Alone with the Lord

At the start of this year, few of my friends decided to do a retreat – a day with the Lord. I was so glad that I had that day off work and childcare provision so I could join them. We have done this few times before as well in the last few years. This time it was a bit different as we couldn’t be together in one place but had to connect virtually few times during the day.

Lord help me to remember that nothing is going to happen to me today that You & I together can’t handle. Amen!

We followed the book ‘Alone with the Lord’ by Gordon T. Smith:
‘A personal day of prayer provides a wonderful opportunity to bring focus and clarity to our lives – particularly in the midst of challenges, opportunities and perplexities – and to renew our joy and peace in Christ. The day of prayer is a gift that enables us to make spiritual and emotional space for an intentional encounter with Christ, through which we awaken the presence of Spirit in our lives.
As we remove ourselves from our normal routines and schedules and choose to be alone with the Lord, his Spirit will renew our focus and energy and bring perspective to our life circumstances.

I started the day with no expectations and no particular agenda other than just to spend the day praying and connecting with God. It was wonderful to start the year prioritising time with our Heavenly Father. It helped me focus on the things I’m grateful for, things I should be asking forgiveness for and just resting in the Amazing Grace of our Lord Jesus Christ.

The following verse and a vivid image at the back of it really stood out for me:

He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms and carries them close to his heart; he gently leads those that have young.’ Isaiah 40:11

When I read this verse a very vivid image came to my mind of Lord Jesus (the good shepherd) holding the children in his arms, close to his heart and gently leading the mothers. How powerful and comforting is that for the mothers ! Lord Jesus is carrying their babies in His arms and caring for them. He’s holding them close to His unconditionally loving heart. He’s leading the mums gently because he knows it’s not easy being a mum. He knows they could have had a difficult night. He knows they could be struggling with the multiple jobs that come along with motherhood. He knows they could be weary carrying lots of tensions and fears. But we can have comfort that Jesus is leading us mums gently and caring for our babies ! How marvellous is that !

I hope you’ve had a chance to dedicate a full day to the Lord and spend time praying. I cannot recommend it enough. It’ll be good to do that in Lent or start of Spring or whenever you can. I always end up with a clear, peaceful mind and a grateful, hopeful heart after a day with the Lord.

Goals for 2021

What a year 2020 has been ! I’m sure everyone have had their share of ups and downs this year. Life as we know it, changed for most of us. Working from home, home schooling, being anxious, fear of the unknown, not being able to travel, not being able to meet family and friends are some of the things we all experienced. As 2020 draws to an end, we cannot start the new year without being grateful of the blessings we did have this year. ‘Strength’ is one of them. None of us could have completed this year without gaining wee bit of extra strength in these unprecedented times.

I choose a ‘word for the year’ with a group of friends and base my goals on that. We then revisit our ‘words of the year’ few times during the year to see how we are doing. These are the words I chose in the last few years:
2020: Stretch (I wanted to do a bit more in my professional and personal life).
2019: Breathe (First year back at work after maternity leave and there was too much going on so I wanted to focus on letting go, breathe and be okay if I wasn’t successful at any element).
2018: Nurture (I had a baby in this year so this was the best word 😊)
2017: Balance (I had been struggling with work life balance for a bit so wanted to focus on that and work on my routines).

No doubt 2020 was a bit of a stretch for all of us so I did stick to my word and did a lot more that I’d usually do 😀 My Bible verse for 2020 encouraged me to keep going even if I felt I couldn’t do it anymore:

‘I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me’. – Philippians 4:13

This year I choose the word ‘Rejoice’. My Bible verse for it is:

‘In him our hearts rejoice, for we trust in his holy name.’ – Psalm 33:21

I don’t know what 2021 will hold for me. One thing I know for sure is that God is there for me and his faithful mercies begin afresh each morning. I can be assured for His faithful love that never ends and be still & peaceful no matter how chaotic life can get.

The 4 areas I will be focusing on under ‘Rejoice’ are as follows:
1. Love God more: Rest in the amazing grace and seek to love God with all my heart, soul, mind and strength.
2. Love others more: be mindful of the needs of my friends and family. Be kind and supportive of others around me.
3. Love the world more: Be more conscious of saving the planet. Reduce carbon footprint where I can and use more eco-friendly products e.g. natural cleaning products, reusable bags, water bottles, coffee mugs & shopping bags.
4. Love myself more: nourish my body, mind and soul. Invest time in things I love to do. Embrace my flaws and grow in my professional and personal life. Eat healthy and exercise more.

