Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Tips. Show all posts

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Tips for stressed out new parents

A small bundle of joy is a source of instant excitement and love. This is the part that every first time parent is prepared for but with it comes a lot of stress and fatigue. A splurge of emotions that can’t be called happy ones. It doesn't matter how much you read, how much you try to learn before hand, nothing prepares you for the whirlwind that’s about to come.

Please don’t think that I am saying that it is not a happy occasion. Ofcourse it is and most probably it is one of the happiest moments of your life. But parenting doesn’t stop at that moment. It starts with it. The whole preparation of nine months was not about that one moment, the first cry. In the awe of that moment we forget to look closely at our emotions and by the time we realised how stressed we are, it looks like there is no way out.

This is especially tough for first time parent. By second time you are already a parent, you have experienced the stress and fatigue and you know that it will not last forever.

It happened with me also. First time I was so stressed about everything that I do not even remember enjoying the first few months, infact I do not remember first few months of my elder one at all, except for the sleepless nights, the diaper changes and the constant 24 hr crying but I am sure this was not all. Now when I did enjoy the first few months of my second one, I really wonder why did I not do that after my first baby.

Looking back I think there are a few things that if I knew or really believed it would have been easier for me. I have tried to encapsulate them below:

Surrender: Yes surrender to motherhood, don’t fight it. This is a rookie mistake a first time mother could do. Though you may completely devote yourself to the baby, you would keep going back to you earlier self, your free memories and would compare them with being with an infant (I know every mother does it but most don’t admit). It doesn’t matter whether you admit it or not but acknowledge the feeling and remember to not fight the phase. If you completely surrender 100% and don’t think of earlier memories,it will become easier for you (It will tempt and create dissatisfaction)  

Take a break: I earlier said surrender but along with that do remember you are only a human being taking care of another human being. You are not a machine. It is very important for you to take a break. It doesn't have to be a big break. It can be a very short break of 15-20 minutes (You can lock yourself in the bedroom and read a book for 10-15 min, or could go for a short walk, with baby obviously safely kept with your partner or anyone trusting)

This break is essential for your sanity and for your baby’s well being also. An infant is an extension of you, he knows you inside out. He can sense if you are tired or stressed, this makes him more stressed, so you being calm and relaxed is also better for the baby.

Do not overdo: Yes, we tend to overdo and over care. If the floor is not mopped 20 times in the day, it is okay. If you don’t wash your baby’s clothes in a special laundry cycle its okay, if your baby cries with your partner and you go for a walk its okay. Bring the standards a notch down!

Share responsibility: You are a mother, your primary responsibility is your child right now. So share other responsibilities in the house, take help, ask for help and if that is not possible than bring standard down even in household duties. It’s okay to eat cold food once in a while, Newspaper spill on the floor can remain on the floor, clothes piled in the corner can remain in the corner etc

Perspective: It is very important to keep the long term perspective in mind but along with that take each day as it comes. Don’t plan and schedule too many things, babies are unpredictable. And remember that this is just a phase, it will soon be over, those small hands and feet will outgrow themselves, out of the house and of your enjoy each day.

Take notes: Yes take notes. This is what I didn’t do properly for my elder one. I have some of his milestones written somewhere but I am not talking about bookish milestones. There are a lot of small things that look small right now but will become invaluable memories in future. These are the moments no one ever thinks of recording like the first time the baby smiled at you, laughed at you, looked at you directly, slept for more than an hour, your first trip out of the house, your first trip out of the city, his first toy etc etc.

Remember you are a good mother: Always remember you are good mother. Don't doubt yourself. If possible do this exercise daily, repeat at least 5 times, "I am a good mother" never mind if once you slept a little more than your baby, if you didn't pick him/her up at the first cry, even if you feed him cereal from a box... you still are a good mother!

These were some of things that I really really wish I knew the first time. If this helps you even in a small way, I would be really glad. Trust me few years down the line you won’t even remember the tough time.....and till then just Go with the flow and build beautiful memories

Thanks to Dr. Gauri Kekre for recommending the last point.

