Preparing and Planning for School Holidays

Another year has gone by and we are almost a month down in the new year. Now it is just a matter of time before schools close for the academic year. Needless to say, everyone is looking forward to the welcome break. The countdown has well and truly begun.

Kids are looking to do something exciting after a gruelling schedule of homework, exams, and early morning starts. Teachers are grateful for the well-earned time out too. Summer is a happy time for all. Well, maybe not for all.

If you are a parent, challenging times are ahead. Like they say, “Summer (holidays) is the only time when parents realize how grossly underpaid teachers are.” Perhaps, truer words were never spoken. Parents know only too well about what to expect from their kids.


Did we scare you? If we did, we apologise sincerely and unconditionally. We know you do appreciate the noble intentions behind our scaremongering.

Sure you have dealt with the situation before. But the problem is, it’s been a while. A year is a long time, especially with kids. And their level of expectation goes up too. Well, without any further delay, let us look at some of the ways to plan and prepare for the holidays.

  • First up, spend the first week at home, doing nothing (this usually means watching TV). This will help everyone to relax, immediately after a long period of hectic activity, and gives the family members time to settle down and do some planning.
  • Next, sit down with your kids and discuss what they would like to do during the holidays. Being democratic in your approach and making the kids part of the decision making process not only helps you with fresh  ideas, but also provides you with a safety net should things go not to your youngsters’ liking. Clever, ain’t it?
  • Next, organise things around the house. What really tires us out is the constant running around. Make sure you are well stocked on supplies so that kids can choose activities on their own to amuse themselves and to eat when they want, which is often.
  • Next is time to move out of the house and spend some time outdoors. Mix education with fun. Visit art galleries, zoo and libraries. Hiking or a day at the beach can help the family to spend time together and be engaged for the entire day. Delegate work to children, be it carrying picnic basket or making sure your house is securely locked before you head out.
  • Set aside the penultimate week of the holidays for visiting members of the family and friends you see less often. Renewing relationships and strengthening them further is a good way to remind your kids the importance of family life.
  • Well, it is last week of summer. Time to get back home and talk about things you did together as a family and also plan for the year ahead. Paying a little attention to the cleaning of the house, which may not have received the kind of attention it normally does, is now in order. Happy holidays in advance!


Age-by-Age Guide to Feeding Your Toddler

One of the greatest joys of life is watching your child grow. After the trials and tribulations of the first few months after the birth, it is a fantastic and fulfilling experience to see your bundle of joy take baby steps, unsteadily at first, but with growing confidence as the days go by.

The world toddler is derived from the word ‘to toddle,’ which means to walk unsteadily. A toddler is a child of age between 1 & 3. It is a very important stage in your child’s life from the point of view of her physical and mental development. So, it does not come as a great surprise that many parents constantly worry about giving their child the right food to eat and in right quantities. Here’s some useful information you could use:



Age between 12 to 24 Months:

Q: How do you know your child is ready?

A: A reliable sign is your child can now handle a spoon with reasonable proficiency.

Q: What food Items can be considered and in what quantities per day?

A: Food should be mashed or chopped into small pieces. You could consider

  • Dairy like whole milk and cottage & soft-pasteurized cheese:  2 cups
  • Cereals like oat, barley, mixed cereals: 1 ounce
  • Other grains like whole wheat bread, pasta, rice: 2 ounce
  • Fresh fruit like melon, papaya, apricot: 1 cup
  • Proteins like egg, tofu, beans: 2 ounce

Age between 24 to 36 Months:

Q: How do you know your child is ready?

A: Your child is capable of self-feeding and begins to show a marked preference for certain foods.

Q: What food Items can be considered and what are the daily quantities for each?

A: You could consider:

  • Dairy like low-fat milk, low-fat yogurt, cottage cheese:  2 cups
  • Cereals like oat, barley, mixed cereals: 2 ounce
  • Other grains like whole wheat bread, pasta, rice: 3 ounce
  • Fresh fruit and fruit juices: 1 to 1.5 cups
  • Proteins like egg, tofu, beans: 3 to 4 ounces
  • Soft cooked vegetables: 1 to 1.5 cups

It is very important to make sure the food is well cooked and mashed or cut into small pieces the child can eat and digest easily. This also eliminates the dangers of choking on the food. Some foods to avoid for this reason are: chips, popcorn, candy, whole grapes and chewing gum. In fact, avoid any soft and sticky food that you feel is unsafe for your child.

