28th May 2016: Another Year Loved….

Today is my birthday and it’s time to truly reflect and be thankful. For those wanting a soppy read here goes….

As much as I truly like to focus on the present, I love looking back at the past. I see my childhood, my teens and my early twenties. I see hard times and unforgettably great times. I see love and heartbreak. Of course it is all these memories that makes me who I am today.

I am the first born and having a first born, I now understand all the hype that goes with it. I am blessed. Born to Mauritian parents who (I hope they don’t mind me saying) are complete polar opposites – but hey, we know that works! Like all parents, they have always strived to put their children first. They are both grafters, where nothing has come easy in life, yet, as a family unit – happiness has never left us. Sure, there were hard times, there have been and still is illness, but, we have overcome the worst and that is something I will never forget. As a child, I was always made to feel special and given the opportunity to have a voice in whatever the situation. I have spent a lot of time with my hero – my dad, who has taught me to be confident and thoughtful. I have learnt that, no matter what you are faced with, you make the best out of the situation. Keep smiling and the world smiles with you. My mum has inspired me to be an independent woman, to persevere with a career and to work hard. She is also a traditionalist, who continuously reminds me to ensure my husband is well looked after. But, that’s something I don’t need reminding about…

Roysan Ramachandran was the first to give me butterflies in my stomach. It was Fresher’s week and there was an event at the Ministry of Sound in Elephant and Castle. He had the worst chat up line – ever! It was so weird that he made me laugh and he immediately had my attention. After a few exchanges of conversation, each filled with laughter, we met again at another event – Fuse at Kings College London. This time, he insisted that I danced with him, so I did and we finally exchanged numbers. Unlike the others that I had stumbled across in my late teens, he kept me on my toes. I could never (and still can’t) predict his next move but each one consists of an abundance of love. He is certainly different. He won my parents over very quickly and that’s because of his soft nature and kind heart and well I…I was besotted. 

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We were married after five whole years together. Looking back, the wedding was so over the top, but rightly so. Roy is an only child and I’m the first daughter in the family to be wed. We had a civil ceremony in the UK, where we invited probably half of Sri Lanka and the religious ceremony in Mauritius, again where probably half the country attended. Both events were grand. We went all out. The wedding in Mauritius was even more memorable as our close friends flew out. They joined us for two weeks, where they were introduced to the nuttiest of family members and not forgetting of course; Mauritian rum.

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Returning to the UK as newlyweds, Roy insisted moving straight to the flat to start our lives together. Traditionally a new bride would go to her in-laws first (even though I never said it) – he knew that wasn’t what I wanted. I understood then, even after five years of being with him, that he would always put me first. And so he has. Thirteen years later, he does the same thing. Now, with our own little fan club, he puts us all before himself. He is the most selfless person I know and I love him dearly.

32 years on this earth and I am incredibly thankful. I am honoured to be surrounded by so much love. I never in my wildest dreams imagined that I would have a mini ‘Roy and Tash’. Life has never been so exciting and I thoroughly look forward to the years ahead.

Thank you to all, who are always there, you know who you are….

“I will live for today and be thankful for a tomorrow”

Tasharama x

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The ‘R’ Word

The ‘R’ word – ‘Routine’ has to be the buzzword for all parents. If you’re a new mother, then books like ‘The contented little baby’ by Gina Ford and ‘The happiest baby on the block’ by Harvey Karp may be familiar. I can recall feeling quite positive in setting the routine before Reeyan was born. I was so confident that I only skimmed through the books. Then he arrived…There wasn’t quite the regimental schedule I had in mind. Despite Reeyan being quite a rebellious newborn, a routine was still in place and thankfully so, as Leela subtly fitted around it when she was born later that year.

I am able to enjoy a meal and even an episode on Netflix with Roy pretty much every evening. That is simply because the R word is in place. I have heard some comments like “does that mean the babies are not able to enjoy an evening out with you?”

“No”, Sleep is the most important part of a child’s development and sacrificing ‘taking them out in the evening’ is something we are willing to do, well for now!

I’m not going to bore you with intrinsic detail of the routine and helpful must-haves (but for those who are interested, there is a pdf attached!) I have summarised only a few of the advantages and disadvantages above. But let’s look at it in a bit more detail.

Disadvantages of the routine

Starting with the cons of having a routine in place. On separate note, I thought this would be the harder section to write. Turns out it’s not!

