To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS, I Love You

To All Moms: You Don’t Know a Thing! PS, I Love You

Alas! I’d just had yet another row with my 14-year-old, and the closing banter, as always was, “You don’t know a thing! I hate you Mom!”. Feeling drained out, wretched, and eager to make things normal, all at the same time, I heard the loud thud of the door closing. She has shut her bedroom door as usual. I have the key with me, but I never try to open it. Wishing that she would come to me and apologise, I too, went to my room trying to take a nap. I put on the Brian Weiss regression on YouTube, yearning to relax.

I was now a teenager.

My individuality was slowly developing, but I was not there yet! I didn’t want to be under the shelter of mom and dad. Aged sixteen and completing my Pre-Degree (equivalent to 12th grade), I thought I knew everything better than my mom. It was the time of our farewell. Having decided to wear a Ghagra choli (Indian traditional wear) for the event, I found a good design from a magazine, and mom got it stitched for me. Unfortunately, the cloth was insufficient, and the dress did not look as beautiful as I imagined. The tailor consoled me saying that she could get it altered if I brought some more of the same cloth. I was disappointed, but mom reassured me that we would get it changed.

A day or two passed.

I didn’t see any sign of my mom getting the cloth for alteration. Concerned and having decided that mom was not going to do it for me, I kicked up a massive fuss and fought with her. That evening when mom was away at work, I went to the textile shop all by myself in an auto-rickshaw. I still remember, it was a maroon coloured Ghagra choli and I wanted some more of the same coloured cloth. The lady in the shop showed me so many variations of maroon colour and asked which maroon shade I wanted. Sadly, I realised that I hadn’t brought the dress with me to buy the exact maroon shade I needed. Never mind, I was a teenager, I knew everything, and I had the same maroon in my mind! So, I didn’t wait for anything, just bought the maroon material and came back home.

When I reached home, mom had returned from work, and she was waiting to question me.

Furious, I told her that I had bought the cloth all alone since I knew she wouldn’t do it for me. Then mom asked me if she could see the fabric and the dress to confirm that the colour was the same. Proudly, I took out the cloth I bought and the dress. God, the colours didn’t match!!! What should I do now?!! I felt miserable.

But what happened next was even more painful.

My mom took out a cover and handed it to me., I was almost in tears when I opened it because it had the same coloured cloth I needed for my dress. She had gone to buy it on her way back from work. Did I ever think that this would happen? How could I? I was so naïve, and my mom was so thoughtful! Wanting to hug my mom and say sorry, I wanted to stop fighting with her after this incident. But did it happen?
In my mind, I might have apologised a million times, but my ego never allowed me to tell mom that I was wrong and I did not know a thing!

I completed college, found a job, got married and had kids.

Travelling along the same roads as her, I got to know her better. I met with her struggles and faced her challenges. Then, someday, somewhere, without me or her knowing, I realised that her love towards me was the purest I ever received! No wonder, for my relationship with her was nine months ahead of everyone else!

The YouTube video stopped playing.

I was awake! I heard the creaky noise of the door opening. It was my daughter going to the kitchen to get something to eat. She didn’t bother to see what I was doing. Did it hurt? No, I am a mom, and moms never give up on kids. I blessed her in my mind and wished that she would grow up to be a brave and graceful woman and a mom who never gives up on her kids!

Do you recollect your childhood experiences and reapply your parents' parenting approaches in your family? Or do you think your kids need a totally different approach?

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rohini Pillai in Oman.

Author Bio:
Rohini Pillai was born and raised in Kerala, God’s own country, the southern state of India. She considers her trust in God and her family as the biggest strengths of her life. She loves to be around people, and if not, you will most likely find her around her sweet brown and white Shitzu, Polo.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

Parenting Don’ts: Advice to My Future Self

I had the privilege to be born in Bahrain and imbibe the various cultures around me. Raised in a nuclear family, my parents tried to give my sister and me everything that a big, joint Indian family would provide for a proper balanced upbringing. That was a lot of expectations from one dad and one mum who worked almost 10 hours everyday to make a good living for their family.