Here’s hoping 2021 is kinder and we all enjoy it with friends and family but at the same time carry forward the strength we gained in 2020 and continue to be grateful to God for our blessings. May we love God, others, the world and ourselves more in 2021.

A Mother’s Prayer

Being a mother is one of the most beautiful things in this world but it is also the hardest. The love a mother has for her child is the purest form of love and knows no bounds. With this love comes the fierce nature to protect your babies. No matter what, a mother would do anything to keep her baby safe. If it was up to the mothers they’d wrap their babies in cotton wool and bubble wrap so no harm could ever come upon them.

From the day I found out I’m pregnant, I am the happiest woman in the whole wide world. So grateful to God for the most amazing pregnancy and labour experience. It’s mind boggling how you can love someone so much before you’ve even met them. I couldn’t wait to meet my baby girl and resorted to having red raspberry leaf tea, hot curry with pineapple, doing squats, lunges, going up and down the stairs crazy number of times and getting pregnancy massage for inducing labour from week 38. I just couldn’t wait until the due date or worse even longer to meet her! I was ecstatic when she arrived 5 days early. I was beaming with joy holding the most beautiful and precious thing I’d ever seen or will ever see. I couldn’t sleep the first couple of nights in excitement of how perfect newborn baby she was which I now regret as you need every second of sleep you can get in the first 6 weeks. Babies also get more beautiful day by day. I couldn’t have loved her more but when she’d look right into my eyes with her baby eyes filled with so much love my heart would melt and I’d tear up thinking what have I done to deserve such love. Oh and the tears! Once you’re a mum you’d cry at the drop of a hat. Honestly you would or it’s probably just me lol.

Few hours after she was born 🙂

Sometimes a mum is pushed to the limits of her physical strengths. Sleepless nights, messy house, enormous piles of laundry, toddler tantrums, struggling to take out time for yourself are all part and parcel of motherhood. It’s the love for your child that keeps you going through all this. It’s not easy but you wouldn’t want to have it any other way as their gleaming eyes, ‘Love you mummy’ and a big hug makes you think it’s all worth it.

The most difficult thing is to see your baby in pain and you are unable to do anything. You can hope that nothing bad will ever happen to your child and you can do everything humanly possible to make that happen but there can be a point when you fail. When my daughter was born I asked my mum how will I look after her she’s so small. She said ‘Beta isay tou khuda nay palna hai’ (‘God will raise her’). I didn’t quite understand it. My baby was so tiny and so dependent upon me. I had to basically do everything for her. My mother’s saying kind of stuck with me although I didn’t quite grasped the meaning then.

A couple of months ago my daughter got ill. This was not a couple of days of common bug and fever but an infection that needed hospital care, scans, tests and treatment. I fainted during the scan. I just couldn’t bear to see my little one ill and having to go through pain. For a couple of hours my body just froze. I couldn’t talk or move. My hands turned inwards and jaw locked. I had be rushed in emergency and was talked through guided breathing. This was my body’s reaction to the enormous stress I was feeling. As much as I wanted to hold my daughter and take her to the next appointment and tell her she’ll be okay I couldn’t move and felt being an inconvenience to her. However, she was so brave and supportive of me although she’s not even 3. Even after getting better I had been a crying mess at my helplessness to make my daughter better. Then came in the ‘mom guilt’ which I never even knew existed. I was convinced that I have done something to cause this or I could have prevented it somehow. As it’s the mother’s nature to do everything right by her child, if something happens they always blame themselves but it’s not really their fault.

I had always prayed for my daughter every day even before she was born. I’d say a little pray whenever I’d see her smile or peacefully sleep. But I always felt most responsible for her and that I have to do everything. I took first aid training course to be ready if God forbid there’s a situation. I’d not sleep for nights searching online for the best nursery and schools for her. Always make sure to cook healthy food for her and always watch over her even if she’s happily playing independently. I also try to take care of myself so that I am well enough to look after her. Having a life insurance is also a practical thing parents can do. I know that’s what all mums do but there can come a time when you can’t do what you want to do for your baby and that breaks your heart like nothing else. As it’s said, you’re only as happy as your least happy child.

