DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY

As a working mom, dealing with V’s separation anxiety has been tough for me. Although I am well aware that it only speaks of an attachment and is a completely normal behavior, my heart breaks each time she cries her lungs out while I leave. With time, I learnt a few tricks and tips for surviving this anxiety. It demands preparation, brisk transitions and a lot of time. The fact is we parents suffer as much as our children do when we leave. The first time I stepped out for an overnight work trip without V, I kept mourning the parting whole night. While the next day I tried to keep myself as busy as I can to avoid the guilt and thoughts about her, I realized I will have to consciously work towards make it easier for both of us. And months down the line, after a lot of effort I could successfully stay away for a week last month. Here are few tips that worked for me and worth giving a try –

  1. Familiarity: Familiarity always breeds comfort. Sometimes, it gets difficult for adults to adjust to unfamiliar situations, leave alone the little ones who consider their parents to be their whole world. It is very important to keep one familiar person constant, be it one of the grandparents or a caregiver. It is inevitable that your absence is bound to make a difference in the mood of the baby, but good news is babies forget everything too soon if they are comfortable with the surrounding. So, if there is a routine around a constant person, it makes things easier. Also, keeping security objects close to the baby (any favorite toy, blanket etc) makes them feel secured.
  2. Reassurance : As a practice, I have played the game of “Peekaboo” with V right since she started being cognizant of her surroundings. The whole idea behind it was to reinforce the idea that even if she cannot see me for a while, she would know that I will be back. Also, when I am home and my husband is in office, I make video calls to him and let V interact with him(although she would any way get to see him in the evening) so that when I do the same while I am away on work trips, she doesn’t long for me and wouldn’t cry during the video calls.
  1. Good bye Rituals: Good byes should be kept short and sweet. If you linger , the transition time will linger too and make things more difficult eventually. As a practice, I try to keep my departure at the same time every day. So, we follow a ritual of her bidding me goodbye at the door and then she heads out straight to the bath. Gradually, she has realized that there is something to look forward to after Mommy is off to work.
  2. Keeping promises: We all feel heartbroken when promises are not kept, don’t we? These little darlings are no different and rather more vulnerable. So, whenever you promise that you will be back by 6 pm, try to keep it. If you promise to come back with a toy, then do it. This mostly makes a difference to toddlers because they understand what you say and actually look forward to your commitments. Keeping promises helps build trust and credibility with your child.
  3. Customized approach: Every child is different. What works for my baby may not work for you and therefore, you need to keep trying until you are successful. Lot of people insist on letting the baby sleep in a different room in order to build a sense of independence. It never worked with me and I never had the courage to let her be out of my sight through the night but if it does for you, go for it. I have believed in attachment parenting and I always ensure someone is around her at all times until she maybe learns to speak for herself.
  4. Practice distance: Even when you are home, try and practice staying apart while the baby engages in fun activities. I typically like to send her for playdates with other toddlers (of course under supervision of adults) or leave her with grandparents for an hour or so. This helps in adaptability with new faces and gradually they learn to enjoy some time off familiar faces.
  5. Do not impose the concept of “No crying” – According to me, crying is not a negative trait by any means. It is just a way of expressing an emotion and babies have every right to express their displeasure regarding something, The ability to be aware and express the feelings itself is a major milestone and an important emotional foundation. While, we mothers can’t stop feeling guilty about it, babies outgrow this feeling very soon(unless the baby is sick or has any other problem). So, next time the baby cries when you are stepping out, give her a tighter hug and say ‘goodbye’. She will be fine with the care giver, trust me. Just make sure she is comfortable with the care giver on normal days.

While I am no child psychiatrist, I can say that most of these things worked for me and the suggestion are purely based on personal experiences.

DOES BEING A MOMMY MAKE YOU MORE EMPLOYABLE?

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We have heard enough of how motherhood is a big hindrance to the quintessential career woman. Well, to think of it, it is undoubtedly a very big challenge to manage a flourishing career with a baby yet being a mother actually necessitates a whole barrage of highly employable skills and competencies which can only benefit a career woman.

While we may not consciously acknowledge or recognize the ways we have up skilled ourselves, I think it is very important that the same should be broadcasted to the world. Who knows our potential future employers might be able to identify with our skill set better after reading this!  I am going to write on 7 most important skills that we develop as mothers that actually give us an edge over our colleagues at the workplace.

  1. Time Management: Yes, this is the primary skill which makes us superwomen. None of us feel we have enough time to complete all the tasks in a day but as moms, we have mastered the art of meeting deadlines and magically completing all the tasks despite the uncertain circumstances. Like many other moms, I too mentally scan the whole day in advance every morning and divide activities in neat slots nearly perfecting the ambition of task completion by end of the day.
  2. Planning and Priority Setting: Yes, even without a scheduler, we manage to feed, wash, clean and complete all the important tasks with no qualms. And when we’re able to mentally plan and juggle these tasks throughout the day, we’re adeptly sorting out which ones are priority to us and which ones can be postponed for later. As a trainer myself, I have done multiple sessions on planning and prioritization for the employees in my organization but lately I realized that post motherhood, I have found new effective tricks to manage gaps, assemble activities and schedule tasks.
  3. Crisis Management: How you deal with crises is a big deal in Corporate life. As a mother, we already are experts in being on top of situational awareness, adaptability and conflict management. These are the most important skills required to deal with any kind of crisis at work and having developed these can actually put us in a pedestal at the workplace.
  4. Negotiation: Any parent who has survived the baby is definitely a pro at convincing an unreasonable person to do what they want. While we get to develop this skill absolutely for free, there is no denying to the fact that it has been developed during the toughest of times. So, negotiating with stubborn people would be a cakewalk for us now.
  5. Change Management: With a baby, every day is a new experience. We cannot predict what is coming our way next but dealing with these uncertain requirements every single day makes us a stone wall ready to take any kind of hit. This is a huge plus for the Corporate employees and in the current scenario, something that should go right on the top of our CV.
  6. Problem Solving : If you have more than one child, you probably practise this every single day. Babies and children always present an endless list of problems that need solving and with multiple children, you possibly got an added flavor of conflict management as well. Starting with sleep training to fixing broken toys, our minds are programmed in such a way that we literally figure out a solution for every problem that crops up.
  7. Communication : The other day during a fun Friday at work, we were playing a game of Dumb Charades. Bam, I was a pro at it. Thanks to all the non-verbal cues I pick up every single day from my darling daughter. Dealing with a baby helps us realize that language is not a barrier. It makes us more positive, empathetic and effective in both verbal and non-verbal communication. It also brings out a great listener in us, after all listening to the endless blabbering and answering repetitive questions is a test of patience that we can pass only with experience.

