HOME AS A LEARNING SPACE FOR KIDS

 

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Home is the first environment a child is exposed to socially and it is home where the child spends maximum time of his early years around his/her family. It is a great opportunity to utilize this environment to maximize the learning of a toddler. To do the same, it is important that we as parents and people around us who are involved in raising the child are actively adopting the behavioral alterations required to suit the learning of the child.Some of the easy to do and important ones are –

1.Improving the listening and responding skills – Toddlers have a habit of asking never ending questions, sometimes they repeatedly keep asking silly questions. There is no end to the whats, whys and hows but then, it is only natural for us to get irritated. The key to alter this behavior is obviously patience; if you consistently encourage the curiosity and raise the interest level of the child it will have many long term benefits. The child grows up to constantly seek new things in life, explore and experiment with changes. If we do it in an early age, it will continue in the long run.

2. Reading Habit – We all know reading is a great habit but it is a habit which cannot be inculcated in a child by preaching. This is something which can only be done by leading through example. There are two ways to do this – reading yourself and being an example to the child or reading the book aloud to the child every night through bedtime stories or any other means. This comes for my personal experience – whenever I read a book, V also has the excitement to hold a book and pretend to read. In fact this is how kids transition from pretending to read to actually start reading.

3. Declutter – Like most other parents, I am also guilty of getting too many toys and games for my daughter. Kids are spoilt for choice and eventually start to devalue things. Research also proves a child’s learning is maximized when it is uncluttered and organised. Prioritizing and organizing skills can really be imbibed in the early years. Time capping for certain games is also a great idea where you only give one set of toys for a particular period of time. Involve the child in the de-cluttering process and let him/her choose the next set.

4. Demonstration – It is always a great idea to ask kids to assist you to do things. Household chores or outdoor tasks, working as a team always helps raise a more responsible child. The activity is also perceived as fun activity by them and not a task.

5. Let them try – Unless it is a big hazard, let the kids try to do things independently. Parental supervision is good but instilling the confidence in the child really means a lot. I have seen the such kids to grow up as very confident and fearless individuals.

 

 

HOSPITAL BAG OF AN INDIAN MOM-TO-BE

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Pic courtesy : Quickmeme

I can still feel the excitement and anxiety of the day I was getting admitted in the hospital eagerly waiting for Baby V to arrive. Weeks of planning had gone into it and I would be happy to share the packing essentials for the big day.

  1. Photo ID, Insurance Info, Hospital Forms – First and foremost, important stuff to be filed in organized folders and kept ready at least a month before the due date. Insurance formalities can be a real pain if not managed properly.
  2. Cell phone and charger – You will need it to answer to all the wishes you get J
  3. Comfortable night gown – If you are someone like me who is used to wearing PJs and shorts, let me tell you that is not an option. Even mums who have been used to wearing sarees and salwar suits, you might like to choose comfort for a while J
  4. Headband – However trivial it may sound, it is an essential. Post my CSec I was asked to lie down without a pillow for straight 20 hours. I had taken just one clutcher which poked me all night through until the time I had to borrow a headband from someone else.
  5. Maternity Bra – Feeding a baby every now and then is no easy job. The only thing which can make things better for you is convenience. There are plenty of options in the maternity shopping section which can be explored.
  6. Hipster panties – CSec mommies will have to be extra careful with the stitches and avoid any friction on the incision. Hence, it is highly advisable to wear plus size panties which go all the way up to your upper abdomen.
  7. Breastfeeding cover – Indian friends and relatives do not hesitate to drop in generously once the baby is born. After all, our culture is such that we always rejoice and mourn together. For a new mom, it can get really hard and embarrassing to manage the crowd while she is still coming to terms with feeding a baby. So a good cover is a must (there are tons available which can be worn later in many different ways). P.S I still wear mine as a kaftan and sometimes roll it up as a scarf.
  8. Nursing Pads – Not everybody would need it right away but being prepared for leak protection will save you a lot of trouble.
  9. Adult Diapers – Heavy bleeding in the first few days comes as quite a shock to most moms but it’s all normal. Generally, recommend adult diapers which can manage heavy bleeding unlike the usual sanitary pads.
  10. Nipple creams – Sore nipples are going to be your friends for the next few months, applying good quality nipple creams could relieve some bit of pain.
  11. Toiletries and personal items: The must haves for every woman – Toothbrush, hairbrush, toothpaste, face wash, shampoo, conditioner, deodorant, lotion, contact lens case and solution. Travel size packs recommended as they are easy to carry.
  12. Comfortable loose maternity clothes and flat slippers for the discharge day- I had swollen feet for the most of my maternity. While it magically disappeared just after the baby was out but I would still recommend very comfortable slippers/shoes as you are yet to gain complete stability and control over your body post-delivery.
  13. Food – Your doctor will best prescribe what diet you should be following post procedure. Also, Indian moms tend to carry Shatavari and other Ayurvedic supplements for lactation supply, make sure your doctor is aware and okay with it.

