A letter written from the heart

Nidhi Arora, Founder ESHA with the book

Dear Swati, I just finished reading the book 54 Reasons Why Parents Suck, and I am in tears.

3 years ago, I gave up a corporate role to exclusively spend time with our son. All these years later, I STILL hear this almost on a daily basis:

•Children grow up anyway. Why did you have to leave such an enviable career?
•You wasted a seat at an IIM. Why go to an IIM if you wanted to sit at home and raise children? 
•Women should not leave the professional world due to childcare issues. The employer should arrange for a daycare.
•Why couldn’t you ask your mother or mother in law to live with you??
Without going into the right that these people have to be judge and jury on my specific case, these comments, and the sheer frequency at which they are made – both to the face and behind the back, indicate, quite clearly, the majority view on parenting in our world.

So, dear Swaraa(and Swati), THANK YOU for validating:

•The small things matter. You cannot decide when a child will choose to confide in you. It is important that you are present when that moment arrives.

•The ONLY way to get a child who lives a mindful existence is to be a MINDFULLY present parent.

•If kids spend too much time on their gadgets, take a good, long, hard look at what you do with gadgets in their presence.

•Parenting is not a part-time job I do after office hours.

•It is POSSIBLE to have an open, nurturing relationship with a parent, where both are open about their weak spots, vulnerabilities and comfort zones.

•Disciplining is not outdated. Even children appreciate parents who set limits and help them grow.

•Open communication is very vital. Our children are telling us, as straightforward as they can, that they want to talk and be heard. We are not listening!
Dear both: More power to you, for writing this book. I Hope this will encourage, above all else, a feedback loop from parents to children in every house.

PS: If you really want to benefit from this book, I recommend that you also supplement your reading with the Parent-Child-Adult Ego States theory. To apply things that this book hints at, we will have to discover and if needed, alter the ego state we exist in.

Are you a PROBE Parent?

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

You have a cooking range with three or four burners at home.

 

Imagine you are boiling milk on the regular burner which gives out the most convenient flame. Then, you need to make the breakfast.

What do you do?

You shift the pot of milk on the lowest flame and cook your breakfast on the convenient burner. You do not keep the half boiled milk aside. You keep it on a low flame, may be very low so that it doesn’t demand your attention and lets you concentrate on the breakfast.

Consider the milk to be your career and breakfast to be your family priority – children, eldercare or some emergency.

You switch the burner off when the milk comes to a boil. Now it will not rot and will remain hot for quite some time.

Milk coming to a boil is the first inning of your career after which you can switch the burner off if the need be.

You can use the boiled milk later but you need to pay attention. There are other options too. Either refrigerate it or reheat it or thicken it to turn it into ‘khoya’ to be used even after a few days.

Just the way you add some coffee or fruits to the cold milk to make a milkshake, you can refrigerate your qualification, experience and then add some short-term courses to make an updated qualification for a new professional opening.

Just the way you thicken the milk for later use, you can polish your parenting skills which could be extremely useful like ‘khoya’ after a long break. These skills could be related to negotiation, conflict resolution, communication, empathy, and emotional intelligence.

Just don’t think that the milk, like your career, will turn stale or sour. Have confidence that you can use it in numerous ways to your advantage, just be creative with it.

Be happy if it turns sour. We will have paneer (cottage cheese), then.

It is high time that we notice these parents who are professionals and have decided to transition into the realm of parenting.

They are practitioners of ‘deliberate motherhood/fatherhood’.

These people are different from those couples where one is a professional while another one straight away takes a train to the ‘parenting station’.

They wish to spend some time on the parenting station before getting back on the professional train. They might create a business on the ‘platform’ of parenting or they might pick another vehicle to go forward, later on.

Let us call these parents PROBE PARENTS.

A PROBE Parent is a Professional before becoming a parent.

For an educated working professional to say that ‘I am not working now’, “I am on a sabbatical’, ‘I am raising my little one’, it sounds helpless.

It sounds like a choice when you say that you are a ‘PROBE PARENT’.

Merely naming a category is not enough. We need to design a path for such professionals who take mini breaks or a major break and wish to join back at a later age.

How to be a SPICE Person, Partner & Parent?

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How to be a SPICE Person?

Everything is amazing, but nobody cares.

We are ‘grateful’ for a second and we are ‘resentful’ for the remaining fifty-nine seconds in a minute.

