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Jobs on my job

 “If today were the last day of your life, would you want to be doing what you’re doing?”

Apparently Steve Jobs had a resounding yes to this question every single day.

Lifehack has inspired my post once again with their article on Steve Jobs’ guiding question. 

This article couldn’t have found me on a more apt day, for today, I closed my Kip McGrath franchise at REWA. With everything boxed, signage down and centre being repainted, I found myself in tears more than once this evening after saying goodbye to staff who had been at REWA for over three years. 

My Kip centre was my first baby and it’s proved to be very difficult to let go of something I bred. After years of building it up, creative effortful development, hours and hours of passionate dedication for students and staff alike, it’s unnerving how effortlessly we’ve come to an end. I really loved what I did, and valued the opportunity to impact hundreds of children over the last three years. However, this rather anticlimatic end is what proves it truly is time to let go. 

   

Today marks the end of the beginnings of REWA and the dawn of unfathomably more exciting opportunities for the children of Botswana.

The Lifehack article poses 6 further questions which highlight REWA’s newfound direction and my reignited purpose and passion:

1. Does your work make you smile? 

Oh how it does, and this is why…  

 

Just today, I signed my first agreement with a publisher as a children’s author! I’ve written three books already and my first book for kids will be out within a year! 

With unfulfilled time on my hands, I found something that fulfils all my creative desires along with my dedication to children’s literacy and I absolutely love it. Nothing in the world makes me happier than writing books for children. :) 

2. How tired do you feel at the end of the day?

I’m writing this in bed with my eyes burning red and sore…from the Kip tears and how beautifully exhausted I am. I’m the kind of tired that is so rewarding because I know I’m tired from immense brain activity of thinking up and working on programmes that are going to change lives. 

REWA is soon to launch a creative and holistic programme for parents and babies along with various other partners. 

“Going to bed with the feeling that you’ve accomplished something means two things: that you’re using your talents in a way that you find fulfilling and that you’re contributing productively to the world around you.”

I resonate with that 100%.

#watchthisspace for more information on SensoBaby launching in September! 

  

3. Is your work rewarded?

Collaborating on such programmes that are so personal and important is a wonderfully unique way to feel valued and rewarded on a frequent basis. Working with a very cool team of professional and super-mums on SensoBaby and Little Einsteins revs up my self-esteem, drive and desire to do more!

4. Do you have any regrets? 

Definitely not. Without the brilliantly educational experience of running a franchise, I wouldn’t have the confidence to now develop my own programmes and brand. 

Kip McGrath was an opportune platform to launch the REWA Education Centre. Most importantly, I’m thankful I had the courage to acknowledge that it’s no longer giving me the positive sense of usefulness and service that it used to. 

5. Does your work consume your life? 

My life is my daughter and my family… Aanavi is the inspiration behind all my new projects, the writing (#AdventuRams) and SensoBaby! 

I launched REWA for the children of Botswana and my Botswana baby has just allowed for me to combine motherhood with passion and purpose. So yes, it consumes my life or rather vice versa and I feel like a rockstar for being able to feel this way :) 

  

6. Do you feel stimulated?

More than ever before. Recently, the universe has conspired to fill each day of mine with creativity and the chance to offer greater service and joy to little humans. 

Ask yourself the same questions… They truly do work as a self-reflective guide to cultivate enthusiastic purpose in whatever you do. 

So,  if today were the last day of my life, would I want to be doing what I’m doing? After more than a year of uncertainty, I would love to tell Steve Jobs that I too can look in that mirror and hurrah a YES for all the jobs I play!

Motherhood

I saw a Facebook post this week that asked Mothers to describe Motherhood in three words. 

  
These were mine: Motherhood is… “Not for sissies!”

