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Gy, I started this blog as a way to document the way things unfolded in my life as a new parent and how it’s grown. I can safely say I never expected that this blog would be read by more than two people: you and me.

A part of me is beyond thrilled that it’s touched so many people and continues to resonate with so many more.

But I also know this: It’s a responsibility I have here. I cannot write anything I want. There are things I’d rather tell you as I hold you in my arms and whisper them in private.

The good thing though? There are other things I can say out loud which other parents will agree with and that’s why we are here today.

Here are some of the simplest things you should cultivate in your life. You can start today and you’ll notice how wonderfully different the world can be.

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Do your own chores

It’s easy. Start with the simple things: make your own bed, put your clothes away, wash up after meals, wash your clothes by hand and dust a bit around the house. This builds a sense of responsibility and if you’re ever living on your own (which you will), these will come in handy.

Play a sport

I love the way you throw yourself energetically into play. The attention you pay to the ball when it comes into your court and how you focus. It’s a wonderful skill. Keep it alive.


You do a lot of this already, don’t you? We argue over those ‘extra five pages’ and ‘just till the end of the page.’ I try to be stern but I’ll tell you a secret: I was exactly like you! My mom used to get annoyed that I would lose myself in a book to the extent that I’d be deaf to everything else. Another secret? It’s why I keep you away from gadgets as much as possible. I don’t want you to lose that sense of wonder that a book can give you. Trust me. Read a lot. Read so much that it widens your horizons and your heart immeasurably.

Clean up when you make a mess

Yes, you should mop up spills but this is something more important. When you make a mistake, apologise. It can be to a friend, a senior or a junior. Admit when you are wrong and clean up the mess. You will have a lighter heart.

Respond to a cry for help

When someone calls out to you for help, do the best you can. Offer them what they need: most times, it’s quite simple. A hug, a shoulder, a ear to listen. It takes very little to make people know that you care about them. But it’s an investment that reaps rich rewards.

Learn to say No

This is one of the hardest things to do but it’s important to do. Learn to say No to things that aren’t good for you, are overwhelming and promise more than what you know are possible. These can be people, situations or jobs. How will you know? It’s a learning curve but you’ll find out soon enough.

Study hard

I know I tell you not to worry about what marks you score but there is something you should do: study. Study because learning is an ongoing process, for life. Study hard because it teaches you skills like industriousness, sticking to a goal and working towards it. Study because you love the subject and what it can do for you. Find innovative ways to study so it never becomes a chore.


This makes you giggle now but it’s important. Spend a few minutes a day in silence, giving thanks for the wonder that is your life. Still your mind and let go of worries. When you are stressed and overworked, this habit will rescue you far quicker than you’d anticipate.

Learn to cook

You are blessed to grow up in a home where you see both parents cook. (Yes, your dad cooks way better than your mom. Don’t tell him I said that!) Cooking is a skill you need to survive. Do you recall how you loved making that cup of tea for me when I was ill? That’s just the beginning. Enjoy every task and somehow it won’t seem so taxing, after all.

Don’t be afraid to cry

Never worry about being too sensitive. We all need to cry from time to time, be it while reading a book, watching a movie, listening to stories that move us or expressing our grief. You can also cry in joy but you’ll learn about that a little later.

 Let go

You will have to let go of a lot of things: friends, family, relationships, a few dreams and it will hurt. It will feel like a part of your life has ended. But you will grow, as a person. The one thing I want you to remember here? Do it with kindness. Don’t hold grudges, don’t rant about it, don’t call people ‘toxic’ and don’t wish them ill. There are no such things as toxic people, only unfavourable circumstances. Everyone has a story and always be compassionate.

 Talk to me

I can’t always be with you in person but I am always here to listen. Sit next to me on the bed, pick up the phone and call me and some day, very very very very far into the future, when I am not with you, close your eyes and speak to me. I promise to always listen. Always.

