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The battle for your time is constant -- your job demands your attention, as do your spouse and children. And you have to juggle all three.
Here are a few small changes you can adopt to make your relationships more meaningful and to make more time in your life:
1. Insist on family time
"When both partners work, and children are kept in a creche, family time gets limited to about an hour or so a day," says Raghini Rathod, 28, an IT manager in Bangalore.
"We have decided not to crib about the fact that I spend less time at home. We have also agreed not to switch on the television till the kids go to sleep; otherwise, we end up spending most of our free time before it," adds the young mother of Raghva, 3, and Rohini, 5. "When the television is switched off, we tend to talk to one another and spend constructive time together."
2. Get your relationships 'organised'
Have a planner or subscribe to a website that sends reminders for birthdays, anniversaries, etc. Record all the dates there.
When it comes to wishing someone on their birthday, be innovative. Innstead of an email, send a greeting card by slow mail. Buy blank greeting cards in bulk at the beginning of the year; this way you can write what you want in the card before sending it. It's also quite easy these days to send flowers, chocolates or gifts to your loved ones.
Says Mihir Mahajani, a graphic designer based in Pune, "Your friends and family are your investments, you never know when you will need them."
Networking sites are a boon for keeping in touch with people. Even the occasional hi, hello or good wishes helps maintain the bond.
3. Parents and in-laws
We are so involved in our own lives that we tend to sideline our parents and in-laws. Make sure you visit them at least once a fortnight if you live in the same city. If not, call them up regularly and tell them what's happening in your life.
Help them bond with your children by visiting them often or having them over at your place. You may not find them the best people to have around, but they have made you and your husband what you are today.
Don't forget their birthdays and anniversaries; make sure you wish them during festivals.
Talk about your worst feelings -- even if they are caused by your spouse, partner, in-laws, friends or relatives. Have an open relationship. "If you can't talk about them, write a diary, but make sure you get the feelings out of your system," says family counsellor and homeopath, Dr Reena Dhaware.
"No relationship blossoms without effective communication. Bottled emotions create stress, which not only causes health problems but also emotional fatigue. Use mobile phones, the Internet and other modes of communication to enhance your communication."
5. Highs and lows
"Keep your emotions under control, but don't fake them," advises Dr Dhaware. "In case you are emotionally upset, tell your family you need some time out and get your emotions under control."
Every relationship has its high and lows, so be prepared. Try to understand the sentiments of people you care about.
6. Surprise element
Small gestures of surprise, a gift, a message or a phone call can do wonders for a relationship.
Madhavi Deb, 28, a homemaker based in Hyderabad, recalls, "I had this tiff with my mom-in-law on the eve of her birthday. To make it up, I cooked her favourite pulav the next day morning and bought her a small gift. She really appreciated the gesture. Though the pulav was 'not so great', she was touched by my efforts to enter the kitchen, which I am most averse to."
7. Say 'NO'
Many of us have a common complaint. "We take ourselves for granted," says Meena Kumari, 35, homemaker. "I have decided to drop the goody image. I no longer want to say yes to every member of the family and then struggle to live up to their expectations. I've decided I am going to say 'no' whenever I cannot easily manage a task. I'm even going to say 'no' if I don't want to do something. Hopefully, this will make life a little less stressful."
8. 'Me' time
Consider it sacrosanct -- it does wonders to your personality. Be it watching the daily news, a soap on television, meditating or reading, dedicate at least half an hour to 'your' activity.
Likewise, don't interfere in others' personal time; even children want that space. Give space to others if you want space for yourself!
9. Agree to disagree
"For me, this is the most important mantra -- be it in-laws, parents or friends," says Anuradha Chitnis, a technical writer with an IT company in Pune.
"Over the years, I have realised that if you respect their opinion, they will respect yours. You don't have to agree. This makes life so much easier; the best way to reach a golden median is to agree to disagree."
11. Remember, you're the 'parent'
Twenty-nine-year-old Madhu Narang remembers that, in an effort to be friendly with the kids, there came a stage when the kids thought she was one of them.
"Being friends to the kids is all right, but parents also have to be parents. You cannot compromise on that. The responsibility of effective discipline and behaviour lies essentially with you." The child will have many friends but only one set of parents. Having an open but firm relationship with kids, right from an early age, is important.
Incorporating even some of these tips in your life should make much more pleasant, and much less stressful
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