I know this now from hindsight. The routine has to be a  regimental one, because in order for it to work, you have to stick with it. That is from the moment your baby is placed in your humble arms at birth. The second time round, I knew exactly what I was doing and that was feeding her every two hours and putting her down every 45 minutes. Did you know a newborn cannot stay awake longer than 25-45 minutes? I had no idea with Reeyan :/ We used to feed him, keep him up and wonder why he was so cranky. Then when we tried to put him down, he was so over tired that he fought sleep. Epic fail. But, I was ready for Leela. She responded so well to the routine we set for her. Till this day, 6 months on…we’re doing the same thing.

By doing the same thing, day in, day out, the routine is of course mundane. There are no surprises – apart from when the babies don’t stick to it. The most surprising of the R word is the fact that you’re doing the same thing day in, day out – at home and not at the workplace, the place where you usually carry out mundane tasks. Normally home is associated with ‘spontaneity’ like staying in bed longer than usual or making a marmite and jam sandwich – just for the sake of it. Once the baby arrives, the monotonous duties take over. It is exciting for the first three months but as the critter grows, the boredom of feeds, naps and nappy changes grows with it.

You can work and work at a routine and it will go brilliantly one week but disastrously, the next. It just so happens that sometimes it doesn’t go according to plan. A newborn’s feed time can also take a whole two hours. For example, they may feed a little when they wake up, feed during ‘play time’ and then feed a little more before their next nap. In my experience, when a schedule is set up with another party, they usually cooperate with full attention. If for some reason they are absent, or fail to collaborate, full communication is usually provided. This, ladies and gentlemen is what happens in the adult world. However, there is no such exchange within the adult and child world. Actually, I tell a lie, we all know the sound of it. It’s usually a loud cry. And that my friends, confirms, that no matter how hard you’ve worked at constructing this amazing life-saving schedule, they don’t always play ball. When things do go smoothly however, it usually has an impact on your social life.

It is to be expected, that you’re no longer going to be able to walk out of the door on your own without feeling the heavy emotions of responsibilities. Your social life, indeed, takes a turn. There used to be social interactions, every part of the day. Whether it is sitting in silence on the London underground (!) or getting your morning coffee at your usual caffeine joint, it happened. Now, you’re in the confines of home. As lovely as this may be, the only communication you’re getting is either from Mr Tumble on CBeebies or screeching cries. It gets better as they become toddlers. There is an abundance of communication at this age and its all very funny stuff. At the moment Reeyan can be mistakenly heard for saying boobies instead CBeebies oh and don’t get me started when he says ‘fork’.

Thankfully, we have our close friends who have also had babies. This helps loads. We are all in the same boat in life and so there are tons to talk about. The problem is however, there isn’t much time to do that. When Reeyan was around 3 months old, I started taking him to baby rhyme time, a baby group focussed on singing nursery rhymes. He enjoyed it and with the sleep he had after it – I enjoyed it too. However, I wouldn’t say that I enjoyed being around other mothers…there, I said it. I didn’t want to talk about the age of my child, how much he sleeps or eats and his developmental stages. It’s a comparative conversation and it made me uncomfortable. Back to the routine, your social life is undeniably affected, as you will consciously make plans around your baby’s sleep times. One piece of advice I will give, no matter how hard it is, don’t give into missing social gatherings as a result of your babies routine. Always try and work around it, as it is these times that can definitely make you feel yourself again. When this happens, you even feel a sense of success; so much so, you begin to reap the rewards of the routine.

Advantages of the routine

 I’m going to put the fact that the routine is regimental into this subheading too as it has it’s benefits. Because you are conscious of the routine, which should be quite rigorous, your day tends to go accordingly. You know what you’re doing next. If you’re anything like me, this can give you a sense of security. As you have, well, you think you have some form control.

The beauty about a well-developed schedule is that eventually your baby will have an understanding of it all. They will instigate the next part on the agenda even if you just so happen to forget. The most rewarding of all is the fact that they will start to feel sleepy at the right times, which is comforting to them and you. Behaviour is predictable as a result, for example, you will know for sure why your say 4 month old is cranky straight away and that’s because their naptime has been delayed. Now 20 months on, Reeyan understands that 12pm is his naptime. There are a series of cues I give him daily, which he associates with sleep time. For example I would say “Lets say goodnight to the TV” and so he would happily press the red button on the remote, as we move through the house towards his bedroom, we’ll say “Goodnight” to the kitchen, the front door, the bathroom and eventually to mummy.

As a mother of two, time is of the essence and the routine makes the notion of time manageable. You finally have the time to do the dishes, sterilise the bottles and even prepare dinner. Pushing it, you may even be able to paint your toenails but that’s a long shot.

