And after a hiatus of a month after our Bingo Challenge, things are back to normal and it’s time for you to meet your first host for LORM’s July Challenge.
If you are new, Life of Real Moms is a fortnight long, prompt based Photo Challenge that happens every month on Instagram with the objective of building a community, and you can read all about how it started and how you can play along, by clicking here. As a part of this challenge, every month two or more Insta-Moms will bring to you a lovely theme-based photo contest with exciting prizes and fun games.
Say hello to..
Anjana is a mom who wears many hats, some of which she crochets herself at mADe With Love! RJ AJ, as she was also known on Radio Mirchi, parents Lishaan & Isha by day, and blogs at TheLazyParentGuide.com by night.
Let’s get to know Anjana a little better.
Tell us about your decision to move to a small town and live a slow life.
Anjana says, “Frankly, it wasn’t a choice that I made intentionally. Our move to Theni reiterates the fact that we should be open in accepting change as it comes. I was a city girl through and through, and shifting to a ‘smaller city’ like Theni was a game changer and along with it came the opportunity to slow down. After living a very fast paced life in Chennai and then moving to Coimbatore, I realized that the children deserve time and space. I grew up lazily, spending days in the sun carelessly floating around. I wanted the kids to experience the same. Both my husband and I knew that it wouldn’t be possible in a cluttered space (this might just be our opinion, no offense to major city dwellers) and Theni came as a welcome change. A beautiful house (another icing on the cake) with lots of open space, literally no traffic or high rise buildings and a lifestyle that thrives on basics; what more could one gift their children in the early years?”
You & your husband run a business together along with homeschooling two young children. How does that work?
Anjana says, “Dhana and I both come from a background where education was a holistic and fun experience. We weren’t ever troubled for marks or mastering a subject against our interest. So, it was natural that we wanted to give the children that space as well. Lishaan and Isha have an age gap of just two years and together they are constantly exploring and learning newer things. Our decision to leave a corporate job was mainly to be with the kids a lot more and our family business was the perfect platform for that. We had the challenge of building our own brand (our third baby, we call it) and at the same time giving a different perspective to parenting. When it comes to homeschooling, I believe that all kids are unschooled/ given scope of free play till they are about 5. That was the case when we were kids. Living in a city where there isn’t too much of a bustle and there’s a lot of nature around, we got the kids to learn the first basic – living locally. Recently, Lishaan has started attending a preschool to engage with other kids. I consider this another experiment in our homeschooling journey. Whether he wants to continue going to school or would like to be free without structure, lies in his hands.”
What are your favourite clean eating tips?
Anjana says, “We all think we eat clean. If we eat a burger, we try to walk a bit more or do some more home-work to burn it off. But what we forget is that clean eating isn’t a diet or a restriction. It is a lifestyle that our forefathers have followed with tremendous success. I chanced up this whole deal after complaining to my best friend about being too unfit to even run behind my kids. She suggested I talk to a nutritionist and figure out what I was eating wrong. Turns out, I was eating almost the right stuff but didn’t understand how to control portions or balance the ‘macros.’ My favourite clean eating tips that I have learnt and followed religiously are:
- Eat local – South Indians digest rice better than rotis. It is in our make. We cannot eat pastas and noodles all through the week even if it were homemade. It simply isn’t ‘our’ geographic choice.
- Eat fresh – Try and eat fresh meals and remove the need to microwave food. Best is to eat food within 2 hours of preparing it. At least 2 out of 3 main meals have to be freshly consumed.
- Eat smaller meals – this isn’t a fancy phrase! If you eat smaller meals, you feel fuller all day long and there isn’t unnecessary craving to binge.”
Do you miss the work & fame that went with being RJ AJ? Would you go back once the kids are older?
Anjana says, “Oh I loved the magic and thrill of being on air. I was a very shy RJ, not very keen on letting my face do the talking. But I loved yapping away on air. It was a different world altogether. I would love to go back to radio one day. This time, I have a different purpose – that of bringing a change in the lives of women and mothers. If not radio, why not podcasts? ;)”
What are your top tips for handling two children with very similar ages? Would you recommend it to other moms planning a second child?
Anjana says, “Everything has its own pros and cons. With two children of very similar age, I find it easier. They are perfect company for each other and their understanding and interests are along the same lines. More so, I found it easier to raise Isha because she had a very, very adaptable role model in Lishaan. I think it is among the most sensible decisions I have made in my life. 😛
As for recommending it to other parents, I would leave it to them. Everyone has different variables that move their lives and while one thing works for me, it might not for others. Siblings? Yes! I would definitely recommend parents to have more than one kid, but the age gap is theirs to decide. I know parents with children who are born 6-9 years apart and they seem to think that worked out very well for them!”
Talk us through your postpartum struggles and why you share the difficult times on your blog.
