Meet Palak Jain who dons multiple roles. Palak was a flight attendant before joining an animation studio as the Executive Producer. Currently, working as a stay-at-home-mom. She is in absolute love with her 4.5 years old daughter- Aira, handbags, shoes, chocolates and her husband she has been married for the last 13 years.
How do you start your day?
Mornings are a rushed but delicately planned ballet which tends to go awry often. A typical morning means 6.30 AM wake up call, and all this follows soon after:
Check news, emails, messages
6.45 AM: Prepp Aira’s lunchbox and our breakfast
7.15 AM: Head for a shower
7.45 AM: Depart for her school
Gaurav (my husband) wakes, bathes and dresses Aira between 7:00-7.45 AM- isn’t he a gem of a person?
Every day is different, so I try to follow a general plan, especially after school. Most often, I am trying to ensure Aira spends time outdoors and gets exposed to plenty of physical activities. So through the week, there are a few visits to different gardens, a bit of cycling, pool during summertime. Besides, she also has tennis and music a few times a month, so I ferry her there and back.
I think the Indian education system puts a lot of emphasis on learning by rote as well as subjects such as math and science. Much less emphasis is placed on arts and liberal arts, which are required for a well-rounded education. I would introduce elements of current affairs as well as personal finance, early on so children, even those not interested in business can understand aspects of tax and manage their finances.
Your juggling and creating a balance with your work and kids…
It is all about balance. Since I am not working at the moment and have strong family support, I can plan my schedule in such a way that I get the most out of it, with regards to time with family or time for myself. My husband can be super busy at times but even then he ensures that he spends quality time by reading to her or just chatting-up every single day. Even if it means having to spend a few hours working after she has gone to bed. It pays off because she enjoys every moment spent with him and vice versa.
The most challenging part of being a mother?
To be able to stay patient, no matter what. A child/s mind is prone to distraction and their mind wavers a lot. It develops at its own pace, really. To be able to understand that children will learn and react to whatever is happening around them at their own pace has gone a long way in overcoming my impatience. However, I still struggle with her appetite. Aira is slow with food, so to make sure that she gets her daily dose of nutrition is a constant battle. Some days you win, some days you lose.
Breathing exercises help too.
Family time means…
Our weekends are all about family.
We plan things for her and for ourselves. On Saturday, depending on the weather, we go to the park, cycling on Marine Drive or the pool. In the afternoons we try and make sure she spends time with grandparents and her cousin (our nephew).
On Sundays, we try and go out to a kids movie if there is one playing, or try and catch a play or a performance directed at kids. If nothing, we try and grab breakfast or do a Sunday Brunch.
Our best moment shall perhaps, always be when she was born. She was the first girl child born in the extended family, in a hundred years. It is still one of the best days of our lives.
Do you manage to get personal time for yourself?
Gaurav and Aira usually leave around the same time, so post 9:00 AM, I have a few hours to myself. This is when I usually go to a Kitab Khana or a Crossword or catch up on some reading at home. Other days, I meet friends for coffee or shop a little. There are days though when I do nothing, just sip my chai and watch the world go by. Gaurav and I also make it a point to spend time with each other, so we go out for a meal if Aira is with our in-laws. Late evenings we try to watch shows together.
What tips would you like to give to mothers in general?
I would say- dear momma, it is a competitive world but there is more to life than grades and competing with your peers. No matter how they do in school, what they do in life depends on the choices they make. It is best to arm our little ones with the knowledge of right and wrong, good and bad and not put so much pressure on them or ourselves as parents. I also think that being a cool friend to my child does not work for me. I am a parent and I would like to be the voice of reason and a mentor. My mother was never my friend but she was and is still one of my closest relationships, a guiding force.
I would say – believe your child, don’t disregard anything they say just because they are not the same age!
Most of all, I’d say that kids grow up very fast, it is important to take joy in them, create good, happy memories because that is all that remains in the end.
What is your parenting style?
I put a great deal of emphasis on love, care, respect, and responsibility, yet I do come from a place of authority. This is to ensure that there is good behavior (for the most part) and there are lines and that cannot be crossed.
I’m not a super cool mommy. I don’t want to be one. I would much rather be a happy mama!
Perfection is a long road ahead and to get there you first have to be real. I am a real mama, I have a wonderful daughter, who has given me a few strands of gray hair, I cook, plan play dates, I worry and stay up when she is unwell, I document every second of her special moments and I try to instill a sense of empathy in her. Perfect or not, these are some of the goals I set for myself when she was born and I am glad I have been able to stick to my plan.
Any special parenting tips?
A few. We push her to be independent, this by asking for her opinion, asking her to make choices, respecting those choices and explaining to her the exact consequences of those choices. We never raise our hands. We speak to her every night before she goes to bed, recounting, good or bad things that may have happened. Foremost, we always tell her that she can talk to us about anything. If she confesses to something, we ensure not to get angry but rather talk it out.
For the longest time, a behavior reward chart worked for us. It’s a great way to motivate a child for good behavior. Usually, a sticker or weekly candy/ cake as a reward is enough.
It is also important to have a united front when questions pop-up and the child knows that parents are of the same mind and cannot be played against each other.
If there’s anyone thing you could change about you at this point in life, what would that be?
There is not one thing I would change so far. We are happy with the way life has turned out so far. If anything at all, I would like to spend some time living in another country with Aira, so she can experience a different culture, place and interact with children who don’t necessarily have the same background as her.
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