Monthly Archives: February 2014

Momnesia!

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funny pic

I have become famous in my family and friends for my terrible memory. While I never had a photographic memory to begin with, it has gotten really bad after the birth of little H. So much so that three months postpartum I went to the doctor especially complaining about my poor memory. The doctor, a wizened old lady with kids and grand kids of her own peered at me for a few seconds. And then asked do you forget to feed your baby, do you forget to wash her poop, do you forget to give her medicine when she is sick. When I answered no to the all these questions she said my memory is perfectly fine and I am just suffering from mommy brain. I still insisted she give me some supplement for my memory but she just brushed me aside. To my credit the only serious blooper I committed was forgetting H’s three month vaccination. After that my family was diligent about asking me and reminding me about any upcoming vaccinations. When I googled about poor postpartum memory I realized researchers have coined the word momensia for it.

forgefulness

Two and a half years down my memory fails to show any signs of improving. And I just have one kid! I am often found standing in front of the open refrigerator thinking what I came to get. According to my mom this happened to her only after four kids. Guess it is the ‘asli’ diet in their childhood which gave them an edge in the memory department. And of course whenever I leave the house to go for a sleepover at my mums, I often come back after five minutes to retrieve the very important thing that I forget. Both my mother in law and mother now know not to lock the gate till at least fifteen minutes have passed from my departure! I have forgotten my phone charger countless times, not to mention stuff like keys, wallet all because I changed my handbag. And the  most important forgetting diapers! There is an unspoken rule of poop, the only time you forget to bring the diapers and an extra change of clothing that is the time your child will have a major poop disaster right in that very important family wedding or dinner. You and your husband will exchange worried glances each time a loving uncle or aunty would want to pick up your toddler. Once on an outing, I made my hubby stop at a mall, buy diapers from the supermarket and then changed H’s diaper in the mall’s changing room. I have a mantra for dealing with such accidents, pause, take a deep breath, tell yourself you will be laughing about this in a few years! And then tell your husband this also because you can tell he is thinking about his expensive car seat covers!

forgetful image

So over the last two years I have collected a few tips to counter momnesia:

  • Download a to do list app like astrid on your phone. There are also many family apps which you and your hubby can use jointly like cozi. But it never worked for me because hubby dear would just ask me to remind him instead of upadating and setting a reminder on his cozi account. So personally I like astrid. It sets you make multiple lists e.g. you can have a grocery list so when you find yourself at the grocery store unexpectedly and cannot think what you needed, you have the list. Similarly it lets you set recurring reminders like I set one for my daughter’s and my vitamins. There is also a list for today, you update it for everyday. I like to make my to do list for the next day before bedtime, or in the morning after Fajr. That ensures I do not forget any important tasks for the day. And ah the sweet pleasure of ticking off tasks off my to do list.
  • You know how random things to do occur at the most inappropriate moments. Make a master to do list on a piece of paper or cardboard and stick it on your dressing mirror or someplace where it is very obvious. Then attach a pen too. And whenever a random thought occurs write it down IMMEDIATELY. I repeat write it down immediately. Do not wait to finish the task you are currently doing because for sure it will leave your brain the minute you finish the current one. Also have a separate to buy list, you could have it on your phone on astrid. Being a pen and paper girl, I also like a nice big list on my dresser too, one column showing things to buy and one column showing things to do. From that master to do list and to buy list I transfer things to my daily to do lists on my phone. Also a good idea is to plan your whole week. That ensures you do not forget any important event like doctor’s appointment or vaccinations.
  • If you are a desi mommy like me and live in pakistan, you might also want to have a list of things to tell your maid. In the mad preschool drop off and pick up rush I often forgot to give instructions  to the maid and would later fume when she would do things the wrong way or I would have to do her errands just because I forgot to tell her. With the maid instruction list this problem was solved.
  • Plan your menu especially your breakfast menu with a few alternate plans if you have a fickle toddler like mine and limited time in which to feed her. I have a weekly menu of dishes which I know my toddler likes plus there is always one simple backup plan. So if H refuses to eat the omelette I lovingly prepared for her (wrings hands in frustration), I give her a simple cheese sandwich or raisins and bananas. Plan your daily lunch and dinner menu. That prevents you realizing at the last minute that you have forgotten two ingredients for today’s dish. Once you have the weekly menu, you can do the weekly grocery. See easy peasy.
  • Another important one which I learned after many mistakes. Always have your diaper bag ready. Replenish your diaper bag as soon as you come from a trip or at least the very next day. This tip usually prevents the diaper forgetting the disaster!
  • If your mum lives in the same city and you often go for sleepovers or just spending a day then you would have to lug a whole bag of clothes for your little ones. In that case have a handy checklist to make sure you do not forget anything. A sample checklist could include stuff like onesies, socks, shoes, caps, sweaters, vests, phone charger etc. Of course an easier options is to keep some clothes there. Usually this does not work for me in winters because I often keep a limited stock of clothes for the short Karachi winter and cannot afford to leave clothes at mums too. But it works great in summers.
  • If you have a toddler and often go out then keep some ready to grab snacks handy in your fridge. This minimizes the chance of you forgetting them and countering a middle of the trip car tantrum fueled by hunger.
  • Last but not the least, embrace your forgetfulness and kick guilt out. You are only human and among a million things that you have to keep track of, it is ok to forget a couple. Remember as long as you have a healthy, happy child the rest is all ok.