This is how I know:

  1. In Aanavi’s first month of life I got jet pooh all over me – from my hair till my toes! I won’t even count the times I’ve been peed on. Vomit is just normal.
  2. I won’t bother talking about the paradoxical joy and peril of pregnancy, labour and breastfeeding. 
  3. My relationships with everyone around me changed. Every thing was harder, expectations were higher, time and patience were scarce and I was too focused on my relationship with my baby to think about sustaining or developing relations with anyone else. 
  4. I lost sense of who I was as a whole, individual person for a while. A normal adult with a personality, with my owns wants and needs, likes and dislikes, ambitions, dreams and aspirations. I forgot I could be just an “I” and didn’t have to be a “we”. 
  5. Motherhood taught me that I can function exceptionally well on little or no sleep. I don’t mean the university style all-nighter to attend a dull lecture and party hard the following evening. I average 5 hours of sleep a night and somehow I’m still able get up everyday and raise a little person without messing her up while I attempt to run a growing business, renovate a house and have a life!
  6. I can say things like, “I have to pooh. Can you please stop staring at me?” With a straight face. 
  7. You hear stories of children being drunk, on drugs, making irresponsible life choices, getting involved in behaviours that cause serious concern and still want to bring little humans into this scary world. You’re not sissy (but perhaps naively silly) by believing that your child will be different…  It takes courage to have faith in yourself as a parent, to fight what seems like a generation of factors working against you.

Seriously, Motherhood is not for sissies. 

So this is us as we bravely walk the path of the scariest and most beautiful relationship of all: Mum and Daughter. 
  

What three words would you use to describe motherhood? 

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It takes a village… 

In April this year, an international organisation approached and offered me an opportunity to train 400 teachers across 8 different circuits in Namibia. The training was to be on how to teach initial reading skills to Grades 1-3. 

I jumped at the opportunity without thinking twice. 

When I got here though, it wasn’t as glamorous as I thought it would be. In fact, it was a grand shock to my system. 

I hadn’t worked full time since Aanavi was born; been away from a home environment for this long or anywhere this rural for more than a day or two. I was wholly unprepared for this and after two days I rang my husband and said, “I’m coming home!”

The hotel facilities were far lower than what you would expect from a 3*; the vegetarian food ranged from eggs on toast, cheese and tomato sandwiches and pasta with onions and tomatoes. When we were lucky we got mashed potatoes. The staff have more than made up it though – they are so warm and caring and have gotten to know us so well. Today when I walked back in, exhausted and hot, they brought my tea in a MUG, not a cup,  without me asking for it! It may be my last day, and the first time they actually got it right, but they did! :) 

I was contracted (and paid) to work 2 hours a day on workshops. My first day at work was a 10 hour day. The next was the same. Eventually we got it down to 6-7 hours. 

  
Long drives through bush and gravel, stopping to allow for donkeys, goats, cattle and chicken to cross the road whilst I sweated away and read book after book, blog after blog. It was so mindless that I actually found myself asking on one of these journeys, “Why did the chicken cross the road?”
Only to find that the answer really is, to get to the other side! :)   

   
 

I spent my first week homesick, frustrated, regretful and complaining miserably to my husband, worried about malaria, malnutrition and all sorts of things that existed only in my mind. 

But then I did my Kriya, I meditated and I made peace with my situation through a calmer mind. I read knowledge from my Guru and today, as I am on my way to my last workshop and as I celebrate my last day here, I am also able to look at things with a very grateful heart. 

For all the self-doubt I had, I now know that I can do anything that I put my mind and heart into. 

I gave each workshop my best, and really got the best results out of it too. Something I didn’t anticipate being so successful when I had cows mooing and goats bleating as a most appropriate background score to my very own ‘The Gods Must be Crazy’ script.   

For all the complaining I did about the food (they even fed me chicken once by mistake), I met with the chef and he is such a wonderful guy who really tried his best to cater to my dietary preferences. I have only compassion and smiles for him now. Today my eight plate of spaghetti napoletena was really pretty good!  

 

I’ve learnt so much about this country, it’s people and their needs. There is a great hunger for learning here and honest value for quality trainings in education. Their teachers are passionate, dedicated and committed to giving their learners the best of them. I am truly privileged to have been able to help, if only for a few hours a day. There is an immense sense of satisfaction in knowing that your efforts can be valued beyond what you even anticipated. Their sincere learning made all my frustrations worth it.  

    

I learnt that we rise by lifting others

A real eye-opener was how these teachers needed things for themselves. I came here with the children in mind, and I leave with a place in my heart for the teachers instead. Teachers who held on to every word of mine, absorbing knowledge that I take for granted.   