Image courtesy:

Monday, 17 June 2013

Tips to maintain a good sleep routine for kids

I struggled a lot with my elder one and his sleep. He was a very irregular sleeper, would not go to bed till wee hours and would sleep only about 3-4 hours at a time. It completely changed when he turned around two years and one of my friends suggested me to follow a routine. Since then, through a lot of trial and error I have devised my own routine and a check list which has helped me immensely. Now both my sons sleep around 8:30pm and sleep at a stretch for about 11-12 hours.

Following is a list of things that I consider are important to maintain a good sleep routine (Relevant to age 2 years and above):

Follow a schedule: Plan a schedule for your child. If you want your child to sleep by 9pm (Ideally yes) the process for bedtime should start by 8pm. I recommend the following steps for creating a schedule:
  • Dinner at 8pm 
  • Hot water bath and some fun play time in the tub at 8:30 pm (I know in India a lot of mothers don’t give a bath at night, I also tried it hesitantly but now I can vouch for it) Not only it is good for hygiene, a hot water bath tends to have a relaxing effect and water play will for sure tire them down.
  • In the bed by 9 pm
In order for the schedule to work, two things are very important:
  • The child should be mentally prepared that he/she has to sleep in next 1 hr. Keep telling him/her during the dinner that Bath time is in 30 minutes and sleep time after that.
  • Consistency: If you have never followed a schedule with your child, this is going to be very very difficult. But don’t lose heart, continue the effort and be consistent. It doesn't matter how unsuccessful initial days are, if you keep the consistency your child will gradually pick up the routine.

Avoid late evening naps: If you want your child to sleep by 9pm, avoid a nap after 5pm strictly. Even a half and hour nap in the evening will freshen the body up completely and give them enough energy to be up till 12.

Avoid sugar content an hr before sleep time: In India a dinner is usually followed by sweets. Please avoid this tradition. Sugar in their system will give them enough energy to be up for next 2-3 hours. Avoid

Physical activity: Make sure their evening is packed with lots of physical activity. This is not only important for a good night’s sleep for also for their overall physical and mental development. If you are not able to take them out daily to a play area, plan in advance clear your schedule for the evening and device games to keep them and you physically active for 1-2 hours in the evening. (I normally plan my meals a day in advance and prepare dinner before 5 pm)

Use rewards in the starting: If your kids are late sleepers, it will be very difficult to induce them to sleep early; one of the thing that can support you for some time is cooking up a reward system. In our house we follow a weekly reward system (based on stars), each start represents a good habit/good deed (including good sleep habit) and by end of the week if the total is 10 or more my Kid gets the bigger reward (In his case its mostly 1 hr of television, because otherwise through the week he is not allowed to watch it).

Train them to sleep on their own: The reward system will work for sometime but generally after a few days/months in the routine, they should be able to sleep on their own. Their body will adjust and will start getting tired by the fixed hour of sleep. When this happens, you child should be able to sleep on his/her own. I do not recommend bed time stories/poems etc because kids associate with them for a very long time and it becomes a daily cycle which is very difficult to break. I use to just sit next to my 2 year old when he started sleeping on his own, even breaking this habit became a issue.

Always put them to bed happy: Following a routine for the first time can be difficult and will result in a lot of tantrums however try to make them sleep with a happy face as much as possible. I always always tell my elder one that I love him a lot and I am there in the house with him, so he doesn't need to worry about anything.

Bedroom environment: Though I read a lot about creating a special environment in the bedroom, I strongly suggest to NOT follow it. Reason is, if the child gets use to of sleeping only in a typical environment like only with lights on, soft music playing, with a favorite toy etc etc, he/she will become dependent on it for sleep. The child will find it very difficult to sleep in any alien environment, or with/without light, with noise. This is why we see a lot of cranky kids on trains. My goal is to maintain a good routine with basic things, that i can replicate anywhere even during travel (A bath can be replaced with a hot sponge)

And I strongly suggest avoiding TV in the bedroom. It will tempt them.

These points have helped me a lot and I sincerely hope that it is useful for each and everyone who reads it however do note that each child is different hence not everything I discussed can be applied to every child. The key is to realize the importance of a routine and discipline and take it forward from there. 