Ok mamas, that is all for now, though I am sure I am forgetting something crucial! 😀

How to raise a kind child?

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We Pakistanis are notorious for our cynicism and apathy. Some say this cynicism is a survival mechanism brought about by the poor law and order situation and the level of deceit, cheating and widespread poverty in our society. It has come to a point where the majority of the city dwellers consider every person especially belonging to the lower class as a fraud, be it the maid or the driver or the beggar on the street. While some may argue this is necessary to protect our self interests but I firmly believe people are innocent until proven guilty. Negative people are rarely happy and if you are always thinking and attributing bad intentions to others you will create an aura of negativity around yourself which will harm yourself the most.

And this negative attitude filters to our children. When I was teaching ethics to my seven graders, I was surprised by the level of mistrust found in a bunch of 12 year olds, supposedly the future of our nation. When asked how can they help their servants most of them were of the view that servants are a bunch of lazy, stealing crooks. And it is best to treat them harshly so that they remain in control. Disappointing. This is the mindset they learned from their parents.

As parents we are our children’s first role models. Children are very observant. They are paying attention even when you think they are engrossed elsewhere. So the saying that ‘Be the person you want your child to be’ is so true. Kindness begins at home. Treat your spouse and your children with kindness and politeness even when you are angry. Treat the hired help in your home respectfully. Many would argue that if you treat them politely they would trample all over you and not work properly. Here I would like to point out the difference between aggressiveness and assertiveness. You can be polite while being assertive. For example your maid is taking too many days off on the pretext of sickness or other reasons. Instead of shouting at her, you could calmly tell her that she can only take a specified  number of days off in a month. Anymore and her salary will be deducted. Always focus on win win solutions.

In a metropolis like Karachi which is steaming with beggars at every traffic signal, it is difficult not to get annoyed by their persistent demands. I have seen people rebuking street children and beggars very harshly, even abusing them. Do not give them money but at the same time set an example for your children by never speaking harshly to  them. Help the children selling tissue papers, toys, dust cloths by buying from them even when you do not need those things. They are trying to earn a respectful earning for themselves and should be encouraged. If your children are old enough to be getting pocket money, encourage but never force them to buy stuff from these children. Or sometimes buying a treat for a random beggar is also a good idea. For example it is very hot and your child is buying a packet of juice for himself. Encourage him to buy one extra and give it to the boy cleaning car windows in the scorching sun.

Children have an innate desire to help each other. It is we who make them into selfish individuals by our own behavior. Even a two year old can be taught empathy and encouraged to share her pack of  biscuits sometimes with a beggar. Generally after age three children have the ability to learn to share. Never punish them for not sharing but always encourage them. When they see you doing it, they would also want to share.

Instill in them a sense of empathy and gratefulness by telling them how lucky they are to have so many things and how some people do not even  have enough food. My two year old once surprised me by looking at a hand less beggar and then staring at her own hands and declaring, “Uncle does not have hands, H has hands!’ I was dumbfounded by that observation for a minute. But then realized that this is great teachable moment. So I told  her that we need to thank Allah that He has given us hands and help people who do not.

Sometimes in our quest to protect our children from emotional pain we do not let them see the misery of others. But at the same time to raise empathetic, helpful adults it is imperative to let them see and help the less fortunate in our society. A good idea is to take your younger children to the Dar ul sukun if you reside in Karachi or to any orphanage. Bake cupcakes or buy treats for them and then let your child hand it out. For older children let them save their pocket money and every month take some portion out for the needy. Take them to buy clothes or other essentials for the poor. Involve them in volunteering at welfare organizations. There are so many ways to encourage and motivate children and inculcate in them kindness but first you have to start with yourself.