Thursday, February 28, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

When Life is Hectic

Every morning after the kids wake up, Yousef goes to preschool while I go to the gym for an hour, get any groceries we need for the house, and run a few more errands. Until 1:30pm, the pace of daily life is good and in most cases, stress-free. The moment I am in the house and caring for two and in many cases three (when my step-daughter is over), life gets hectic, and I get exhausted.

Add that to accumulated sleep-deprivation for the last 8 months and you get an overwhelmed-mama on the loose. By 8pm every night, I'm so out of it, unable to focus and not in the mood to do anything but sleep. This has been the case more often than not these days.

My concern is this: how do you explain to your kids that "mama is just exhausted all the time because she doesn't sleep good", and how do you expect kids to understand that to the point where they change their behaviour?

With my step-daughter who is 8, it was easy to explain that mamas sometimes need a break and when the don't get it, they tend to get exhausted. With my two younger babies (2 years and 8 months), it is impossible. And when both are crying at the same time on a super-high pitch for me to carry them, I know the look on my face and my tone of voice signal a desire to crash. Of course, they pick up on it and increase their wining.  Is it ok to attempt to explain your emotions or physical state to a 2-year-old to get some space?

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Flavour of the Day With Noora

Setting Values For Your Kids

"Determining the values I want for my children is crucial for identifying the kind of parent I want to be," says my life coach. You would think that listing a set of values is easy, but when you think of backing up these values with actions, parenting gets a bit more complicated.

I sat and stared, then stared some more to really think of what I want for my children: religion, honesty, determination, unselfishness, consideration of others and surroundings, appreciation, to know that they need to work hard to be entitled to stuff, compassion with the less fortunate, and compassion with each other and towards their parents. I'm not sure if I am done.

Looking at my list made me realise just how hard raising kids is. Now, all I see most of the time is the difficulty of feeding, bathing, putting to sleep, midnight wake up calls, and a number of other exhausting but somewhat routine actions. Yet, all this and I still haven't reached the values, not the way they deserve to be reached anyways.

The idea is: once you know your values, it will become easier to say: yes, no, let's look into it, this was amazing, this is unacceptable, the consequence of your actions are as follows etc. because you know your end goal. And, it is ok for values to change with time such as when kids grow up.

Try it, it takes a lot of effort and concentration, but it will make you feel empowered in the end. 

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

Sick Mama

When your kids are sick, as the mama, you are expected to leave everything you are doing to attend to their every need. I'm not saying that it is a bad thing, it's nice to feel like the rock of the family, but it would also be nice to get that same treatment.

When you, yourself are sick, the world collapses. Kids, at least my kids, tend to crank up the volume on fussiness and bad moods when they feel I am not feeling well. Suddenly, Yousef wants me to carry him everywhere and cries for just about anything, and Mona crawls behind me crying for me to hold her. With my husband out of town, the load is really heavy!

It's as if they have a 6th sense that tells them: mama needs a break, let's not give it to her! I miss the days when I could call in sick, stay in bed, watch show after show, nap, wake up, and then nap again. Life, even if for a brief moment, can be put on hold.

When you are a mama, school is still on, mama duties are still on, cooking (especially if you have young kids) is still on, and the exhaustion of toddler-bedtime is still on. I honestly believe that god gives mamas strengths that he does not give to anyone else. 

Friday, February 22, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

My Friend is a Bully

What would you do if your child was friends with a bully who was slowly dragging your child into his direction?

The other day, I witness a conversation between a baba and daughter, who was complaining that her friend sometimes pushed her into doing things to other friends she didn't like doing. Saying mean things, plotting not to play with other kids the next day at school, and generally being a not-so-nice person.

In my opinion, while boys may bully physically, girls bully on an emotional and psychological level that is just as harmful if not more. That said, do you forbid your child from seeing this bullying friend again? Explain to her that this behaviour is wrong and that she must try to change her friend (since she loves her so much)? Or put consequences for your child if they were to follow that kind of unacceptable behaviour again?

I think one of the worst things your child can turn into is a bully, what do you do when you find out he is one?!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

The Big Green Monster

How do you deal with jealousy between siblings. Both my kids are relatively small, Yousef is 2 years while Mona is 8 months. Yousef is a character, funny, easy-going, easy to please, innocent and very passive. Mona, while still very young, has a really strong affirmative personality. If she doesn't want something, it will NOT happen. 

While Yousef has his own fans, Mona is slowly gaining popularity, a reality that is driving Yousef crazy. Hitting her, biting her, throwing things at her, you name it. And if Mona does something cute, you know he will copy her. If Mona does something she is not supposed to, you know he will copy her  too.

