Every day is a struggle of the mundane and the ordinary. Every day is the same old routine with little variation. Every day, for us adults, is the choice to be happy because our kids are watching us. If you don’t have kids, then you are watching yourself manage the situation. If we are having such a tough time handling such a restricted space, imagine what kids go through. We think they are fine as they are in front of us, we can feed them properly at the right times, they cut down on the travel time to and back from school. I mean they are fine and yet lonely. This is not normal.
I choose to be in my happy space no matter what is happening around me.
Social interaction is needed to an extent., how much ever of a loner you are. Some people thrive on it. And for them, this pandemic must be a punishment. To remain within the four walls, taking a million precautions even if you go out just for a bit, following all cleanliness procedures is a tiresome task. As adults, we have to manage it. What about children? Yes, we have programs in school about developing a strong inner self. Some benefit just by the talks and the stories. And yet there are those who need a lot more. I write here as a parent whose kid enjoys the online learning, is happy not to travel to school and happy to be home. But, also the kid who, may not agree, needs the social connection with the outside world, his friends, classmates and other adults. Trust me, looking at our faces the whole day is not anyone’s way of keeping it together.
Here is a list of at least 8 ways that we can try and do to keep our children in the ‘Happy Zone’.
1.Make a lot of noise-
Yes, make a lot of noise in the house. When you get up in the morning, move some pots and pans around, turn on the mixer, put on some bhajan, get creative. I realise many of us prefer the quiet mornings, but this is for the greater good of the mankind, kidkind, teenkind. So, let’s do this. Anyway, they think we are annoying. So let’s get into the groove of it. I feel when the family wakes up in the morning like this, it is like a jumpstart to the day ahead. Making noise is a way of telling our kids we are here (to annoy you). Knowing that you are around and that things are going on as usual keeps them in the happy zone. They get an assurance that although the outside word has come to a halt, we in our house are going on as usual. Don’t roll your eyes yet. There’s more coming. You will find something for your kid’s woes too.
I promise to make so much noise so that my child knows I’m there for him.
2. Eat Together-
Make it a point to eat breakfast, lunch and dinner together at your dining table or outside in the balcony. There you can feed the parrots that come during lunchtime as well. So, eating together may not be something your teen looks forward to. Remember they prefer their ‘ me ‘ time, all the time. This could be a way to snoop into their world. Do you remember when they were younger and you knew every little detail about their life? Well, get back into that habit. Don’t get nosey and nag them about details of their girlfriend, but do it smartly, sneakily. Our teens are really smart. They can read you like a book. Not good for us. So we need our own strategy by asking the same question in a roundabout way. So, instead of asking, “What’s happening in school?” (you know they are going to say, “nothing”), ask if they are any new kids who have joined or ask about that friend who made a new game online to play. Start a discussion and then swoop in for the kill. (Evil laugh)
See what I did there? This is our chance to anticipate, foresee and strategise and get into our teen’s world. Tired yet? Don’t be. This is all just the preview. Picture abhi baki hai mere dost. (The movie hasn’t even begun yet). Eating is one activity every human has to do right? So, might as well do it together. This way you will know why your kid eats French fries but doesn’t like aloo ki sabzi.
I promise to be a little bit of a cool parent and a little bit of a detective.
3. Know their hobbies/games/friends/ friends’ friends/ their teachers…well everything-
Take interest in your child’s likes and dislikes. After all it is your child. We can give them at least half an hour, even if they look like they “understand” your busy schedule. They may be understanding but they may not appreciate it. Their games, specially boys, may not make any sense to us, but make it a point listen or better yet, sit and play with them. You may realise your kid is not low on concentration or strategizing in warding off his enemies. Ahha! So it’s just the studies they can’t focus on. Find a connection and motivate the hell out of them. If you listen to them, they listen back. Trust me. I have listened to long drawn stories of Minecraft episodes during a trip.