Soon, I shall come up with a packing list for the Indian baby to arrive.

WHY CHILDREN SHOULD PLAY OUTDOORS?

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This winter has been very tough for me as far as V’s health was concerned. We struggled for nights with blocked nose, persistent cough and sore throat. I had to do an extensive research on how to deal with baby’s cough and cold , how to boost immunity and how to get rid of recurring flu. While I was not successful in the initial attempts, I learnt a lot through the failed attempts. One of the biggest myths that burst for me was that babies/kids should be kept indoors to avoid any kind of health issue. Contrary to this popular belief, there are in fact hundreds of benefits for kids who play outside regularly, it is also advised that kids should spend more than 3 hours outdoors each day. Some of the reasons why you should let your child spend time outside are listed below –

  1. Confinement breeds diseases: While rest is extremely important for the sick and we are perennially worried about our kids catching cold when they step out, the reality is virus is easy to catch in closed environments. In open areas, there are lesser chances of kids catching the virus and in open air.
  2. Emotional and social competencies: Outdoor play has brain-boosting benefits for kids, starting in infancy. It strengthens the language and communication interactions among children who play together in the park. The more they socialize, the faster their learning is.
  3. Vitamin D Levels : Vitamin D has several health benefits like strengthening bone health which is a key parameter for growth in kids. Since, most of our kids have minimum exposure to sun these days, we try to supplement through food and tablets but sunlight is the most natural and effective way of receiving Vitamin D. Ofcourse, the precautionary measures must be taken for children who get sun burns easily.
  4. Channelize energy and increase curiosity: Kids come with a huge amount of energy which has to be channelized in a productive way. Kids who are confident about their physical abilities tend to be more positive about their lives in general. When they are exposed to newer things, their curiosity levels rise up, their tendency to ask questions increases and all of this contributes to the overall energy levels of a child.
  5. Increased attention span : Green outdoor settings always appear to reduce Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder symptoms amongst children, that includes the exposure they get to natural settings through different outdoor activities.
  6. Concept of leadership and team work – Outdoor play is extremely important to the social development of children particularly for building self-confidence. In addition to it, children also get more empathetic through social play, and they develop more skills for coping with conflict. Group activities also help develop team skills and leadership/moderation skills at a very early age.
  7. Boosting creativity: Sensory inputs help boost creativity and imagination. It also helps with quick learning – we all know we learn to do by doing and there is no substitute to experience. So, if you touch the sand, you would understand the concept of coarse and fine and there is no other way to explain it by seeing or reading. Hence, we must encourage our kids to step out and enjoy the sun, grass and wide skies.

I would be so happy to receive inputs from other moms who are willing to share their experiences and tricks which have worked for them.

 

 

DEALING WITH SEPARATION ANXIETY

As a working mom, dealing with V’s separation anxiety has been tough for me. Although I am well aware that it only speaks of an attachment and is a completely normal behavior, my heart breaks each time she cries her lungs out while I leave. With time, I learnt a few tricks and tips for surviving this anxiety. It demands preparation, brisk transitions and a lot of time. The fact is we parents suffer as much as our children do when we leave. The first time I stepped out for an overnight work trip without V, I kept mourning the parting whole night. While the next day I tried to keep myself as busy as I can to avoid the guilt and thoughts about her, I realized I will have to consciously work towards make it easier for both of us. And months down the line, after a lot of effort I could successfully stay away for a week last month. Here are few tips that worked for me and worth giving a try –