Best of luck, lets build beautiful memories

Image courtesy peasap

Friday, 7 June 2013

Party planner for your kid's birthday at home

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Not all birthday parties for your kids can be lavish but each birthday is special and each party should be special.How do we make sure that the child feels same amount of love and efforts at each birthday party?
This is a write up to help organize a simple, homely but special birthday party. (Relevant to age group 3-6 years)

One of the easiest ways to plan a good and hassle free party is to come up with a theme. I use very simple and uncomplicated themes (obviously post discussing it with my 4 year old). I am not suggesting anything complicated like a costume/fancy dress party but a generic theme that would be a part of your decorations and cake.

For e.g. Spiderman, Chota bheem, Winnie the poh or Barbie etc

After you have finalized a theme, it’s time to work on the details of the party only within the theme.

Following is a list of things that are a part of my planning:


There is a lot of variety in terms of invitations available in market. Generally I am a big fan of DIY for kids but there are so many options at good price available in market that I avoid the effort of doing it myself. (They are as cheap as 1 rs per invite and go up-to around 7-8 rs). They are not very expensive and yet give a special feel.

There are a lot of options available on line also like Chhota bheem invites, Pooh invites etc. These can be bought at much lesser price also if you become a member and keep a tab on the online sales which keeps happening through out the year.

Make sure to order atleast 7-10 days in advance.

List of Invitees

Prepare a masterlist of invitees and save it. This list can be used as reference for coming years. (I have illustrated my master list towards the end)


Decorations can be as per the theme selected. So for example if the theme I selected was Chhota bheem, following items will be as per theme:

1. Banners: There are a lot of banners available for birthdays. Some of them that I use are:

· Birthday banner saying Happy b’day (Is available in different themes like Chhota bheem etc) (around Rs 75 for one banner)

· Banners for age: There are number banners that I used for my son’s 4th b’day and was a big hit. (These come with the age number printed on the design, nice and colorful. "Age banners")

You can be more creative and add more banners and wall posters if your budget permits. A lot of options are available like Its a party banner, Party zone banner etc.

2. Ribbons and balloons: 

· We use the traditional twist ribbon decoration across the party room. Very cheap and looks very pretty.

· For balloons a lot of options are available like Metallic finish, heart shaped, spotted etc. We use a mix of color that goes with the theme for e.g For a spiderman theme you would ideally want lots of red and black balloons.

· Stick the balloons on the walls but do not forget to throw lots and lots of balloons on the floor for the kids to play and fool around

· Center balloon. Do not forget the center balloon (Big balloon to be placed just above the cake)....fill it with goodies, I avoid filling it with decoration items like thermacol balls etc, instead I use small candies and toffees.

3. Candles:
You can get theme candles also and if not than age candles are a lot of fun. (Price between Rs 50-Rs 100)

4. Noise makers:
This is a kid’s party and hence noise pollution is most welcome. There are a lot of options available like whistles and blow horns. Again same are available as per themes also. (Price is around 7-10 Rs per item)

5. Party accessories:
You can buy caps, masks etc matching with your themes like this Chhota bheem mask (Price between Rs 6-10 item)

It depends on the type and quantity of food you are serving at the party. I am an advocate of take away parcels and may graduate to proper party food in few years when my kids are little older but right now take aways work best for me (less mess and headaches)

I would normally serve cake, wafers and a tetra pack of any fruit juice.Below is a list of basic requirement:

· Paper plates
· Spoons
· Napkins
· Cups
· Straws 

These are also available as per themes like Chhota bheem paper plates (price between 7-10 per plate), Chhota bheem cups (price between 4-5 per item), Chhota bheem napkins (price between Rs 2-4 per item)


First and foremost be aware of the latest fad of music amongst your kid’s agegroup. And arrange for the same. No better entertainment then some great music, fun dancing and loud cheering from your side.

Beyond this I do not recommend any party games for this age group because I don’t think they have the patience to sit and play games even at parties....just let them be....

