Keeping up with an extended family

Article by: Murugeswari Natarajan, Associate Manager-Diversity Hiring

Like every woman, my marital life had started with pleasant expectations and beautiful dreams. From day one, the relationship with my in-laws was working out well. Being a retired working woman herself, my MIL who I endearingly call, Amma understood my hardships as a professional. Having said that in the later years, I have encountered many conflicts with my mother-in-law, like everyone else. Over time, I have learned to endure. In due course, I realized that this is nothing but my insecurity. It’s part of all our lives. It is surprising that we easily understand the insecurities that others suffer from, but it takes time for us to understand our insecurity.

If we try to identify the insecurities and overcome those, many problems can be solved in advance.

1.      Creating a healthy network

2.      Working out more on your passion

I have learned to do both of these.

As I had mentioned earlier, I perceived the notion that my mother in law was insecure. In the following days, a series of bitter incidents caused me to lose my patience. I sunk into a grave of darkness. And the darkness gradually increased post my delivery. I believe it was ‘Postpartum Depression’. Immediately, a few people around me rose the question of us living as a nuclear family. Yet, I was determined to live with an extended family. Because, in the days that followed, my baby needed support.

During this turbulent phase, my husband offered me a piece of curt but practical advice. He said, “You need to know who you are as a person. Prioritize your aspirations. Building a relationship takes time and effort so don’t hold unnecessary grudges”. His advice pushed me into a new direction of life. I realized that my insecurities and conflicts have affected my overall intention. I decided to work on myself thoroughly. This was one of the main reasons for my early return to work post-maternity.

The solutions I devised for myself were to cleanse my network and spot the supportive relationship to be sustained for the long term. And, the second one was to work out more on my passion. So as planned, I started to keep a check on my network regularly. I have a belief that if we have positively strong supporters in our network, we will be cheerful and will automatically move forward. If you feel uneasy in your relationships or alarmed by people who possess a toxic mentality, get rid of them immediately.

In the personal front too, I adopted a few goals. The first step that I took was to split the duties among everyone in the house. As soon as I figured out what our priorities are, I sat down, set goals, and made plans to maintain the course. I had chalked out individual goals as well as couple goals in terms of our Health, Career, and Finance. So, we have 5 members in my home including my kid. We have 5 personal goals for each and a family goal. The goals we fixed for ourselves gave us success in subsequent years. I always design a family goal that depends on everyone’s responsibilities, it can be achieved only by every member’s co-operation. So we have made the plans intertwined and transparent. At present, the couple’s goal has changed into a family goal. For example, if a family faces a financial crisis, the entire family needs to be attentive in cooperating. In other words, we as a group have transformed our lifestyle slowly instead of trying to work hard to change everyone’s attitudes individually. This transformation has provided us with a lot of time to converse with my family, allows us to listen to each other, and above all, my little one is nurtured in love with her grandparents. Being a working mother I make all the decisions with confidence along with their experienced inputs. We are flattered when our kith & kin appreciate that we drive a family perfectly with ethics.

You can’t get what you want unless you envision it. Give yourself the space to dream what you want. Today’s women prefer to raise their children with grandparents rather than leaving them in kindergarten/day school (until and unless the situation suggests otherwise). This is a good sign. If you learn to accept the challenges, I assure you that your growth will be tremendous in the extended family. Let’s go back to the extended family culture to make our homes a haven.


Corona or Dalgona?

Article by: Athira Premarajan- Research and Content Development Associate

You know how it works. Fresh today and gone tomorrow. That’s the pace of social media trends. There was a time when a ‘winking beauty’ from Kerala, took over the social space of the entire world. Though it stayed for a little longer than anticipated, it was long forgotten the very next week! Now trending are the frothy Dalgonas. This will forfeit too. So will the Corona.

Rising to the challenge is not new to any human being. We have learned to survive the odds even during the hardest of times. Journeying through the most unprecedented times of the century, we are slowly regaining our world step-by-step. In this process, the role of technology in leading us is huge. It has opened the window of possibilities and opportunities – Learning from home, cooking from home, celebrating from home, invoking from home, working from home, et. al. Among this, the popularity, reach and requirement of ‘remote working’ or ‘work from home’ concept tops the list.