We talked about how to teach English in a multi-sensory, kinaesthetic way… But in classrooms with no resources – so our resources became water, rice, maize flour and chalk. Hop scotch patterns, cardboard boxes and egg cartons were our tools of preference. 
We shared recipes for play dough and talked about taking learning outdoors – using trees, leaves and sand.    

    

As I pack to leave tonight, I am packing all these ideas and experiences too.

This amazing adventure has been worth every second of the heat, dust and hunger I went through. 

The feedback from teachers is rewarding beyond belief. But on those forms, other than some ego-boosting comments, you also see another great need – and that’s the language needs of the teachers themselves. We reached out to such remote areas that many teachers are not qualified or fluently literate, they can just read or write a bit better than others in their communities.   

   

Sometimes the teachers were more excited about the free sweets, juice and muffins they were getting because it was just such a novelty to them! You can then imagine the gratitude they had when they received posters and books for their classrooms!

This is not just Namibia’s story, this is the story of our continent. 

I daren’t complain about my lack of little luxuries again. Aanavi got through her days without me with some style and lots of smile. She sees me in the evening and announces, “Mumma mwah!” Letting me know she wants some mother smother time!

  
I was taught how to adjust to different (not difficult) situations by a one year old. 

I learnt how to be a passionate educator from villages of teachers wherever I went. 

I learnt that I can pioneer through eight-hour drives in scorching sunshine and live up to what I started – Raising Education Within Africa. I exceeded my own expectations of myself and there is no greater sense of achievement than that. 

My experience over these 12 days was not difficult, it was an honour and a privilege. 

Added to the honour of being here, was the honour and support I received from my family and friends back home! To you all, thank you for encouraging me and keeping a smile on my face via what’s app and Facebook these past 12 days! 

I know that at this given time, in the right here and now, only I could have undertaken this initiative. I don’t regret it for I know I was chosen for it – not merely to empower the 400 teachers in Northern Namibia who I reached, but to honour myself with the knowledge that I have an even greater power within. 

  

When we break out of all our comfort zones, defy our own limitations and expectations, that is where the magic of life is. 


On Monday 6th July, I felt like a little girl at boarding school again. 

Today I feel grown up. 

There’s an African proverb that says it takes a village to raise a child… Well it’s taken 8 villages in Namibia to raise me! 

   
    
 

   
  

Mumma, I know we’re the #AdventuRams but I’m ready to go home!

 

What happens when Mummy has the travel bug? 

Aanavi turned 13 months yesterday… And in these 13 months, she has spent a a couple of weeks in Johannesburg; a week in Seychelles and two in Cape Town; five weeks in London; seven in India; a few days in Madikwe and now we are in Namibia for two weeks and off to Europe thereafter. Her first trip on a plane was to London when she was 8 weeks old!

 

#poutlikeAanavi on our very first flight

 
In her short life so far, she has spent about 5 months away from home. 

The mum-guilt that I spoke about before was back again last night before I left… But Aanavi reassured me today, by being a happy traveller despite two flights and barely any sleep, that as always my guilt was unfounded.

Is it fair to her though – the constant adjusting, new places, a different cot (or no cot), changing routines, weird and wonderful food choices, different people and no Dad half the time? 

I don’t know if it’s fair but I do know that she’s not being hindered by any of it. Rather than wondering about ‘adaptation issues’, I thought about what she’s gaining from all of these experiences: 

1. She’s learnt to be flexible with her needs and routine. 

2. She eats a variety of foods and flavours! 

3. Aanavi is learning lots of new skills and words very quickly; learning she wouldn’t normally be exposed to if we didn’t travel as much. She shows recognition of safari animals and notices little and big things from birds to butterflies; her fine motor skills are pretty amazing from practicing things like opening the airplane table all by herself and the pincer grip she’s developing using crayons to draw while I am working. She can actually identify 5 different shapes (circle, square, rectangle, triangle and heart) because the only book I can fit into my diaper bag is Spot’s Touch and Feel Shapes! She’s read it hundreds of times. 

4. She is SUPER friendly towards everyone because she’s so used to people! She has learnt to greet and smile at almost everyone she meets. She’s even mastered a little ‘royal wave’.  

 

India – February 2015

 
 5. She never watches TV because we just aren’t home long enough to get into it and I don’t travel with an iPad. There is little to no screen time in her life. 