“And sorrow, like a sharp sword, will break your own heart.” Luke 2:35 (GNT)

I have come across this verse a lot of times but couldn’t relate to it. This is exactly how I felt when I was in hospital with my daughter. Children are the greatest blessing from God and they are given to us for a reason and a season. Yes we are responsible to take care of them but most importantly we can trust our Heavenly Father to watch over them. He never sleeps nor slumbers. No doubt a mother loves her child a lot but God loves them more. Even if a mother fails, God never fails.

Never! Can a mother forget her nursing child? Can she feel no love for the child she has borne? But even if that were possible, I (God) would not forget you! Isaiah 49:15 (NLT)

God can strengthen us to look after our children and pull through any difficult situations. I cannot thank God enough for being with us during a very stressful time in hospital, giving us strength, so much love and prayers from friends & family and exceptional hospital care. We are all so relieved to be back home happy and healthy.

I think the most powerful thing a Mother can do for her child is to pray for them. A common saying on the back of buses and rikshaws in Pakistan is ‘Maa ki dua janat ki hawa’ (mothers prayers are winds from heavens).

Here’s my prayer:

Heavenly Father,

I thank you for this beautiful day and time you have given me to come to you and talk to you. May we rejoice and be glad in this day.1 Lord, as I draw near you now please draw near me as well. Declutter my mind so that I can focus on you. Lord, I give thanks to you and praise your name. For you are good. Your unfailing love continues forever, and your faithfulness continues to each generation2. Thank you for always being with us. Please forgive our sins and guide us to follow your path and obey your commandants. Don’t let us fall into temptation but deliver us from evil3. You are our refuge and fortress. Our God whom we trust4.

I thank you for blessing me with my precious daughter. Lord, please give me strength and good health to look after her. Guide me to teach her your ways. As we grow in love for each other may our faith and love for you grow as well. Lord, may she always know how much I love her but most importantly know that you love her and are always there for her. She is your child Heavenly Father, created in your own image5. You formed her fearfully and wonderfully in my womb and knew her name even before she drew her first breath6,7. Lord bless her and keep her; Make your face shine upon her, and be gracious to her. Lord lift up your countenance upon her, and give her peace8.

Gracious God, nothing formed against her can stand9. You are a God who heals all diseases and forgives all sins10. You neither sleep nor slumber11. Please watch over her every day and night. Protect her and keep her safe from all harm. May your angels concerning her surround her and she doesn’t strike her foot against a stone12. Keep her safe from any pestilence and plague13. Bless her with long life and show her your salvation14. Thank you God that your steadfast love is from everlasting to everlasting on those who fear you, and your righteousness to children’s children15.

God thank you for loving us so much that you gave us your one and only son, Jesus, so that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have the gift of eternal life16. Thank you Jesus Christ for taking up all our sins, fears and diseases in your body and by your wounds and stripes we have been healed17, 18, 19. By shedding of your precious blood our sins have been forgiven20. Jesus I claim your holy blood for my family. Please cover us in your holy blood, forgive our sins and protect us against all harm of body, mind and soul. May goodness and mercy follow us all the days of our life and we dwell in the house of the Lord forever21.

Heavenly Father, all things are possible for you but yet not my will but yours be done22. I ask this in your Son our Lord Jesus Christ’s holy name23.

Amen.

References: 1. Psalm 118: 24; 2. Psalm 100:5; 3. Matthew 6:13; 4. Psalm 91:2; 5. Genesis 1:27; 6. Psalm 139:13-14; 7. Isaiah 49:1; 8. Numbers 6:24-2; 9. Isaiah 54:17; 10. Psalm 103:3; 11. Psalm 121:4; 12. Psalm 91:11-12; 13. Psalm 91:5-6; 14. Psalm 91:16; 15. Psalm 103:17; 16. John 3:16; 17. 1 Peter 2:24; 18. Matthew 8:16-17; 19. Isaiah 53:5; 20. Ephesians 1:7; 21. Psalm 23:5; 22. Mark 14:36; 23. John 15:16.

