Stay at Home or Work Full Time? A Human Perspective

Stay at Home or Work Full Time? A Human Perspective

By Jayaram Rajaram

I am sure women are wondering what I (being a man) am going to say about a debate that is always highly polarized and one that has been done to death. Here I am digging into ancient Indian roots & wisdom and am going to offer a perspective for all human beings, in a gender-neutral manner.

Parents and Child

Ambition and competitive education with little or no introspection or self-awareness have harmed the human race and its peace of mind, irrespective of gender. It’s really time to move to a self-awareness, inward looking, duty-bound education system that nurtures creative thinking and collaboration while taking mental health very seriously (With an emphasis on yoga and meditation). A system that asks children what problem in the world they wish to solve and what their primary duties as sons/daughters/fathers/mothers/citizens of the world are, rather than what they want to be, with material gains, power, social recognition and bank balance being the primary objective.  Seriously, material gains and ambition are no benchmarks to judge people and it’s time society (every mother, father, grandfather and grandmother) understands this, as the damage that consumerism and materialism over the last 2-3 generations have done are already showing up in several nasty ways in most countries. Spiritually looking at things, we have to nurture a generation that is grateful and contented, but not lazy, while acting to make the world a better place. Delving into the Nishkama Karma approach, we as parents have to lead by example. As parents if we prioritize staying away from kids emphasizing the importance of earning a living and making money, that’s what our children will feel is socially rewarding and emulate us later in life. If every father and mother prioritize needs from wants and look beyond their small ego-centric lives (that depend largely on social validation) to nurture the future generation with the right values, we might have a chance of nurturing balanced, happy, confident and emotionally stable citizens of the future who are sensitive to others’ needs also.

So all this sounds good but where to start?

  • Every mother and every father currently working or not, have to assess how much time they get to spend with their children. I mean quality and quantity time with your children. We decided to bring our children into this world didn’t we? They are our purpose, duty and joy and not a distraction from our office work.   If a job demands more than 8-10 hours per day at work, start looking for a better job. Always remember that we work to live and do not live to work – no matter how fulfilling one’s job, business or career is (To put things in perspective, even a doctor has to take care of himself/herself to provide optimum patient care.).
  • Avoid taking up jobs that require late night phone calls, if you can avoid it, or work out flexi timings that let you spend time with your kids in the evening before your calls. A globalized-world is great for economics but disastrous for families. If it is a necessary evil, the least you can do is work around it without being a parent who is sleeping when your kids leave for school, and whose kids are asleep when you get back home. You will not be thinking about your American or Brit client (Or Indian or Chinese client if you are from the western hemisphere) who you never skipped a late night call with, on your death bed – I promise. 🙂
  • Schedule maximum number of days so your child gets time with his / her mother and father.
  • Ensure weekends or at least Sunday is 100% family time
  • Dedicate time for family meditation / quiet time everyday before bed time or first thing in the morning. Time for prayer / puja / God is also recommended for the parent if you wish to bring up a child who understands that there is a higher force within all of us and external rituals/routines help calm stressed minds and bring about one-pointedness of mind. The benefits of meditation and rituals include clarity of thought, focus, intuition and creativity and are today being recognized even by the so-called modern-scientific fraternity.
  • If you have all your needs and lifestyle requirements met, allow one partner to stay-at-home full time. I am not even entering the gender debate but putting kids’ needs ahead of parent-needs which is the beauty of the Indian parenting system has gotten horribly diluted along the way. This is a tough one as most of us have forgotten to be grateful for what we have and confuse needs from wants and justify all our wrong actions by looking outside for validation rather than looking inside and listening to that inner voice.
  • Reduce travel for work as much as possible. Both in terms of proximity to work place and work-related travel out of town.
  • When you attend your next work interview (whether you are a mother or father), keep your children’s needs ahead of your own. This might sound tough initially but this is where contentment begins and you will not regret the decision in the long run. Some parents say I am doing this to give my children a better life. The truth is children need us to be present more than the money (beyond basic needs and saving for their future along the way, which we must do as a duty too). Never forget that once they enter the teenage zone they won’t need you much anymore. No point having regrets at that point.
  • Travel as a family at least once a year. If possible, do short weekend breaks. None of your breaks have to be expensive and over the top for you to have a great time with your children.
  • Try to start your own lifestyle business, if your situation permits it so you have control over your time and how much you wish to earn (If your business works out well ). One partner can do this while the other brings in a steady income at first.
  • Stop trying to keep up with the Jones’, Jagans, Janes or Janakis as they might be looking at you and trying to keep up with you in some aspects of life. So stop! This gets people nowhere. Use Facebook only for entertainment and don’t worry if you can’t do an international holiday every year like some of your friends. They probably have hardly anytime with their families. Even if they do- STOP thinking about others except when you can do something to help a fellow human being. Even when you help someone do not expect quid-pro-quo and give for the sake of giving like it is your blessing from God that you have been given an opportunity to help someone.
  • Stop hoarding things and buying unnecessary stuff. Minimalistic living helps using resources (time and money) in experiences with your loved ones. Order of priority (Most important left to Least Important right) that we should aim for, work on, live daily and teach our kids is :