This isn’t an exhaustive list, not at all. In fact, I may come back and add a few more things to this a couple of months from now when you turn ten, and again when you turn 13.

I won’t call this an open letter or a set of guidelines. I would rather borrow a phrase from a dear, dear friend, Laksh and call it my legacy to you. Life is uncertain and one never knows how long one has on this beautiful, blue-green planet.

Doing even two of these things with heart, will help you as you walk down this exciting path called life and learning. So,if I were to be gone tomorrow, know that these are some of the things I wish you could practise as you grow. Doing them for yourself, not for anyone else, will help you face a lot that life throws your way.

Life, for all its beauty, can be pretty challenging and on most days, we are our own best warriors. Never buckle down. Never stop. Never give up.

What would you add to this list?I’d love to know and share it with Gy too.

Mom and child looking into each other's eyes
Categories: Life LessonsParenting

Shailaja V

Hi there! I'm Shailaja Vishwanath, a blogger with 12 years of blogging experience and a parent to a teen. I work as a digital marketing and social media consultant. From positive parenting tips to useful productivity hacks, social media advice to blogging advice, you'll find them all right here. Welcome to my blog.


Geets · May 29, 2016 at 6:18 pm

Wow Shailaja… Simply wow! I'm not a parent, and don't think much about them either but I loved this post so much. It felt as if my mother is speaking to me. Gy is a wonderful daughter and you are an incredible human being.

I'm so glad to have come across you 🙂


Vinitha Dileep · May 29, 2016 at 7:04 pm

Valuable life lessons to share! I'm sure Gy is already practicing many of these. One thing I tell my son is to take time to reflect. If he has a slight feeling that what he did was wrong, then I tell him to think about it and why he did and how to prevent it from happening in the future. Not exactly in these words. But I let him think over. And yeah, I can't wait for him to start cooking. 😉 You keep adding to this list, Shailaja. I will come back and look for more. 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 1:51 am

Thank you so much, Geetika. I think that's one of the best things I could have heard today. I am really grateful for all the love in the world. Thank you, again.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 1:53 am

I love that point , Vinitha! Yes, time to reflect and guiding them to think over what they have done is always a good thing. Cooking is a dream and I hope the kids take to it 🙂 They learn by watching so I hope he sees the dad cook too 🙂 I'll be sure to keep adding some more. Thank you!

BardSpeaks · May 30, 2016 at 1:59 am

Beautiful. It's either strange or a coincidence that I have written a letter to my toddler and called it 'my legacy to you'. It's lying in a private folder on my laptop. It's a series of letters I'm writing for Ananyaa to read when she's older. You know what's stranger? A lot of things you've written are what I've mentioned in my letter to her. I reckon we think and feel alike as mothers. Loved the way you've written this. Cheers!

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 2:05 am

As mothers, we are very much alike in what we want for our kids and I mean, you and I, specifically. May Swami always guide us in making the right decisions by them and being the kind of parents He was to us. You know what you should do? Send those letters by e-mail to a private e-mail account which you can transfer to her name later. She will enjoy reading them 🙂

Anamika Agnihotri · May 30, 2016 at 2:07 am

There was a reason when I said “I am happy that the parenting blog stays” and it is this 🙂 The word open letter does not appeal to me but yes the word 'legacy' does. I would like to take each of these points and practice them together with my son.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 3:29 am

I am so touched by your words, Anamika. Thank you 🙂 I think the term 'open letter' has been used too much for it to hold any value now. Let's hope the same thing does not happen to 'legacy'. I'd love to know if you would add anything more to this too 🙂

Vishal Kataria · May 30, 2016 at 3:31 am

I wish my mom had said point 3,4, 6, 8, 10, 11 and 12 to me. But what's done is done.

It's tough to prioritize which points are most important. They are all deeply significant when it comes to becoming a complete human being. Success will follow suit. Unfortunately, most of us chase the latter and forget the former.