Autumn, the best season of the year

Crisp air, bright sunshine, gorgeous colourful leaves and cool winds announce the start of autumn. You cannot wait to tantalise your taste buds with delicious pumpkin & apple pies, heart-warming soups and pumpkin spice lattes. The weather is neither too hot nor too cold and perfect for long walks. With leaves rustling under your feet, sun shining through the beautiful, coloured trees, birds chirping away and cool fresh air, you cannot help getting inspired in this magical season.

“I loved Autumn, the one season of the year that God seemed to have put there just for the beauty of it.” Lee Maynard

Now is the time to take out your cosy jumpers, warms scarfs, stylish boots and colourful hats. Nothing beats having a delicious pie with a cuppa wearing your favourite cosy jumper while enjoying the fascinating autumn view from your window or watching a feel-good movie or ‘Strictly come dancing’ at night snuggled up at your home. I found ‘Emily in Paris’ this year’s best autumn watch so far 😊

‘Life starts all over again when it gets crisp in the fall.’ F. Scott Fitzgerald

For me, Autumn is the time for self-care and taking out time for myself. I try to invest some time (and money) in skincare. After a hectic and outdoorsy summer, I need time for myself to pause and reflect on my work & personal goals and aspirations. Usually summer is about having lots of outdoor activities and a couple of holidays away (if there are no COVID travel restrictions). Autumn provides us the much needed calmness for reflection and gratitude.

Our family does not go overboard with Halloween celebrations. I think this would have been the first year my daughter would have enjoyed Halloween as she is now old enough to understand it. With the current COVID restrictions, we cannot do trick or treat so nothing is planned for this year. I know Halloween is a huge celebration in the USA. Everyone does elaborate Halloween decorations at their houses. We were there in 2015 and enjoyed the Halloween night at Times Square (this was pre-kids :D) The east coast looks glorious in all its autumnal colours.

Autumn in New York 2015

People living in USA and Canada also get to celebrate Thanksgiving in Autumn. It must be wonderful to have turkey and pies with your family and friends like family. We do not have Thanksgiving in the UK. It would have been so nice to have it here as well. You can never have too many holidays and it is a fabulous time to be thankful to God for a lot of things – this season being one of them!

When I was in school in Pakistan, we would start the Christmas tableau practice from September. I could almost smell Christmas in Autumn when we would start the rehearsals. I was a soprano singer at my school choir. This meant having an hour’s carol singing practice every morning. Sister Grace teaching us how to take in a deep breath and tilting the head slightly forward to reach those high notes and what foods to avoid to preserve our voices is one of my fondest memories. So much effort was put in singing and Christmas drama practice. No wonder the Convent Christmas Tableau was considered the best in Lahore.

In Autumn, it’s fantastic to go out for nature walks with kids, enjoy the autumnal beauty and pick up the colourful leaves. We also love apple and pumpkin picking in October. I think the pies taste better when you pick your own (PYO) apples and pumpkins 😊 I love making pumpkin soup, pumpkin pie and apple pie. This year I made my own pumpkin spice latte for the first time. It turned out really good but Starbucks’ pumpkin spice latte is still my absolute favourite. Craigies is our go-to PYO farm. Their café is amazing, and they are fastidious in following the government guidelines for COVID: https://craigies.co.uk/

‘For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven’ Ecclesiastes 3:1

Pumpkin pie and decaf soya pumpkin spice latte

Hope you are enjoying this most beautiful season of the year. Happy Fall y’all 😊 x 

How to Navigate the Pandemic with Kids Under 5?

It is difficult to explain to a young mind about the pandemic. To be fair, the grown ups also don’t know what’s the new normal going to be during these ever changing COVID19 times. We are all learning and adapting to what’s best for us.

Children thrive on routines and like everyone else their routines are affected to some extent by the pandemic. My daughter used to go to nursery 4 days a week while I worked and I would spend my 3 non-working days completely with her. During the lockdown, the nursery was closed and my husband and I were working from home. She was really happy to see more of mummy and daddy but really missed seeing her friends.