Though it was already in the scene, remote working had not gained limelight until recently. The social stigma that sustained with remote working was long gone within a couple of days since the outbreak. Although, it is sad that a pandemic had to teach us the vast possibilities of the different tools and products made by humankind. Anyway, better late than never! This opportunity has proved the world – both employers and employees, the availability of alternatives. This has made a huge impact in the lives of millions of women – who are trying for a job with flexibility, who has requested for flexible working hours, and for those of who wants to balance familial duties and earn, working from home. Now, just to list out the benefits, how has this window of opportunity given the women workforce a breath of fresh air? Let’s find out!

Time for Dalgonas (*wink*):

Working moms often are seen working tirelessly towards bridging the gap between her kids and her motherly duties. This unexpected vacation has given her round-the-clock chance to bond with her kids, dishing out their favourite snacks and of course, the trending Dalgonas!

Update and Upgrade:

Skill building is an essential aspect of any business. In lieu of the time spent on travelling, working moms can now focus on upgrading skills and knowledge from the vast ocean of courses, webinars and workshops available online.

Multi-tasking and Crisis management at its peak:

Going through sibling crisis is a more complicated task than even the pandemic, a mother would agree. Not saying this would give her a certification but, surely does this innate talent helps in her everyday tasks, especially in her work. Prioritising also falls under this.

Better Control of Finances:

With online services shut, travel expenses hitting zero, and complete home under control, financial matters have never been so much easier. The cognitive capability of women takes a new spin every time while planning the week, accurately listing the requirements, which again benefits them in their work to better plan and process.

In the Comfort of Home:

Productivity is never better when you work from home. Believe it or not, it is proven as well as approved! Nothing better than the comfort of one’s home to concentrate and get creative.

Women are the masters of handling situations. Be it at home or away. In the era where we are proceeding with our baby steps to incorporate AI in every field, our world is not far away in reaching the sci-fi imaginations. Women, nevertheless, we can all agree, are beyond imaginations – their strength, capability, discipline and perseverance, most of which are her innate qualities.

Though the scenarios may differ than what is mentioned above, with the lack of domestic aid and online food services, we sure can find time for doing our favorite hobbies or learning new things. Understand that no one has their day planned accurately. Pull out one hour from those lazy evenings or preferably weekends, to rejoice and explore what you loved doing or what you always wanted to do. Look at the brighter side and make use of this unexpected vacation to procure expected and productive outcomes.


Quarantine life: 21 fun tasks for 21 days

India is now under 21 days of lock-down. A hopeful and a precautionary step to protect us from the deadly pandemic. Enough has been discussed and written about the virus, so let’s not embark on that journey. Instead, we can plan and transform these 21 days into something exciting as well as apply it as a stress-free therapy for working parents.

Apart from the daily routine work of child-rearing and household tasks in collaboration with office duties, working parents can opt to do these 21 fun tasks for the next 21 days. Let’s begin-

Day 1- Play indoor games

Board games are a savior. If you don’t possess any, then try dumb charades or Pictionary. Hide & seek is another viable option. Family games are absolute fun!

Day 2- Clean your house plants

With the amount of pollution that we survive in, it’s natural for a household to host indoor plants. Take out some good time and clean those greens. Parents can involve their kids in this activity. It will bring them closer to nature.

Day 3- Cook together

Whether it’s fixing a snack for the kids or making dinner (keeping in mind the limited availability of resources), make sure you do it as a couple. These small moments will offer you both a chance to chat and reminisce about your best moments together. In urgent times as such, couples need to be at their best partnership.

Day 4- Read books

In this digital world, kids making it a habit to read books is like a breath of fresh air. Parents can lead the way by reading together with them before bedtime.

Day 5- Organise a movie night

This is everybody’s favorite. A weekend movie marathon with family is always a good idea.

Day 6- Give the physical activity a roll

Spread out the yoga mats and spend quality time stretching your body to give the rest it deserves. With meditation, your tired mind will open up and offer more space to fresh thoughts.

Day 7- Explore ways to save money

With the grappling economy scenario, it is inevitable for couples to discuss and devise methods to maintain the budget and save money.

Day 8- Conduct a family photoshoot

The lockdown has forced people to be indoors. That means everyone in the family is home. So now it can be a good time to get dressed and pose for the perfect family picture.

Day 9- Call up family and friends

Getting to know that everyone you love and care for is safe is definitely the best feeling in the world. So take this quarantine period as an opportunity to call up long lost friends or face time with your extended family. This gesture will impart positivity and radiate immense love among all of you.

