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Right time to be a mother

Most working women find it hard to decide on the right time for childbirth. What really matters is your body’s ability to take you safely through pregnancy, your mind’s capacity to prioritise and your heart’s calling for motherhood, writes Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma.
About two decades ago, education was a “privilege” to women, even those living in metros. They were expected to fulfill their family duties above all else, as their primary roles were that of a mother, wife, sister or daughter.

Only if these duties were met, as per family expectations, could the women pursue any professional aspirations (if they were allowed to have one). If, by chance, a woman was the breadwinner, it was usually only because there was, perhaps, a lot of financial constraints in the family, but not as a matter of pride.

 The scenario has changed to a large extent today. Education is no longer a privilege bestowed, but the right of every child, regardless of the gender. Women now pursue professional aspirations for not only financial security, but also for reasons of self-esteem.

Yes, times have changed. There’s a lot to rejoice about. However, all’s not well. While the women workforce grows stronger than ever in the corporate world, most women wage a battle within themselves on when is the right time to be a mother. When is the ideal time to have a kid? How long should the maternity break be?

When should she get back to work? How can she carefully restructure the career graph in such a way that neither the family nor work prospects suffer?

Unfortunately, the time to plan and stabilise a woman’s career overlaps with her peak fertility period. No wonder this poses a huge concern for a woman who wants to have the best of both worlds.

Many a time, the woman’s career simply flies out the window post childbirth, and it is this fear that makes young women think of whether they need to marry at all in the first place, or whether now is as good a time as any to have kids, or whether to wait until she achieves a satisfactory professional tag.

There is no single outright answer. Every woman is different, as are her situations and resulting decisions. A few have tasted the success of achieving financial stability and well-placed promotions, and then gone on to sport the baby bump. Others have found it better to have a kid (or two in quick succession) and then chalk-out their career ahead.

On a general basis, younger women seem to find it easier to get back to work as their expectations may be low and they do not have a problem in starting all over again in their career.

But there are other women who prefer to have a baby later on in their life, provided both their health and financial situations are upbeat. Such women believe that they have a greater bargaining power, with respect to flexibility of time and workload, on their return, .

However, if there is one thing every woman agrees upon, it is that managing both motherhood and career is no cake walk, no matter how flexible their professional life may be.

True, many corporate companies offer the work-from-home option for women who prefer not to take long maternity leaves. But it doesn’t help much when the child is still weaning or an overactive toddler demands the mother’s constant attention.

Having said that, it so appears, in the larger scheme of things, most women manage motherhood just fine.

This is irrespective of the fact whether they opt for it early on in their lives at the brink of their career growth, or during their mature years when they feel have achieved enough to slow down a little.
There is no right time, really, to have a baby. The biological clock and career path have to be in sync. What’s ideal for one, may not work for the other.

At the end of the day, what really matters is your body’s ability to take you safely through pregnancy, your mind’s capacity to prioritise and your heart’s calling for motherhood.

Find the online link to the story here- http://www.deccanherald.com/content/402021/right-time-mother.html

Bottoms up

Here are a few tips to get children to drink more water

RESHMA KRISHNAMURTHY SHARMA

After every snack, give the child water to drink. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

There are several mums who complain about their children not eating enough fruits and veggies. And then there are children who do not like to drink water, which is not such a good thing.

Sreemathy Venkatraman, a clinical dietician and nutritionist says: “The main reason for this is that children have not been habituated to drink more water. Children prefer aerated drinks but these drinks have loads of sugar and sometimes caffeine too.”

Sreemathy suggests giving children water stored in mud pots as it is flavourful and cool. Dr. Prakash Vemgal, consultant paediatrician says, “Educating children on the benefits of drinking water results in better consumption.

There is also a cultural shift in the society’s preference to juices and sugar loaded drinks which need to be minimized. One can try simple techniques like offering filtered rather than boiled water. Keep a chart of the daily water intake and try to increase it by being an example yourself.

After every snack, give the child water to drink.” Here are some more ways to get your child to drink more water

Cartoon cups

Most moms probably are trying this already. A cup or a sipper that has your child’s favourite cartoon character on it might just make water a little more attractive.

Accessibility matters

Ensure you place a mug of water with a bottle or a glass with water somewhere where your child can reach easily. Every time he finishes it, be prompt to refill the glass and remind him to have another glass in an hour’s time.

Limit the options

Don’t stock beverages like colas or sweetened drinks at home. Even if you want to offer sweetened beverages once in a while, try and dilute the liquid with parts of water.

