This father’s day weekend came as a culmination of a week in which Kidlet’s dad was out of town for four days out of five. And even on the Saturday, he had to squeeze in a few hours for work that took him out of home. Even though this may be a bit more than typical, it is quite close to what is a routine week in our home.
Does Kidlet miss her father? Yes. Do I resent all this travel? Oh Yes! So how do we manage to deal with the stress and resentment? Short answer to long quiz: It takes a lot of work!
In the beginning, it was quite tough. By some strange coincidence, my husband’s travel requirements increased (or maybe I started noticing it more!) when my daughter was barely three months old. He would be off for a week to ten days whilst I twiddled my thumbs with a newborn in an alien country. But the fact that we were out of India and with no domestic help actually kept me busy – even if exhausted most of the time!
To be honest, there are good weeks of low travel followed by weeks on an end of a lot of travel. I am doubtless of the fact that my husband is also exhausted by all this. If you ask me, the perfect recipe for resentment and anger in any family is physical and mental tiredness coupled with long periods of separation. And now that I’ve established my thoughts on that, let me share with you a few tips that have kept us sane, in the name of keeping the peace while living fairly demanding lives:
The first thing that hits you when you are all alone with your kid/kids is that you are all alone. If you happen to be the only responsible adult for your children when your spouse is away, things can get a little overwhelming. Even the smallest of irritations can look like a mountain (Undone laundry, leaking taps, unpaid bills!).
The best thing to do is to get as much help as possible with the chores and try to automate as many recurrent things as possible (especially bills!). One of the perks of living in India is that help is quite readily available – so make the most use of it! There’s no point being a martyr with nobody to reward you for it. And at the end of the day your kids will prefer a happy, relaxed mommy to an overworked, irritable one any day.
If you work full time, this may be a redundant point, because by very nature a job requires you to keep busy. But if you find yourself under the general umbrella of a stay at home mom – keeping busy is important. And by that one does not mean doing the daily chores!
Keep yourself busy in doing things that reward you. If you are a budding entrepreneur – now is the time to nurture that instinct. Even if you do not have the funds to start yet – write that business plan, put down those strategies, and take those online courses! For me, my freelance writing career is what keeps me busy. Mind you, I do not treat it as a hobby. No. I am serious about it and whatever time I spend on it is with sincerity and dedication. I’ve come to realize that you need to shift your attitude to realize that what you are doing is worthwhile before the rest of the world does that too.
Build a Network
Easier said than done, especially if you are an introvert like me. It helps if you live in a housing society or complex with several families. It is a bit more effort if you live in individual houses. Having said that, kids can open up many such limitations. Even if you do not have friends of your own in your city, your child is bound to make friends and acquaintances through the network of school and other activities. There is no shame (and indeed only benefits) in befriending other mothers.
When Kidlet was a toddler, I used to be very shy and withdrawn in mother-toddler groups. But soon I realized that these other mothers were the closest to my situation and understood me when I talked about my challenges. Over the years I have turned into someone who can bank upon other mothers for any help at any time!
Have a Routine
Being left to your own devices a lot of time can also sometimes lead to unwarranted boredom. A routine is the best way to combat boredom in my opinion. When everyone in the family knows what they are supposed to be doing at a certain time – there is less likelihood of feeling miserable and moping around.
Banish ‘waiting’ time
In the earlier years, I used to ‘count-down’ to the number of nights before Kidlet’s Papa came home. Trust me it led to more depression than reassurance. Nowadays we try not to ‘wait’. Because waiting is heavy work! Instead we focus on doing something else. My daughter and I could do some art work in the evenings or I can choose to snuggle up for an extra half hour with a book after the morning school run. The way I choose to look at it, I am getting a little more time to do other things that I love (and sometimes crib about not having enough time to do!)
Enjoy time together
And last but not the least, enjoy the time that you get together as a family because it is precious indeed – what with all the stress and separation that leads up to it. There is no point in wasting more time bickering about time already lost. Finally, Kidlet’s Dad is also happy and less stressed if he comes home to a happy family rather than a resentful one!
Aur jab Papa khush to bachcha biwi bhi khush 🙂
Nidhi Dorairaj Bruce is a Freelance writer from Mumbai who also manages a parenting website : thechildrensdaily.net . With no formal education in Parenting, she has been getting on-the-job training ever since her daughter, affectionately referred to as ‘the kidlet’, arrived on the scene 5 years ago. You can connect with Nidhi @typewritermom , nidhibruce.com