Day 10- Watch travel vlogs

Maybe it’s going to take some time to check off your family travel bucket list, but no worries. Watch interesting travel vlogs on YouTube. It can also serve as a learning tool for kids.

Day 11- Spread the joy of color

Kids love colors. So why don’t you let them get messy in their attempt to do something creative? An empty canvas and a box filled with colors are all you need. Let their imaginations flow. Parents try it too. It’s therapeutic!

Day 12- Dance your heart out

What else can be more relaxing than dancing your stress out? Put on some fun music, gather your kids, and let your body sway to the rhythm.  Also, it can be a helpful tip to put your hyperactive children now tired because of the dance party to bed on time.

Day 13- Scrub and mask

Homemade packs and scrubs work wonders on our bodies. But in situations of no access to ingredients, you just need lukewarm water and a loofah. A home spa day is an ideal idle time.

Day 14- Host an English tea party

Sounds fancy but doesn’t have to be a literal garden tea party. Spending a simple but cozy evening with the elders of your family and talking over a cup of chai is a good way to keep boredom at bay.

Day 15- Start a debate

No, we are not talking about picking up a fight. A healthy conversation with your partner on a trending topic apart from the global pandemic is what we meant. Each of you can bring to the table varied POV of the same story. It can be a ritual to keep yourself updated with the world.

Day 16- Tell bed-time stories

Kids nowadays can be least expected to know about the two great Indian epics- The Mahabharata and The Ramayana. With the fast-moving times, parents also lost track of time to make their children familiar with the stories. But now is the time! Bed-time stories can be the passage for the kids to enter into the world of fascinating Indian tales.

Day 17- Do some spring cleaning

One piece of furniture or one room at a time but begin the long-overdue spring cleaning.

Day 18- Learn the name of all your kid’s friends

This is a valid task that we tend to ignore. But your kid’s friend circle tells a lot about your child. Also, your interest to know your kid’s friends will excite your kid too. The more kids you have, the more names you need to remember.

Day 19- Keep a journal

This is an unprecedented time in our history. So make it a habit to keep a journal to record your day to day activities. Your kids can do the same too. They can draw out their feelings if too young to write. This will help them document their lives in a national emergency and remain as a reminder as they grow up.

Day 20- Do nothing

Don’t push yourselves too hard. Living in quarantine can be difficult but not impossible if you stay calm. So on a certain day pause, and take a break. No activities. No hustling. Just your family and you being thankful and mindful of Mother nature.

Day 21- Remain positive

Last but not least, don’t forget to make the list of stuff you are going to do with your family once this is over.

SOMEDAY OR OTHER IT WILL ALL COME TO AN END.


In times of Corona: A working mother’s guide to remote working

Coronavirus outbreak, now declared as a pandemic by the World Health Organisation, is taking the world by storm. Every age group, every gender, and every profession from around the globe is hit by this severe disease. Hand washing is a daily ritual. Social distancing is the mantra to live by. A large public gathering is an offense. Educational institutions are on standby. And working from home is the new normal.

As we can witness the dynamic shift in everything because of the global adversity scenario, couples are also making tough decisions on how to divide their share of unpaid labor. In solution, the lives of a large sum of working mothers are not the same anymore. The kids are at home. The elderly have been confined to indoors. The house help and baby sitters have been sent away on paid leave fearing the risk of contagion. And the working mother is unconsciously left to deal with taking care of the kids, combating this infectious disease to ensure her family is safe with the equal focus of meeting the deadlines at work. In addition to that, the majority of social and health workers comprises of women. They are on the front lines in the battle against COVID-19, thus, putting them at a greater risk of getting infected.

Coronavirus might bring out the ugly side of gender equality. Couples might suddenly find themselves caught in the argument of who is going to be a breadwinner and who can play the role of a homeworker. Instead of a hard core debate on equality, let’s think and devise the solutions to streamline a woman’s daily routine.

  • Reject the work-life balance myth

First and foremost, it’s only fair if we agree that we can’t have it all. Work and life don’t have to be a tug of war. Instead, develop a synergy between the two and bridge the guilt gap when you have to unplug. It is Work-Life integration like no other time.

  • Set a consistent morning routine

Make a to-do list. Schedule your tasks with a proper timeline. Easy to say and easier to do. The hardest tasks on your to-do list should be completed as when you feel the sharpest and focused.