Loved all the things Shailaja. These lessons come after decades of experiencing life in its true element and acquiring wisdom. Kudos!

Nabanita · May 30, 2016 at 3:38 am

That's a list I'll show my daughter when she's old enough to understand…I'm so grateful to have stumbled across your blog, you and also to you for sharing these gems with mothers all around the world..Another thing maybe that I would add to the list is this – Accept Yourself, you don't need to prove anything to anyone or need anyone else's approval as long as you are comfortable with yourself..

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 4:43 am

I have been reading a lot this year, Vishal, more than the last 10 years put together. It's helped me tremendously as a person and a parent. I just hope that a fraction of all this can help Gy on her journey and perhaps others who read it as well.

I don't claim to know everything and wisdom? Perhaps too heavy a word 🙂 But I will accept it in the sense that you say it and thank you for your kind words.

Jaibala Rao · May 30, 2016 at 4:45 am

Another post I am bookmarking for S to read when he is older. We keep saying that parenting is so much different in the sense that each parent is different and each child is too. But the core values every parent wants to impart to their child is usually the same.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 4:46 am

That's a lovely addition. Yes we must accept ourselves. I'd modify that slightly to say that one should also be receptive to change, if it is for the better. Proving anything to anyone else apart from yourself is a waste of time. That, I completely agree.

Very glad to have met you too, Naba 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 4:48 am

I am compiling all the key posts from bloggers and mailing them to Gy to read when she is older. There are some she can relate to right away and she loves them too.

Thank you, Jai and I know you do a wonderful job with your young man and he's going to grow up to be a gentleman proud to have you as his mom. Mark my words.

BardSpeaks · May 30, 2016 at 4:52 am

OMG! I am doing that! ha ha. You and I DO think alike in so many ways. Created an account for her a little after she was born. I want her to know SO much…this was the best way out. Cheers, soul sister. Love your blogs, love your thoughts.

Shilpa Gupte · May 30, 2016 at 7:12 am

Ah! That was beautiful! Yes, read it just now (sorry! was caught up), and by the end of it, I had tears in my eyes. It is exactly how my mother has always guided me – about life, about people and about how I am supposed to try my best at accepting it all and living it to the fullest! You are such a fabulous mum! I was particularly struck by number 11. I too believe that people can never be toxic, it's how they have been made that makes them different from us; it's their lives and their journey that is responsible for the way they think and behave. I so hope children realised this and some more truths about life sooner. Loved the post, Shailaja! Touched my heart!

tulika singh · May 30, 2016 at 7:37 am

Loved your post Shailaja. Such sound advice. These are things we as mums reiterate all the while. maybe seeing it written down would help them register it better. No 6 and 12 seem ever more pertinent as they are growing up. Learning to say No and talking to their parents – that should see them through their teens well. I can think of so many things I'd like to tell them – about sticking to old fashioned values – honesty, chivalry, politeness, punctuality. Whew – somedays I feel overwhelmed with all what I need to pass on to them.

PS: You should blog here more often.

Rachna · May 30, 2016 at 10:18 am

Such a lovely, honest post filled with old world wisdom and love. I loved it! Of course, I agree with each point. I would like to add Don't be afraid to fail to this list. I would want her and my kids to take risks, to fail and to brush themselves up and try again. Success is hard earned and failures teach you the most.

Gowri · May 30, 2016 at 10:33 am

Hi shailaja, such wonderful advice in such a simple manner….think this advice holds good for adults as well…we can start to practice these from today if we don't do these already…agree with tulika you should blog here more often

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 12:20 pm

Can I tell you something? I think all parents want this for their kids. We do. Even if we aren't parents, then for our close babies in the family. Yes, people cannot be toxic. They are hurt and wounded and lash out in anger. I know it's difficult to forgive and forget but it's important that we do. It's no use harbouring so much anger in our hearts.