Note: (1 ounce is roughly 28 grams)


The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. DO CONSULT your child’s pediatrician or a dietician about your toddler’s diet.


How to Discipline Your Kids in Public

Most children behave well in public places and at social gatherings. They try to be at their best behaviour and to not make mischief. But, they sometimes feel the need to impress people around them by doing something clever. In most cases, mothers can discipline the errant kids with a curt word or with a look the children know only too well. They fall in line almost immediately.

Then, there is a small bunch who insist on indulging in obnoxious behaviour in public places much to the discomfort of their embarrassed parents. As parents what are our options? Would you leave in a huff, red-faced and dragging your youngster along or you would much rather give your brat a dressing-down in full view of the public?



You also have the option of just grinning and bearing with your kid’s antics, partly in the hope that it is all part of growing up and partly for the fear of the consequences of disciplining your child in public. In an ideal world, parents should not ever have to teach their kids manners outside of home. But let us make provision for the the fact that the kids will always be kids.

However, as parents we have to face up to the fact that our kids are not the best behaved. Clearly, some course correction is in order, when your youngster starts throwing tantrums and disobeying you. But it is a delicate job and needs to be handled with finesse.

The next time you need to discipline your child for knocking things down at a party or for gargling with fruit juice at a fine-dining restaurant, these pointers might come in handy:

  • Start gently: Don’t fly off the handle. Your kid might have a genuine grievance which might account for the bad behaviour. It’s always best to ask them to explain.
  • Give them limited choices: Be firm with how far you are willing to be pushed. Drive home the point that while you are sympathetic, you cannot be pushed beyond a point.
  • Try humour: Make light of the situation by cracking a joke. The resulting laughter will help the child to either lighten up or embarrass them into being their normal self.
  • Make them self-conscious: Most children are very conscious about their public image and are careful not to spoil it. Making them aware that their actions are being watched by everyone around them often works wonders.
  • Don’t punish them on the spot: This impulsive act always has undesirable consequences. It only aggravates an already bad enough situation. But you need to tell the child that bad behavior is unacceptable – discipline them the moment you reach home.

Finally, we must understand that in most cases, children do it as a way of drawing attention to themselves. They could be tired, hungry or plain bored. Give them a patient hearing before you do anything else!

Reading With Your Child: Is it Part of Your Bedtime Routine?

Most of us are used to witnessing our children falling asleep on the living room couch while watching TV. The practice of reading bedtime stories to your child, which before technology and gadgets took over our lives, was the traditional way of indicating to children that they should be shutting shop for the day and get some much needed rest. The art of bedtime story reading seemed all but a lost cause, given the hectic pace of modern life and the resulting lack of time.



Good news is, the practice is being revived, partly due to the concerns arising out of children’s overdependence on modern gadgets and electronics games. The other major concern is a lack of communication between children and parents, especially if both parents are professionals spending a large amount of time away from home.

First, let us look objectively at some of the pre-conceived notions held by us adults about children and see for ourselves if there is any truth in it.

  • Children have short attention spans: Not always true. In fact, one could keep them engrossed with right content and narrative. We have definitely come across children who prefer such activities as reading and painting to TV and video game consoles.
  • Children like ‘modern’ entertainment: Not correct. Children will always remain children. Curiosity is what differentiates them from adults. Grownups are partly responsible for making them rely on gadgets, television and electronic games.
  • Children must be tech-savvy: Most parents feel the real indicator of their child’s development is the child’s ability to operate gadgets. While this ability has its benefits, the real education is about getting your child to THINK – positively and creatively.

So, let us examine the benefits of making reading with your child a bedtime routine and how it can contribute to the overall development of your child.