Educated in a co-ed Indian School (boys and girls attend the same school) in Bahrain, and given the choice of subjects I wanted to pursue, I thought it was a privilege and responsibility. Having completed my Engineering degree, I, like any fresh  graduate, wanted a chance to work at an IT firm in Bangalore. But dad wanted me to stay back in Bahrain. I didn’t have to struggle too hard to find my first job – selling software programs. However in their minds, I was supposed to be making them, and not selling them. Also, my parents had their own plans for me. All they wanted from me was to complete my Engineering studies and ‘settle down’.    

This was when the first bubble of the ignorant started to burst.

The ignorant being ‘me’. And bubble? These are gigantic balls parents build around their child to protect them from the harsh realities of life. It was very easy for a child brought up in the Middle East to live in such a bubble for a very long time, at least in those times.

Lesson Learnt: My kids will have a choice on whether to marry/work/earn/live independently before ‘settling down’.

Soon, dad arranged for a meeting with the boy’s family. Dad was so excited to get me a salwar kameez of his favourite colour. I wore the yellow suit and smiled at all the family members sitting in front of me, hoping dad remembered the three important points I discussed with him:

I didn’t want to live in the Middle East. My preference was someone who was settled outside Kerala. Being the eldest I didn’t want to marry the eldest son of a family.

But of course, nothing I said was heard.

Lesson Learnt: Listen to your child. Is it that hard?

Should I be throwing a tantrum now? Or should I trust dad? Dad said that my life would begin after I got married and I could work like I wanted and everything would be okay. How far that was from the truth, neither he nor I knew.

Lesson Learnt: When you are not sure of something, don’t say it.

Newly married phase began.

I felt that if I told my life partner I wanted to work before we started a family he would understand. Luckily I found a job in a reputed university in Saudi Arabia. But then again, my partner was in a hurry to start a family and I had to quit my job before it started.

After my kiddo turned 1, I began working as a software developer. This was the only way I could sponsor my child in Bahrain. My husband decided this was best for the child and I couldn’t agree more. But for that to happen, I had to stay with my parents, and living with parents after marriage was a whole new ballgame.

Suddenly, financial balance became an important topic and mum felt I was not doing enough at home. I hired a helper and tried to assist financially. I never left my daughter home to socialize with friends. But then, dad had a problem if I came back home late with her. Mum reminded me that I should be staying with my husband. She said it was embarrassing to let her colleagues know that her daughter stayed with her after marriage. I didn’t know where I belonged.

Lesson Learnt: I would ensure that I made my child feel 'at home' when she was home. Home was the safest place for them, no matter what others say.

Work started taking up most of my time.

I worked hard, changed jobs, and was now responsible for the Information Technology Department. Big role, but dad and mum didn’t think much of it. Why? Because I was not earning in 4 digits in Bahrain.

Lesson Learnt: Any job, big or small, would be celebrated. 

Once, Boss called at nine in the night and when I answered the call, dad reacted like there was nothing worse I could do. I calmly explained that Boss was travelling and wanted to know why he was unable to send out an important email, whether it was a server issue. But he didn’t care for my explanations. Nothing dad said made sense anymore.

After two years, husband successfully found a job in Bahrain. We shifted to our own place and everyone seemed very happy. I still worked till late evenings, and my husband came home earlier. He waited till I served dinner every night and reminded me that my primary job was at home. He informed me that soon he would sponsor our child and I should make arrangements for the transfer. Mother- in- law joined us and that made everyone in the house happier.

I worked for the same company for more than 3 years with no pay raise. Wanting to do more, I enrolled for a course to learn about web applications. I came home late after the course and worked hard to transfer the current website to a web application. That was a success after a few trials. But still no raise.

While we planned for our second child I decided to shift my career to something lighter. I resigned and took up a teaching job at a school. This gave me more time with my daughter and I made peace with it. Blessed with a son, our family was complete. I quit teaching and stayed with my children.