Don’t forget to announce the best dancer after the party and handover a special gift (you can be innovative, can come up with a sachet “Best dancer”)

For cake, ideally order one that will go with your theme but themed cakes are more expensive than normal ones (anywhere between Rs 1000-2000 for a two kg cake). If you do not want to spend this much, you can order a normal cake but use a themed candle, with a themed table cover to make it more special.

Return gift:

No party today is complete without return gifts. Some of the good, relevant and inexpensive ideas that I recommend are:

· A goody bag: A gift bag full of small interesting items related to the theme like Spiderman tattoos, stickers, badges, colors, bottles etc (Can customize for girls and boys, can add fashion accessories etc for girls)
· Coloring books
· Story books
· Crayons
· Watches
· Mugs
· Cars
· Bubble guns
· Goggles
· Wallets
· Bags etc

If you have different age groups of kids attending the party, then make sure that you buy age appropriate return gifts.

I do not recommend buying return gifts online, there would be a lot of cheaper and better options available at your local vendor.

Other then these, I have been buying products from Firstcry and (To go with my theme). These keep going on sale on and off. Take the free membership of the sites and you will be regularly updated of the ongoing sales and buy them anytime of the year.

Prepare a master check list:

Prepare a master check list incorporating all the above points. A copy of my check lists for planning and invitations is illustrated below:

Master Checklist

Invites checklist

Wednesday, 15 May 2013

Travel tips for kids

This summer we will be taking our first family vacation. All four of us together for the first time!!!!!!. We have been on a few trips before but nothing that required so much travelling or staying out of home for more than a day with 2 kids. So keeping this in mind I started planning for it months in advance to avoid the stress at the last moment. Following is a list of few things that have helped me in last few years and that I have incorporated for this trip also.

1. Research and organise (a lottt). If you are travelling to a new place or a touristy destination research the place well in advance. Figure out if the place has any child/kids attraction (Relevant to your kid’s age). Research the hotel that you are planning to stay in. Make sure to talk to the hotel representative and clarify the age of kids travelling with you and any specifications like extra bed, hygiene, accessibility etc. If possible carry a list of tourist attractions of the place (it lessens the headache later)

2. Talk to your kids: If your kid is 3 or more it makes sense to mentally prepare them about the upcoming trip. I started a month ago and explained again and again that we will be travelling continuously and we will not be at home for a lot of days. You can even play games around the travel to make it easier for them and for you later

3. Medicines: I have a master-list of medicines that I carry with me whenever I travel. Though it was pain making it the first time but it has worked like magic. It was worth the effort. I have copy pasted my master grid for reference (I have removed the name of medicines)

No.1 (4 yrs)
No.2 (11months)
Mom Dad


Stomach infection



Antiseptic cream

Antiseptic powder


Cold-Running nose

Cold only cough

Cold antibiotic


If this looks complicated, uncomplicate it, simplify it or make completely new but put in the effort once and you can always use and modify later if required. In addition to above my medical box also has a mosquito repellent, thermometer, antiseptic and cotton.

4. Medical record: Make sure to carry the medical records with you. God forbid if an unforeseen medical problem arrives you should have their medical history handy (We carry their medical files without any extensive reports)

5. Packing: For clothes I follow a simple rule: “Carry double”/atleast 2 pair/each day for my 4 yr old and have modified it to “Carry 4 times” for my 11 month old.

o Extra extra extra pair of socks, undergarments and hankies (more than twice as per your estimate)

Carrying so many extra clothes will result into lots of luggage. Some tricks that I use are: Carry 2-3 common jeans/dark colored bottoms, do not carry inner vests extra (It’s ok if they do not wear them on few days), water wash socks on alternate days and carry less number, and carry similar colored clothes- can be mix-matched with a common bottom.

Sort and organise the clothes even in the luggage. I create rows and keep them methodically like Innerwear rows (for all), Night dress for all, Toiletries for all, Light travel wear for all, and good clothes for the trip for all etc.

Toiletries bag: I normally carry fresh sealed smaller bottles of anything that can explode like shampoo, creams etc. And along with that I carry a lot of zip pouches for my return journey. All open bottles sealed and packed in them.