Don’t spy on their phone conversations, but do get to know about their close friends. Learn about situations in which their friends have stood up for themselves or taken the easy way out.
When teachers have a connection with the kids, they seem to enjoy the subject even more and in turn take the effort to perform well. Do not let them spiral down into the abyss of complaining about school and studies. It’s not easy not to complain as we adults do it in front of our kids too. Where do you think they learn to trash talk like that?
I promise that I will use any excuse to get to know my child…again.
4. Go for a drive-
Ok. So maybe after all their classes and projects, they just want to chill in their room. But, be disruptive here. Tell them you need to run errands and may need their help. Take a detour to your grocery shopping and have an ice-cream or coffee with them. As they grow up, teenagers like to be given responsibilities and be treated as adults. Do it. The conversations you can have at these times are precious. Letting them make decisions about the kind of rice to buy or the number of chocolates to get for yourself will show you how smart they can be. They can get all preachy now that they are given a choice about it and tell you how much you may need to run to shed those chocolates..
Going for a drive can give you moments you will cherish. You may listen to music you both like or you may discuss the growing number of vehicles on the road. There will be times when they will ask you to “chill” if you get agitated. Haa! Tables have turned, haven’t they?
I promise to allow my kid to act like the adult and give advice when I need it.
5. Jog together –
Going to meet friends is a big No No these days. So, take them for a jog or join them on their run. Take your bicycles out and go for a long ride. Join an online dance class together. They will not show it but they do enjoy having someone around. Take a cooking class and dish out some wonderful recipes. Here it can get competitive. So, be ready to show your kids how good you are and who is the boss. You, of course.
I promise to embarrass my kid by doing activities without much finesse.
6. Hugs –
Oh Yeah! Embarrass them, since that is your job as a parent. Give a hug whenever possible or whenever they allow it. Hugs are known to create happy hormones. Everyone needs a hug just to know that it will be alright, especially these days. A hug symbolizes to your teen that you are there to take care of things and make it really awkward. Haha!
I promise to be the awkward parent who gives a jadoo ki jhappi whenever my teen needs it and also whenever not.
Seems like an activity done by parents of little kids? Think again. Board games, carrom, chess, PS4 (or whatever is new in town) are all games which have been made to get your teens to spend time with you. Really. See, as they grow up, our teenagers will not play hide and seek or tag. So, these games were invented by a parent of a teen, definitely, to keep them engaged and spend some time with the family. Sneaky, isn’t it?
I promise to play and be as competitive as possible and not going easy on my kid.
8. Meet up with family-
Meeting up with grandparents and cousins builds the sense of community and our teens have a place to go to when they need a lift up. Many parents during these few months have had to go back to work with kids remaining full time at home since they have online school. Grandparents have played a big role in taking care of the kids, physically and emotionally. If not, then plan to meet up with them whenever possible. They need the human connection as well. If they are far away, then connect online. Schedule days when you all can meet up, maybe once a week so you have more to talk about during the week. Sharing your stories helps others understand your problems or situations better. As a teenager, they may look like they are completely self-absorbed, but they observe and see things which we may not realise.
I promise that even if my relatives are annoying, for the greater good, I will smile and chat up so my kids feels cared for.
It is tough. But it’s also tough when you make it tough. When you always look at the dark side of things , you will only see the sad side of things. Read my post A Habit of Happiness to know how that it pays to look at the positive side of things. When you focus on what you already have, be thankful for the family, food and education and make the kids realise it, the whole energy changes. Make a ‘no complaint’ day or a ‘substitute a good word for every bad one’ day. Make up things as you go along. There is no sure shot way to keep our teens happy. You just try a whole bunch of things. Some work and some just need an upgrade. The most important thing through all of this is to first be happy yourself. Our kids are always watching and listening to everything we do. We are their role models for character building and behavior. So, sort yourself out first and stay in your ‘happy zone’ to keep your kids happy..
Its tough out there. Job losses and pay cuts, illness and overworked family members and the stress we take about everything only multiplies as the situation outside gets worse. And so, we need to look on the inside.