Personally, I think I learnt better in my motherhood journey than all the management lessons put together during my Business school days.:D

I hope you mommies find this useful as well!

Being an effective interviewer

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While most of us have always been dreading interviews and the anxiety associated with the possibility of rejection, believe it or not there are many occasions when it gets equally uncomfortable for the person on the other side of the table. Yes, we often assume that the interviewer is an extremely knowledgeable person who is just going to grill us through the interaction despite our best efforts to appear confident. Trust me, an interview is just like any other conversation and even the most extrovert person is not necessarily a good conversationalist.Being an HR professional myself, I know it comes with a lot of practice and the skills developed actually help in various other aspects of life as well. Here are 7 points to be considered by inexperienced hiring managers for conducting successful interviews –

  1. Know your audience: It is always wiser to go through the profiles of the candidates beforehand to understand their background. This create a sense of familiarity at your end and helps fill the awkward silence in the conversations.
  2. Create a conducive environment: One can create a comfortable environment only by matching the level of the interviewee in terms of the tone, energy, style and to a certain extent, the mood e.g a fresher from college is likely to be more innovative, energised and more aware of the latest updates while an experienced person might have more knowledge about his work but not about the latest trends . Bringing the subject to ease always leads to a successful interview. 
  1. Start with open ended questions: Start with the background of the person and let him/her explore the areas that he/she wants to elaborate on. This creates a sense of confidence in the subject which leads to a more fruitful conversation. It is rude to ask direct questions on marital status, religious preferences etc , hence it should be limited to the topics which have relevance to the job profile. 
  1. Be a good listener : Being a good listener helps you decide when and how to probe further. It also helps to decide when to move to the next topic without wasting any more time. 
  1. The technique of behavioral event interview : I have used this technique for years and find it very effective. It is about how you must focus on the “How” and not just the “What”. When you talk about particular events and how the task was handled, you don’t merely look at the output and evaluate the person. It gives you an overall idea about the behavioral competencies of the individual. 
  1. Appear curious : Engaging rightly in the conversation is very important. Appearing genuinely eager to understand the perspective of the interviewee establishes a sense of belonging.
  2. Take notes,always: Please do not rely on your memory, written notes are a must. They come really handy when you are evaluating multiple candidates. You can easily do a comparison and it is a more objective approach to the evaluation. Also, when the interviewer takes notes, the interviewee feels satisfied that his points are noted.

Hope these tips help you. Enjoy being on the other side of the table!

DO NOT CRACK THAT INTERVIEW!

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The other day I was reading an article on how your body is actively involved in feeling rejection as much as the mind does – to the extent that you can numb the feeling of rejection with pain medication the very same way as you can suppress a physical pain. I cannot comment much about the science behind it but I found it very interesting because I strongly believe that experiencing rejection is important in life. Hence, I want to share  7 reasons why rejection is a must –

  1. Source of mental power and courage : I know it is the most obvious reason which you would have already guessed but trust me, it is the primary reason why you must accept rejection with pride. Dealing with rejection creates an illusion in your mind that you have seen the worst(which makes the rest of the problems in your life seem very trivial) and overcoming the same gives you an incredible sense of victory and strength.
  2. Psychological Resilience : It increases your ability to successfully adapt to life in the face of social disadvantage or other highly adverse conditions. Embracing such difficult situations will only embolden your mental and social spirit. As they say – “when the going gets tough, the tough get going”.
  3. Have more realistic expectations: Sometimes, we dream and chase infeasible goals. While a rejection acts as a blow, it also helps us manage expectations and aspirations better and have a more realistic approach towards life.
  4. The taste of success is sweeter : Trust me, if you haven’t had failures in life, you cannot appreciate success as much as it deserves. This keeps a check on the complacency in future and also is a reminder for you to work harder towards success every single day.
  5. Cognizance of your weakness : On most occasions, a rejection highlights a weakness that you possess. Always remember, weakness is just the other name of “area of improvement” and awareness of the same is clearly a “strength”. So, work on your area of improvement and convert it to your key strength area!
  6. Feedback : A rejection is a wonderful opportunity to get feedback and understand yourself better. Sometimes, we can’t see things from the perspective of a different person and this is an ideal platform to seek and receive feedback about yourself. It only helps you understand yourself better.
  7. God has other plans for you : No matter how philosophical it may sound, I strongly believe that every rejection leads to a door which opens to better avenues. A better job, a better partner, a better college, something/someone definitely better suited for you awaits you, go for it!

 So , next time you get rejected, do not brood over it! Thank your stars and move on!

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