  • Engage your kids in an activity

Before you sit down to officially begin your work, keep your kids busy with some interesting – craft or puzzle activity. This can also act as letting your kids know that you are in a ‘do not disturb’ mode. While cutting down screen time is healthy, allowing them one while you wind up an important meeting is the smart way to do it.

  • Get on the same page with your partner

Just like you brainstorm ideas in a conference room, in a similar manner use your living room to formulate a game plan with your parenting partner to share the responsibilities of child care and housework. The best example: alternate shifts with your partner if he’s working from home too.

  • Ask for help

It takes a village to raise a child. So asking or taking help from a family member or a friend is not a sign of weakness. In times of Corona, just be cautious of the hygiene habits of the individual taking care of your kids. The same goes for relying on a colleague to help with your project if you are away handling mother duties.

  • Communicate

It’s mandatory to be transparent to your co-workers about your necessity to meet your kid’s needs. In between video conferences, it’s suitable to give the other person a heads up on your work from home environment.

Times are difficult. But this shall pass if the best of human nature can rise to the challenge. Your kids and your parents are the ones who need the utmost care during this time. So even with the lockdown and the pressure of working from home, savour the small moments with your kids and the elderly. Take timely breaks, and have a hearty chat with them. Boost their immunity (don’t forget yours). Sanitize at regular intervals.

Every dark cloud has a silver lining. Likewise, in this hassle of work-life integration, your family’s well-being is the silver lining. Because in times of Corona, you need your loved ones to be safe more than a pat on your back for being a superwoman.


Bringing back the fun in summer vacation (Summer Series)

By Chaitali Shroff, Parent Coach, Social Emotional Learning Educator

We can’t escape the sweltering summer but let’s not sweat about summer vacation. All kids look forward to their summer vacation, and summer vacations are tough for the parents. With temperature soaring high outside as well inside the home!! Kids getting bored at home …Watching TV endlessly…Fighting big time…Troubling grandparents or care taker etc. The list goes on and on. Parents are busy at either home or work.

How do parents navigate these tough tides and ensure that they swim well at both home and office. Small things make a World of difference.

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Mother’s Day Series – In Conversation with a Working Mother (Part 3)

Article by: Kanakadurga Ramani, Manager – Consulting Services at Avtar with Dr. Suja.M.K. – Associate.Professor & Chairperson, Department of  Social Work, Amrita  Vishwa Vidyapeetham, Coimbatore.

1. Please tell us about yourself, your passions and dreams.

I am very passionate about my profession that is Social Work. At 50 my dream is to help people especially women and adolescents come out of their mental barriers and short comings to live their life to the fullest. All they need is a little push.

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3 practical tips for Working Moms this summer (Summer Series)

 

 

Article by: Jayati Chakraborty (Executive Vice President – Business and Operations at Teleperformance).

Summer vacation, a source of great delight to all school children and looked forward to eagerly by them, poses a challenge to working mothers as they have to organize child care and devise innovative ways of keeping their brood busy and entertained.

Since I have had to wade through dozens of summer breaks with my child whilst working in the fast paced world of business, I regard myself as a near expert in terms of managing these challenges. Here are some tips and tricks that I have accumulated over the last few years to survive summer vacation:

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The double whammy every working woman faces

 

 

 

Article By Lakshmi Vijaykumar, Principal Research Consultant – AVTAR Group

A few months ago, a comic visual that nailed the challenges faced by a working woman climbing the corporate ladder made waves in the Internet world. The image was shared on Twitter by Anand Mahindra, chairman of the Indian business conglomerate Mahindra Group. He mentioned on his self-realization moment while baby-sitting his one-year old grandson at home.

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Don’t info-cram your mind

Image courtesy – Freepik

We get it. You have just enough time after a long day at work to catch a breath. But hear this out, those small pockets of idle time outside of work matter. They matter so much, that they could have a direct impact on your professional/ personal life in the long run. This article isn’t about picking up a new hobby, creating a new music playlist, lighting scented candles, reading Paulo Coelho, or listening to a motivational podcast or a Tedtalk. It’s literally two things you could do during those small pockets of idle time you get every day to turn them into your most productive part of the day.

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Realistic Guidelines to help you excel at the work place and at home.

 

 

 

Article by : Premsai Samonotoray , Life Skill Trainer.

These days, we women introduce ourselves as a working women or just a house wife. There are very few women, who take pride in saying that they are a home maker. Whether we women are in the office, or home the fact is that we work everywhere.  The question is how we perceive our work. That makes all the difference.

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