6. Carry a handy travel bag: It is imperative to carry one handy travel bag. Think of everything under the sun that you could need only during the travel (Air/Train/Bus/Car accordingly). Things that I will always keep for my kids are:

o Extra clothes: Depending on the time of travel to reach the destination keep one or more extra pair of clothes

o Snacks for each child

o Some toys specially favourites. If possible keep a few new toys to keep them interested

o Extra diapers, wipes, formula, bottles, cups, glasses

o I always keep a roll of garbage bin bags with me

o Flashlight

o Cotton (If flying, can plug the kid’s ears)

o Sanitizers

o Baby Carrier (if travelling with a baby)

o Toiletries pouch

o Basic medicine for fever and cream etc for cuts

7. Brand your kids: If your kid can move on his own, brand him. Put a tag in his/her pocket with details like name, contact information of parents, travelling to and fro details, flight/train details etc etc.

8. Checklist: Plan a checklist in advance. Take a print and double check everything before leaving the house. My checklist is a veryyy detailed one which includes things like carrying towels, sunglasses, shoes, sanitizers etc etc.

In addition to this don’t forget one very important thing...close your eyes and pray to God before leaving the house..He will make sure you, your family and everyone around your family will have enough patience and love to endure and ignore the kids through the trip..........and inspite of all the planning if anything (most likely most of the things) goes wrong, put it behind you, don’t think about it and....have fun and don’t forget to add your magic to the trip and build beautiful memories

Sunday, 12 May 2013

How to teach young children about sexual abuse!!

Image courtesy

As a parent we worry day and night about our kid’s safety and wish to protect our children from any hardships and problems in life but the fact is, they have to face the world alone. We cannot be physically present with them everywhere but what can be with them are “the skills and knowledge” that we can help them acquire. 

Sexual abuse is a topic that I always thought I will not have to face for next few years but with the latest incidents unearthing about sexual offences against 3 and 4 yr olds, the worst nightmares of all parents are coming true. 

Hence I thought it was imperative that I talk to my 4 year old about it. Easy said than done... 

After wrecking my brains for few days I realized that I cannot talk to him straight about it. It will have to be indirect but in a simple enough way for his young brain to understand and comprehend. I divided the topic in two parts: 

1) Awareness of private body parts 

A 3-4 yr old is generally aware of his/her different body parts like hands, legs, face, eyes, bum etc etc. But are generally not aware of which body parts are private and should not be touched. I went about it very simply, I told him that these are the 2 parts of body which no one is allowed to touch other than mom and dad and that also only during bath and washroom one else is allowed to touch him there . 

(He is very close to his uncle and often has a bath with him) but I realized that we cannot increase more people on the list, else he will not be able to comprehend the difference between who is allowed and who is not allowed. Hence off goes his uncle and the bum tickle monster, naughty slaps on the bums etc 

The key here is to repeat and ask them to repeat. This is something that he/she at this young age is not capable to understand in its true entirety. And generally I am a big advocate of explaining the logic and reasons to kids when asking them to understand something but this was something that he had to learn by heart (Each bath time I repeat the question diligently...which are the 2 body parts that no one is suppose to touch OR who can touch these parts and who can’t?) 

2) Good touch and bad touch 

Second part of teaching was to make him understand the difference between a friendly touch and a bad touch. If this is not explained properly, either it will not work at all or it can backfire, the kid can become sensitive about even a friendly cheek pull. 

Here it is important to remember that in our society it is very common for even strangers or people we hardly know, to touch and kiss our kids. However I strongly discourage every parent to allow it but it is something which is widely acceptable hence your kid should somewhat be able to understand the difference between a good/friendly touch and a bad touch. 

In order to make it more clear and simple I play a game with my kid with two kinds of stickers’ smiley face and upset face. 

In this game, every time when I do a bad touch he shows an upset face sticker and vice versa. For every correct answer he gets a jelly or whatever we decide earlier. 

Some examples of a bad touch can be a long rub on the back or a pinch anywhere or even a prolonged cheeks pulling followed by a lot of touch......and example of good touch can be a small kiss, a small hug, cheeks pulled for smaller duration etc etc. In essence any touch which is prolonged or any touch which is like a rub qualifies as a bad touch. 