6. She can swim in the sea and in pools.

 

Seychelles – December 2014

 
7. She has developed a very cool sense of curiosity towards nature, people, animals and life in general. I love watching her watch the world in wonder. 

Here’s what I have gained in the process: 

1. My greatest achievement has been learning to let go. I used to sweat the small stuff with what time she has to sleep and has to eat and has to do everything! Now, as long as she’s happy, healthy and having fun whilst still getting enough sleep and nutritious food, I’m relaxed. 

2. I’ve gained flexibility with her flexibility. 

3. I don’t have to think twice about a spontaneous holiday or a crazy work trip to rural Namibia. My travel bug doesn’t have to be cured :) 

4. I am learning how to be a different kind of mum everyday – some days I’m a nutritionist trying to count how many measures of calcium, iron and protein she’s had, other times I’m a clown and entertainer, a storyteller and a comforter, some days I’m Tiger mum and others I’m Dolphin. Sometimes I Helicopter and sometimes I’m an Elephant mum (can you believe all of these terms actually exist!?)! My knowledge on theories of childhood, parenting and nutrition amazes even me sometimes because I’m forever reading, doing and now writing about it too! 😄 

5. I’ve gained inspiration from travelling with Aanavi for a massive career change! Watch this space… #adventuRams :) 

So, top tips for travelling? 

  1. Make a list. I have a generic packing list for both Aanavi and I which I can easily adapt depending on our destination. I then just pack to my checklist and have never forgotten or run out of anything.
  2. Take a little bit of home with you. Pack things that Baby will be familiar with and finds comfort in. We take Aanavi’s little baby bear with us everywhere, her favourite bath toys, a ball and whatever toy/book she’s into at that point. I pack the same blanket, she knows and loves her pram and I take her bowl and spoons from home too.
  3. Be flexible with yours and Baby’s needs during your trip. Don’t feel forced into sticking to a rigid routine if it’s not working while you’re away. Learn to listen to your baby’s body and teach him/her to listen to it too. 
  4. Have a diaper bag packed and ready-to-go at all times with nappies, wipes, cream, snacks, a water cup, a change of clothes and other essentials. 
  5. Invest in a lightweight travel stroller that can recline flat and a light blanket that you can hang over to block light/the world of distractions out when you want to push Baby to sleep. 
  6. Spend time carefully choosing the right baby carrier. We tried Stokke, a Mama’s and Papa’s one but have found ErgoBaby to be absolutely super on the back and shoulders, as well as easy to put on with various different carrying positions. 
  7. Have some easy-to-pack toys in your hand-luggage. I recently discovered kinetic sand! Very cool handbag toy. That and the Fisher-Price talking lunch box, a pair of singing keys and plastic sunglasses. That’s when Aanavi’s good to go!  

    London Baby – May 2015

     
  8. Did I mention little nibbles? Pack snacks – lots of them! 
  9. Hand and face wipes as well as the chubby cocoa butter stick for babies. Every wipe makes her skin drier in this weather so we replenish with cocoa butter. We also have an Oh Lief sunblock stick permanently in the bag.
  10. Dress Baby in a buttoned grow when travelling. Not all planes have a changing station, most restaurants/cafes don’t either. You don’t have time or space to be taking off and putting on clothes. Always easier to just pop buttons open and do the necessary bum wipes. 💩  Added bonus – they’re warm, which is important on planes as they have central cooling systems… and you’re not worried about lost socks on the flight.    

Wishing you and your children travels filled with happy adventure and zestful curiousity!

   

Mum-Guilt

Who needs to be supermum when you can just be MUM?

Along with sleep deprivation, sheer joy and madness at the same time and wondering when we can wear our favourite jeans again, one more guaranteed common feeling for every mum in the world is guilt. 

Today I had one of those guilt-engulfing moments. I read an article about 10 things I probably should do as a mum, but don’t. Written from the perspective of a mum who also doesn’t do any of them, it’s good to know I’m not alone… I shared the post to unburden my guilt.

This is the article: 10 Things I Should Do As A Mom But Don’t

Once I got into bed though, I questioned that guilt. Why should I feel this way? Why should any mum? They’re not even relevant to me! 

