Thursday, 1 May 2014

Marvel of multitasking, you need some 'me' time too

Marvellous at multitasking, but miserly with ‘me’ time? That sounds like a mom. 

Everyone knows moms are past masters at micro-managing their homes, family and work. But the same women need and deserve to employ a little bit of their considerable time and management skills–on themselves. Here’s why.

1: Being a mom is one of the toughest jobs/roles in the world–a 24X7, 365-day one. You plunge into it headlong from the moment your newborn is placed in your arms. Yes, there are how-to books, innumerable websites and various experts–moms, mom-in-laws, grandmoms, extended family, interested observers, nosy neighbours–with advice, helpful or otherwise. But ultimately, motherhood is a strictly DIY and learn-as-you-go ride.

2: Moms need to be strong–mentally, physically and emotionally. After all, a new mom survives on four or fewer, hours of sleep every night till her newborn settles into a routine. Sleep deprivation, by itself, leaves you feeling disoriented, snappy and irritable. But no sleep coupled with a colicky, fussy baby or horrors, one who is a poor feeder–makes things that much harder to bear.

3: Many news moms often end up going back to work after three months. If your employer offers flexitime options, take it. Even better if you can opt to work from home, or work part-time for the first year. Doing so will reduce the stress on you, keep you and baby happy. What’s more, having baby’s grandparents around is a blessing, but remember your parents are growing old too. They deserve to spend time and play with the baby. They do not, however, deserve to be made into unpaid nannies. If you can afford childcare, take the time and effort to hire a nanny you can trust your baby with.

4: New moms who go back to work tend to be better at their jobs and more productive, all round. Okay, that’s anecdotal evidence talking, but it’s true. I am a journalist and the mother of a very active four-year-old active little boy (touch wood). I have a cook and a maid. It’s expensive but worth it, for me. I do my writing assignments/interviews when he is away at playschool or while he is napping in the afternoons. And I get more work done now, than I used to while I worked full-time (before I had my son). Pushpalee, a good friend of mine, works full-time. She agrees with me. She logs into work from home, before her daughter wakes up. She goes to office after the little girl is off to pre-school. “I don’t waste time gossipping, or surfing the net. I focus on what I need to do.” She is back home before 6 every evening so she can take her daughter to a park near their home. My friend has her mother-in-law living upstairs but she has a maid-cum-nanny for her daughter. Mom-in-law can either supervise or simply enjoy being with her granddaughter. And my friend knows her child is safe and secure. Everyone’s happy.

5: As moms, we are generally so busy taking care of the child, the home, the extended family, and our work, that we forget to take care of ourselves. Let’s admit it, doing all this is seriously stressful. And being stressed out can lead to weight gain, depression, irritability, and a host of associated problems. So why not make a little time for fitness? A support system–a helpful spouse, the afore-mentioned nanny etc– is essential for this. For starters, why not just meet up with other moms at the local park, like Pushpalee does. Then take turns to keep an eye on the children, so all the moms get to jog, power walk or whatever.

6: Make it a point to tell your family that one hour every day is “your time”. Every evening, I have 45 minutes to an hour for my power walk. For added benefits, I sometimes carry 1 kg or 0.5 kg weights with me and swing my arms. My family knows I need this time for myself. And they respect that. Another friend, Veda, a mother-of-two, goes for a yoga class couple of times a week. “It calms me down and I feel stronger, inside and out,” she says.

7: If you’re working, it’s very tough to make time for yourself. So live smarter–cut television time at night, read to the children before putting them to bed. Then go for a stroll with your spouse after dinner. If fitness is important to you, get up a little bit earlier, start with simply doing surya namaskar every morning (there are Youtube videos you can watch and learn from). And if you can manage it, once a month or so, meet your girl pals over the weekend. Have Saturday lunch together, or share a cuppa one evening. It’s amazing how good you’ll feel to simply giggle and gossip with the girls!
Trust me, making the effort to bring in some ‘me-time’, makes a difference. You’ll be happier and healthier. And so will your family.

(This is a post from March last year, which I guest wrote for my cousin, Dr. Sheela Nambiar's blog: http://sheelanambiar.wordpress.com/

Dr Nambiar, an obstetrician/gynaecologist and fitness/lifestyle consultant is founder of the fitness studio Training for Life (TFL Inc.), in Chennai. She and her mother, my aunt, also run the Parvathy Nursing Home in Ooty. In fact, they looked after me during the last stages of my pregnancy. Sheel delivered our little boy via elective caesarian. My pregnancy was a seriously stressful time for my husband and I. And my aunts (and cousin) were the ones who made sure my husband and I did not go totally nuts. I was born with two uteruses so pregnancy was always going to be a high-risk proposition. 

Sheel is the author of the acclaimed book: Get Size Wise and is already working on her second book. My friend Pushpalee continues to be a multitasking marvel--she had her second child last year, a boy, and he is almost a year old now. And yes, she continues to work full-time!)