Our mind is a very powerful thing. It’s a machine that drives you to perform, a source of energy that makes you create your reality and a powerhouse that changes attitudes and belief systems. Only if you learn to control it. Let me give you a few ideas that I have noticed has worked for me and it can work for you too.
#1. Being grateful – Gratitude has taken a centerstage in our lives as we navigate through the sea of negativity. Family and friends falling victim to the deadly virus is not something one can find gratefulness in. And yet, there is always something that can help you stay in the silver lining.
It can rain and pour
It can darken the picture
and yet I stay thankful
to all it has to offer.
So, everyday, take 5 minutes out of your busy schedule and write down what you are grateful for. Saying ‘thank you’ for the things still in your life will give energy to the good and focus on the excellent things even through the mess. Do it right now, as you read this post. And do it every single day. This makes you more aware of what is right in front of you.
I am grateful for __________________________________.
#2. Keep busy – Yes, I realise you already are busy. But you get my point. Get busy after work with your kids’ homework or the cooking and cleaning or exercise or painting, writing, chatting with friends and family or watching movies. There are a million things to keep you away from brooding over bad situations. Be selfish about taking care of yourself and do not let your mind slip into the abyss of negative thoughts.
I write my heart out
I paint and I dance
to busy myself
so that my soul is nourished
What’s your favourite thing to do when you are feeling overwhelmed ?
#3. Get weird – Oh yes, get a little weird. Maybe you have never taken up baking. This is your chance to make your family your guinnea pigs. Take up a new hobby like glass painting or do a marathon of a favourite series like ‘Friends’ and say the dialogues with the actors (you know the dialogues already). Fast one day a week ( Less cooking) , learn the salsa , write a letter to your younger self telling about the pitfalls of being an adult. Talk to your neighbour about random stuff since you haven’t seen them in these months. Purge, that’s not weird. But do it to your favourite song and sing loudly when you organize. Paint your nails a different colour or design and post it for all to see. Maybe someone will join you. Donate food and your time, its not weird , its just beautiful. Give yourself all the fun you need. At the end of it you will get a sudden energy burst.
Black nail paints and quirky habits
talking to myself and daydreaming
to collecting a million little cardboard boxes
I am weird and wonderful just as I am.
I am weird and wonderful and like to _____________________________
#4. Be still – Yup, there it is. Meditate and listen to your thoughts. If in the beginning you can’t handle the silence, do a guided meditation. There are many available online. Let all the crazy thoughts come into your mind. Slowly bring your focus to your breathing. Take long, deep breaths. If this doesn’t work, keep a timer for 15 minutes each day and then increase it as you get comfortable. Listen to ocean sounds or whale sounds. It calms the mind into believing everything is going well. As you open your eyes after every sitting, you will feel a rush of calm.
Be still and breathe
Be still and listen in
Be still to stay calm
Rise up energized.
Set a time every day, morning or evening and go for it.
#5. Visualise – Visualising is tricking the mind into believing your truth. If you talk about something good like, I am healthy and I eat nutritious food to keep myself nourished. I exercise daily and my body is fit. Saying these words allows the mind to take it in as a reality. When you visualize something positive, you start doing things that will support that reality. Mind you, you need to talk to yourself everyday. Write it down and read it everyday. With visualizing there is a definite shift in your attitude towards all situations.
Close your eyes and see
the reality in front of thee
You made it happen already
changing realities and shifting mindsets
In all its glory
Read up on the Law of Attraction or watch the movie ‘The Secret’.
Ask, believe and receive are the three pillars of the Law of Attraction. You are probably already doing it in certain areas of life. Like praying can give you the strength to believe good things will happen as you surrender yourself to God or universe, whichever you believe in. Try it. Write affirmations like it has already happened.
I remember everything that I have learnt.
I can reproduce all my learnings where and when I need it.
I am healthy. I eat nutritious food every day.