Lesson Learnt: If you did not have a proper support system, then it was impossible for a woman to have a good career and family together.
Faced with a similar situation, what would you have done differently? 

This is an original guest post written for World Moms Network by Rashmi Roshan in Bahrain.

Author Bio:
I am Rashmi Roshan - mum to two lovely children, juggling the roles of wife, daughter, sister, friend, computer science engineer and teacher. Born and raised in Bahrain and still here, I experienced different cultures and living styles here, which has helped me understand difficulties that children in the Middle East face. Having said that, there is still so much more for me to learn; and to be able to pen down my thoughts and share my perspective with my family and readers has helped me listen to the tiny voice inside, instead of letting it get lost. So, I'm thankful for this opportunity, and I hope to read and learn from the experiences shared by other mothers.

World Moms Network

World Moms Network is an award winning website whose mission statement is "Connecting mothers; empowering women around the globe." With over 70 contributors who write from over 30 countries, the site covered the topics of motherhood, culture, human rights and social good. Most recently, our Senior Editor in India, Purnima Ramakrishnan was awarded "Best Reporting on the UN" form the UNCA. The site has also been named a "Top Website for Women" by FORBES Woman and recommended by the NY Times Motherlode and the Times of India. Follow our hashtags: #worldmom and #worldmoms Formerly, our site was known as World Moms Blog.

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Sometimes the Weeds Are a Good Place to Be

Sometimes the Weeds Are a Good Place to Be

Life in the Weeds

When I was a new mother and both of my kids were “littles” (under the age of 5), I spent a lot of time chasing them around, picking up after them and carting them to copious kiddie activities. My mother-in-law liked to refer to that phase of parenting as being “deep in the weeds.” What I understood her analogy to mean was that life with pre-elementary-school-aged kids is like working in a garden perpetually choked by weeds, no matter how much you want to enjoy the flowers, there are always weeds slowing things down.

A friend interprets this same idiom as a golf reference: when you hit a ball into the rough (weeds) and it takes a lot longer to get back onto the fairway and into the good part of the game.

And yet another friend believes this idiom refers to fishing and how always casting out into the weeds, where you have to struggle to free your hook and make a catch,

Regardless of whether you interpret this saying in reference to gardening, fishing or playing golf, being in the weeds is a tough place to find yourself and it slows you down. The phrase has stuck with us through the years and my husband and I use it still when describing the life stages of friends and family.

They don’t go away, they just get taller

At the other end of the spectrum, once my youngest entered kindergarten and I suddenly had loads of productive time on my hands, my mother-in-law congratulated me for getting “out of the weeds.” And I thought that was the extent of it, that the next phases of parenthood might bring their own ups and downs, highs and lows but that the toughest part was behind me…boy was I WRONG!

Now that my kids are teenagers, they need me in different ways. The demands have gone from being physical to intellectual. My pockets of productive time still exist but the times and ways they need me now are much more intense. They no longer need me to sort their LEGO, or chaperone their bubble baths; now they need me to help tend their academic orchards, nurture their emotional gardens and pull weeds out of their social flower beds.

Before, tears were over spilled juice or a skinned knee; now they’re over spilled gossip and broken hearts.

Your garden doesn’t have to be perfect

The saying also goes: “the grass is always greener on the other side of the fence,” but sometimes when you get to the other side, you realize how good you had it where you were.

When my kids were younger and needed more of my constant attention, I envied parents with older kids, who could let them bike to friend’s houses on their own, set up their own social calendars and manage their school work. I couldn’t wait for the day my kids would be independent enough not to need me for such tasks.

But now my kids manage their entire lives online, out of parental view and input. Sometimes I don’t even know the names of all of the kids in their classes. They take the train to social engagements and address their own academic hardships with their teachers on Teams.

I witness my younger siblings raising their own littles, being thick in their own weeds and I ENVY them. I miss being needed in simple and manageable ways. Being required to do things I was capable of doing and the sense of accomplishment I got from tedious but rewarding tasks like making homemade Valentine’s cards.