Aarti · May 30, 2016 at 12:25 pm

Beautiful post Shailaja… I aint no mom but could relate to the post and wished my mom would say such things to me.. 😀

Other things I would probably add to it
1. Travel on your own
2. Listen to others, but do your own thing and learn your way.
3. Don't follow the herd, create your own identity…

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 12:31 pm

I agree that writing it all down helps me a lot and knowing Gy and her love for reading, I feel reading this all will help her absorb it at her own pace far better than any lecture from me 🙂 Oh I love the one about sticking to old-fashioned values even though they may seem unfashionable when they grow older.

Yes, you're right. I need to blog here more often. It keeps me happy. Thank you, Tulika.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 12:34 pm

Thank you so much, Rachna :)Yes, completely agree! Do not be afraid to fail. That's the next book on my TBR: The gift of failure by Jessica Lahey. Hoping I will be able to pick it up soon.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 12:52 pm

Thank you so much Gowri. What a wonderful thing to say. I am so touched by the fact that you think I should blog here more often. 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 30, 2016 at 12:53 pm

I love all 3 points, Aarti! Traveling on our own and living on our own are both necessary to help us grow out of our comfort zones. Thank you so much for reading. Really, really appreciate it.

Rajlakshmi · May 30, 2016 at 1:41 pm

you know what, I could actually print this and follow it myself. Simple things yet we forget… Beautiful post Shailaja.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 31, 2016 at 4:28 am

That's so sweet of you, Raj 🙂 Thank you!

Sid @ · May 31, 2016 at 6:18 am

Very sound advice, Shailaja. The only thing I'd probably add to the list is 'Trust your decisions, even if they may feel wrong. And don't be afraid to fail sometimes;

themoonstone · May 31, 2016 at 7:32 am

That's such a nice post Shailaja. Just read it to my son too. Yes, they need to learn to do all of these and I am sure they will too.. With loving parents like us 🙂

Mithila Menezes · May 31, 2016 at 7:47 am

I agree with all the points, specially that one – don't rant about it. It really is important to learn the lesson of letting go. Be it a broken toy that you once loved, or a friendship that no longer exists.
I have just learnt lesson 9 and 10. I hope Gy follows all these tips to the T. It surely will benefit her to the fullest! One tip I would like to add – Never trust anything or anyone blindly.

Shailaja Vishwanath · May 31, 2016 at 1:38 pm

I really must add the 'don't be afraid to fail' to this list since I believe in it so ardently too 🙂 Thanks Sid. I showed it to her and she was equally thrilled and thoughtful after reading it.

Me Otherwise · June 1, 2016 at 8:09 am

Would read it out to my kiddo. And hope Gy passes it on to her next gen

Me Otherwise · June 1, 2016 at 8:09 am

Would read it out to my kiddo. And hope Gy passes it on to her next gen

Soumya · June 1, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Ah I'm glad I learnt all of this 😛

Also teach her to not feel the need to follow the rules and abide by society. She needs to stand up strong for her own decisions.

Shailaja Vishwanath · June 2, 2016 at 3:01 am

Thank you so much, Asha. I love it when we are able to share our lessons with our kids and they can relate to it all so well. Let's hope they always come to us when they need us 🙂

Shailaja Vishwanath · June 2, 2016 at 3:05 am

You are wise beyond your years, Mithila and I have said this before too. I fervently hope she follows them too but I know this will take time and it's important to let her make her own mistakes as she goes along.

Shailaja Vishwanath · June 2, 2016 at 3:07 am

Thank you so much! That makes me so glad.

Shailaja Vishwanath · June 2, 2016 at 3:19 am

I think she's learning that one already thanks to the pre-teen phase. Must do a post on the kinds of eye-rolls I have been subjected to in the recent past 😉

Shailaja Vishwanath · July 7, 2016 at 1:15 pm

That would be lovely, Ramya 🙂

My legacy: The paradoxical truths my daughter must know · October 4, 2016 at 12:40 pm

[…] Things you should remember […]

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