This is so because We “adapt” within a second to whatever we were grateful, a second ago. We start feeling “deserving” within a second for whatever we were grateful, a second ago.

We start “sneaking” into others’ lives after a second and find reasons to be resentful.

Let’s schedule a “Gratitude Reminder” every night on our phones. {Earlier I thought of suggesting a ‘Gratitude Diary’ but then…..:)}

How to be a SPICE Partner?

If you tell a friend how lucky she is to have a comfortable life, she might agree on your face but would think to herself “Live in my shoes & you will know”.

When you ‘tell’ a person something, it is not accepted easily.

When you ask “Do you think you are lucky?”, it is most likely to create a positive response, on the face as well as in the mind.

So “Ask, not tell” is the mantra.

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How to be a SPICE Parent?

Learning doesn’t begin on the first day of school.

Learning begins on the first day of life.

We know it, but do we follow it?

A newborn can develop 80% of his/her brain in the first three years of his/her life.

Guess what? This opportunity is lost after the first three years.

It is not a pre-school that matters.

It is a parent who matters.

It is a grandparent who matters.

Kids who are talked to consistently in first 1000 days know thirty million more words than kids who are merely watched over.

Make your home language rich.

Beware! It is not screen-talk that helps. It is face-to-face responsive talk that works wonders.

Talk to the new-born.

My mission is ‘I’, My passion is ‘I’.

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What is Excellence?

Excellence means greatness. The very best. It is the quality of being extremely good.

You excel when you show your actions to be above the ordinary. You excel when you surpass the set standards.

How do we define ‘above ordinary’? How do we define – ‘set standards in areas of relationships – with partners, with children and parents, with oneself?

If a sportsman breaks an established record, we clearly know that he has excelled.

If a CEO achieves a turnaround and the company enters the Top- whatever list, it shows an ‘above ordinary’ performance clearly.

What about an athlete who comes from an Indian village without basic amenities, practices diligently, wins the state championship and improves her timing in the national championship. But she fails to win the nationals and Olympics is obviously a distant dream. Then, is it right to believe that she is on her road to excellence?

Earth is made up of various landforms – plains, plateaus, hills, mountains and mountain ranges.

Plains are flat pieces of land at the sea level. They can be considered the ‘beginning’ of a journey to the top.

Plateaus are elevated landforms. Plateaus do not have peaks. Their top is like a ‘table’. These are like launching pads for the journey up and ahead.

Hills are steeper than plateaus.They do not have a summit. They are gentler in slope than mountains. They could be termed as ‘set standards’ in the journey towards the top.

Mountains are large and show off a summit. They could be termed as being ‘above the standard’ or nearing the ‘excellence’ in any journey of excellence.

Mountain range is a series of mountains connected to each other and are formed in the same age. The Himalayas are the highest mountain range in the world.

There are thousands of unclimbed mountains yet, which will be conquered in coming years. It is similar to many areas of greatness where we have not yet ventured into our lives.

So, climbing a set of mountains in a mountain range would be ultimate, unbeatable excellence. Conquering a mountain summit is equally excellent which a handful of people can do.

There are many professional and amateur rock climbers who specialize in only one aspect of mountaineering i.e., rock climbing. If mountaineering is the whole life, rock climbing would be a part of it – the one that is visibly popular. So, people pick up rock climbing more often and fill their social media platforms with rock climbing pictures.

We are often told – Do what you love. Be what you are passionate about. The options given are to choose from career choices. You are expected to be passionate about doing something – engineering, automobiles, internet, coding, sports, medicine, music, art, writing, speaking, business, politics, or many other fields.

thumb-alphabet-i-9-_youmasti-com 2But, I am passionate about myself. Myself means my whole person, my individual self that comprises of my internal team – the professional in me, the partner in me, the parent in me, and the person in me.

I am passionate about my whole being and I wish to divide my passion into all the members of “my internal team” that I have chosen.

I do not wish to pour all my passion, all my love into my professional piece or my parental piece. I wish to sprinkle my passion, shower my passion, dab my passion for my whole being.

I am passionate about being a writer, an educator, a life coach.

I am passionate about being a mother and a daughter.

I am passionate about being a human being.

I wish to scale up my Professional Aravali, climb up to my Partnering Alps, try to access my Parental Karakoram and strive to touch my Personal Himalaya. I wish to be a mountaineer, not merely a rock climber.

For this, we need to change our lexicon of life. For this, we need to add SPICE to our lives.