Here’s a breakdown:  

1. Get crafty with my kids. This is just not my personality! I am not the arts and crafts type. I probably won’t ever make her a birthday cake or make clothes for her dolls. I will, however, give her a huge hug when she bakes her first cupcakes, savouring every crumb and I will make up fantastic stories for every day of the week based on all her toys. 

2. Clip coupons. A couple of Pula saved by spending enough time figuring out where and how or a couple of minutes extra in bed this morning? A couple of extra minutes cuddling Aanavi? 

3. Exercise. 10000 steps on a daily walk IS exercise! 

4. Set up play dates for my kids. When it’s convenient to me and I like the mum, I do! Her social life and mine are intrinsically tied and I truly believe ‘you are the company you keep’. I have no interest or desire in keeping company that adds little value to my life AND hers. It’s not an ‘or’. 

5. Make my own baby food. I probably would have if I didn’t have organic options. Personally, I’m glad Aanavi ate out of bottles and boxes so readily – it made travelling with her super easy! She now eats everything we do.

6. Clean regularly. Thank god for house help! 

7. Help out in the classroom. Not yet relevant but this is one I probably will do. 

8. Model responsible behaviour. It depends what is meant by responsible? Do I sometimes sleep in and skip an early morning appointment? Sure. Do I take spontaneous vacations at the risk of missing work? Yup. Do I watch hours of a TV show I’m hooked to? Oops! I even leave most things to the last minute and sit on my phone at midnight! 

But! I’m a kind and happy person and do try and express that to everyone I meet. Hopefully that’s good enough for her. 

9. Nix the Starbucks habit. Why would I ever?

10. Plan date nights. I’m sure we will get there one day :) 

I may not do the ten things above, but here are ten things I do that are unique to Aanavi and I: 

  1. She comes into my bed every morning and we giggle, we cuddle, we sing songs and we watch videos of herself on my phone. She just loves this. 
  2. We read together in the afternoons. 
  3. I’m even writing little books for Aanavi about all her adventures!
  4. She sits and ‘works’ with me when I am working from home.  
  5. I plan a nutritionally balanced meal-plan for the day which includes Aanavi’s breakfast, lunch, dinner and her snacks. 
  6. We have a super bath and bedtime routine which we both love and follow religiously. I know she sleeps smiling and that means I do too. 
  7. I go to work every day – my mum did and it made me who I am today! Independent, career-oriented, hard-working but also so appreciative of quality time rather than quantity of time. 
  8. We practice gratitude together. One of Aanavi’s first words was “Ta” for thank you! 
  9. I take photos and videos of her whenever I can…  So one day I can show her that I was so enthralled by everything she did, I needed to capture it all! 
  10. I tell her I love her at least ten times a day and I tell her why. Each time a different reason.

To any mum out there who feels that ever-persistent feeling of guilt, make your own list of ten. Don’t bother with what you don’t do. Trust me, your child hasn’t even noticed… But they are noticing and growing from what you do DO. 

Once upon a time… 

I’m currently watching a TV series called Once Upon A Time.  It’s where all our well known fairytale characters are living in a modern time. Adi and I are hooked by its creative ingenuity… We are enchanted by the romantic notion that fairytales may actually exist in real life.

They certainly do in my real life:

Once upon a time, on the 4th of June 2014, a little fairy blessed me with the title of Mumma. My little fairy, my little Aanavi.
In a few hours you turn ONE and this year has been a fairytale in the making…

We’ve had moments of love, laughter and bliss as your learnt your many firsts – when you first sat up, crawled, stood, ate, walked… Your first holiday, your first Diwali, Christmas, trip to the park to feed the ducks, your first words, “ball”, “open”, “Aarna”!

We have had dark and dangerous times with projectile poops and sleepless nights.
I’ve laughed and cried like in any great story. My heart has soared with your giggles and broken with your tears.

You’ve even managed to have your first kiss already from your buddy Huxley!

Fairytales consist of a struggle overcome – and this first year of parenting has been the hardest yet most joyful year of my life!

Fairytales have a moral and you, Aanavi, have taught me many of life’s lessons in these 12 months:

In month 1, you taught me that I am stronger than I ever knew.

By 3 months, I realised there is no such thing as right or wrong parenting… There is only intuition.

In your fourth month, your Nani had a car accident and you taught us all that happiness can heal all pain.