  • Fire up their imagination: Great ideas are products of the power of imagination. Constant exposure to visual media can sometime hinder this ability. Don’t let their ability to visualize weaken. Reading with your child gets them to use their imaginations.
  • A chance to bond: Reading with children at bedtime is great for bonding. The last memory before they fall asleep should be a pleasant one as it makes them sleep better. Getting plenty of sleep is key to your child being active and energetic during the day.
  • Encourages love of reading: When children are read to, they may not always understand everything that was read to them. Their curiosity will lead them to do further research. At some stage, parents’ help is sought and these interactions are always good.
  • Give them attention they deserve: Children love attention and the lack of it may lead to insecurities and behavioral problems. Reading with children is your way to show you care and that the child will always remain the center of your affections.
  • Reinforcing moral values: Reading with your child at bedtime is a great to way to initiate a dialogue between the parent and child. Discuss a few scenarios in the narrative to know what the child thinks about a particular action or situation. Parents can guide them to follow the right path by explaining to your child the reasons for it.


The Benefits of Creative Activities for Children

Shobika-blog-300x200We all know people who love to indulge in creative activities like painting, crafting, writing, dancing and so on. Ever wondered what keeps them going? What makes this someone keep making hand crafted goods or keep writing thoughtful articles? If you ask anybody who engages in creative pursuits, they will tell you how they not only love the process of making something but they also enjoy the praises showered by others. Further, the satisfaction of seeing something that one has created is also unmatched.

Creativity, an often unrecognized attribute, is present in each one of us but only some choose to let their creative juices flow. As parents/educators, the earlier you sow the creative seed, the more chances there are that your ward will be in touch with his/her creative side later in life.

Creative arts of all forms have been used as tools of expression, communication and release by individuals, schools as well as therapists. Research suggests that when individuals are involved in the art of making something, they are tuned into themselves, thus giving value to self, while at the same time expressing what is inside. Creative arts are not only good for mental health but also for physical health and relationships. Researcher R. Reiner from New York University suggests based on his study that, crafts de-stress. This is also indicative of the fact that engaging in crafts is not compatible with emotions like anger, worry, obsession or anxiety. Crafts can transport one to another place and often times, assist in the journey of life.

The benefits of creative activities are manifold for people of all age groups. Apart from the obvious developmental benefits, there are other well documented benefits of creative arts when adopted by young children:

Creativity boost: Activities that encourage generation of new ideas allow children to use their imagination and as a result help them in developing their own perspectives and make them more thoughtful and inventive; attributes crucial not only for education but also helpful in life.

Increased Happiness: Expression of emotions via arts and crafts can help children to feel calmer and happier. These are also great ways to work with children exhibiting any kind of emotional/social problem.

Building up of patience: Most craft activities require children to follow guidelines and some activities require repeated attempts, thereby, helping children become more patient. Being patient is an important virtue and it helps children particularly when trying to work on long projects.

Instilling the Values of Christmas Cheer and the Spirit of Christmas

Festivals are events celebrated to mark a social, ethnic or religious milestone of a community. They are observed as a tribute to a momentous occasion in history, where a great victory was won or a calamitous moment was averted. They often serve as a reminder to the newer generations of the sacrifices and hardships endured by the early members of the community.

Food is often a central theme in the celebrations of many festivals, underlining our agrarian origins and how agriculture played a central role in the advancement of the human race by taking away the major worry and preoccupation of having to search for food on a daily basis, which allowed humans to evolve into an advanced society that we are today.


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The central message of most belief systems in the world is the same: firstly, to be a good human being and to help people around you; and secondly, ensure victory of good over evil. There are many paths to the same eventual truth. As societies evolve, the religious connotations of the festivals are obscured and people from all walks of life begin to take part enthusiastically in the festivities of the others. Christmas is one such festival, which is celebrated by every community and in every part of the world.

One way to celebrate festivals is to plan lots of fun activities. Another way of celebrating a festival is by going the traditional way and use the occasion to follow traditional practices, reinforce moral values, spread happiness, help others, and strengthen family ties.

Celebrating by mixing fun with philanthropy and taking time to ensure everybody is a part of the festivities is probably what most of us do. So how do we observe the festivals, in the spirit they are meant to? Christmas is a good time to make some fundamental changes to our life.

  • Make a pledge: Give your life a sense of purpose, and discover the joys of giving. It could be as simple as clearing your wardrobe and giving away that extra pair of clothes to a homeless person. Most of us buy more things than we actually need.
  • Offer your time: Time is precious and there is no nobler gesture than offering your time to your community, an orphanage or an old age home.
  • Teach your kids to share: Children learn from their parents. When children learn to put their own interests after that of others, parents can rest assured that they are on the right path. What they have learnt when young will stay with them for life.
  • Strengthen family values: When we decide to do something for others, it would also be a good time to assess how we as a family are functioning. Take some time off and see if your partner and your children are receiving your attention and time.