Read a story

Find a story that features a story of a character like ‘Potter the otter-A tale about water’. Or create a short, colourful self-made storybook that has a character who is healthy and wise as he has lots of water.

Be an example

Children learn by seeing adult behaviour. Make sure you have water at regular intervals and encourage the child to do so with you.

Make a game

Children of four and above can have a game of pouring water from a small pitcher to small glasses or paper cups and set a target of finishing at least five cups in one day.

If getting your child to drink more water is still a daunting task, then increase their fluid intake with fruit juices without sugar, tender coconut, soups, seasonal fruits like watermelons and muskmelons and beverages like buttermilk or nimbu paani.

http://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Food/bottoms-up/article5911358.ece?ref=sliderNews

Motherhood: The career changer

 

Mommy moments, March 15, 2014, DHNS

 

Making it through the initial years of motherhood is no simple feat. It’s, perhaps, all the more difficult for women who have always been career-driven. They suffer from a constant itch to get back to work, even as they tackle the new-found demands of motherhood. There are several “mommy moments” that steal the entire schedule of the new mother.

Restarting their career and reclaiming their professional identity may seem like a Herculean task. For several urban educated women, even a year’s break can mean a dip in self-confidence and inability to understand how to balance work and home.

Some try to brush up on their skill sets, in the hope that it will fetch them lucrative jobs, while others get back to work, soon after their stipulated maternity leave, for fear of losing out on the job.

It maybe a long way before motherhood ceases to be a threat to working women, before they may no longer have to choose between a career and the joys of motherhood. Fortunately, the new careers of a few mothers are proving to be inspirational for many women to initiate the thought process to try something new.

Something that seems to be born out of being a mother. Something that chalks out a whole new profession for the mommy.
Few in number, they might be, but there are a handful of mothers who have found entrepreneurship to be a godsend option. These women have the luxury of enjoying all the perks of motherhood, even as they ride high on entrepreneurial success.

One such smart mother is Mahita Fernandez, founder of Gambolla, a kid’s activity centre in Bangalore. “I quit my job as a corporate communications professional during my pregnancy. I was very sure that I wanted to commit all my time to the first few years of my child’s life. I was an enthusiastic, first-time mum to a wonderful son, who enjoyed a great bonding with me in his infancy.

However, I found that there were hardly any places I could go to, to entertain an active infant. There was complete dearth of safe, hygienic play options for infants and toddlers until a few years ago. Taking him to public parks in all weather conditions was not feasible,” says Mahita.

So, this mommy simply conjured up an idea for a kids’ play centre. “It was during this phase that I decided to start ‘Gambolla’, with the intention to provide a safe, hygienic, all-weather play option for infants and toddlers. Since then, the overwhelming appreciation and encouragement from parents has propelled its growth as a one-of-its-kind activity centre for children of all ages,” she adds.

Being a mother made Chaitali Raizada, a one-time corporate professional, dig into her forgotten interests and rethink the needs of her child, as she embarked on a new venture.

“When I could not find anything of my liking on the shelves of local stores, I decided to try my hand at being an entrepreneur. ‘Taantraa’ originated from my need to give myself and my baby healthy food,” recalls Chaitali.

“I had decent knowledge about healthy ingredients and nutrition. So I came up with my own line of organic baked foods. Running a home-based company has several perks. I have a professional identity now. I also have all the time in the world to do things I love. But the best thing is that I can watch my daughter grow. Aanyaa happens to find me at home for every little thing – just as I did when I was a child,” she says.

For a few mommies, like Sowmya Srinivas, the career break post motherhood has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She used to work as a tele-sales executive before pregnancy, and it was only during her extended stay-at-home phase after having the baby, that she considered pursuing her interest in fashion designing.

“I was interested in fashion since college, but I joined a fashion designing course only when my son was five. I didn’t expect anything from it, other than giving in to my long-cherished dream of doing the course. But it turned out to be an eye-opener. I realised I was very good at designing.

Two years ago, I opened my own boutique ‘Fashion Versatile’. Today, I have over 15 people employed with me and I make good money. I must thank my son. If I hadn’t had him, I, probably, wouldn’t have pursued my passion for fashion designing,” says Sowmya.

Professionally inclined mommies, often, face the flak (mostly from their own kind) for not being around for the mundane, but important, times in their children’s lives. Working mothers may not find the time for a peaceful play session in parks on weekdays, or watch an animated movie with their kid on a Monday afternoon. No need to go hard on yourself if you are one among them. It really isn’t your fault.