(Most Important) People–>Food, Shelter, Clothing–> Simple Experiences –>Money to impact ones family and world positively (even if it is in a small way like educating one underprivileged child)–>Bigger Experiences–>Things (Least Important)

 

  • Take care of your and your spouse’s ageing parents and show your kids that this is how India works and that’s why the whole world looks to India for its solid family support system. You should not ask the kids to take care of you, but do your duty towards your parents (the child’s grandparents) and allow your child to watch it happening day in and day out. Nishkama Karma at every stage- where we do our duty without expecting anything in return. Very tough but this attitude has to be work in progress on a daily basis for all of us.
  • Last but not least, nobody can have it all and nobody is 100% right or 100% wrong so stop comparing yourselves with others and do what works for you. Whether you choose to stay at home or work full time, always remember to find a job that helps you to spend more time with family. Indra Nooyi said women can’t have it all. I say nobody can have it all (Not men, not women because what does all mean? One has to sacrifice something to gain something else. Isn’t this the law of nature?). If we are to nurture a better future generation and really cherish the process, we have to spend more time with our children (This applies to mothers and fathers).  If you don’t like what someone else is doing, or it irritates you, it probably means you haven’t come to terms with some aspect of your own personality and are allowing another’s actions or lifestyle to affect your mental peace.  Introspect, meditate and course correct.

So what’s the essence of this entire article from an ancient Indian Wisdom and Sanatana Dharma standpoint? In two words – Reduce Desire!

Unfulfilled desire leads to anger and then disillusionment and depression (Kama – desire, Krodha-Anger, Moha – Maya/Disillusionment). Desire fulfilled leads to more desire or greed (Lobha).

I will leave you with a lovely piece on Maturity by Adi Sankaracharya:

*What is maturity? – by Adi Shankara*

1. Maturity is when you stop trying to change others, …instead focus on changing yourself.

2. Maturity is when you accept people as they are.

3. Maturity is when you understand everyone is right in their own perspective.

4. Maturity is when you learn to “let go.

5. Maturity is when you are able to drop “expectations” from a relationship and give for the sake of giving.

6. Maturity is when you understand whatever you do, you do for your own peace.

7. Maturity is when you stop proving to the world, how intelligent you are.

8. Maturity is when you don’t seek approval from others.

9. Maturity is when you stop comparing with others.

10. Maturity is when you are at peace with yourself.

11. Maturity is when you are able to differentiate between “need” and “want” and are able to let go of your wants.

and last but most meaningful,

12. You gain Maturity when you stop attaching “happiness” to material things !!

Writing for other parents helps me introspect and course correct as a parent myself. I learn by writing and am in no way perfect. Let us all cherish every moment of the journey rather than hanker after some fictitious destination.

Image Credits: http://www.stockphotosforfree.com/

Children Are Like the Wind – Let Them Run Free

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It is not very enlightening to know that the little lamps that will brighten the future haven’t seen much of the sunlight themselves. Nowadays we hardly see children heading out to play with their friends after school or over the weekend. Outdoor playtime is like an endangered species which will soon become extinct considering the rate at which the technology is advancing and become easily accessible. As reports suggest it has been observed that children as young as 2 – 5 years are spending close to 30 hours in a week with their electronic friends. This not good news if you don’t want you children to lead sedentary lives in future, holed up indoors with their tablets, laptops, smartphones and video game consoles in their hands.