What I’ve learned: Don’t fight the weeds, struggle makes us stronger. No matter what stage your kids are in, the most important task as a parent is to nurture the garden, regardless of the growing season.

Kyla P'an (Portugal)

Kyla was born in suburban Philadelphia but spent most of her time growing up in New England. She took her first big, solo-trip at age 14, when she traveled to visit a friend on a small Greek island. Since then, travels have included: three months on the European rails, three years studying and working in Japan, and nine months taking the slow route back from Japan to the US when she was done. In addition to her work as Managing Editor of World Moms Network, Kyla is a freelance writer, copy editor, recovering triathlete and occasional blogger. Until recently, she and her husband resided outside of Boston, Massachusetts, where they were raising two spunky kids, two frisky cats, a snail, a fish and a snake. They now live outside of Lisbon, Portugal with two spunky teens and three frisky cats. You can read more about Kyla’s outlook on the world and parenting on her personal blogs, Growing Muses And Muses Where We Go

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Diwali: Celebrating the Spirit of Light and Love

Diwali: Celebrating the Spirit of Light and Love

My paternal grandfather passed away on the day of Diwali. I had never known him. He passed away long before my parents got married. Every time I think of him, I feel a soft gentle wave of love from his heart and a hidden smile on his lips. I have heard from a few relatives that he was a short-tempered person, but nevertheless a gentle one if you know what I mean. My paternal grandmother’s sister (who passed away just a few years ago, and she is another beautiful soul about whom I shall write another day) used to talk a lot about him, and all the wonderful stories I have heard about him are through her, and a few of course from my own father too. 

However, I could never mourn my grandfather. Because I never knew him.

I only knew of him in a celebratory sort of way or as a legend, the way my paternal grandmother’s sister spoke about him. As a child, I did not understand why my (joint and extended) family never celebrated Diwali when all my friends did. My brother was more vocal about it. He asked questions and finally, our father saw through our confusion, and also our need to feel belonged to the community we lived in. My father also is a very soft, gentle, and compassionate person who puts the other person’s needs in front of his. He probably did not want to disappoint the family he was born into by disturbing their day of mourning. But now with two extroverted and high-spirited children, he did not want to disappoint them either.

So finally we started celebrating Diwali.

We burst crackers, hung out with friends, shopped till we dropped dead tired, decorated the house. Having done everything people did on days leading to, and on Diwali day, we felt better about the whole thing initially. We are not a religious family. In India, Diwali is all about a spirit. It is not about religion – well though of course it is a festival of lights, and signifies good over evil, the day the Lord won over the demons, and so on.

But Diwali is more about the spirit of community, celebration, unity, love, and light.

It is like Christmas in India – that is, you just celebrate it because it feels good, it feels happy and it is in the air. 

A lot of times, on Diwali we used to travel to Chennai, and spend time with our extended Heartfulness community in the Heartfulness center because that was also so much fun for us as children. As we grew up, we did that more often, and that was more joyous, as we had a nice reunion with a lot of family and friends in Chennai in the Heartfulness center, where we used to spend a couple of days during and after Diwali. 

After I got married, the idea of Diwali changed.

My husband’s family believed in celebrating Diwali more traditionally, and I felt I should honor that, to the best of my capacity. I did what I could in my wisdom and knowledge at that time. Earlier, our father went out of the way to make us feel happy, cherished, and give us a sense of belonging. I remembered our father making sure everyone felt the spirit of love, light, and kindness. And well, I felt inspired to emulate that, in my current small capacity, at that time. 

This year and the past one have been tough for all of us including me. Today, our son, his friends, and our community refuse to burst crackers, and I appreciate that so much. He says he has taken the ‘green pledge’ in his school and refuses to pollute the atmosphere with the fumes from the crackers. I think I honor this more than anything else. Diwali is yet another day in his life. My son’s friends just hang out and play Minecraft or football. Or they just spend those extra hours of the holiday in their Lit-club or Debate-club. Or sometimes, just switch on the AC, close the door of the room, and make some music album covers. And what do we do as a couple? It is a day of rest and respite, a day for catching up with each other.