It is only natural that moms want to watch their children grow, even as they pursue their careers. It is in the hands of employers to create more jobs for such mothers. New mommies, with strong qualifications and professional experience by their side, make for a pool of talent that has been grossly neglected by companies.

However, until that happens, you could reconsider your career stream. How about a profession that is more lax on timings? How about a work-from-home option? Or, you never know, you might just find that spark of an entrepreneur in you.

Perhaps, motherhood is simply a catalyst that brings out dormant strengths of a woman. After all, entrepreneurship and motherhood are very similar.

You start out with jitters, and then realise that you’ve just let yourself in for the biggest roller-coaster ride of your life. In both instances, you have to find reserves of energy, time, passion, finance, and grit that you just didn’t know you were capable of. You have to be a specialist at everything.

BY RESHMA KRISHNAMURTHY SHARMA

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/392020/motherhood-career-changer.html

Working at a good time

RESHMA KRISHNAMURTHY SHARMA

TRENDS Office spaces have morphed from dull and boring to cool and funky

Work environments today are very different from the dull, dreary grey spaces of yore. Today’s offices speak a different language. They are going all out to provide things to keep the workforce engaged. Amenities such as great cuisine and ambience, gyms and more are all contributing to the fun quotient at work.

Some companies even mention the cool stuff they have on their websites. Intel Bangalore has massage chairs and a shoe shine service apart from many recreational facilities. Smriti Goel, HR Manager, Intel South Asia says: “There is life beyond work. Companies need to recognize this fact and keep its employees happy to get the best out of them.”

Year-end company bashes, music performances by celebrity singers, reality and comedy shows are popular with young people. Apart from entertainment options, organisations invest in well-designed swimming pools, gyms, lounges and cafeterias as well.

Cisco’s Bangalore office has a lot of facilities for its employees. There are game rooms with a snooker zone and a music room with different sections for western and Indian music as well as Karaoke facilities. There is even a box office area where employees can watch films of their choice or use the space to put up performances. The relaxation lounges with recliners and massage chairs is ideal for some rest and rejuvenation.

Shwetha M., working as an analyst with a FMCG company says, “As I spend most of my time either commuting or in office, I expect my organization to keep me happy apart from the monetary terms. Emotional well-being is a great reason for me to be in an organization and fun activities at work or recreational facilities keep me energised.”

Vibrant environments, bright colours and lively interiors are intended to add to the happiness quotient. And thanks to some of these initiatives, coming to work is not such a chore.

http://www.thehindu.com/todays-paper/tp-features/tp-metroplus/working-at-a-good-time/article5782156.ece

Do not burn-out in trying to chill-out

It’s been the season for holidays. 

Wrote this piece two weeks ago and it has gone to print for today’s edition of Living supplement of Deccan Herald

Chilling out sounds fun, but it is turning to be strenuous for many. Work is addictive, while holidays are exhausting, or so it seems. 

Long vacations seem a distant dream. And if that is possible, it is filled with planned activities that may leave one more burned out rather than rejuvenated.

There used to be a time when there was no pressure to utilize holidays in ‘learning something specific’. Earlier, vacations had no purpose. It was just a way of life, as slow paced and leisurely as it could get. Life was unplugged and most returned after a complete rejuvenating experience with minimal expenses. The motto was crystal clear – ‘having fun by doing sweet nothings’.

Holidays with an agenda

Modern day vacations for children are stacked up with learning schedules. Math classes, baking, cooking, gardening, learning a new language, shloka classes, camps to learn good-touch, bad-touch… You need only imagine it, google it, and wham! You will find innumerable such clubs for your kids.

Holidays with digital touch

If nothing else, there are enough fancy toys and video games that are getting kids and adults alike addicted to them. There is also the weird  itch to check work mails or put-up our pictures on the web! As though it needs to be done at that very moment… It’s hardly a holiday where one cherishes the experience for the sake of it.

Holidays for social status

Holidays are also taken to keep up with peer pressure. Children too want to showcase to their friends where they had been for vacations. Pity they have to bear insensitive comments if they have not been to a worthy location that can talk of social status and interests. Mountaineering, skiing, swimming, snorkeling, spending a holiday amidst wildlife, all display affordability and financial place.

Jam-packed holidays

It seems that the warm days of ‘doing nothing’ but lazing around are replaced by whole lot of activities to be done during a vacation. There are also quite a handful who have jumped into the bandwagon of choosing itinerary-packed holidays, with their sightseeing activities planned from sunrise to sunset. Some even plan in a minute-to-minute style to make sure every moment is utilized to its fullest. It is all “here today, there tomorrow”!