I could seriously understand the benefits of a strict routine after giving birth to my Leela. It is life saving when you have more than one child. Leela fitted perfectly into our day. Don’t get me wrong, she added a whole new dimension to things but as a result, our day is more structured. It has for sure, given me my sanity and I wouldn’t change that for the world.

There are many pros and cons of the routine. Having more than one child can be testing, especially, if they are both under the age of two. To be fully immersed into a routine and to reap it’s rewards, it has to be quite rigid in the beginning. Your lifestyle is indeed affected as well as your social life and sometimes it doesn’t always go to plan. Perseverance is what you need – so keep at it! Once you’ve clocked it, you’ll be sipping a glass of wine in front of the TV in the evenings, with only the humming of the dishwasher catching your ear.

The Routine and Must-Haves

My 7 Steps to Happiness…

There was always something about my appearance and weight that I needed to perfect, the numbers on the scale and my dress size forever governed me. Before children, I spent my life attempting fad diets, slogging away at the gym and forever beautifying myself with regular trips to the salon. There is no such time nowadays and this is something that has seriously hit home. There is no time for myself anymore. Any time I do get, I spend cleaning, washing, ironing, sweeping the only ‘ing’ I’m not doing is ‘REST’. As bitter as this may sound, I wouldn’t have it any other way. BUT…. and that’s a big but (pun fully intended)…I would dearly love to get back into those jeans.

Like a teenager finding herself, at the age of 32, I feel the memories of many insecurities rushing back. This time however, I’m much better at dealing with those feelings. I live by a few simple rules and I hope to keep it up as it is proving to be quite effective. Hold tight, they are deep… here goes:

  1. Gratitude

    Every morning, I give thanks. I’m thankful to be waking up, to be seeing my children, to be in love. I am thankful for my loving parents. I am even thankful for the fat around my belly because it reminds me that I only just gave birth to my princess 6 months ago. It is simply being thankful and grateful for everything that surrounds me. Don’t get me wrong, there are times when it is incredibly hard to see the positive but lone behold, there is one. Even if it is small – It still exists.

    Off on a tangent now… I beat myself up over the topic of religion. Whilst being born into a Hindu family, the term ‘god’ is regularly used. Whether it is our parents going to the temple or prayers celebrating holy days at home – Hinduism is very much a way of life. However, I can’t say that I accept all teachings of the religion. As a child, I simply followed my elders who kept telling me to be always thankful to god.

    I guess growing up, philosophical thinkers like Descartes and his famous proposition “I think therefore I am” have become more prominent in my way of life. The existential father himself – Kierkegaard’s main teachings explain that the meaning of life solely depends on the individual and not society or religion. He also highlights that one should live life with passion and sincerity – A man after my own heart. What I’m trying to say is that my learning will never stop, I will never have enough knowledge. ‘I think, therefore I exist’. I have the power to change my reality. Gratitude and sincerity is my way forward. I will never ask, I will always be thankful, to those around me, thankful for my thoughts and  more importantly for my being.

  2. No Regrets

    I was quite the wild child as a teenager. I have a daughter now and it sends shivers down my spine knowing that one day she too will be under the spell of these volatile hormones. Hopefully she deals with it better than I did. Whether it is the inevitable learning curves of ‘teenagehood’ or the blunders of early adulthood, I have not one iota of regret in life. There have been ‘earth swallow me up’ moments but I will relive and accept them. For it is what makes me the person I am today. I will happily teach my children this, whether they choose to accept it or not.

  3. Live for the day

    Even the term ‘Control freak’ doesn’t quite do it justice. ‘Living for the day’ was something that I could never understand. I was never spontaneous. Everything had to be planned. Until that is, I met my Royboy. He taught me to take every day as it comes and to relax. He is definitely the yin to my yang. We are polar opposites, chalk and cheese but there is thankfully a balance.

    One thing for sure, I now have no choice whatsoever but to live life for the day. With two little critters, there is no possibility in planning the day or the weekend for that matter, as anything – be it tonsillitis or poop on the car seat can totally change the course of the day. Apart from the obvious body changes and the scarce matter of time, I think this concept has to be the most testing as a new parent. I admit…I still have a problem with spontaneity, but I’m working on that.

    Carpe Diem all …..

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Me and my yin
  1. Keep moving

    I love to exercise, I loved PE as a child and I adored getting out on my bike. Thanks to my ever so loving dad, I learnt to ride my bike at 4 years old. One of the first things I did after getting my first part time job was to join the gym and I haven’t left it since. Any difference in the weighing scale, I would exert myself silly on the treadmill. I realise now that problems with my weight was all in my head, maybe even edging on obsessive.