It is difficult to keep the wee ones happy and engaged when you yourself have concerns about what’s happening. What worked for us was focusing on the positives rather than the negatives with her. I think doing the following made the lockdown an enjoyable experience:

  1. The most important thing is to spend more time as a family. Having all meals together and doing activities together is really nice.
  2. Have a routine even if they don’t have school or nursery. Having set sleep and meal times give a healthy structure to the day. Also dressing up some days (if not all) is exciting.
  3. Involve kids in cooking and baking. They are more likely to enjoy a meal they have helped to prepare.
  4. Tell kids that cleaning and tidying up are good habits. Let them do small tasks that they can easily do for e.g. help loading the washing machine. For us, the toy hoover and brush worked so well and my daughter would clean alongside me.
  5. Making the most of outdoor activities is such a delight. Get the kids to help you with gardening. I’m not too keen on kinetic sand and play dough due to the mess caused in the house so they became garden activities along with painting! Doing nature walks and collecting leaves, pine cones, stones and sea shells for arts and crafts is so exciting.
  6. Appreciate your kids for the little things they do like making tea for you in their toy tea set. This will encourage them to be more creative and imaginative.
  7. Relax the screen time restrictions a bit if you are trying to work from home but do monitor what they watch on TV. I find kids radio/songs are better than TV. This way they can play away with some music in the background.
  8. It’s okay if the kids regress a bit in their milestones. I’ve heard sometimes kids regress in potty training and speech milestones due to changing circumstances. More assurance and encouragement from parents can help them get back to their usual self. By the way, ‘Oh crap! Potty Training’ book is very useful. The best potty training suggestion I got was to get this book and we successfully completed potty training in few days.
    https://www.amazon.co.uk/Crap-Potty-Training-Everything-Parenting/dp/1501122983
  9. Reading books is really good for speech development. Kids follow your lead so if they see you read books instead of spending time on your mobile they will want to do the same.
  10. Telling stories and role play is brilliant as it helps build their imagination. One of my fondest childhood memories is my dad telling us stories before bedtime. I make up a story every night and encourage my daughter to add bits to it as well. After the story I do a quick recap of the day and mention the things my daughter enjoyed. I love seeing the smile on her face when she recalls what she loved. This builds gratitude from an early age.
  11. See what outdoor places you can safely visit. Zoo, safari, fruit & animal farms, beach and gardens are safe places to go to. Make sure you follow the national guidelines even if you are outdoors.
  12. The best thing is to spend more time with your kids. Enjoying their amazing milestones, new words and giving longer cuddles as they grow up in the blink of an eye.

The thing we missed the most during the lockdown was meeting other kids and mums. I had joined various playgroups since my daughter was 3 months old. I can’t forget her expressions at the first playgroup we went to. She was so excited to see babies her age. I love going to playgroups as I get to see other mums. Any problem you’re having, there will be a mum having a solution to that! It’s such a wonderful experience to see your baby play with other babies and develop social skills.

It’s not always a ‘happy’ scene. There can be fights over the most favourite toy but that’s when you can teach how to wait for your turn and share. I am so grateful to have attended so many local playgroups and see my daughter learn so many new things from other kids and different toys while I get to enjoy a nice cup of tea and much needed, non-judgemental mum chat. As the playgroups are not more than a couple of hours, I’d try to go to one every day in my 1 year maternity leave. It’d be the highlight of my day. When I went back to work I opted for compressed hours so I get at least one weekday free for playgroups and playdates. Here are some of the playgroups we’ve loved over the last few years:

Bumps and Babies with NCT at Blackhall Library
This was the first group we went to. It’s run by the lovely Kathy. This group is for pre crawlers. The babies play in a safe environment while mums can have a nice cuppa and a biscuit.
https://en-gb.facebook.com/NctEdinburghNorth/posts/bumps-and-babies-this-wednesday-at-blackhall-librarykeen-to-relax-with-a-cuppa-a/443960232353956/

Sing and Sign
This has to be my daughter’s favourite playgroup. We loved Sine’s classes. Babies learn to sign before they can talk. It was so nice to see my daughter sign for milk and happily dance at the lovely songs. The love for Jessie cat is very real. I think Jessie is the reason my daughter absolutely loves cats.
https://www.singandsign.co.uk/classes/classes-near-you/west-edinburgh

Baby Sensory
I loved the themes of these classes. The props were so good. You’d really be transported to a different world. My daughter started crawling during a baby sensory class because her balloon drifted across the hall and she wanted it back 😀 As much as my daughter loved these classes I think I loved them more.
https://www.babysensory.com/edinburgh-central/