Holidays, every now and then 

Our lives have become so stressed-out that we constantly long for vacations. We look up travel destinations among glossy magazines, soak it up by watching travel shows, read it up on internet in the promise leisure and peace of mind. Interestingly, holidays have also become instantaneous in the sense they are taken at the spur of the moment- thanks to instant information available on the net and company of adventurous friends who are game for spontaneous trips.

Want to have a real holiday?

* Do not have expectations of a ‘perfect holiday’. It’s about forgetting your worries and trying to live each moment as it comes.

*Do not try to go for holidays only to talk about it to others. Instead try to go for those destinations that would actually make you feel blessed for being on a holiday. It need not be a fancy destination at a fancy price. Remember not all good things come at a price.

* Leave your gadgets behind if possible for a single trip at least in a year. This includes your laptop, and official mobile phones, and even the camera (if you can).

* Make sure you allow enough time for the quiet moments. The recuperative powers of ‘doing nothing’ while on holidays are underrated.

* Try to go for a solo trip. Be alone in a place that will make you feel good without the baggage of communication tools, or having to tend to the needs of others around you.

* Treasure your experiences in handwritten memoirs, blogs, pictures, and videos. But it need not be shared with others…not necessarily always.

Link to the article- (Wonder why the article (online edition) doesn’t show the author name. Thankfully it is seen in the print one!)

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/377068/do-not-burn-trying-chill.html

Would you take the leap?

Are you yet to find yours or are you yet to take the plunge? Finding their calling in life can be quite a task for many. But for those who have it figured out, answering the call can turn their life around for the better, reckons Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma.

“Whatever course you decide upon, there is always someone to tell you
that you are wrong. There are always difficulties arising which tempt you to believe that your critics are right. To map out a course of action and follow it to an end requires courage.”  – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Discouragement, fear of failure, criticism are bound to be showered on those who choose a varied and even unacceptable route. But those who have really found their calling, linger on… Regardless of whether they have a support system or not…

Perhaps it is the belief of being true to one’s conscience… 

Perhaps it is the idea of taking up challenges in a road less travelled… 
Perhaps it is the new age society accepting differences and radical decisions, as long as it does not harm others… 

Found it yet?

The hardest part for several people lies in finding out what their true calling is. Some are trapped in redundant careers and relationships without knowing what to do and how else they can choose a life or career of their choice. Even if they realize what to do, questions crop up continually in their minds like will they be successful or would it be the right decision or not. These thoughts continue to haunt them and force them to refrain from taking any other decision. It is very easy to get swayed by what others have to say. And this is in the least bit helpful for an indecisive person. But for those who have figured it out, life can take a beautiful turn if they choose to go ahead with it.

No ready-made recipe

There are plenty of people who chose the beaten track to play it safe. But there those few who have chosen the unknown path and stuck to their decision – no matter what came along.

Rajesh Rao had an opportunity to carry forward the responsibility of running inherited hotel business, but he chose another path. He says, “My dad was really not happy when he realized managing a restaurant was not my calling and I wanted to do theatre and films. I left the family business and my hometown, despite it being a great source of income. It was a ready-made-recipe for success and I had nothing to add to it.”

“It’s not been easy to say the least, to be a small-time actor. I have been, in fact, a survivor actor,” he laughs. “But I had to take the decision to be true to myself. After 40 years, post my youth, I did not want to regret feeling I never tried being an actor and someone who never went through struggles and had it all too easy!”

Captured by passion

Others may seem aghast if you give up popularity, fame, monetary security, status, or the favoured path to (what they think is) a shaky decision. But if you have truly found your passion, none of it matters anymore.

Says Kalyan Varma, a well known wildlife photographer, “When I gave up a plush job in a huge corporate to become a photographer, everyone around me was shocked. Most thought it was just a temporary craze and it would go away, but it did not. Sure, all of us need to earn money, but always chasing big bucks will not fulfill our deepest needs. With advent of technology and the million self-help books and CDs around, people are realizing that they can still make a decent living by doing what they love.”

All sorts of “leap”

But ‘taking the leap’ doesn’t necessarily have to do with choosing alternative careers. The phrase is very much applicable to thousands of people who have followed their heart and stuck to their decision in other circumstances too–like in love, or owning up your unusual personality, or standing up for what you believe is right.

Very few in the earlier generations dared to choose a different route or take a stance that is not acceptable to the societal norms. Today there are thousands of entrepreneurs because this generation believes in creating something new. Supporting a cause that is termed silly, suicidal in career, or balancing the rope over unknown waters don’t deter these people.