At 6 months, we travelled and explored; your curiousity for the world was contagious. Your zest for life all around, your eagerness to make friends with all whom you meet proved to me that we are designed to be a One World Family.

9 months later, I started listening to my body again as you reminded me about the holistic perspectives of Health. Simply by focusing on your growing demands, I paid more attention to mine. We share the same needs – nutrition, sleep, exercise and mindfulness.

We are at twelve months of Aanaviness and by far the greatest learning of all is that I will never stop learning. I will never know it all and the acceptance that I don’t want to. I love that everyday with you teaches me more about myself, about life, about childhood and education, about people and family. The greatest knowledge is that with you, learning is infinite.

Finally, all fairytales have an element of magic. In my fairytale, that’s your smile.

My wish for you today Aanavi, is may this magic last a lifetime. May we live Happily Ever After.

Happy 1st Birthday Aanavi.

I Love You.

Mumma.

Happy Mother’s Day to my daughter 

My reason to celebrate Mother’s Day

My dearest little Aanavi, 

This Mother’s Day is extraordinarily special because you’re at that age where every moment is exciting, learning new words as each day goes by and surprising me with your charm and wit at such a young age. 

Most mothers describe what they want for their children – to live lives of purpose, passion and happiness. Of course I want that for you, but today I want to tell you that you’ve inspired these three virtues in me. 

Because of you, I have newfound determination to succeed in all ventures – whether at home with you and at work without you (so I can be efficient and rush back to you!). 

For you, I want to make the world a better place to grow up in. Having you in my life has only reignited my passion to uplift children’s education and holistic development. 

With you, I feel a sheer bliss that words cannot explain. Every description falls short and sounds far too clichéd. Suffice to say, it is the kind of happiness that is unconditional; untainted by the day’s stresses; the kind of happiness that makes all my internal organs soar with smiles. 

Whilst parents hope to be super-role-models to their children, you –  with your dynamic and intelligent spirit that never ceases to amaze us; a smile which makes even people on London trains cheer up; eyes that charm whoever you meet and sloppy little kisses that you’ve learnt to give; you, my little darling, inspire me to be the best version of myself.  

So Happy Mother’s Day to you my daughter – tomorrow the world celebrates and honours mothers and I’d like to thank you, Aanavi, for giving me the honour of being yours.

special mummy kissies

Smile. 

Earlier this week, I bumped into someone at a cafe who said something that absolutely made my week. She said, she knows she shouldn’t judge me by my Facebook posts but she thinks I’m the happiest, most positive person she knows (if you’re reading this, thank you❤️)! 

This warmed my heart (and my cheeks) as I blushed away feeling very chuffed. But it also got me thinking… Because she then said, “I hope it’s real.” 

Yes, it is real. It’s not that I don’t have rubbish days, become a grump or argue with my husband. I stress out over work, get HANGRY (a state of anger caused by hunger) often enough and I PMS.

But one of the greatest teachings from my Guru (Sri Sri Ravi Shankar of The Art of Living) is the following: 

 

I live by this. And this is why all my Facebook posts are positive, happy and (hopefully) uplifting. I don’t see the point in spreading negativity, in getting other people emotionally riled up when I’ve received horrendous customer service  or experienced disappointment of sorts.  It’s why I won’t follow groups like ‘Name and shame Gaborone’. It’s a forum for complainers!

I won’t let external experiences, people or events change my smile. Rather, I find something to be grateful for, look forward to and find joy in innumerable little things and that’s what I post – to share what’s inspired cheer in me to inspire cheer in you. 

It’s the kind of resilience I want Aanavi to observe and grow. I want her to know that life happens but as long as you smile through it, you realise la vita e bella no matter what. 

She will see her father and I argue and that’s okay as long as she also sees us make up. She will hear me throw a fit over work, but also hear about how I fixed the problem. She will learn that you don’t just give up and sulk, you make something better out of it! 