    Boy did my attitude change after the kids. It is no way about the weight gain or loss any more but how much I’m moving. I am very lucky to have my parents round the corner so at least twice a week I am able to get my gym fix. This usually involves circuit training or when I feel like totally de-stressing – a long run on the treadmill. When I’m not going to the gym I’m not overly concerned as I’m constantly on the move with the two demanding, mini, squealing personal fitness trainers I have at home.

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  2. Love Food

    Throughout my crazy diet fads which include fasting on odd days, meat free days and  not forgetting the gluten free craze, I’ve realised I can’t avoid the inevitable. I love food. Unfortunately as a migraine sufferer there are some foods that I have to avoid – particularly processed foods. However, cooking isn’t my forte and it never has been. I have come to terms that it never will be either. I cook for the sake of eating sometimes, awful thing to admit, but it’s a fact. It doesn’t mean that I don’t like food! I adore it! I was brought up in a household with amazing cooks. Mum makes traditional indo-Mauritian cuisine all very yummy. Dishes include all types of daals, biriyanis, roughais, seafood, traditional greens and bread. The yummiest of dishes, is the simplest. It is something that my mum had as a child during the post-cyclonic times in Mauritius – bouillon cresson (watercress broth), sachini coco (coconut chutney) and pomme de terre frite (lightly fried potatoes) all served with boiled rice- yes double carbs! Dad has always cooked the best chicken curry, the perfect dish to have on a cold winter’s day or even a hot summer one – there’s always time for chicken curry! My parents have taught me a few things about eating. Firstly, always keep a fully stocked kitchen (which is usually over stocked), secondly, eat fresh with loads of greens and finally, indulge wherever possible with thorough enjoyment.

    Bon appétit!

  3. Drink Water (and champagne)

    I would’ve much rather reached for a cup of tea or coffee than good old H2O. Ridiculous, I know. We are 80% water and I never drank nearly as much as I should. Even with eating and exercising well, I wasn’t thirsty. I got myself into a terrible habit of satisfying whatever thirst I had with caffeine, squash or yes…coke. I was feeling tired, my body ached and until only recently, I needed to make that change.

    At least 2 litres of water a day, is what I get through now. Partly why I didn’t drink enough water was because if it wasn’t a hot summers day (which is hardly ever), I hated cold water. Odd I know. It took me years to work out what I needed to do.

    Amazon is the best, it’s like a sweet shop for adults and whatever idea I have in mind, I see if it’s available on Amazon. I found a BPA-free bottle (Bisphenol A – a chemical used to make certain platics) big enough to fill my daily intake of water. A 2-litre bottle, it looks like a mini water cooler and it does the trick. I am guaranteed to finish it by the evening. I’m used to the toilet trips now (it’s just like being pregnant again!) And I’m feeling full of energy.

    My dearest friends and family can vouch, as there are plenty of memorable nights out, picnics in the park, barbecues in the summer and Christmas parties to reminisce on – I love a good get together with plenty of food and more importantly – drink!

    Champagne has always been my vice, it has gotten me into enough trouble in the last 10 years, yet I believe there’s no party without it. It’s one of those drinks that makes me feel beautiful whilst drinking it…crazy?! It’s the long, slender flutes, bubbles and the crisp taste on my lips with every sip. Even writing about it, makes me want to grab a glass. No, I don’t have a drink problem; I’m just very passionate about the bubbly. So much so, for my first baby shower – Möet was served on tap – even though I couldn’t sip one bit of it. I’ve even managed to convert my whiskey- drinking husband to join me on the bubbly bandwagon.

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The last is the most important to me, it sums up everything and everyone who is part of my life. To me, it makes my world go round:

  1. Put yourself in other’s shoes

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Psychologists and philosophers call this the ‘theory of mind’ and we start to display knowledge of this from the age of four years old. It is the ability to put oneself into the thought processes of others, specifically determining their intent, beliefs and desires. I want to highlight that four year olds can do it. Unfortunately as we age, our innocence lessens and our empathic intelligence also tends to fade. This is of no surprise as we are constantly bombarded with the duties of work and home. Time is of essence. By putting oneself in other’s shoes, there is immediate acknowledgment of ways to help. Even if it’s simply opening an ear, nothing is more fulfilling than being the charitable neighbour or I quite like the term ‘shoe-shifter’.

To summarise my way to happiness: Live for the moment, eating and drinking to your ‘well exercised’ heart’s content. Be conscious of others and never forget to be grateful for all that you have.