A young man or woman or man living alone in the city and declaring to the world s/he is a homosexual belongs to this category. In recent times we have seen people openly participating in gay marches! Women protesting or believing that it is nobody’s right to violate their bodies is a huge leap! They do not fear any kind of pressure and that is commendable. It’s about finding your passion or what your conscience asks you to believe in, and following it, irrespective of surrounding factors.

Some dos and don’ts

*  Don’t confuse others’ opinions with facts. It is wrong to assume the information shared by those around you are better.

*  Practice detachment. An opinion is someone else’s perspective. Don’t make it yours. Do not add more worries to it.

*  Trust and keep moving forward. Believe in your intuition and have faith in your abilities and choices.

*  Speak to a couple of people who have taken up the challenge of ‘doing their own thing’.

*  Make use of the million self-help tools available out there in the form of books, CDs, blogs, and websites.

*  Accept you are going to face a huge number of hardships and be prepared mentally for it.

Leap of courage

It’s always easier to follow the herd and not choose a route that is lesser known or followed by others. After all, there would be lesser challenges, minimal troubles and ample amount of advice when one seeks the common path treaded by others. So when you set your foot into unknown territories, you are bound to feel somewhat lonely. For not many around you would probably understand the passion you have for it, nor would they be knowledgeable about it. You are on your own. Obviously the lesser known path is no child’s play. But when you grit your teeth and do it, no matter what, the happiness you feel is incomparable to all else…

This article was published in the Living supplement of Deccan Herald on December 7th 2013- The link to the same article is herewith

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/373150/would-you-take-leap.html

Divining elusive elements of life

 

Life’s goals make it an elusive journey. We long for something, and feel elated when we get it. But a little later, it may not seem that great anymore. Does it mean we are not happy anymore? No, it simply means our source of happiness keeps changing, observes Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma.

A homemaker always dreamt of being in a full-time senior level job position. Once she actually started being in a hectic full-time professional responsibility, she admits she was craving to finish a year at work and go back to her old stress-free life and relish her quiet moments.

Doesn’t it sound familiar? If you analyze your reactions to life’s events, you will find that most of us are not sure as to what really makes us happy. It may be termed as “impact bias.” What does it mean? It refers to the errors we make in estimating the event that will make us happy and the duration for which we will be happy.

 Is happiness an elusive state? Is this something that you attain after a long wait? Or do shorter, but treasured, experiences that need to be found in everyday life contribute largely in feeling good? There are many who wonder if larger goals in professional and personal lives will help in attaining more happiness… Or is it the small tangible and a few experience-rich ones that are will be ever-lasting with us?

Psychology professor at Harvard University and author of Stumbling on Happiness, Daniel Gilbert says the problem is when we think about what will make us happy. It is our expectations that actually throws us off. He says we make mistakes in predicting how we will feel about something in the future.

What Gilbert and others with him have found is that we overestimate the intensity and the duration of our emotional reactions to future events. The future is still an unknown phase and we conveniently forget that the future will always contain several other events we can’t predict, some positive and some negative.

Suppose you have always longed to own a Mercedes. You work hard for two years and finally buy your dream car. Your excitement is at its peak as you park your car on your driveway for the first time. A month later, the Mercedes becomes a part of your life. And now you look for something else that will make you happy. You thought owning a Mercedes was the happiest thing in your life and that the happiness would last for long. You were wrong.

This is the impact bias. It’s not hard to see the impact bias happening around you.  How many people have you met that mistakenly thought their career paths or new relationships would bring them happiness?

Lot of blogs have been written on some of the most common desires about people to be happy. Like winning a huge sum of money – maybe a lottery. Most people only think about the positives of winning and don’t consider everything else that might happen as a result of all that money. Avid spend thrifts may reason out saying every purchase adds to the bucket of happiness. Conversely, reducing your consumption, living more simply, and focusing on experiences can have a higher hand in making you happier.

The initial excitement may be too profound, but do remember that eventually that excitement is going to wear off. You’re left with a lot of money you can use to buy all new pleasures, but it decreases some pleasures you had before. Psychologists call this “hedonic adaptation”.

It is a phenomenon in which people quickly become used to changes, great or terrible, in order to maintain a stable level of happiness. Over time, the excitement is pushed towards the emotional norm and we stop getting any pleasure from it.

Despite what you might expect, events don’t really increase or decrease the amount of pleasure you receive in life. All they do is shift where your pleasure comes from. Once that shift has taken full effect, you go back to your previous level of happiness and start from where you left off. So the good thing about it is that even a negative event in life may not really affect our life as much as we initially thought it would.

