4 Steps to a Kinder You

4 Steps to a Kinder You

You’ve become kinder now, you know?

In an almost matter-of-fact way, tossing it into the conversation right between an anecdote from school and how she really disliked onions in her food, Gy made this statement yesterday. I was standing in the kitchen, washing up the dinner dishes and I paused and turned to look at her, with a sense of curiosity.

At that moment, a veritable mixture of emotions flooded my mind:

I have become kinder? What does that mean? Wasn’t I kind enough before? And what does she mean now? Does she mean this moment, this very instant or is she referring to the present, ongoing state?

Yes, as you can tell, I tend to analyse everything. Blame it on the psyche. As far back as I can recall, it’s always been a trait of mine- good or bad, you get to decide.

So I decided to suspend the train of thought and actually ask her what she meant. Staring into space, she said, ‘I don’t know. I guess you just learnt to be nicer to me, after I’ve been doing things right for the last two weeks.’

Simultaneously, I felt gut-punched. One feeling was overwhelming gladness that she felt  I was kind. The other feeling was incredible sadness that she’d felt I had been obviously unkind less than a fortnight ago and that it was the change in her behaviour that had made me kinder.

In truth, though, it wasn’t she who’d changed. It was I.

4 Steps to a Kinder you, Shailaja, Doting Mom

If you recall, my mother of all meltdowns happened around then and it also shook me up to make some resolutions for my own sanity as well as for my parenting benefit. What helped me was the acknowledgement that time spent with my daughter wasn’t nearly as enough as I would like it to be. And so, I made a LIST. Here’s what it involved:

L- Listen:

When Gy comes home from school, I make it a point now to listen to her babble, her chatter which is often meaningless, meandering and has more non sequitur statements than a political address. But I have chosen to turn off that logical part of my brain and revel in the wonder that she shares with me every single day.

I- Involve:

Do you know the complete pleasure you get when you lose yourself in a task? Parenting is also like that. The problem is our minds are constantly multi-tasking, wondering about the undone assignments or the next class that they have to run to or the project that’s due the following week and we forget to lose ourselves in the present moment. So now, I lose myself in Gy. I get totally involved- in her bubbly enthusiasm, her wide-eyed wonder, her helpless giggles as she tells me the ‘joke’ she heard in school- a joke so funny she can’t finish telling me about it without dissolving in peals of laughter.

S- Sit:

So simple, and yet so very hard to practise. Do you sit with your child for at least  half an hour each day? Whether it is with them while they eat or by their side when they are doing an assignment or just cozying up on the couch, each reading a book? Chances are we are each of us self-involved- the parent with the devices or their books or their accounts and the child in her shell of quietude. Don’t get me wrong. Kids need that quiet time, but they need some part of our day that is spent on them. Completely and wholly.

T- Talk:

We are the human race. We thrive on interaction- visual, verbal, social, animated discourse. Who better to teach us that innate wonder than our kids? She is entering the pre-teen phase, which means she is at the threshold of life where she may soon stop talking altogether about her fancies and the things that make her smile. Awkwardness will set in and I will lose her to the mysterious secrets between friends and adolescent aggression. So, I talk now, a lot more with Gy than  I used to. And I love it. 

Perhaps this has all helped me become kinder. Perhaps.

Or maybe it is just the universe’s way of letting me know that the kindness always existed within me. It just remained hidden under the layers of being busy, distracted and unavailable.

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0 thoughts on “4 Steps to a Kinder You

  1. Kids really do have the habit of casually dropping one-liners and moving on leaving us to think and analyse. Loved your LIST. I struggle on all these four fronts. The twins are very demanding though. They ask me clearly, 'mama can you sit with us while we eat?' Or 'can you put away your phone and listen to this?' They're know how to ask for what they want. No ambiguity there.

  2. Gy asks off and on, but not all the time. Then there is that habit of hers when she leaves for a class. She will walk out the door and then come running back to give me a hug saying, 'I forgot to hug you!' Such a simple but totally heartwarming gesture. As adults I think we tend to forget the sheer value of such moments. Thanks so much for your support, Tulika!

  3. Wow…simple yet important things which we tend to neglect and is actually true for every relationship we share with slight modifications no? I'll keep this in mind

  4. I love how kids say these beautiful things so casually. They mean it and they touch our hearts — their simplicity, their innocence yet their wisdom. Oh, they teach us so much. Hugs to you and do pass on one huge one to her from me. Loved this post. Loved your pointers too. Glad to say, I practice them all. 🙂

  5. LIST, simple yet powerful. My kid asks follow up questions after his babbles, be it a made up story, so it is important that I pay attention and actually listen to want he is saying. And I found out that spending quality time with him has good effects on both me and him. 🙂 Good one Shailaja. 🙂

  6. True, true, true and true Shailaja, nodding my head at all these brilliant points. I am doing better at these than I used to, I hope it'll get easier with time though I suspect we will always have to be conscious about being involved In a way, mindfulness all over again, isn't it?