SPICE is Sum of Partner, Parent, Professional, and Person In you to Create Excellence

Why do we need ‘SPICE’ in life?

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

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Pic Courtesy: Memory Makers

I am a woman, a wife, a mother and a professional. I have pivoted my profession so that I can savor some special moments with my daughter who is in her high school and starts college next year. This pivot has made me pretty available around the house which has not been a usual sight for last fifteen years of our family history.

So, I experience some conversations like these :

  • “Look at these napkins. I just don’t like the color. Also, why can’t we have of the tray of face towels and hand towels by the side of the wash basin in the dining area?” asked my husband, irritated.

We have had this discussion once before where I told him that it will be a hassle at home to have a lot of small towels for washing, drying, folding and replacing every day.

I come from ‘Keep it simple’ school while he comes from ‘Make it grand’ school. Alas, the twain doesn’t meet.

Anyway, to avoid a hat-trick of the same discussion, I took the grand decision. My husband uses three towels every day from the stack with pride and loves the arrangement when guest come over.

  • Though he watches videos and travels by cabs, he considers the phone to be a menace (All the incoming calls are on reject mode on his phone). As a result, I generally book these cabs because he doesn’t like the hassle.

“Why do you give the house number? Give only the number of the building? He asks each time he hears me talking to the driver.

I have explained it to him that it is needed if you want the cab to be waiting for you just outside the building, not the compound. Still, he asks the same question every time thinking I need some correction.

  • Recently, my daughter was debating with me about the trouser she should wear for a formal school event. It is a very tough decision for a teenager to make and I was trying to scrape for all the patience in me to keep having a ‘dialogue’ with her.

The father entered the discussion to offer advice. As he was not regularly a part of these decision-making sessions, he found our daughter to be rude and unnecessarily angry for no reason. She settled for a trouser quickly to close the discussion in presence of a foreign entrant but the parting shot came from this new entrant on the scene, “What is the point of writing all these Parenting Books when your daughter is so ill-behaved?”

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That set me thinking. Such thoughts, opinions have been around for so long that we assume them to be acceptable.

Anyone who takes on domestic and parenting responsibilities by staying at home becomes a collector of such thoughts, opinions, beliefs that start changing you the way age does – silently, subtly but substantially.

The partnering and parenting domains are considered as an operational hazard by those who are passive participants in these. But they reserve their right to judge, instruct and advise.

sPice framework is neither about women leaving professional roles and falling off the leadership cliffs nor about how to stick to the ambition. It is about valuing the work of everyone who is ‘working’ away from meeting rooms and office desks and creating a skillset which is professionally relevant and ‘lifely’ must.

Why is ‘Leadership’ offered a pedestal and ‘Parenting’ offered a Sigh?

Why is ‘Leadership’ celebrated and ‘Parenting’ tolerated?

Why ‘Leadership’ is a life-long learning but ‘Parenting’ is a gap in the resume?

If leadership skills help a person and an organization discover himself and contribute meaningfully, parenting skills do the same, rather more profoundly.

With artificial intelligence taking the mechanical aspect of our jobs away, humans would be left to focus more on the ‘human’ aspects of our jobs – that which can’t be executed by machines.

The creative, collaborative, and communicative skill set required for us to succeed and stay relevant has deep roots in our skill-sets that make us effective parents, caregivers, and homemakers.

Excellence in life comes from summing up the skills that we create and develop in both settings – at home and at the workplace.

Follow @ www.drswatilodha.com

Fearless or Fear Less?

It is difficult and dangerous to be fearless.

But it is powerful and peaceful to fear less.

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Pic Courtesy: Swaraa Lodha

Is fear an adjective or a noun for you?

Fear, as a noun or adjective is stationary and makes us overconfident. It prompts us to take risks where none is needed.

Is fear a verb in your life?

Fear, as a verb is fluid and makes us balanced. It prompts us to dilute our fears, not to ignore them at our own peril.

It is difficult and dangerous to be fearless.

But it is powerful and peaceful to fear less.

What is your favourite failure?

Find out your favorite failure & discover yourself.

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What is your ‘favorite failure’?

If you start thinking about it, let’s go a little deeper.

  • What is your favorite failure as a spouse?
  • What is your favorite failure as a parent?
  • What is your favorite failure as a professional?

Share your answers and know yourself better.

My answers are

  • I have failed to develop a daily shared routine for my partner and me.
  • I have failed to inspire my daughter to pick a sport.
  • I failed to scale-up my first venture.