While we are living in the present, how can we make ourselves happier? It’s not that you should not plan for long term goals or perceived happiness. It is certainly wise to plan for tomorrow. But it is wiser not to ignore the present and immediate future. After all life is about choices.

You cannot change yesterday’s events and really cannot predict future or even predict how happy you will be after a year. So hold on to your present.
We’ve heard this so many times before that it sounds cliche, but it really is a classic: life is a journey. Indeed.

We might have a certain goal to reach, but when that is reach, we find yet another one to pursue. That is the whole purpose in life.

Being happy, the balanced way:

* Spend on others, especially people you are close to.
*  Be time-aware, but don’t think of time in terms of money.
*  Be passionate, but don’t obsess.
*  Set goals that are reasonably challenging and reasonably achievable.
*  Go for variety and surprise. Don’t keep doing the same thing.
*  Prefer experiential purchases; avoid materialistic goals.
*  Associate with happy people.
*  The best way to predict how much we will enjoy an experience is to see how much someone else enjoyed it.
*  Savour anticipation. Delay consumption.
*  Treat your body like it deserves to be happy. Eat right and enjoy your sleep. Every single hour of sleep adds in making a person feel happy.
*  Find happiness in the job you have now. Many people expect the right job or career to dramatically change their level of happiness. This is not to say you shouldn’t aspire to get a job that will make you happier. Just don’t overestimate your happiness.
*  Think and implement easy, quick, and effective ways that you can make your community a better place by being compassionate.
*  Recycle happiness by reminiscing good experiences.
*  Have deep, meaningful conversations with different people.
*  Take a conscious decision to forgive people who have hurt you and smile more often.
*  Pray or practice meditation. It helps in elevating well-being attitude.

This article was published as the lead article in the Living supplement of Deccan Herald on November 23rd 2013.

The link to the article is –

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/370438/divining-elusive-elements-life.html

Working through the baby bump

Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma, Nov 2, 2013:

It is often a dilemma when working women become aware that they are pregnant and they wonder ‘what next’? The dilemma of what would happen if they informed at their work place haunts them. They fear that a pregnancy might hamper their career, promotion, treatment by colleagues, and the likes… True. It’s not very simple being a pregnant working colleague. But it isn’t too complicated either. 

Initial stages

It would not be possible to expect all pregnant women to perform with the same zeal and energy as prior to pregnancy. If possible talk to your boss on a ‘role change’. It is recommended that you go for a lesser demanding role at your office, if it is a possibility. Talk to your seniors and find out what best can be done considering that you want to be committed to the work and also want to take care of yourself in every possible manner, in this situation.

 The announcement

It is easier perhaps not to inform others on pregnancy but not after the third month when colleagues can figure out the growing belly. It is advised you inform your boss first on your new change and slowly to other colleagues. This will also make them win your trust in sharing an important announcement of your life and will enable them to show some extra care (hopefully) towards you. If you have colleagues who carry an indifferent attitude, then it is better to be poised and carry on with work as you normally would.

Promotion and opportunity?

It could be that you are worried about the promotion that you were due to get from the company and you find out you have gotten pregnant. If you decide to go ahead with the pregnancy then be confident and announce your pregnancy to your colleagues. Be prepared to answer questions on what you intend to do post pregnancy. Chart out a plan on your career path before you talk to your seniors about your pregnancy. If you want to take a few months off, then be assertive and confident about your choice. There are career experts who say ‘Opportunities are enormous and you can always come back when you feel confident to come back and sure that your baby is under trusted care’.

Eating at work

If you are continuing to be working full-time until your second trimester or until the end of pregnancy there is a lot of attention required to be paid for what diet you will be having during the nine months. It is easy to binge on several foods but the choice you need to make is to be healthy for yourself and the baby. Be sure to have regular meal times, and adequate amount of water intake. Avoid unnecessary cups of beverages that contain caffeine and try to keep off binging on sweets and crisps.  Have a good healthy breakfast with a mid-morning snack of a fruit and dry fruits for munchies. Ensure your lunch is well-balanced before having to work again for a few hours in a day.

Posture at work

It is very essential that you have adequate back support with a pillow or a very comfortable chair that takes care of your back. You may want to have a small side stool to be able to stretch your legs and keep them on, especially during the second trimester. Move around every hour to avoid swollen feet and leg cramps. Do not hesitate from taking the support of walls or railings while walking. Swallow your pride, mommy! Health and safety first.

