways I never thought possible, especially after moving to India. Being a full time mom is hard. Being a full time mom to an over-active, picky-eating, under-weight toddler is harder. Being a full time mom to a demanding toddler with no like-minded people around to share thoughts with is even more harder.

Living far away from the city with no leeway for pursuing hobbies and always interacting with a clingy 2 year old is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life so far.

The icing in the cake is that I feel lost. I remember idling time away reading worthless fictions, doodling cartoons and whiling away hours in front of the boob tube. And now, think of the worst time for the universe to hit me with a life crisis. Sometimes I find this misery soothing, but most of the time I feel an odd pain in my head throbbing its way down to the chest yelling “how do i ever figure out what i want to do in life and how to do it?”. The question makes me want to puke all the ginormous amount of food I’ve eaten in all the binge episodes making me want to consider bulimia instead.

I’ve known my problem with food from a young age, but it wasn’t much of a problem because I could keep it in check. But the child birth threw all my hormones out of whack. That coupled with being in a dark hell-hole of a place makes some chemicals take over my brain. Everything except the part where my brain instructs me to eat has shut down temporarily. Or so it feels.

Yes.

2 year old toddler. Check.

Eating disorder. Check.

Life crisis. Check.

Many nights (and days) as I contemplate the next step in life, I grow restless just sitting there comforting my toddler who probably just had a nightmare & needed his mom. I tell myself that these precious days are the never-to-return kind & that I’d regret and long for them when my son’s outgrown the dependent phase. Despite the logic, my brain focuses on the myriad ideas that pop-up in my head, the zillion things I have undone and the gazillion things I could possibly be doing that very minute.

Moments like this in the day where I can write give me some comfort. While the words keep me company, my brain is in a constant anxiety mode wondering and dreading if my son will wake up half way pressing the pause button to my peep-show into the non-baby world (And yes, he did). During the times he doesn’t wake up, I find myself stressing over his wake up time, ultimately not being able to finish the task at hand.

Oh the joys of motherhood!

The only solace I get is not from fellow moms or other women around my neighborhood. Not even the acquaintances or groups I associate myself with. The only person that can possibly come close to understanding what I go through is the person that signed up for this journey with me. My partner & soul mate, my husband.

Like all men, he doesn’t understand his wife completely and is taken aback when an unexpected tear shows itself making him wonder what he could have possibly done or said . But I have to give him credit for one of the important things I learned from him – Taking Control. Of life. Of family. Of myself. Knowing that any problem however hard has some solution & digging my abilities to work towards the next step ahead. I know this now better than any other time. Especially after the baby.

How does this help me? I can now watch the ticking clock & instead of just panicking I try to accept the situation (the keyword here is try), hum my favorite tune and dream of the adventurous things I can do one day. Some day.

Not to say that I’ve perfected it. I’m a work in progress.

Tick tock. tick tock, tick tock!