I feel so sorry for him when I see the look on his face when all eyes are on her yet, I never agreed with the idea of ignoring one child for the sake of the other. I might be wrong.

What should I do when both are around and is there such a thing as equal attention? Should I warn people not to give her too much attention when he is around or is it just a reality he must get used to?

Friday, February 15, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

Some men, specifically some babas, underestimate how much they can help with the kids and how much their help can really save mamas. I don't know the reason behind it but more often than not, I hear some babas say that it is "not their jobs" to help care for their kids when it comes to feeding, bathing, dressing, sleeping and all other "treats" mamas have to deal with a million times a day.

What I have learned is that this kind of help not only saves mamas from insanity and stress, it also saves marriages and adds a sense of partnership, appreciation and commitment like no other. Babas are great, babas work hard for their families, babas add a sense of safety, babas carry the burden of providing for their households, no one can replace babas. However, when a mama is at home all day, caring for her children, barely engaging in adult conversation and puts her own life on hold for the "benefit of her children and family", the daily tasks and responsibilities can take away a piece of her, and with baba's help, she can feel that she is not alone. 

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Flavour Of The Day With Noora

If having kids sometimes makes you question what kind of a mama you are, being a step-mama makes you question what kind of a person you are. Am I loyal? Am I honest? Am I realistic? Am I compassionate? Am I considerate? Am I selfish? Am I mean? Am I kind? Am I fair? Am I biased? Am I committed? Am I...?

Being a step-mama is by far one of the hardest and most challenging things I have ever had to do. There is no right formula; and while being a mama gives you some wiggle room here and there for trial and error, being a step-mama cannot handle too many mistakes. I have been a step-mama in training for the past three years now, and in all honesty, the challenge is as strong now as it has been on day 1.

In our communities, step-mamas are stereotyped. I cannot tell you how many ridiculous things complete strangers at doctors' offices, dinners etc, have told me. Ridiculous questions in hopes for even more ridiculous answers. And so, step-mamas are afraid to talk about the issues they are facing.

Having a step-mom myself, I can honestly say that these stereotypes are meaningless. Getting help in being a step-mama is the most important thing you can do for your family. Whether through a psychologist, life coach, a close family member or anyone who has your family's best interest at heart, asking for help is not shameful. It only makes you that much stronger and that much committed to your family.  

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Working Mama

What do you do when your toddler simply will not let you work? As a writer, I need a lot of peace, concentration and continuity. Things my toddler is refusing to provide.

The moment I sit on my computer he wants to hold my hand, sit in my lap, nags and wines and does anything he can to distract me. Do I stay tough, let him cry and hope that eventually he will learn that "mama has work and you have to play on your own?"

I have once been interviewed on radio and asked that very question:" which is right: working or being a full-time mama?" My answer at that moment was:"find the right balance for you, there is no right and wrong!" While I still believe in that, it becomes increasingly difficult to toughen up and watch your child cry and cry over you ignoring the guilt.

My question is: if I let him cry hoping that he will eventually understand, am I harming him?

Monday, February 4, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora


How do you console your child if you were unfair to him? As a parent of an 8-yearold, 2-year-old and 8-month-old, I can easily say that as a parent, I don't always do the right thing. I might not give my child the right amount of attention he needs because I am busy, say "no" to things that should have been "ok" after thinking about it, or be strict about things that are not such a big deal at that moment like "cleaning-up".

Then, I find myself regretting my decision and thinking of a way to make it up for my child. However, I almost never know how.

Is going back and giving your child what he wanted in the first place a good idea or should it be postponed to a later occurrence?

Is bending the rules now and then right if you explain that it is an exception or are one-time exceptions confusing for children?

Is it ok for a parent to change her/his mind or should parents always stick to their decisions?

I worry that being strict and uncompromising is only teaching my child to be exactly that, even though what I really want him to understand is that rules are rules. But, I also worry that changing my mind and giving in is teaching him that if he just pushes a little bit more, he will get away with it.

What is the right thing here?

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Flavour of the Day with Noora

Scary Medication

Yousef is sick again; an ear infection and a terrible cough! The medication prescribed by his doctor, which is supposed to make him better, is scaring me more than the illness itself. "Undesirable side effects: nausea, vomiting, rash, anorexia, diarrhoea, and heart palpitations,"to name a few. The most pleasant and comforting of them all, "hearing loss"!!! How scary is that?!

How am I supposed to ask my son to open his mouth and take it when so many negative things can happen. And yes, I know, most side effects are rare, but they are still a possibility.

Medications and vaccines scare me. On the other hand, he is coughing so strong that he vomits from that as well. Poor kid, I hope it passes.