The spirit of Diwali stays on, in spite of things that have changed so much in our respective lives.

The spirit of Diwali, is about leading us from ignorance to knowledge, from darkness to light, from death to immortality. The Sanskrit verse which signifies this truth is from the Upanishads, one of the ancient texts of India. Once, I had this most inspiring moment of feeling belonged to this extraordinary heritage and rich culture. That was when I heard the lyrics of the background score from the movie Matrix. Those lyrics which signify the spirit of Diwali made me feel part of this ancient wisdom and evolutionary path too.

So, whatever you do on this Diwali day, enjoy the light in your heart, the love in the air, and peace in the universe.

And of course, listen to the background score from the movie Matrix! 

असतो मा सद्गमय ।

तमसो मा ज्योतिर्गमय ।

मृत्योर्माऽमृतं गमय ॥

ॐ शान्तिः शान्तिः शान्तिः ॥

***

asato mā sadgamaya,

tamaso mā jyotirgamaya,

mṛtyormā’mṛtaṃ gamaya.

Om Shaantih Shaantih Shaantih ||

***

From ignorance, lead me to knowledge,

And, from darkness, lead me to light,

From death, lead me to immortality.

Peace, Peace, Peace. 

Purnima Ramakrishnan

Purnima Ramakrishnan is an UNCA award winning journalist and the recipient of the fellowship in Journalism by International Reporting Project, John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies. Her International reports from Brazil are found here . She is also the recipient of the BlogHer '13 International Activist Scholarship Award . She is a Senior Editor at World Moms Blog who writes passionately about social and other causes in India. Her parental journey is documented both here at World Moms Blog and also at her personal Blog, The Alchemist's Blog. She can be reached through this page . She also contributes to Huffington Post . Purnima was once a tech-savvy gal who lived in the corporate world of sleek vehicles and their electronics. She has a Master's degree in Electronics Engineering, but after working for 6 years as a Design Engineer, she decided to quit it all to become a Stay-At-Home-Mom to be with her son!   This smart mom was born and raised in India, and she has moved to live in coastal India with her husband, who is a physician, and her son who is in primary grade school.   She is a practitioner and trainer of Heartfulness Meditation.

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The Gift of Finding Yourself

The Gift of Finding Yourself

“Sometimes you need a good challenge. Sometimes you need a great escape. Sometimes you need both.”

The Joy of Planning a Trip

Have you ever found, or perhaps re-found, yourself in travel?

A few years ago, during an intense gym session in Krakow, Poland, my friend Paulina and I made a promise to each other, we were going to Norway; neither of us had ever been. We were going to hike (and push ourselves). We were going to do it on a budget (Norway is expensive). We were going to do all of the planning ourselves (because . . . budget).

And just by verbalizing it and making a promise to each other, we made it happen. We began planning in earnest four months in advance, each researching different parts of the trip and putting it all together when we’d meet up for coffee or a long run.

Finding Yourself

At the time, my kids were 3, 5 and 7. I felt like I had been a mom for so long now that planning a trip without my kids in the picture was a bit anxiety-inducing but also immensely exhilarating. Could I really plan a trip based on all of my interests? Could I choose to do something difficult, knowing that little legs would not have to keep up? Could I actually stay up as late as I wanted, steer clear of all kid-friendly restaurants AND spend uninterrupted time with a friend?

Amazing!

Almost unthinkable.

The Unpredictable

So Paulina and I did just that. We planned a five-day hiking trip to Norway, wearing all of our gear on our backs and staying in Norwegian public huts along the way (they are phenomenal, in case you are wondering), and hiked for hours and hours on all types of terrain through stunning Norwegian National Parks.