  1. Familiarity: Familiarity always breeds comfort. Sometimes, it gets difficult for adults to adjust to unfamiliar situations, leave alone the little ones who consider their parents to be their whole world. It is very important to keep one familiar person constant, be it one of the grandparents or a caregiver. It is inevitable that your absence is bound to make a difference in the mood of the baby, but good news is babies forget everything too soon if they are comfortable with the surrounding. So, if there is a routine around a constant person, it makes things easier. Also, keeping security objects close to the baby (any favorite toy, blanket etc) makes them feel secured.
  2. Reassurance : As a practice, I have played the game of “Peekaboo” with V right since she started being cognizant of her surroundings. The whole idea behind it was to reinforce the idea that even if she cannot see me for a while, she would know that I will be back. Also, when I am home and my husband is in office, I make video calls to him and let V interact with him(although she would any way get to see him in the evening) so that when I do the same while I am away on work trips, she doesn’t long for me and wouldn’t cry during the video calls.
  1. Good bye Rituals: Good byes should be kept short and sweet. If you linger , the transition time will linger too and make things more difficult eventually. As a practice, I try to keep my departure at the same time every day. So, we follow a ritual of her bidding me goodbye at the door and then she heads out straight to the bath. Gradually, she has realized that there is something to look forward to after Mommy is off to work.
  2. Keeping promises: We all feel heartbroken when promises are not kept, don’t we? These little darlings are no different and rather more vulnerable. So, whenever you promise that you will be back by 6 pm, try to keep it. If you promise to come back with a toy, then do it. This mostly makes a difference to toddlers because they understand what you say and actually look forward to your commitments. Keeping promises helps build trust and credibility with your child.
  3. Customized approach: Every child is different. What works for my baby may not work for you and therefore, you need to keep trying until you are successful. Lot of people insist on letting the baby sleep in a different room in order to build a sense of independence. It never worked with me and I never had the courage to let her be out of my sight through the night but if it does for you, go for it. I have believed in attachment parenting and I always ensure someone is around her at all times until she maybe learns to speak for herself.
  4. Practice distance: Even when you are home, try and practice staying apart while the baby engages in fun activities. I typically like to send her for playdates with other toddlers (of course under supervision of adults) or leave her with grandparents for an hour or so. This helps in adaptability with new faces and gradually they learn to enjoy some time off familiar faces.
  5. Do not impose the concept of “No crying” – According to me, crying is not a negative trait by any means. It is just a way of expressing an emotion and babies have every right to express their displeasure regarding something, The ability to be aware and express the feelings itself is a major milestone and an important emotional foundation. While, we mothers can’t stop feeling guilty about it, babies outgrow this feeling very soon(unless the baby is sick or has any other problem). So, next time the baby cries when you are stepping out, give her a tighter hug and say ‘goodbye’. She will be fine with the care giver, trust me. Just make sure she is comfortable with the care giver on normal days.

While I am no child psychiatrist, I can say that most of these things worked for me and the suggestion are purely based on personal experiences.

DOES BEING A MOMMY MAKE YOU MORE EMPLOYABLE?

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We have heard enough of how motherhood is a big hindrance to the quintessential career woman. Well, to think of it, it is undoubtedly a very big challenge to manage a flourishing career with a baby yet being a mother actually necessitates a whole barrage of highly employable skills and competencies which can only benefit a career woman.

While we may not consciously acknowledge or recognize the ways we have up skilled ourselves, I think it is very important that the same should be broadcasted to the world. Who knows our potential future employers might be able to identify with our skill set better after reading this!  I am going to write on 7 most important skills that we develop as mothers that actually give us an edge over our colleagues at the workplace.

  1. Time Management: Yes, this is the primary skill which makes us superwomen. None of us feel we have enough time to complete all the tasks in a day but as moms, we have mastered the art of meeting deadlines and magically completing all the tasks despite the uncertain circumstances. Like many other moms, I too mentally scan the whole day in advance every morning and divide activities in neat slots nearly perfecting the ambition of task completion by end of the day.
  2. Planning and Priority Setting: Yes, even without a scheduler, we manage to feed, wash, clean and complete all the important tasks with no qualms. And when we’re able to mentally plan and juggle these tasks throughout the day, we’re adeptly sorting out which ones are priority to us and which ones can be postponed for later. As a trainer myself, I have done multiple sessions on planning and prioritization for the employees in my organization but lately I realized that post motherhood, I have found new effective tricks to manage gaps, assemble activities and schedule tasks.
  3. Crisis Management: How you deal with crises is a big deal in Corporate life. As a mother, we already are experts in being on top of situational awareness, adaptability and conflict management. These are the most important skills required to deal with any kind of crisis at work and having developed these can actually put us in a pedestal at the workplace.
  4. Negotiation: Any parent who has survived the baby is definitely a pro at convincing an unreasonable person to do what they want. While we get to develop this skill absolutely for free, there is no denying to the fact that it has been developed during the toughest of times. So, negotiating with stubborn people would be a cakewalk for us now.
  5. Change Management: With a baby, every day is a new experience. We cannot predict what is coming our way next but dealing with these uncertain requirements every single day makes us a stone wall ready to take any kind of hit. This is a huge plus for the Corporate employees and in the current scenario, something that should go right on the top of our CV.
  6. Problem Solving : If you have more than one child, you probably practise this every single day. Babies and children always present an endless list of problems that need solving and with multiple children, you possibly got an added flavor of conflict management as well. Starting with sleep training to fixing broken toys, our minds are programmed in such a way that we literally figure out a solution for every problem that crops up.
  7. Communication : The other day during a fun Friday at work, we were playing a game of Dumb Charades. Bam, I was a pro at it. Thanks to all the non-verbal cues I pick up every single day from my darling daughter. Dealing with a baby helps us realize that language is not a barrier. It makes us more positive, empathetic and effective in both verbal and non-verbal communication. It also brings out a great listener in us, after all listening to the endless blabbering and answering repetitive questions is a test of patience that we can pass only with experience.

