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.
It’s time to meet the final host for our July Challenge! Say hello to…
Shalu, a mom of 3+ year-old twin daughters works in HR as her profession but is a Teacher and Writer by passion.
A big time foodie, music junkie, and corporate professional by day, and writer by night, she enjoys sharing her views and experiences on Early Leaning, Autism Awareness and Parenting. She blogs at The Dreamer Mum.
Let’s get to know Shalu a little better. See all other hosts for July here.
The Dreamer Mum. Tell us more about what your dreams are made of & how The Dreamer in you was born.
Shalu says, “Born into a family of idealists & principle-oriented parents, I imbibe those traits from my parents – specially my dad. I have grown up reading a lot of diverse world literature, studying History & reading mythology. My idea of the world used to be very bookish & idealistic.
Later, when I grew up & started to experience the world around me, I realized things are not as good as I assumed them to be. Following the footsteps of my parents, I was determined to change things around me that bothered me. That’s how the dreamer in me was born.
I dream to see a world where education is not limited to just books. A world where all kids have access to excellent education, no matter what caste, color or financial background they come from. My dream is to see every individual having an equal opportunity to financial freedom even if they are different from the masses in terms of physical & mental capabilities.”
Why did you choose to blog about early learning?
Shalu says, “The decision to write about Early Education connects back to my dream of all kids having access to an excellent education. Education & learning have nothing to do with school and the spending capacity of parents. Education begins the day a child is born and starts to acquire life skills.
Having a little background of working in a world class organization in the sector of education – Teach for India, I had a bit of knowledge about early learning and development, which I was able to practically put to action when my twins were younger.
I decided to start sharing this knowledge with friends & the parenting community by writing about it. I started with answering queries & writing posts on Facebook communities, parenting apps & platforms and chat groups. With the encouragement of people who benefited from my posts, I started to conduct workshops for toddlers & pre-schoolers, design pre-school curriculum, conduct teacher trainings for early learning centers & eventually started to blog about Early Learning & Education.”
Parenting twins is twice the work. What has been the biggest challenge you have faced?
Shalu says, “During the initial months, the biggest challenge was managing a sleep schedule along with managing twins. My kids were 21 days old when my mom got back to her regular life & I was left alone to handle the responsibility of my kids. Due to non-synced sleep & feeding cycle for the first 7 – 8 months, it was pretty difficult to have uninterrupted sleep and thus that became my biggest challenge. Thankfully, I have a husband who supported me during this phase by gearing up and handling the responsibilities of our kids equally thus sparing me few hours of rest every day.
But in later years, once they started to grow & gain a personality – have choices & opinions, my biggest challenge today is to manage sibling dynamics. Not just with twins, I guess any parents with multiple kids of any age have to face this challenge. All kids are different, their needs are different. Thus as parents we have to play the role of being a mediator between the kids while ensuring that we never compare them, get biased towards one or never let one feel more or less important than the other. Being a just & fair parent is thus one of the biggest challenges I face as a parent of twins.”
You work hard towards creating awareness about Autism. Assuming that we have no idea what it is, what would you like to tell our audience to educate them about it?
Shalu says, “I do not consider myself to be an expert when it comes to a topic like Autism, but when I was faced with situations where ignorance and judgement lead to a lot of hurtful comments, I decided to make it a mission to make all parents I know aware of what Autism is and how it affects the families with a kid on the spectrum, and everyone around.
In simple terms Autism is a neurological disorder that affects the Social & Communication skills of a child. It is not a disease and thus has no cure. It is a condition and a spectrum, thus each kid with ASD (Autism Spectrum Disorder) is different than the other. And yes, kids do not outgrow Autism. Kids with Autism grow up to become adults with Autism.
There is a lot to Autism that I want to mention, but limited words do not do the justice to the topic. All I can say in the limited space here is that if you see a child that’s different from the rest – who speaks differently or doesn’t speak at all, who has regular & severe meltdowns, who is lagging behind other kids same age in terms of social and communication milestones, please do not judge or jump to conclusions. If someone you know is on the Autism Spectrum, get educated about their condition and sensitize your kids about kids with needs different from other kids. You can read more about that here.”
You follow your mom’s footsteps when it comes to giving back to society. Tell us more about that.
Shalu says, “My mom has always had philanthropic views and has been involved in a lot of social work ever since I was a kid. Once, when I was in college, she asked me if I would like to accompany her to a juvenile jail for boys under the age of 12 on the occasion of Rakshabandhan and tie rakhis around their wrists. This was the first time I was exposed to something as crude as a juvenile jail. Something changed for me after this incident.
I started to visit the boys regularly, sometimes teach them, sometimes just to listen to their problems & spend time with them. I also started to visit few orphanages, old age homes & a blind school meanwhile. All this time that I spent with people less privileged than I was made me realize that we do not need to give up our luxuries to help someone or to give back to the society. Kindness costs nothing and it is way easier to pass on happiness to others than we think it is. Thus I made it a way of life. Every time I look back at the values I imbibed from my mom, I hope she feels proud of the child she has brought up.”
Have you been subject to mom judgement online? How did you deal with it?
Shalu says, “I think no mom is spared of judgement. Being exposed to judgement is as regular for a mom as being exposed to poop (Pun Intended).
My daughters were exclusively formula fed babies from the day they were born. That was the first instance when the whole “Being Judged” game started for me. I felt miserable for not being able to produce milk for my babies – one thing that every woman can do naturally. Soon I realized that guilt and depression won’t help me, but accepting the fact would. I also realized there are so many other moms like me out there full of guilt & sadness, who need someone to talk to. That’s when I along with another twin mommy, a close friend of mine started India’s first Formula Feeding Support Group.
This became a habit going forward. Every time I was felt like I am being judged, I started to talk about the topic openly and show my support towards other moms going through the same judgement – whether it was parents of kids on the Autism spectrum, Nuclear families, working moms, or moms who travel and take vacations without kids.”
If there was one thing you could change about your motherhood journey or one thing you wish you could have done differently, what would it be?
Shalu says, “I wish I had been more guilt free during the initial months of parenting & trusted other people around with delegating small tasks related to babies. The pressure of being a super mommy – feeding, cleaning, massaging, bathing, preparing their meals – doing everything on my own, was so high that I kept dragging myself in a black hole till one day I had a breakdown and realized I was going through a phase of clinical depression. Thankfully later I realized a happy well rested mommy is capable of much more than a stressed out exhausted mommy.”
On rough days, what keeps you going?
Shalu says, “Booze, friends, coffee, conversations, booze, social media, music, movies, booze, Netflix, reading, shopping, food, spending time with kids, booze, blogging, meeting new people, sometimes cooking… and Oh! Did I mention BOOZE??
I am a person with million emotions and many personalities. I hardly ever stick to one hobby, one passion, or one pastime. Thus what I am obsessed with at the moment is what keeps me going. And the anticipation of what’s next!
If someone were to visit your blog for the first time, what would you like them to read first?
Shalu says, “I’d love it if you could start with these:
- Developing Maths / Mathematical Aptitude in Kids
- Do you know an Autism Parent? Here’s how to support them!
- The day I was reborn – the day I became a Mother!”
Thank you, Shalu, 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