  7. You are dead on about the Listening! Many parents struggle to pay attention to what their children are saying, especially the young ones, but it tells them they are heard and is an important part of building their confidence!

  8. I really struggle with all four of these, and my son is just 3. I try my best, but as of now, my best is just not good enough. I am going to fix this. This post is a much needed reminder and nudge. Thank you. 🙂

  9. Doing all the four points has been so liberating, Sunila. I no longer worry about what people will think of me if I don't respond to a message right away or seem to ignore their tags on social media. Right now, I am busy being with my daughter and there is no place like home. Parenting is so fulfilling, is it not?

  10. Actually true, Naba. In the 'connected' world today where do you find people ready to talk to each other? We are so lost in our personal issues that we rarely make time to go out and interact on a regular basis. I am hoping this trend will change as my child grows older.

  11. Yes I love that casual, matter-of-fact, no-nonsense approach they have. It is so refreshing to be honest! Many hugs right back at you, my dear. Very glad you are doing it all. I remember your mindfulness post from a while ago. We each come to our realisations at our time, don't we?

  12. Oh gosh! Yes, those made up stories will be the end of me 😀 Then again my stories are equally bad, so I can't blame her 😉 I used to scoff at the idea of quality time but realise how relevant it is in today's connected world. Thanks Vinitha 🙂

  13. I think, as you say, the mindfulness has to extend to everything, right? I mean whether we are driving or reading a book or watching a movie or cutting veggies, it helps if the mind is calm and in control. We stop all those hurtling thoughts for a few seconds and drink in the beauty of the present moment. Who knows? Maybe there's kindness there too- for ourselves.

  14. I agree that all kids need to feel that they are heard, even the little ones with their gibberish and their babble. It is important for them to feel loved, connected and important. Life is going to be tough, anyway, so why not make it a pleasure for them, growing up? Thank you so much for reading and commenting and sharing, Katy 🙂

  15. I had decided when S was born to do these things with him, Be with him when I am with him, talk and listen. Lately I had begin to forget that, but last weekend something changed and I rechecked my priorities again. Timely reminder for me to not stray away from what I want to do.

  16. As much as I may sound like an old elder trust me when I say, cherish these moments. They grow up way too soon! I cannot believe Gy is 9. The moment I held her in my arms is so crystal clear. How I forget that when I lose my temper or snap at her. Thankfully, this blog and she are constant reminders that we must always be aware of our present moment. Thank you for reading and sharing, Shantala.

  17. It's all right to forget, Jaibala. We are after all, human. Plus we need time for ourselves too. I think the idea is to strike a balance between their needs and ours and work out a way to ensure we don't compromise on either of those things 🙂 So glad to see you here on the blog, as always. Hugs 🙂

  18. Wow, Gy sure is a deep thinker who drops in perfect hints at the perfect time. Now, where do you think she gets that from? 😉

    Kind is a word that has never been associated with me. But if and when I decide to have kids, I shall follow this post to the T. I shall make you proud 🙂

  19. Yes she is rather contemplative 🙂 I think that is inborn though, not necessarily hereditary.

    And you are kind. You just don't know it. Underneath that gruff exterior and all that bullying, you are one of the softest people I know. You couldn't write such beautiful poetry if you weren't. So yes, follow the post and follow your heart as well, my dear Soumya.

  20. Gy seem to be very observant of things that happen around her.. And these four steps seem to do wonders.. Whenever I'm planning the kids, I know I can reach you and seek these excellent learnings from you 🙂


  21. She really is observant, Geetika. It is a pleasure to watch her question and be curious and thoughtful all at once. I am sure by the time you have kids, there will be far more people who can help you and do a better job too 🙂 Thanks for your kind words 🙂

  22. Stumbled upon your blog and I'm so glad I did 🙂
    I have a two year old and every single day with him is a new lesson learnt..its amazing how we become better individuals because of these bundles of joy isn't it! Loved what you've penned..

  23. Great list! I think these points can help in all kinds of relationships. I find the older I get, the less I find I know. 🙂 Appreciate you sharing your heart and experience. Thanks so much for stopping by my guest post about writing prompts. I appreciate your feedback. Thanks also for liking my Facebook page. It's great to meet you. Have a good weekend!

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