How to do this? From myself, and others, here are some tried and tested strategies to live your smile (for little humans to big ones): 

  1. Practice gratitude and have a gratitude journal. It can be a written diary (my mum has this) or a photographic one (I do this). I take a picture of something that makes me happy every day. 
  2. Have someone to talk to. My husband knows when I say I need to vent, it means just listen to me complain for a few minutes, don’t give me any advice, just listen. And once I’m done, I get over it and give him a kiss. No need to vent publicly on Facebook! Spread smiles not frowns. 
  3. Spend time with people who uplift and inspire you. Energy is contagious. People who gossip, complain, show off and crib are going to have a similar effect on you. People who laugh, engage your brain, talk about interesting things (not people) will inspire you to do the same. 
  4. Spend your time, energy and money on experiences, not things. Your experiences make you who you are. Engage in activities that make you happy… Hobbies, passions, travel and adventure. Do what you love and love what you do.
  5. Consciously search for people who inspire you and focus your energies on adopting their traits or teachings that you admire. A Guru, an expert in your field, a friend, your mother/father/brother/sister even someone with incredible dress sense. I have all of the above and it makes everyday an opportunity for growth. 
  6. Do things for others. There is no greater joy than the joy of giving, kindness and compassion. “To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived…” 

So here’s to a weekend full of smiles! For us, we are off to the Magalies Mountains where we will meet my brother and his family. Travel, adventure, doing what we love with five awesome human beings that uplift our souls! 

#saturdaysfilledwithlove 

my little human living her smile

Sleep

  

Sleep. It’s got to be the most sought after thing for mothers. What I value most and have the least of! Not only because of Aanavi, but because of my own poor bedtime routine. 

As most expectant and new mums, I read a library full of parenting books and from a few that I couldn’t bear to finish, to some that I followed religiously, they all said the same thing – establish a good bedtime routine (for your baby).

The typical advice is a warm, calming bath followed by an elaborate oil massage, a story and a wish good night. I started out with this really well and it worked for a while… But now it doesn’t. For Aanavi, bath-time is the highlight of her day, so getting her out is always difficult. She’s wiggly and curious about everything around her so the ”massage’ is more like ‘get cream on where you can’ and let’s not even talk about putting a nappy on or getting her dressed! She LOVES her books so story-time is not an option either because it stimulates her rather than soothes her.

I’ve come to realise that no book can be a manual for raising your child, and that actually you need to create your own bedtime routine. 

I recently read a Lifehack article on the sleep routines of the world’s most productive people citing examples of Obama, Bill Gates, Walt Disney and Ellen. The article highlights the 10 following things to do before bed: 

  1. Reflect upon your day 
  2. Write down your thoughts
  3. Read
  4. Plan for tomorrow 
  5. Spend time with your family 
  6. Get things done 
  7. Do a digital detox
  8. Spend time outdoors 
  9. Meditate 
  10. Visualise a positive future 

I loved what I read – they resonated true for me and I can understand why many of these would inspire a sense of calm achievement and a peaceful mind at the end of a productive day. But why just for adults? I can see many of these working well with a toddler, a growing little lady and all of them necessary for a teenager!

If I were to create a bedtime routine that works for both Aanavi and I, this is what it would look like: 

Our bedtime routine could begin at dinner, where I would ask her, not how her day was, but what was she most grateful for that day? What made you smile? What made you confused? What did you learn today? Who did you meet today? I would want to share with her all my responses to those same questions too. Nearly 30 years of being a daughter, 10 years of working with children and becoming a parent myself, I can prove that there is no greater role model than your own parents. 

I would want her to ask me any questions she has that day and know that we have a safe and trusting space for me to answer them and discuss anything she wanted to. 

Together we could plan for tomorrow, what are we both up to? She should know my thoughts and plans equally as much as I should know hers. I would check with her that she’s done all of what she needed to today, and help her complete or carry over what still needs to be done. We are each other’s responsibility – giving your child this place in your life can be hugely empowering for them. 

I would give her a gratitude journal where she could note down her thoughts and reflections. 

I hope to be able to encourage taking a walk in the garden and reading together before bedtime. Doing all of this is a great way of spending relaxed and meaningful time together. 

Above all, during this time, I would ensure that mobile phones are on silent, TVs are switched off and the Internet is something we use only in the day time. This is going to be harder for me than anything else – my biggest crutch is technology binging! Whether it’s on my phone, iPad or TV, I usually fight to fall asleep on one of those three.  