The key is to keep them motivated and attentive enough to play this game often. Again we have to repeat and talk about it again and again for them to remember it. 

It may take some time for the kids to understand and comprehend any of this at all. Mine still doesn't get the good touch bad touch part completely. 

As a parent I urge all other parents to realize the importance of talking about it at an early age (I wish we didn't have to but we need to) and continue talking about it for many more years till they are old enough to clearly understand it (No idea what that age is but I am sure I will know when he is old enough)

Sunday, 5 May 2013

Fun and learn (some quick and easy learning game/ideas for kids)

Some more fun games for comprehensive language learning. (Those who are new please read FUN AND LEARN) These games are mostly focused on improving the vocabulary.

Age 4 years and above

Shopping list: We make a family shopping list for our monthly shopping and as a tradition each member writes on the list what he/she wants. My son is allowed 4 items. He writes these on the list on his own.

Menu card: We maintain a menu for each day (Whiteboard hanged in the kitchen). This is maintained by  No.1 our Mom’s cafe manager. He is in-charge of entering the date and specific menu for the day after consultation with the chef. In addition to the meals, any extra chit pits like cheese, biscuits, jelly is available only after writing on the extra cards
What you need: Any note book/Whiteboard/Blackboard and a lot of strength to encourage your child to maintain it on a daily basis.
Keep some small extra cards for the chit pits.

Shopping trip: We highlight one area of a room as a department store, where I keep lots of cards with different items on them (not written, drawn or pictures on one side). After this I handover a shopping list to my kid and a trolley (No.2’s pram) and ask him to read the item, search for it, pick it, put it and pay for it.
Please start with very simple items on the list. Use the words that he already knows and is comfortable with.
After the shopping, encourage him to write the name of the item on the back of the picture card.

I keep laminating all the cards that we make during the games. These can be used again and again for reference and I will keep them for no.2 

Summer Tips for kids!!!

Its summer time ...its vacation time, masti time and its time for sick kids and worried moms. Hence its time to take extra care!!!!!

Here is a list of my 7 summer tips for all worried moms:

1) It’s important for the kids to remain hydrated but its not that simple with kids right? It is correct to assume that kids will not willingly drink as much water as required by the body specially during summers. Some ways to enhance water/liquid consumption are:

a.Summer fruits. .Replace one of the snack break with high water content fruits like Water melom, muskmelon, grapes etc. High in water and kids favourite. Other High water content food includes cucumber, tomato, carrots, beet etc.

b. Cold soups (A lot of easy recipes available with my dear friend google)

c. Frequent water breaks during playtime: Yes moms it is an absolute must. All play times must be interrupted after every 30 min for a water break. ....It can be just a sip of water forced down his throat....and one of the breaks can be a Mama’s special cooling squash.

d.   Icecreams, popsicles, kulfis...yess these help but make sure to NOT serve them directly from the fridge. Some the tricks that I do with Ice-cream  are:

  • Let it wait out a few minutes after taking out from the freezer and mix room temperature yoghurt with it, it improves the texture and makes it more creamy
  • You can also add cut fruits and fresh cream and whip it a little 
  • Make Popsicle from fruit juices (Favorite is Watermelon....I add different colored jellys to it)
  • Quick kulfi: Mix milk with any jam, jelly, fresh fruit pulp. Add a little roohafza and freeze it in moulds.

       2) Meals: Normal meals for Indian kids are high in fat and calorie content which is more difficult to digest during summers. Make sure to include easy to digest and light meals like khichdi, curd rice etc specially during lunch . Ghee can be reduced or if possible replaced with light cooking oil. Avoid spices.  Morning milk can be replaced with slightly diluted milkshakes (Preferably without cream).

3) Avoid outdoor plays during afternoons. Afternoon siesta can be followed by some fun and learn activities @ home (Best step out only before 10 am or post 5 pm)

4) Invest in good Sunscreen for kids: Its expensive but important....yes invest in a high SPF content sunscreen for kids. Chose from the options available in market which are designed especially for kids. I highly recommend ChiccoSun spray“. (I bought from