Good neighbourly relationship: The pace of modern life means that we do not even care who stays next door. This Christmas reach out to your neighbours and see the  difference it can make to your life.

Family Christmas Traditions

Christmas is probably the most popular and widely celebrated festival in the world. The celebrations transcend the boundaries of religion, creed, nationality and every other artificial distinction. There is a positive energy in the air, there is a sense of camaraderie among people on the street and there is new hope and anticipation about what the new year has in store for us.




The Yuletide spirit is all about reuniting with family and friends, exchanging gifts, baking cakes and pastries, doing random acts of kindness to strangers, holding community parties, and generally spreading happiness and good cheer. The family is an integral part of the celebrations and let us see how we can make the Christmas party this year a memorable one for the family!

  • Bake Cookies: Cookies and Christmas go hand in hand. Involve the entire family, especially kids, in the making process. Kids can decorate the cookies to their hearts’ content and get really creative about it. The same goes for cakes and gingerbread.
  • Campfires: Ah, time spent around campfires are what christmas party legends are made of. You can even invite friends and neighbours over. The crackling fire in the cool outdoors makes for an ideal setting for some old-fashioned storytelling and singing.
  • Christmas Tree Decoration: The most common christmas activity can be a lot of fun when the entire family is involved in the activity. Get creative, pull a few pranks and play some harmless practical jokes on each other while you are at it.
  • Drive Around Town: Get into your car or SUV and drive around town, checking out Christmas lights and decorations. Have loads of ice cream at your favourite place. The sheer buzz of the Christmas season will make you thankful for having a great family.
  • Visit an Orphanage / Old Age Home: One of the oldest Christmas traditions is to share with the less privileged folk. Collect money and clothes throughout the year for the purpose. Discover the joys of giving and make it an integral part of your family tradition.
  • Watch a Christmas Movie: There is nothing like catching a classic Christmas movie with family and friends. Arrange for loads of food and popcorn. Some great choices are Miracle on 34th Street, A Charlie Brown Christmas, Elf, and It’s a wonderful Life.’
  • Go Down the Memory Lane: What better way to reaffirm and renew your commitment to each other. Dig into your collection of old family photos and home videos. Catalogue them, digitize them and make every effort to preserve them for posterity.

Top 5 Concerns of a New Mom

The first true test of the strength of the relationship between a man and a woman is parenthood. With the child, comes an enormous responsibility for which the young parents may or may not be ready. Many new parents are inexperienced in dealing with the demands of parenthood.

First and foremost, men should understand that, in the modern scenario, raising a family is a shared responsibility and not that of the mothers’ alone. In cases where support from one’s family is lacking, parenthood can quickly overwhelm most parents, especially the mothers.

With some careful planning and sharing of parental duties, it need not be so. One can turn adversity into strength with a bit of understanding and respect for each other’s emotional needs.

You will most certainly recall the struggles of raising a baby long after your child has grown and ceased to be dependent on you. The memories of a shared difficult past help nurture your future.

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Here’s some much needed comfort for new mothers and tips to deal with some inevitable moments of parenthood when you are left to deal with those ‘what next?’ moments.

  • Is my child getting enough breastmilk?

One of the most sensitive topics going around and the one that stresses out the mothers the most. It is true that the child must be breastfed as the mother’s milk is the safest food a baby can have and it also helps boost the immune system. But worrying constantly based on what others around you are saying, can actually affect the milk production adversely. So as long as the baby is gaining weight, you have nothing to worry about.

  • Why does a baby throw up after breastfeeding?

Babies usually throw up after breastfeeding, but as long as it is infrequent and in small quantities, there is nothing to worry about. However, if the baby is not gaining weight or experiences pain and discomfort, consult your doctor immediately.

  • What position should the baby assume while sleeping?

It is highly recommended to make the baby sleep on her back or sideways using a firm mattress that does not shift easily. This will help minimize the risk of the baby suffocating.

  • What do we do when the baby cries non-stop?

