Posted in Motherhood

Balance

Balance: a situation in which different elements are equal or in the correct proportions.

Life with Hanaan during lockdown has been great. Although sometimes difficult, I have truly settled into life at home; I’ve enjoyed spending every minute with her; being able to lay in bed in the morning, putting her to bed without worrying about where we have to be the next day, cooking with her and just taking our time with everything because we can and most importantly, not feeling guilty for going to work! As I prepare to return back to work, I can’t help but feel sad about how things are going to change as life slowly returns to normalcy. This brings me to answering the question a friend once asked “How do you balance being a mum, a wife and a teacher?”

The short answer is, I don’t. I do what I can, when I can. It is quite difficult to ‘balance’ things when you have a set amount of things that have to be done. As a full-time teacher, I work five days a week. Each morning, I leave home at 6.50 am each morning to drop Hanaan off at her childminder before making my way to work. I arrive at work at 7:00 am and leave at 5:00 pm to go pick Hanaan up from her childminder. We get home just before 6:00 pm and by 7:30pm, she’s in bed ready for the next day. After putting her to bed, I take some time to do a bit more work before going to bed myself. The routine begins again the next day and this continues to happen until the next holiday. Evidently, during the week, there is little time to do anything else but work. However, there are a few things that I do to maximise the little time that I have whilst also making sure that I fulfil all of my responsibilities to my family.

  • Trustworthy Nursery/Childminder: As Hanaan spends a lot of time at the childminder’s during the week, I find it really important that she is with adults that are trustworthy and good role models for her. I personally chose a Muslim environment because I wanted her to be in an environment that supports our morals and way of life. I also make sure that she is in a place that supports her development. Some other things that I look for in a childminder are: clean environment, low teacher to child ratio, up to date licenses, extensive experience, great references and a trial day so that she can settle in and I can see how comfortable/uncomfortable she is. Most importantly, I constantly communicate with the childminder so that I know what Hanaan has been up to.
  • Meal prep: I plan our meals for the week at the weekend so I do not have to worry about it during the week. This means that the little time I have in the evenings is spent with my family rather than in the kitchen getting dinner ready.
  • Quality time: We do not have a lot of time together during the week so I try to make sure that the time that we do have together is quality time. I spend most weekends doing meaningful and memorable things with her. I give my undivided attention and avoid doing any school work until she is in bed. I also get her involved with my chores to keep her busy whilst I work but also to maximise the time that we have together (E.g she may help me ‘spread’ the clothes) This means that some things may take longer than they should but I try to turn mundane tasks into quality time with her.
  • Early starts: I start my days (weekdays and weekends) quite early so I can get the most out of them. Hanaan gets up early too so I use her as my alarm clock. Once she’s up, I start my chores for the day so that the rest of the day can be spent together.
  • Date night: My husband’s work schedule is just as busy as mine. So, we have learnt to be more intentional about making time for each other. We pick an evening where we forget about work and just spend time reconnecting without Hanaan.
  • Maximising time: I don’t always do this because I like to socialise but I do try to make the most out of my hour lunch break. I generally work through lunch so that I have less to do later and can go home to my family. Someone also recently suggested ordering groceries online to save additional time.
  • Communicate with your manager: My manager is aware that I have a daughter that depends on me; she is aware that I have to pick up Hanaan at a certain time and so I can’t stay in meetings that run past 5pm. Speak to your manager and let them know your situation. This doesn’t mean that you’re not going to do your work, it just means that they may need to be more flexible.
  • Self care: In the midst of all the chaos and rush of the week, it is very important that I have time to take care of myself. Personally, I do this through praying and exercising. I wake up earlier than the family most days to take some time to work out and just have a moment to myself. This makes me feel good about myself and gets me ready to take on my responsibilities. It is also important to note that sometimes, getting enough sleep is self care for me! So, rather than waking up to exercise, I may just choose to sleep in! Not everyday workout!

So, there you have it – how I balance home life and work life. Do you have any tips for balancing your home life and work life? Please share them with me in the comments below.

Till next time,

-A

Posted in Motherhood

Little tips, Big impact.

As a first time mum, there were a variety of practices and behaviours that were used on a trial and error basis for the upbringing of my first child. I have been able to reflect on decisions that were made and determine the things that I plan to do differently when I have another child and those that I intend to repeat. So, here are a few things that have had a positive impact on my daughter Hanaan which I will definitely be repeating with my future children:

  • Read, Read, Read – We all know the importance of reading to children; research has proved it time and time again. So, I won’t talk about that. Instead, I will talk about some of the impact reading has had on Hanaan. I started reading out loud to Hanaan during pregnancy and have continued ever since. We read during the day but it is also a part of our bedtime routine. Hanaan loves to read and now at almost 3 years old, she willingly picks up books to read (she can’t read yet but she knows the stories and uses the pictures to ascertain what is happening in the story). She uses words that she has picked up from books when speaking, words that I’d never use when speaking to her. Reading books has encouraged her sense of curiosity whilst also allowing me to develop her comprehension skills implicitly. Whilst we read, Hanaan asks different questions about the characters in the books. Sometimes, I answer the questions and sometimes I refer the questions back to her and allow her to answer them. Aswell as this, reading has expanded her understanding of the world beyond our little family. She is exposed to different context and themes such as friendship, culture, religion through the different texts that we read.
  • Speak in full sentences – If you want your children to talk in the best way possible, ditch baby talk from the beginning and speak to them in grammatically accurate sentences. Children are like sponges and will pick up on the things that you say. This will also make a massive difference when they start to write too! Children tend to write the way they speak and it can be difficult to reteach proper English when they are already accustomed to speaking in certain ways. Hanaan generally speaks in full sentences because I have always made a conscious effort to speak to her in full sentences. Recently, I noticed she has been saying things like ‘cos’ rather than ‘because’. Of course, this is because I began to say ‘cos’ so I am trying to reteach her to say ‘because’ by saying the full word every time I speak to her.
Hanaan casually reading in the bath!
  • Model the culture you want to create in your home – As I said earlier, children pick up everything around them. So, it is quite important that you model the behaviour that you want to see in them. Rather than telling them to say ‘please’ and ‘thank you’ or ‘Bismillah’ before they eat, model saying these phrases in the right contexts from an early age. This not only teaches them to say the phrases but it also teaches them how to use them in the right context and it becomes a part of them. These are some of the phrases that Hanaan and I use regularly; Alhamdulillah when she sneezes, Bismillah before eating, Alhamdulillah after eating, Saying ‘sorry’ when we do something wrong or something that hurts another person, please and thank you e.t.c
  • Speak positively – It is so important to speak positively to your children. Your voice becomes their inner voice and they will begin to repeat the words that you say to them thus increasing their self worth and self confidence. It also teaches them how to speak to you and others in a way that is kind and respectful. Personally, I also found that Hanaan responds to positive language. She listens a lot more when I tell her how amazing she is rather than telling her about the negative behaviour she may be displaying in that moment.

P.S This post is quite different to my usual content. Would you like to see more of these posts? Let me know in the comment section.

Till next time,

-A