As we switch off the lights and go to bed, I would kiss her good night and do a meditation. Meditation and mindfulness activities come in many forms and lengths, especially for children (if interested, contact me and I can send you a bunch of resources). 

Why is this important? Neuroscientists have proven that meditation actually rewires the brain and its structures (a Google search will provide you with lots to read on this but here’s a Forbes article for now).  

So these are ten habits of highly successful people but success is relative. To me success means being happy in everything you do, every single day whether you’re five years old or fifty five; whether you’re a high powered career exec or a play-at-home mum. 

These ten habits spell out happiness for me. Starting today, I choose to inculcate them into my own life so that as Aanavi grows, she grows up with this being normal; where, age appropriately, she fits into this bedtime routine effortlessly and organically. Today we start with a walk in the garden before bedtime, while my phone takes a break from my incessant tapping and I chat to her about her day and mine… until she can chat enough for the two of us. :)  

   

 

Make the “is-ness” your business

For years I’ve thought of writing my own blog but studying, moving countries, establishing my own organisation, getting married and having a baby always came first. OH Life – how tediously extraordinary you have been! :) 

So here is my first post – inspired by this extraordinary, ordinary life.

A couple of years ago, a friend of mine made up a word which has grown to be my new favourite word: “is-ness”. We were discussing the significance of the present moment, the power of now – the value of the ‘is-ness’ of each moment. It got me thinking: being the ambitious, ‘survival of the fittest’ kind of race that we are, human beings are socially conditioned into racing past their present moment. And those that are not in that race are usually held up somewhere in the past. It is a very fortunate few that find the power of their is-ness.

I have consciously been trying to live with awareness and mindfulness for the last 10 years… but nothing has forced me to be more present than my daughter, Aanavi.

Aanavi enjoying the 'is-ness' of her very first boat ride in Udaipur

Aanavi enjoying the ‘is-ness’ of her very first boat ride in Udaipur

 

Playing with Aanavi, I find that she pays more attention to the here and now than I do. Look at her, the sheer thrill of being on a boat for the very first time! Forget about savouring it, she is devouring this spectacular moment! When did we, as adults, last devour a moment?

Young children focus so intently on even a toy or game; they seem to enjoy taking time to really experience things like the feel of sand in their fingers. That’s all that matters to them – what is. Even if Aanavi’s upset, all I need to do is pick her up and move her out of the situation and she would have forgotten all about whatever triggered the emotion. We are all born with the power to value our present moment. One word that describes how children do whatever they do is ‘whole-heartedly’ whereas grownups often do things ‘half-heartedly’.

However, as children get older, they live in a world of being told what to do, what time to go to school, to hurry up with an activity. This begins to create that autopilot way of life that we, as adults, are so familiar with. Children are socially conditioned into becoming less aware of what they are doing right now.

From the day they start school we ask children to live outside of their present moment. We constantly ask them to think about their future – “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I have never known a teacher to ask “so WHO (not what) do you want be now?” I know many teachers who get excellent results out of their students by saying “This topic is useful for your GCSE exam – and you will need good grades to get into a good college.” but have you ever heard a teacher say “this is useful and current to your life now!”

I’m not saying there isn’t a place for the kind of learning that guides students to think strategically about their futures, to set goals and targets; of course that is equally important and has a firm place in quality education. But there is enough empirical evidence to show that mindful embracing of the present moment, bringing attention to the task at hand, completing it and enjoying it rather than stressing about it can actually boost students’ grades; dissolve depression, disengagement and aggression in schools; prevent school drop-outs and create happier, more compassionate citizens who contribute positively to our communities.

We force young minds to always be concerned with the ‘should haves’, the ‘would haves’, the ‘could bes’ and the ‘may bes’. But what about the ‘is’? The simplest of words. By playing this game with our minds, we are either trapped in the past or trying to play catch-up with the future, either way, we’ve set ourselves up to burn out and fall.

It is imperative to teach our children this powerful tool! They become human “be-ings” by being in the present moment.

I want to be the kind of parent that encourages Aanavi to get rid of all the “will bes” and the “should haves”. I aspire to guide her to be more aware, to be alert and to appreciate what she’s got now.

I hope to inspire you to do this with your children.

Appreciate your child for who they are now, be aware of their current learning needs and be alert enough to respond to them in every moment.

Make the “is-ness” your business.