Personally, I think I learnt better in my motherhood journey than all the management lessons put together during my Business school days.:D

I hope you mommies find this useful as well!

HOMESICK DURING VACATION?

So, I am writing this post in the middle of a holiday as I think of my darling little V who is having a ball of time back home. Generally, home is far from the top of my mind when I travel to a new place. I am always busy exploring and soaking in the experience yet I always look forward to going back when it is time to return.

A quote that I relate to –

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 I love coming home after being away. Do you feel the same way? Read on to find out 7 reason why –

  1. Family: Whatever said and done, there is no substitute to the warmth of a family and if you got fur babies, I know you just can’t wait to get back home and cuddle up.
  2. Comfort: I know all you fashionistas love to wear the best of clothes and shoot the best of pictures in vacations, but hey, secretly we all want to go back to our pajamas and slump in the couch, don’t we?
  3. Back on track: Yes, holidays are the time when all your new year resolutions, diet and workout goals go for a toss. So, coming back to home gets you back on track with clean eating and increased focus on health.
  4. Creativity: Sometimes you get so many fresh ideas in a holiday that you can’t wait for the surge of creativity to step out of you and implement them in your lives.
  5. Familiarity: When you are in a different country, after a certain period of time, you practically long to communicate in your own language, eat your home cooked food and feel your usual neighborhood.
  6. Routine: Yes, you went on a holiday to escape the usual but people like me long to get back to routine after a few days. A routine just makes life easy, you know exactly what you’re going to do next.
  7. Sleep: After an activity packed vacation and before you start going back to work, you would want to get some good sleep(and what better than your own bed). You can catch up on all the episodes loss of your favorite series. So, all you GOT fans, please don’t plan a vacation when Season 8 is aired!

Don’t get me wrong, I love vacations as much as you do but I also really do LOVE coming back home 🙂

 

LEAP OF FAITH

The other day I was looking at a picture of me and V taken a few months back. It made me wonder how fast she is growing, adapting to the environment around her so effortlessly and learning new things every single day. Learning seems so easy to her now and little does she know that unlearning all of these things will get difficult with age. Today ,when I look at myself , I wonder when was the last time I accepted a change without questioning or started something new,embracing a new beginning whole heartedly. Sometimes, you just need to take a leap of faith to experience the magic of a new beginning.

Here are 7 reasons why you must take the “Leap of faith “ –

  • Listen to your inner voice : Sometimes, we just need to sense our gut instinct and follow it because often it is the inner voice which leads you to the right path instead of the external advice that you have been seeking all along.
  • Regret and no regret : If you take up this lifetime opportunity, you will not regret it later. At the same time, for all the practical reasons you might realize later that you have made a wrong choice. Take a leap of faith for the choice that you truly want, so you will not feel the pinch of regret later. Sometimes the safer route is not always the best because once a decision is set in motion, it is likely to gain more momentum. I have seen infeasible dreams turning into reality merely through grit and determination.
  • Overcome the fear of unknown: There’s always an element of fear for what you can’t see and there’s always an element of excitement and a sense of desire to chase the unknown, to follow your passion. So, make your choice, let the passion overshadow the fear!
  • Celebrate the past and present: The pursuit to your passion will never be lucid until you pave your way yourself. Be grateful for your past , present and utilize it to carve your future. Gather your experience and pick the universe’s clues to take that leap.
  • Draw inspiration :Look around for people who follow the same passion. Do you want to move to a bigger city leaving behind your settled household for a dream job? How many people in your circle have done anything close to that, how many have been successful with it?
  • Money is not an excuse : I don’t want to sound like those zillion reminders you get on your social media on how you should drop everything and go travel the world. Money is very very important but don’t let money be your excuse. Plan your savings, take time to do it and if you really want to move and take advantage of this new experience, you’ll find a way to make it work.
  • It doesn’t work out : Come back and start again. You might lose time, but the gain is immense in terms of the experience. You learn new things from new people, new challenges, new places and most importantly the new ‘you’. The risk is well worth the reward.

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The inner voice!

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