Anjana says, “Isha’s birth and almost the entire year from there was an eye opening experience for me. I was a fierce advocate of ‘do it yourself/seek less help’ but what I forgot was that my children weren’t ready for that. I remember that I had to start cooking three days after Isha was born. THAT despite having a cook. I thought I had almost everything in control and worst was when everyone around me kept praising me for the brilliant work I was doing in handling a newborn and a toddler all by myself in a city that wasn’t ‘home’ for me. But inside, I was crumbling by the hour.
I went through episodes of crying and anger but people labelled it as fatigue and adjusting period. Truth was I was extremely overloaded and most of it was my doing. I tried to cope up really well. We took flights right from when Isha was 40 days old – just the two kids and I. But what was missing was a lot of empathy and support. I was functioning on very high expectations.
When Isha was about 4 months, a comment from an acquaintance on how I was raising my children broke it for me. I was shattered to see that the world didn’t see all the strength and grit I was putting in. That event sent me into PTSD and it was downhill from there. Yet, no one knew. Because they only knew an Anjana was the ‘supermom’ and the ‘rockstar’.
End of October, I was sobbing my eyes out at my gynaec’s clinic because I just couldn’t handle it anymore. All this, because the world only knows what you tell them. I started talking about my issues and struggles because I wanted moms to know that it is more than okay to talk about your struggles. Otherwise, people don’t know what you are going through. Even your husband won’t.
The more I shared, the more it became easier for me. I was no longer living up to the ‘perfect’ image and it was a huge relief. THAT is what I want people who read my posts and blogs to know and understand.”
What do you love the most about Instagram? How has it changed your life?
Anjana says, “I took to Instagram because work demanded it. It was just another social media platform that I had to add content to. But what got me hooked on was being able to share my view of the world, no matter how blurry or hazy it was! Pictures narrate a completely different story and I love that open ended aspect of Instagram. Plus, images are memories that everyone cherishes. From sharing my cooking experiments to my birth stories, Instagram has become ‘my space’ and without it I do feel a bit incomplete. Having said that, I have learnt that not everything you see is as it is. There’s a reel life and a real life and a successful Instagram-er is one (according to me) who manages to keep it as real as possible.”
Have you been subject to mom judgement online? How did you deal with it?
Anjana says, “Like I mentioned above, the online world has two kinds of people – the ones who keep it super real and the ones who make us believe in fairy tales. Judgement happens here. And it is not someone else judging you, but an internal conflict of sorts. “Am I good mother?”, “I can’t even do stuff for my kids like that mom does. How good am I?”, ‘God, I can’t even bake my son’s birthday cake like her. Cha!” are some of the thoughts that have crossed my mind and believe me that can be a very bothersome experience.
We quickly tend to arrive at a conclusion that what we see online is 100% truth. Most of it might be, but we don’t know the background of it all. I have never been subject to judgement online, because I choose to share with the world only what needs to be out there. I don’t have to ask Instagram what floor detergent my home needs, do I?
But yes, the one occasion it did happen was when I shared about my homeschooling ideas online. I had quite a few people advising me on how ‘the child needs space’ and maybe I would benefit too from sending him to school. Now that we are sending him to school, I get questions (not too many) like ‘OMG! What happened to your homeschooling goals?’ People need to chill. Liking someone’s pictures and following their handle doesn’t entitle you to becoming an active part of their lives. Right?”
How do you manage to keep it real when you look at other’s seemingly perfect lives on Instagram?
Anjana says, “Why a person is on Instagram is their own choice. Some are online to simply share things that they see or perceive. Some because they want to show a slice of their lives and some others because it is another arm to their marketing skills. I belong to the second category. When I had Isha, I literally had no friends around who could guide me through or tell me how things would be. Everyone had only rosy pictures to share and I instantly thought I was the only failure at second time parenting. That’s when I took it upon me to share how my life actually is. Going by the famous meme these days ‘If you can see me on my happy days, you better see me on my worse ones too!’”
On rough days, what keeps you going?
Anjana says, “A LOT of self-talk and some simple routines to de-stress is my secret to surviving rough days. Having two kids to manage single handedly isn’t rocket science and many have done it before me. But my threshold is different and there are days when I am down to the rocks. I live in a very nuclear set up and am on parenting duty from 8am – 9pm almost seven days of the week. This means no breaks at all. Now, this can be VERY upsetting, but my mantra is to do as little as possible on rough days and of course, what I always tell my friends – Accept and acknowledge your reality. Once you know what your base line is, working from there is easier. Tantrums, meltdowns, crying episodes, sleep resistance and all of it can be dealt with if you have a less stressed approach.
If someone were to visit your blog for the first time, what would you like them to read first?
Anjana says, “I’d love it if you could start with these:
Thank you for taking the time out to do this. It’s so good to get to know you a little better! We are so happy to have you as a part of the LORM family.
Details of LORM July 2018 will be up soon on LORM’s Instagram! Stay tuned.
for Life of Real Moms.