Song and Stories Toddler Group at Bristo Baptist Church
This playgroup had the best snacks. There is free play at the start followed by snack time, song time and then a Bible story for the kids to finish off the session. Teri and Christopher always make sure everyone is comfortable and enjoying the session.
https://www.bristobaptist.org/kids-and-toddlers

Jo Jingles
This is the only group we tried to continue during the lockdown with online classes. My daughter loves Linzi and was so excited to see her in her living room on TV. These classes are really good dance and singing classes with such wonderful songs.
https://www.jojingles.com/edinburgh

Toddler Group at Holy Cross Church
I have made such fabulous mum friends at this group. There is free play for an hour followed by snack time and then more free play. The session ends with singing nursery rhymes and ‘Bye Bye babies’ song which would get stuck in your head for the rest of the day 😀 We loved going to this group and miss it so much.
https://www.netmums.com/local/l/holy-cross-mother-and-toddler-group

Thankfully the government has allowed the baby groups to continue having face to face sessions with some limited numbers but the toddler groups have not been given a go-ahead yet. These groups are so important for both mums and kids. I really hope we get the permission to restart them again with all the necessary protocols of course. For the time being, we’re relying on having outdoor playdates with one other household.

Hope you can find a local baby and toddler playgroup in your area or online classes. These are really important for child development and mum’s sanity. If there are no local groups maybe you can look into starting your own 🙂

Hope you are managing ok in these COVID times and this article gives you some ideas x


Note: This post is not sponsored at all. All recommendations are based on my personal experience.

Working from Home

Working from home has become one of the most talked about topics these days. Some people have been doing it for years and for others it became a reality during COVID19 lockdown. I have been working from home some days a week (most days during pregnancy) since more than 6 years. Here are some things that I think work and I try to do most of them (if not all) on wfh days:

  1. Have a fix time to start work every morning. Set an alarm at least 1 hour before starting work so that you have time to freshen up and have breakfast.
  2. Dress appropriately for work. As tempting as it can be to stay in lounge wear you will feel more productive if you’re a bit dressed up. For me it’s smart casual or casual wear but if you feel wearing the best formal work wear and red lipstick makes you more confident and efficient then go for it. If you have a formal presentation then dress up a bit more if it helps you deliver better.
  3. Make sure you have a designated workspace. You should have a proper desk, chair and laptop (plus other required devices e.g. monitor, keyboard if you need them).
  4. Have a good posture while working and your screen and other equipment should be at the correct height/position. Slouching can be really bad for your neck and back!
  5. Keep a water bottle and tea/coffee at your desk when you start work. It’s important to stay hydrated throughout the day.
  6. Go through your diary and make a to do list of what you want to accomplish that day.
  7. Try to take few minutes break every hour. If you have any existing back and neck issues it’s important to get up and move every 20-30 minutes even for a minute. You can stand for a bit or walk around the room. Standing desks are really good too if you’re interested in working while standing.
  8. Do get up in your lunch break and eat at a different place other than your desk. Have a light healthy lunch to avoid the afternoon slump. Coffee by the way is best for the afternoon slump.
  9. Go out for a walk or exercise during your lunch break. You can do some stretching exercises throughout the day too for about a minute or so every hour. Even going up and down the stairs is good.
  10. Keep crossing the things out that you have accomplished during the day on your to do list. Block your weekly diary with things you cannot complete that day.
  11. You can tune into your radio on a low volume or some instrumental music if you’re working on some diagrams or documents if it doesn’t distract you.
  12. As tempting as it can be do not spend time watching telly or using your personal mobile (unless it’s urgent) during office hours.
  13. Try to be available on work chats and work phone so that you can work with your team members collaboratively.
  14. Have a set time to finish work and do not fall into the trap of working late as you’re wfh.
  15. Relax and unwind after work. Make a healthy dinner and watch some telly 🙂

Working from Home with toddlers during a pandemic

Now if you’re a mum and working from home during a pandemic then scrap all the tips given above!!

