I realize the difference in the way I raised both my kids. First was by the book, read all kinds and fussed over small things, while with the second, I didn’t have that much time and I frankly thought I knew it all. It was part arrogance and part exhaustion.
The first thing I realized was its not easy managing two kids in a nuclear setup. This is when my respect for my mom and MIL grew manifolds. Both had a nuclear set-up and every time I was fazed and going bonkers, I would think of them and wonder how they did it!
Somewhere in the middle of the feeling that I was drowning, I had a light bulb moment. I realized that the books are there to guide us, but they shouldn’t end up being the gospel of truth. I should trust my instinct a little and take some practical tips from two moms that I knew had loads of knowledge about raising two kids – My Mom and MIL!
As I learnt from their anecdotes and let go of few of my anxieties I started finding some semblance. I rediscovered myself in all that noise.
Things that I wish I knew when both my kids were smaller
Keep meal times simple and healthy
While healthy eating has always been a thing in our house, when my older one was small I tried making a lot of different things to ensure that she eats everything and is always healthy. But now that I look back I realize, it wasn’t them who demanded variety, it was me stressing out on non-issues! I realized a simple roti sabji with an interesting story was good enough and a bowl of fruits too was fun time.
Don’t fuss over small things
There are a lot of times when we have to let go and let them take their own decisions. Earlier I would worry if they won’t start eating on their own, or wanted to pick something to wear or maybe threw a tantrum. But now I realize it was unwanted pressure that I built on myself! Kids love being independent and letting them decide over food and clothes etc. is important for them. It will just make them a bit more aware which is absolutely fine. I have had days when my older one wanted to be dressed like a princess while sitting to eat and the younger one refused to wear anything but a night pant! Eventually, I got through with probably a few stains, but a lot calmer me and happy kids. That seems like a fair deal, isn’t it?
Potty training and should you worry
When I followed the book I would get tensed when my child wouldn’t do a skill at a particular age. ‘A’ didn’t speak till she was 1.3 years, while my friend’s kids had started talking by the time they were 1. I stressed about doing something wrong, and wondered if it is some side effect of my kid falling! Even during potty training, there was a stage when I felt my kid was unlearning everything that he learnt and I had nightmares, but then my SIL who is older than me pointed out that there were no such strict by the book rules and stuff during our parent’s time and we turned out just fine! It’s okay if the child learns 3 months later. They will learn! It is a natural process! Be there to help them, but don’t insist they achieve an X milestone by Y month. Even if there is some milestone that needs more support, we can always consult the family doctors!
It is no big deal if a toddler skips a meal
Earlier meal times were a nightmare and I would worry if my child skipped a meal or ate less. But then, once my mom pointed out that I should believe kids are intelligent and aware about their body needs, it got me thinking. If the child is hungry they will come asking for a meal. We don’t have to force feed or fuss about them not eating. Even if they skip one or two meals, it works as a good cleanser. Keep an eye out if they are eating junk or drinking sugar laden drinks. If that is not happening, then everything is fine.
Don’t compete with other parents or children
Every child is different. What started off as a notes exchanging talk soon ended up in comparison. I would be elated if someone said, “ Wow! Your kid can do this” and be a worried mouse if I realize my kid wasn’t doing what most of the other kids were doing. This is when, my granny gave me an earful and I am definitely grateful for that! She remarked, “ You believe every child is different and want them to pursue their dreams but you have a problem if they do things differently in achieving milestones!” That is when I knew I had to stop this for the sanity of myself and my kids. Now we always appreciate others milestones achievement or other accomplishments but never worry or expect my kids to do the same.
Make time for small talk
Our lunch and dinner times are times to talk about anything and everything under the sun! Most of the times kids share their school gossip, fights or even the latest song or trend they heard about. Sometimes we even wonder how we can reach the moon! But all such talks are welcome as long as the meal times don’t get stretched beyond reasonable amounts of time. Earlier I used to be on a schedule and I just didn’t realize I wasn’t talking to my kids. It was either instructions or discussions or story time. I realized teaching them through fun is great, but at times they just want to talk and act silly!
These are things that I learnt over the years and I wish I had learnt about it a bit earlier so that I would have been a bit calmer and a happier mom. So, if you are a worried mom or a would be mom of two kids and fretting about how would things work out, don’t worry – learn to let go a little and trust your instincts a lot more!