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And then, of course, the holidays and festivals were even more special. The proverbial family time, when her in- laws dropped in and she even lost whatever little of that freedom to choose and postpone.
Neeta was packing her bag at the end of another hectic day at work. As she quickly stuffed her bag and stepped on to the elevator, her mind was already on the next agenda for the day – dinner, kids, their home work, the craft project she had to help with, the morning tiffin menu to pack for…
How she wished she could jump on to a clean bed and warm herself after dinner and sleep. But no, that was a far-fetched dream! In the morning today, she was in a rush so she had barely finished the kitchen work because that was the top priority. The bedroom was now waiting for some attention! So while her husband sprawled on the sofa watching TV and talking to kids, she gulped a few bites, and quickly rushed to the bedroom to make the bed and clear the other mess there.
Then she called the kids for their staple diet of reading time. Yes, she was super tired, but she knew this was necessary for her kids and she could not count on her husband, who was, of course, the quintessential ‘modern cooperative husband’.
(Didn’t he allow her to work, fill fridge bottles, not crib about ordering takeaways once a week, kept the kids engaged in board games…! So what if this happened only once or twice month? Wasn’t he still the most hardworking and supportive husband? Unlike Rani’s (the neighbors next door) husband who never played with the kids, or Aruna’s (a work from home mom) husband who was never around even for the kids’ school admissions!)
She should indeed be thankful for the blessing! Anyways, she quickly finished setting up the bed and spent the next 45 min reading to kids and then saying their prayers. As the kids dozed off, she was going through the next to-do list in her mind, and she wondered… why was it never ending?
This was her daily routine and weekends were sometime even worse with the school project work, special meals…and PTA meetings. And then, of course, the holidays and festivals were even more special. The proverbial family time, when her in- laws dropped in and she even lost whatever little of that freedom to choose and postpone.
She was an efficient manager and had everything in control at work. But at home, it was different!
But how long can it go on like this? Of late, she realized that her health was failing; all the work and stress was taking a toll on her. Just today, she had heard of a colleague who had collapsed, and had to be rushed to hospital. NO…she did not want to end up there – a shiver ran down her spine – and she finally decided to ring in change, and LET GO of her SUPER WOMAN status. She just wanted to be a mom and a woman with no prefix whatsoever.
Her mind was made up; she realized things had to change. So she immediately applied for leave from work for a couple of days. She needed some time off alone to think and create her project plan!
She started by reflecting that why is that, unlike home, she was completely in control of her work at office — efficiently managing her teams, never missing any deadline, congenial with her colleagues. So what went wrong at home? Once she put her head to it, the answer was not too far away… She realized that at home for most part she was a one man army……with simply no support. She had never asked for it and no one had volunteered….but things had to change… and sooner than later!
So now she had a task at hand …using her managerial skills to set things at home right!
First, it was creating a delegation list. She realized that some of her work could be picked up by her husband and her kids, and for some she would have to hire some help. She knew this would not be easy, but she was willing to put effort to on-board them to this new life. And, of course, she had to tap into her skill to be assertive in laying down some ground rules.
So the path was clear. Hubby dear had to be more active and own the responsibility for things like getting kids ready for school in the morning, packing snack boxes, and also help with project work on weekends. Reading time was divided for alternate days, and the kids were to be more involved in the cleaning up of their room (of course, an appropriate incentive plan was also thrown in to keep them motivated), and a strict ground rule was that before bed, they had to pack their bags according to the next day’s time table. If not done, they went to school without the art or language book or library book, and took the punishment at school – No excuses! No blame game!
She finally decided to hire a cook for the evening meal. She had been avoiding it as she loved to cook for her kids, but she realized that this was the need of the hour, and would give her more time with the kids. Most importantly, she factored in 30 min of ‘Me time‘ daily, and that was non negotiable! If that meant that the house was a bit messy or one less dish at the dining table, so be it, and her folks had to learn to live with it. This included her in-laws who were occasional visitors and around whom she was always trying to be perfect, which meant being on her toes lest they find a reason to comment on her poor house management skills. The pursuit to be the perfect daughter in law was abandoned. If they did comment, she would take it with a pinch of salt and it was ok!
In just a few days, she was surprised that with all of these, her world did not come crumbling down. It was OK to be imperfect.
A week passed and another and another. There were the initial hiccups with her husband dropping the ball a few times with the morning routine (even forgetting to take his own lunch box to work!) and the kids reaching school without a book and coming home with a diary note. And above all, some comments from her in-laws who suddenly did not see the super woman bending backwards to seek their approval on her house management skills.
But she could already see how the winds of change were bringing in more happiness and laughter into her nest. The family started realizing it too; the kids were getting more responsible and learning new skills. Her older one was becoming an expert at baking cakes and cookies, and how he loved showing it off to his friends in school. With all the reading and project work, her husband was becoming more of a hero for the kids and he loved the bonding. Her in-laws were slowly coming to terms with the new reality, but had not missed the new spark and energy in their son and their grandkids. And last but not least, every one seem to like the new, rejuvenated woman who had given away the title super, but was more fun to be with, play with, and create happy memories together!
Image source: shutterstock
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