Maternity leave benefits

Organizations differ in the maternity leave extended to the women employees. Due to increased awareness on retaining their women employees, companies now are offering various benefits with understanding attitude, leaves and better recovery time post child-birth before women can come back to work. Discuss regarding this with your employer and see what benefits you are entitled to. You don’t have to feel weird; it’s your right as an employee!

Understand your body 

Do not go overboard. It is possible that you have heard of others who have worked until the last week of the pregnancy and delivered a healthy baby. But you need not prove it to anyone! The most important concern for you is to take care of yourself and your baby without exerting yourself too much. You may have monetary issues, due to which, you cannot avoid taking a sabbatical or request for an early break from work.

You need to know your limits very well in such cases. Request a small cut in the number of work hours you put in. If your employer is understanding enough, (s)he will certainly make that small allowance for you.

This article was published in the She page of Living supplement of Deccan Herald on November 2nd 2013

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/366587/working-through-baby-bump.html

When your eyes spark up green flames

Oct 5, 2013 :

 It doesn’t matter how the other person is better than you, but that you’ve been a better person today from what you were yesterday, writes Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma.

Remember a decade old popular tag line of a television brand – ‘Neighbour’s envy, owner’s pride’?

Jealousy is a strong emotion that can get very negative for self and others. If it goes out of control, it can rip your life and tear relationships apart. But being jealous and envious are different. Very often, the two are confused with each other and sometimes one can lead to the other. These emotions are provocative enough to lead to unhappiness, emotional turmoil, rage, resentment and low self-esteem.

 Envy is when you want what someone else has. But jealousy is when you feel bad about someone having taken what is yours. Jealousy is something that can affect siblings, break relationships, or even pull down one’s career. It is said that the fear of losing our importance, relationships or a cherished situation can cause jealousy. It happens all the time in many life scenarios. You feel a bout of envy when you find that your neighbour has bought a plush apartment while you are still holed up in a tiny rented home.


It could also be that you get jealous of your cousin who has just announced to you that his daughter is going abroad for studies while your daughter does not think of the world more than mindless hours of surfing and is least academically concerned.

In work environments we find the cloud of jealousy and anger overcoming some of us when a colleague who hardly deserved to go places is promoted. It may be that an extrovert co-worker who uses all the social skills to talk about his achievements is favoured in new projects when you are left behind as you thought your work will speak for itself. You start feeling jealous of the person as the recognition and status, atleast in your mind, belonged to you.

Jealousy is not confined to adults only. Children begin to feel jealous sooner or later when they start to interact in the social environment.

Feelings of jealousy are almost always negative, since the jealous person may continue to build up resentment towards his or her rival and the situation can turn volatile.
Sometimes it can happen that you are the target of jealousy for another person. Here the other person may constantly try to create turmoil – some minor to a few huge ones to bring you unhappiness.

Experts say it can work out if you tell the person that you too have troubles and difficulties in life. If the person persists, then either move away from him/her or at least build a mental wall so that you don’t get disturbed about it.

It’s hard, but not impossible to overcome the baggage of anger, frustration, and jealousy. Here are a few ways of dealing with jealousy:

*  Learn to accept the situation. Why would you brood over something on which you have no control or cannot do anything about it?

*  Look around. You will find that there are amazing people who happily write books without eyes, dance without real feet, and paint without hands! Do you still feel unfortunate?

*  Do not turn devious and lose your ethics in your desperation to get ahead. Remember that the feeling of jealousy is more about you than the other person.

*  List down what you like about yourself. It is good to make a list in your self-help recovery process on what you want from life and the qualities you admire about yourself. You will feel better and get motivated to achieve, rather than feel jealous and spoil your little world of happiness.

*  Eliminate all negative emotions from yourself. The more you are able to control your emotions; the more you will be able to control your life and steer your life in the direction you want.

*  It is important to love yourself before you can spread the good vibe to others. You will no longer feel the need to criticize everyone you envy or a person in particular. The unwanted feeling of envy and jealousy will soon turn into  something that you just want to throw into the bin.

*  Talk to a friend or a counsellor if you are afraid to open up your feelings to a known person. Being aware of your feelings is crucial in deconstructing them and tackling the problem.

*  You may unintentionally express your jealousy to your colleague or friend. This can make matters worse between you and them. It is better to take it into confidence and find out other ways to curb this unhealthy feeling.

*  Take your mind to something more interesting. Find other distractions. There are lots of things in this world that can keep you occupied.

