Few years ago, a father took his toddler to a gas station, the drive being a distraction to get her out of her mom’s hair. At the destination, he and his daughter alighted from the car. When it was time to leave, he started the car and drove a few metres before being hailed by the fuel attendants! “Sir, you have left your child here,” they shouted. Just in time, he stopped and retrieved the kid!
After getting a earful from his wife on how he could be so absent-minded, and the incident’s potential impact on the safety of their toddler, the episode became a joke in the family.
“I left my baby at the airport!”
A couple of months ago, the media reported a mother who had forgotten her baby at the airport and embarked on a journey from Saudi Arabia to Malaysia. She realized the missing baby shortly after takeoff.
Fortunately, the flight came back to get her baby. One can only imagine the embarrassment the mother would have experienced. Apart from what might have been anger and sarcasm from the co-passengers as to what kind of careless, irresponsible mom she was, she received criticism on the social media.
The mother, in her defense, said that she was doing a long travel alone with her baby and responding to phone messages and calls from her husband and family members as to where and how she was. Understandably, she was tired. In the mean time, the baby slept in the stroller and when the boarding call came, the mom just rose from her seat and boarded the flight, completely forgetting about her baby.
Also following the incident, were media articles aptly titled – ‘I’m not the mother who left her baby at the airport. But I could have been.’ In the article, Nell Frizzell empathizes with the mother, saying boarding without your baby is the sort of thing that can happen all too easily in the disorienting world of new parenthood.
The child-amnesia incidents, as unusual as they sound, are real. What could parents and just about anyone do, in simple practices, to gear up against these avoidable, stressful occurrences?
1. Being in the ‘golden’ present
Today, our minds are overcome with the noise and chaos of thoughts, tasks, commitments and various expectations just as much as our hands are engaged with the mobile phone.
Apart from the inner chaos is the external chaos of work pressure, stress caused by political and social media, trains and buses running late, traffic jams, environmental disasters such as earthquakes, tsunamis and floods, to name a few. We find it challenging to consciously be in the present moment and are not mindful of our thought, word and deed.
Try this simple exercise. Do not access your hand phone for 30 minutes and observe how you feel.
· Restlessness. You miss something.
· Lost. Don’t know what else to do!
· Hearing incoming messages beep, you feel anxious and the need to check your phone immediately.
Practicing being wholly in our present experience, without the distraction of gadgets or the ‘next thing to do’ on the timetable is something that comes only with acceptance, gentle self-restraint and tireless practice.
Learning to distinguish and accept experiences that are in our control and outside of our control can help us eliminate the stress from most of the external chaos.
2. Limit over scheduling and over planning
A planned day is critical to meet our working day and weekend commitments. However, of late we see more people being over planned and this has other ramifications.
Try not instructing your child about task 1, 2 and 3 in order, or more for the day, for example:
First, have your breakfast.
Then go to swimming class.
Thereafter, we will return home to have a nice bath!
After lunch, you could go to Gia’s house for an hour and play.
In the evening today, we are required to go to your music class.
See how enriching your present activity becomes and how much more relaxed you and your child become in time, with practice of staying in and enjoying your golden present in place of overdoing the timetable. Declutter and move beyond chaos in small steps, to help yourself to be just adequately and not overplanned!
3. Social judgement and perfectionism
There is no such thing as a perfect parent.
I would not underestimate the impact of losing a child and its physical-emotional-legal implications. In a normal context, as far as there’s no major harm done, these episodes might just as well become the subject of good humor instead of criticism and judgment.
I remember a friend, a newly-wed husband who left his bride at the train station and boarded a train. She was exhausted after the wedding ceremonies and had dozed off under her veil. It was only when she awoke and phoned him on his mobile phone a few stations later, that he realized she was not with him! This instantly was a big hit for jokes and pulling his legs in the family and friends circle.
Let us not take everything or everyone too seriously. To be able to laugh at ourselves and others for these funny and unusual experiences is a privilege only humans have!
One of the cornerstones of The Women Financial Advisers Network (WFAN) is mindfulness as a part of overall wellness. Our Financial Advisers will receive training on these practices, an adoption of which will significantly evidence improvement in their lives. They will also be enabled to equip their clients to follow mindful practices for health and wellness in order to lead a ‘rich and balanced’ life.
To know more about our membership, please visit The Women Financial Advisers Network website https://www.wfan.in/membership
Parents forget newborn baby in taxi in Germany – Times Of India, May 21, 2019
Cover Pic: Mom and baby Photo by Derek Thomson on Unsplash
Mindfulness Pic: Photo by Lesly Juarez on Unsplash