The upside here is that this matter is still in your hands. How about utilising your free time to cook up some crazy ideas to make outdoor activities more entertaining and fun for your children. You can always spruce things up in  [Read more…]

Worried Whether Your Children Are Getting Enough Time Outdoors

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Nowadays it is quite normal to see a little child traipsing around the room knowing exactly what they are doing with those gadgets in their hands. Little ones know how to find their favourite video on the internet even before learning the English Alphabet. This is making it a task for the parents to limit their children’s usage of the internet thus endangering the concept of outdoor activities for them.

[Read more…]

5 Common food ingredients for your good health

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Herbs, spices and other natural ingredients used in traditional Indian cooking not only help us prepare tasty and healthful food, but they are also helpful in treating minor medical conditions such as cuts and bruises.

Most of us can recall our mothers and grandmothers using them as a sort of first-aid. They are safe enough to be used until [Read more…]

Make small changes in your life and reap big benefits

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Most of us like to think we are without faults, but the honest truth is each of us has our own share of shortcomings. Recognising and acknowledging them is a first step in the way of overcoming them. There is always room for improvement. A bunch of small but significant refinements, taken up one at a time can make a big difference to our lives.

As Confucius, the great Chinese philosopher, says… [Read more…]

How to deal with your child’s excuses

 

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Young children often resort to making excuses that are as innovative as they are funny. Like this little girl who complained to her parents one morning that her head hurt badly, alarming them a great deal. That was until they realized that the child was actually pointing at her tummy! It turned out that  she did not want to go to school for the day and quickly cooked up an excuse!
[Read more…]

Education Abroad: Some important issues

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The number of Indian students choosing to pursue higher education abroad has seen an upward trend in recent years. Our student community is beginning to gravitate more and more towards foreign universities than our own.

The decision does not come entirely as a surprise when you consider not one Indian university ranks among the top 200 universities in the world. What ails Indian education system and in which areas do foreign universities score over their Indian counterparts?

Our education system mainly suffers from:

[Read more…]

How to take care of newborn babies in summer

Taking care of newborn babies in any season is a specialized job, but more so in summer. Let us examine the reasons behind summer being a difficult month for baby care and how to deal effectively with it.

The weather gods are not on your side during these cruel months where the heat is relentless in most parts of the country.

The demand for power is so high that it is not uncommon to experience power outages for prolonged periods, resulting in rising tempers and a heightened sense of irritability.

But cool down, with a bit of planning for both mother and the baby, the summer months can pass off smoothly.

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First the mothers. Switch over to cotton clothes that can keep you cool. Drink plenty of water and avoid fried food which can make you thirsty very fast. Go for fresh fruit and boiled vegetables. Green salads are your best friend during summer. But make sure you don’t catch a cold which you might then end up passing on to the baby.

There are essentially five things for baby care during summer months:

  1. Avoid overheating: Summer diarrhea is a huge problem caused by overheating in babies. For this reason keep your baby cool at all times. Go for Light and comfortable clothing. A bath in lukewarm water, but with very little use of soap can provide a lot of relief to babies.
  2. A cool place in the house to sleep: Avoid kitchens as they tend to be the hottest part of the house. Avoid direct sunlight into the room in which the baby sleeps. But make sure that the room is well ventilated not only to keep the temperatures down, but also to provide fresh air for the baby.
  3. Comfortable clothing: This has a direct impact on the baby’s temper. Loose-fitting, cotton garments are the best. You can even take-off the baby’s clothes when it is hottest but make sure to cover the baby with a sheet to protect them from mosquito bites.
  4. Keep the skin clean: Babies suffer a great deal as a result of the rashes breaking out on their skin because of the heat. Neck or groin, in the folds of her skin at the back of her knees, or in the crease of her elbows are especially vulnerable. Do not try self-medication in such cases. Consult your baby’s pediatrician.
  5. Keep them hydrated: Probably the single important factor responsible for keeping the babies healthy during summer months and indeed any time of the year. A flushed face, skin that is warm to the touch, rapid breathing and restlessness are the warning signs to look out in cases of dehydration. Consult your doctor immediately.