Don’t wonder how your life would have been different if only… Do something good for yourself where you do not have to bother of others’ progress in life. There will always be someone more intelligent, more lucky, or more wealthy than you. It doesn’t matter as long as you can find happiness with the things in your life.

It’s the way we see the world that can make the difference. Get some perspective. If you are a better person today from what you were yesterday, you are amazing and you are getting ahead in life, and that is all that matters.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/361152/when-your-eyes-spark-up.html

Chilling it out with your Daddy Cool

DOTING DADS

Many new-age moms would want to thank their men for being the hands-on father to their children. The men of today love to take the role of dad quite seriously, almost everyday and not just on select occasions. The new-age dad is young at heart and in tune with his child’s needs. He dons this role with a lot of preparedness right from the time his wife is pregnant. 

From accompanying the would-be-mother to her regular antenatal visits to witnessing the birthing of his child, the modern dad is getting rooted with deep attachment towards family. Routine activities like dropping or picking the child from school, taking the child to hobby classes, participating in household decisions, monitoring the child’s academic progress are all part of the new-age dad. A little observation in public spaces like in malls, theaters, parks, and one can see that it is no more only momma’s domain with kids. Dads are happily seen roaming around with their kids. Thankfully, the modern dad is nothing like his old-school ‘Sunday Uncle’ counterpart.

Dads who, until two decades ago, were shy to even discuss children among peers are a thing of the past. Today being known as the family man who is concerned and shows this concern in public domain only adds to his appeal. Even a few celebrity dads do not avoid arc lights when seen in company with family, particularly with kids. Shah Rukh Khan, Aamir Khan, Akshay Kumar, Arjun Rampal, Mahesh Bhupathi, David Beckham, Tom Cruise are comfortable to be seen as doting dads, on social media platforms.

 Walk into any pre-school or a paediatrician’s clinic, and you are bound to observe a lot of fathers comforting their little ones. The alpha male is willing to walk that extra mile to make sure his child is well taken care of. It’s the display of unabashed attitude of family persona that the previous generation rarely wore on their sleeve, especially fathers. The shift has come, thanks to new-age thinking and understanding of relationships from a woman’s and child’s point of view.
Corporate maternity hospitals and baby products manufacturers too persuade men to be with women during pregnancy and the baby’s infant years. And those fathers who are not in this league feel immense guilt, and rightly so!


Says Vikas S, an entrepreneur and dad to four-year-old, “Society norms and expectations have changed and so has parenting. It’s true that on some occasions I have felt like my absence at work will affect by business. Like during the waiting periods at my son’s doctor’s clinic. But I do know that my presence during those immunization visits had made him feel less anxious – he knows daddy’s around.”

Ashwin N K, an IT professional and father to a pre-schooler says, “Women too are happy if their men are around during the initial years of the kid’s childhood. Be it for doctor visits, helping them survey schools for the child, getting the child ready for school, holding an infant when the mother finishes her dinner peacefully at a restaurant.

These are also occasions that help dads develop a bond with the child. Also, fathers of the previous generation never really spent much time with their children, partly due to economic reasons. Thankfully, today the modern urban dad’s situation is much better, and hence the affordability of time for children has shot up.”

Of course, when the women of today are seeking partners who are more emotionally supportive and not just financial providers, it becomes imperative that men develop the familial warmth in them. With women switching over easily between professional and personal roles as a modern wife and mother since the last decade, men do not want to be left behind. Employers too understand that fathers need to be with family, often, if not always. Understanding employers even have HR policies that offer the option of working from home if required. They know that increase in family time means a lot to the employee.

Says Rajiv Gunja, a system administrator for a contracting company, and father to eight-year-old son and one-year old toddler, “In my opinion, not one parent can be held as primarily responsible source for up-bringing of children. Marriage is a union of two people and is a compromise. If one cannot do something, the other should pick it up. I know a lot of Indian husbands who have taken up cooking and other household chores, because their wives are working too and come home later than they do. Although, I am seeing more of it in younger generations than in mine. But I too took up this change. Since my wife travels a longer distance for work than I do and comes home later, I usually cook in the weekdays and let her cook in the weekends. I even chose a job closer to home, so one of us can be flexible.”

A father in the movie ‘What to expect when you’re expecting’ says, “We are exhausted but are happy.” For a child grows more wholesomely when (s)he can get inputs and shelter from both parents. Perhaps this should draw some support from at least a few, if not all, old-school fathers who are yet to learn to be “dads”.

This article was published in the Living supplement of Deccan Herald on August 24th 2013.

http://www.deccanherald.com/content/352841/chilling-your-daddy-cool.html