The trail and weather conditions changed daily between when we started to plan in February up until the day we left for Bergen, Norway in June. Some hikes were not yet passable due to the winter conditions, even in early June. The Norwegian Trekking Association gurus advised us to wait until arriving in Bergen to speak with local experts to determine safe hiking routes. Because I was so used to the down-to-the-detail style of traveling with kids, it felt unsettling to arrive in Norway with five days of gear, no reservations, and no idea of where we’d be heading, but it was also freeing.

Hiking Norway

Upon arrival in Bergen, we bought a (pricey, because it was Norway) hiking map and had extensive discussions with the Bergen Trekking Association staff about what we were hoping to do and what routes to hike. They advised us of two full-day hikes, one considered a “black” or expert-level hike from Sunndal to Fonnabu Hut at Folgefonna Glacier in Folgefonna Park, aptly called the “Fjord to Glacier” hike.

The hike was stunningly gorgeous and took us from a beautiful lush forest up to icy, snow-covered rocky peaks (something we were not expecting or fully prepared for in June) to the edge of Folgefonna Glacier. After nine hours of hiking we were exhausted, grateful to have arrived, and overwhelmed by the beauty, tranquility and other-worldliness of this spot that so few others have seen.

Our second hike, a “red,” was just as challenging—if not more so—due to weather. This one was an eight-hour hike from the town of Kinsarvik to Stavali Hut through Husedalen, the Valley of Four Waterfalls, in Hardarngervidda National Park. As the name implies, we hiked past four powerful, awe-inspiring waterfalls at different elevations along the journey. Once we scrambled up massive rock face and landed in the valley, fog started to set in and the trail, marked by stacked piles of rocks every so often, became difficult to find. We did not encounter one single individual for six hours and the only people staying in the Stavali Hut that evening were us.

The Most Harrowing Part

We had to cross a wide, rushing river over which the “summer bridge” was not yet in place. The bridge sat on the land, as if to taunt us, and was definitely too heavy to push into place (believe me, we tried). So what did we have to do? Cross a wide, waist-high icy cold rushing river on foot to continue on the trail. It was not for the faint of heart. It was scary, and cold . . . and after crossing it we still had another 1-2 hours to hike until reaching the hut that evening.

This would not have happened had we hiked during the true summer season; which is July-August in Norway. Blink, and you’ll miss it! But I tell myself we’re stronger for it. It was an experience I’ll not soon forget.

Love a Good Challenge

Our trip to Norway was that, and then some. It was a reset. It humbled me in huge ways. It rewarded me in huge ways. It scared me at times. It forced me to make hard choices. There were times I was in tears because I was so tired. There were other times I was in tears because I was so proud of what I had done. And at the end of the day, I saw me for me.

Not me as a mom.

Not me as a writer.

Not me as a wife.

Not me as a former diplomat.

On this trip I wasn’t a cook, chauffeur, arbiter of arguments, trip planner, master scheduler, nor all of the other roles we play for our kids. This trip was about me pushing myself to my limits and discovering a new, unbelievable place on this planet.

We All Need Trips Like This

You don’t always have to fly half way around the world to find them but you do need to challenge yourself. Do something for yourself. Be somewhat selfish and determine what it is that thrills your soul – and do that. Maybe it’s an improv class; maybe it’s flight lessons; maybe it’s learning how to play a new instrument; maybe it’s the North Pole marathon; maybe it’s a SCUBA certification on the Great Barrier Reef. I don’t care what it is, but plan it.

Then do it!

And in doing so, find yourself. Maybe for the first time. Maybe for the second, third, or fourth time.

My trip to Norway, at 39 years old, was hugely empowering. It was a moment that I made happen. One that required bravery, pushed me, taught me and helped me realize how much I had craved and needed a dose of solo, self-reflection and validation.

Oh, and a little tidbit of information I wasn’t even aware of when planning this trip: I was pregnant at the time with baby number 4. So you know, all things are possible.

This is an original post for World Moms Network from our contributor in Ukraine, Loren Braunohler. The image in this post is attributed to the author.