I exercise daily.
I am calm and in control of my feelings.
I am a great leader and I motivate my team to perform well.
So, the minute you start saying your affirmations regularly, something in you pushes you to start living up to the affirmations. It’s a habit-forming activity and will only yield great results.
Whats your ‘I am’? Write it down.
I am ______________________
Ultimately, its always how you like the glass, half full or half empty. You may find people around you who are always happy and bright. Stick with them, they will bounce off their energy to you. Smile every day, play with your pet and just stay in the ‘good vibes only’ zone. You and I can survive this. Its already getting better. Don’t you think?
Reach for the Moon, they say, but make sure the ladder is steady.
So, I royally tripped and fell in my kitchen the other day. No, there was no water on the floor, although I keep telling everyone at home not to flood the kitchen while trying to help with the utensils. Guess what I tripped on!!!
My palazzo/ pajama. Yup. My old palazzo had become my comfort pajama in these few months. I had forgotten how short I was and my palazzo was trailing on the ground. So, yeah. I recently fell on the bathroom floor as well. That’s another story. Embarrassed yet? No. Ok. Well I have a lot of crazy stories to tell.
We all seem to go through this at some point or the other. That one missed stair, that one invisible water droplet on the floor or that slip of the knife onto your finger when you were cutting that lemon.
The fear is not the falling. The fear is what comes after. The going to the doctor, the x-rays, the knee replacement surgery and the letting your husband cook and clean the house in your absence. The fear is feeling frustrated that you are not going to be able to go for your daily walks or dance class.
So, what changes? Age, definitely age dulls our senses a bit. Age catches up to us and our body tells us to slow down. Maybe we need to get in tune with our body’s signals. This may not apply to everyone around my age. Some people manage it really well.
I’m covering three points here which should ideally be enough for some of us who are a magnet for accidents.
What is slow living? Well, living a life where you perform tasks consciously and mindfully. Get into the slow motion mode, like in our Bollywood movies when the hero and heroine are running towards each other.
PLAN YOUR DAY thoroughly. This is not because you want to be a perfectionist or you like bossing people around, although that’s fun too. It will just give you a purpose and help you tick off the tasks that have to be done. Write it down and start ticking them off as and when you finish it. Refer to my Tackling the Time Monster post for techniques that keep you sane.
2. Avoid the multitasking monster
No, No and a thundering NO. No multitasking please. We have heard many experts say that multitasking just does not help. We are not built for it. We may think that we are accomplishing a lot by running the mixer while checking on the sambaar, while cutting the salad and taking that meeting with your team. But, trust me, you will falter somewhere. Don’t do it to yourself. ONE THING AT A TIME. Don’t we all say this to our kids too? Practice what you preach, baby.
Stay in the present and see how well each task is accomplished. Everything will be done and properly too.
Also say NO to commitments that you know are only adding to your schedule. Learn to delegate and assign work to others. If you do say yes, you will only be spoiling the work culture for others like us. So, please refrain from staying back after hours or taking up that extra project. Thank you.
3. Stay away from the overthinking, over analizing gremlin
Ok. So ALL of us are guilty of this. It’s just the way life is. You watch the news and all you may pick up is the murders and taxes levied on us hard working people. Yes, taxes. LIMIT YOUR NEWSTIME. Put off the television and social media news after you have had a fair share of enlightenment. It only puts you in a mood to analyse.
You may listen to stories, good or bad and start worrying. You may start wondering about your retirement, your finances, your boss, your neighbour and the world at large. Empathise, volunteer and help out whenever possible. Yes, read and understand it. Yes, comment and tweet about it. But do not give fuel to it. Learn to compartmentalize just for your own sanity and health. All that overthinking will ultimately reflect on your physical being.
In the end, learn to enjoy life in its many wonderful forms. It may look difficult and yet so achievable. Make a conscious effort to take care of yourself. Putting yourself first is not being selfish. And please stay safe.