Disclaimer

The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. Always seek expert medical advice from your doctor or pediatrician.

 

Top 100 Books for Children

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Summer holidays are almost here. What’s your plan to keep your kids gainfully employed?

Modern gadgets like video games and playstations have their place. But they get monotonous after a while and they do nothing to get your child to think, which is critical to the allround development of your child.

Why not do something different this vacation? Why not introduce them to the wonderful world of books!

Reading promotes critical thinking in children. Moreover, reading books is an activity that is being increasingly recommended by social scientists and doctors for its ability to entertain and educate children.

We understand that this is something you have always wanted to do but did not know when and where to start.

To answer the query when, let’s say any time is a good time. To answer the query where, we’ve made it easy for you – we’ve just put together a collection of children’s books.

This wonderful collection offers you such classics as the Jungle Book and Alice in Wonderland to get your child started.

Dinosaur Encyclopedia will make your child the class expert on dinosaurs in no time at all.

Gulliver’s travels, Treasure Island, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, and David Copperfield are some of the other fantastic offerings in our list.

Explore the entire collection of Top 100 Books for Children.

And don’t forget to borrow the book from your children once they move on to the next one, it will be a beautiful journey down the memory lane for you too!

Grab a book from the collection and a bag of popcorn and curl up on your favourite settee for the adventure of a lifetime!

Click here to order a book from our collection of “Top 100 Books for Children”.

 

Surviving the First Year of Motherhood

 

Ever tried taking a pre-dawn shower on a cold winter day? If you survived the sheer terror of the first few moments, it is reasonable to assume that you went on to complete a refreshing shower that alerted your every sense but left you a little shaken for the experience. Brutal but enjoyable – once you absorbed the initial shock and took the numbing cold in your stride.

The first year and sometimes the first day are usually a precursor to the size and shape of things to come in the future. That probably explains why our first date, our first day at our first job, and of course, our first baby gave us the heebie-jeebies. Fear of the unknown is always overwhelming.

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Motherhood in the first year, with due respect to all mothers out there, is a little like the bathing experience described above – survive the initial experience and you will love the rest immensely. The first year of motherhood is relentless in its demands on the mother. If all new mothers were to be offered a choice between a million tax free dollars and a good night’s sleep, almost all of them would opt for the latter option without a moment’s hesitation. Sleep, or lack of it, is the single most recurring topic of conversation involving a household that has just had a baby.

Parenting in the first year can be difficult, but it need not be as scary a task as people often make it out to be. If you are a new mother weary of the equivalent of first-few moments-under-the-cold shower-in-winter moments of motherhood, here are some tips for you:

  • Number one is, of course, making parenthood a family affair. Get your partner to share the responsibilities. Share and share alike.
  • Find out about your baby’s feeding and sleeping habits. Let her decide on her own schedule. You simply follow suit.
  • No matter what everyone says, you should expose your baby to external environment sparingly. Babies can catch an infection very easily.
  • Listen to good-intentioned advice from everyone and thank them for it.  But understand that every baby is different in her preferences and routine. You know your baby best.
  • Babies can be difficult to manage when they are sick as they know only one way to express their feeling – through crying. In a worst case scenario, babies can cry all night. One way to ensure your baby is healthy is by not missing her vaccination schedule.
  • Winters can be difficult months for a baby, and for you. Make sure the baby stays warm at all times. Buy winter clothing if local conditions demand it.
  • Synchronize your sleeping habits with that of the baby’s. In other words, sleep when she sleeps. It is the best way to catch up on some much needed sleep. You don’t have to worry about waking though! She will make sure the whole household will wake with her.

It will get progressively better from the first year onwards. The baby will begin to understand her surroundings and recognise her parents. She will begin to derive comfort from their presence and physical proximity. She will also begin to sleep better, and at regular hours. That is probably the best indication that you have done a great job with your baby and earned yourself a pat on the back. Or should we say the right to get some shut eye when you are supposed to!