I had been very good with keeping a work life balance. Had a set work time while my baby was at nursery and then when she’s home completely focusing on her. She had never seen me work on my laptop. She had seen the laptop and called it ‘Mama’s book’ but never knew anything about my work life. At the start of the lockdown she was very confused why is mama spending so much time on her book and not paying full attention to me. Also the nature of my job is multiple zoom calls throughout the day and the only people she’d seen me ever talk to were friends and family. She was so surprised about this other side of me. She initially thought all my female work colleagues were her aunties and she would ask me if they’re mamas and if they are where are their babies 😀 At times I had to leave calls unannounced due to toddler tantrums in the background. More time was needed to prepare lunch and snacks. I have joined calls with ‘Baby Shark’ and ‘Mr Tumble’ on TV in the background. Thankfully my colleagues were always very understanding and supportive.

Oh the mess! That was one of the most overwhelming things of lockdown for me. As my daughter would be at nursery 4 days a week I could do with tidying up the toys 2- 3 times a week and keep the house in the reasonable tidy/clean state. But during the lockdown as I was working all day and she was free to play by herself ALL the toys would be scattered around the living room. Sometimes I could barely find a small spot that I could clear and have a call there. The cleaner couldn’t come so I had to clean over the weekend. The first few weeks were so tiring and overwhelming.

Thankfully my work announced COVID leave for the employees with caring responsibilities or those who couldn’t wfh for some reason. My manager had been very understanding and we agreed on the reduced hours that were manageable for me. I could have taken the 6 months off but I wanted to work and be as effective as I could be. Given the changes that already had to be made during lockdown I wanted to continue my work but if I couldn’t have managed it at all I would have taken complete time off. After a month into lockdown all my tasks became manageable and I started to be a more ‘sane’ ME 🙂 Here are some of the things that worked for me:

  1. Write down all the roles that you have taken on during lockdown. For me it was full time project manager, stay at home mum and part time cleaner. Clearly 2.5 roles cannot be done by 1 person so you have to let go of some things.
  2. I started with talking to my manager and reducing my work hours so that I can manage my other roles too.
  3. I discussed the situation with my husband and we tried to split childcare responsibilities based on who’s on a call and who’s not. If we are both on calls my daughter would prefer to stay with me and I’d like to think it’s because my project and team is more interesting 🙂
  4. I had not cleaned in the last 7 years (not proud of it) so I had forgotten what and how to do it and was solely dependent on my cleaner. I discussed this with few friends and the best tips were lower your standards and follow Mrs Hinch (the cleaning expert)! A friend was so kind to leave pink stuff, a scourer and Mrs Hinch’s book. This got me so interested in cleaning that I don’t think I’ll ever go back to getting a cleaner again and lose the joy I get in cleaning myself! Another friend suggested cleaning lists. I followed my project manager instincts and divided the tasks into bite size chunks. I now have daily lists, weekly lists, fortnightly lists, 3 monthly and 6 monthly cleaning lists! I can’t promise that my house will be deep cleaned from top to bottom all the time but yes it is at some days/weeks of a month. My husband looks after my daughter while I clean as I rather maintain my cleaning standards than his 😀
  5. Dividing all the tasks with your partner is perfect. At the start of the lockdown I assumed I’m supposed to do everything myself and it’s so difficult. I became a serial complainer which wasn’t helpful to anyone. I think mums are quicker to react to changing situations and taking control. After discussing with my husband we split the housework, cooking and childcare responsibilities as equally as possible.
  6. Don’t feel embarrassed of your situation. I’m always so apologetic of having my kid make noise on calls but thankfully everyone at work especially my manager is so supportive. If you can’t take a call or have to leave it’s best to be upfront about it and excuse yourself without feeling apologetic. You’re trying your best but not everything is possible especially when schools and nurseries are closed.
  7. Try to go out for fresh air even for a bit. Don’t be too strict to stick with your health & fitness and diet goals. Nothing is normal about 2020 so it’s okay to take a break and have some rest and biscuits/cake. That’s what I did and do not regret it. If you want to get back into your fitness and diet routine you can always do that. I’m trying to do that now after few months of much needed break.
  8. These are unprecedented times and everyone’s situation is different and changed from the normal routine. Doing what works best for you is the key. Talking to friends and discussing what’s bothering you is always a good idea.

Hope everyone is feeling better and the initial lockdown blues have been dealt with one way or another 🙂

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