Loren Braunohler

Loren Braunohler is a former U.S. diplomat turned stay-at-home mom and freelance writer. She is a world traveler who avoids the cold (don't ask why she is currently in Poland). Former assignments have included Mozambique, Venezuela, Australia, Sudan, Thailand and Washington, D.C. She enjoys running, although she probably enjoys sleeping even more. Loren blogs about her family's international adventures and parenting at www.toddlejoy.com.

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Blended Family Rituals: about ice cream, mustard and goodnight wishes

Blended Family Rituals: about ice cream, mustard and goodnight wishes

The Glue that Binds

If you ask about the glue that keeps our blended family together, I could reply with classics like ‘unconditional love’, ‘reciprocal respect’ or ‘bonding through fun’. All those are indeed values we hold high in our family of two plus two plus two.

But the special superglue which makes us a family are definitely our family rituals and routines.

In our family, each Thursday is Ice Cream Day. Not just because we all like ice cream, but because on Thursday we celebrate being a family of six again.

Both my kids and my husband’s daughters return from their time with their other parents on Thursday. In the early days of being a blended family, Thursdays would sometimes be filled with tears, silence or just general awkwardness, so we looked for ways to ease the transition. Hence, Ice Cream Day came into being!

Many years later, we feel they don’t really ‘need’ Ice Cream Day anymore, but it still feels appropriate to celebrate being a family on a weekly basis. Besides, who wouldn’t cherish a fixed day to indulge in ice cream!

The Importance of Rituals

Personally, I feel rituals like Ice Cream Day help our kids experience our family home, and by extension, the world, as a predictable, safe place. It gives them something to hold on to.

Especially during the ongoing, turbulent times. Ice Cream Day and other rituals continued to give them a sense of security and comfort. A few months ago, one of our girls casually remarked—halfway through her Thursday Cornetto—that ‘Coronavirus cancelled a lot of things, but not Ice Cream Day!’

Other rituals we have as a family, are less thought through in advance, but became an important aspect of our family identity almost by accident.

When we hear the theme song from Frozen in the kid’s playlist, we need to yell ‘Kasteel!’ at the exact moment in the song when Elsa would build her ice castle in the movie. Just imagine the bewildered looks from bystanders when they hear the six of us in our car yelling ‘Kasteel!’ from the top of our lungs through the open windows, seemingly out of nowhere. We giggle, discuss who’s the winner – the one who was not too early and not too late – and proceed with waiting for our cue to loudly sing ‘Mosterd! Mosterd!’ when Master of Puppets is on. In our family, this song is about mustard. And occasionally about ketchup.

Building Family Security

Our family rituals are a bit like inside jokes. They have a special meaning to us as a family exclusively, and some of them even express our family values in a fun way.

On top of that, they provide the kids with a sense of identity as a member of our family. Especially in a blended family as ours, these casual instances of ‘belonging’ seem truly valuable.

By holding on to our rituals, I also aspire to instill some loving, fun memories in the kids. While slowly but loudly repeating the same mantra of six goodnight phrases when going down the stairs after tucking them in, I secretly hope they will pass this ceremony on to their own kids, one day.

‘Slaapwel. Zoete dromen. Welterusten. Hou van je. Tot morgen. Dikke kus.’

‘Sleep tight. Sweet dreams. Nighty night. Love you. See you tomorrow. Big kiss.’

Each their favorite good night phrase.

Each their daily reminder of security, identity and loving care.

All bundled up in one twenty-second-ritual.

I’m sure you all have some rituals in your families, maybe even without realizing their value. I would love to hear about them, big and small!

This is an original post to World Moms Network by our contributor from BelgiumKatinka Wouters from Belgium. The image used in this post is credited to Kenta Kikuchi from the open shared site, unsplash.com.

Katinka

If you ask her about her daytime job, Katinka will tell you all about the challenge of studying the fate of radioactive substances in the deep subsurface. Her most demanding and rewarding job however is raising four kids together with five other parents, each with their own quirks, wishes and (dis)abilities. As parenting and especially co-parenting involves a lot of letting go, she finds herself singing the theme song to Frozen over and over again, even when the kids are not even there...

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