Babies usually express their feeling through crying. They could be hungry, tired, sleepy or even sick. Rely on your knowledge of the baby’s behaviour to find out the reason for the wailing. If your usual methods of pacifying don’t work, consult your doctor.

  • When will the baby start sleeping during normal hours?

That’s a million dollar question every new sleep-deprived mother nursing her infant would love to know answers for. The answer is you will have to be just patient for her to grow up. The best a mother can do is synchronize her sleep with that of the baby’s!


The aim of the article is to be informative in a general way. DO CONSULT your doctor and get your child examined at all times, without any exceptions.

Power Foods for Children- Staying Close to Mother Nature When Choosing Food Products

Parents constantly worry about the type of diet to adopt for their children. They want to know what diet is best for their kids – vegan, vegetarian, meat and poultry based diet or a combination of all of them. They are aware that a child’s physical and mental development is completely dependent on what their diet consists of during the formative years.

As a rule of thumb, food needs to be fresh and organically grown using natural manure and pesticides. The packaged food products need to be free of additives, chemicals and preservatives.


Let us look at the ill-effects of wrong diets and risks the unsafe food products pose to our health.

  • Fertilizers and Pesticides: Traces of chemicals such as lead and mercury in our food can interfere with physical and mental growth of children.
  • Food Adulteration: This patently fraudulent trade practice is punishable by law. A common example is adulteration of milk using urea, starch and formalin.
  • Preservatives and food colours: Additives and chemicals used to make packaged food items have a longer shelf life are harmful to health and so are the food colours.
  • Overeating: The rising economic prosperity is being matched by a corresponding rise in obesity. If not checked, obesity may lead to heart disease and type 2 diabetes.
  • Vitamin deficiency: Food deficient in essential vitamins can lead to night blindness and diseases such as scurvy and rickets.
  • Junk food: Fast food is high on calories but offers little nutritional value.
  • Other deficiencies: A protein or carbohydrate deficient diet is harmful to health.

So how do we choose the type of diet and stay away from the dangers disguised as food? The answer lies in going natural as Mother Nature has all the answers for our queries.

Let us what nutrients today’s children are deficient in and the ways to incorporate them in our daily diet. Also given below are some of the food items they are found in:

  • Calcium: Vital for developing bone mass. Found in cheese, soy milk and cereals.
  • Vitamin E: Good source for antioxidants. Found in spinach, nuts, and avocado.
  • Fiber: Lowers risk of heart disease and diabetes. Found in fruits, oatmeal, and lentils.
  • Potassium: Helps maintain blood pressure. Found in bananas, milk, and fish such as cod.
  • Iron: Important for brain development. Found in shrimp, chicken, and whole wheat bread.

In addition, it helps to explain to the children the benefits of following a balanced diet, avoiding junk food, eating moderately, exercising regularly, spending time outdoors and getting enough sleep at regular hours.

Disclaimer: Choosing what food to eat is a matter of personal choice. This article is written with the aim of providing general information. Please consult a dietitian or your doctor to get a professional opinion and to design a diet that is suitable for your child.

Raising an independent toddler

Towards independence

Independent children are those who are no longer found holding on to their mother’s skirt. They have moved away from the mother in order to learn about their environment and about themselves. Mothers can make this process less painful for both, themselves and the child, first by taking the initiative to teach the child to be independent, and then learning to manage the child remotely during the period.

In a cartoon on parenthood, the sight of a mother duck, still carrying her overgrown duckling on her back makes her friend remark “For heaven’s sake, Martha, he has to learn to swim some day!” That pretty much sums up the need for mothers to teach their child to be independent.

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A thin line

Mothers need to strike a fine balance between teaching a child how to be independent but still have enough control over the child to be able to supervise and intervene when necessary. The parents have to walk a fine line and make a choice between being overprotective and letting go totally. Being overprotective can hinder a child’s development, while not exercising enough control over the child may result in children hurting themselves or others or damaging property.


How to  raise an independent toddler

Here are a few useful tips to help you raise an independent toddler.

  • Take yourself out of the picture: Make your child follow you around the house and then hide yourself in some place. Call out to them from your hiding place before appearing before the child. This helps the child establish the connection between your voice and you. Even if they cannot see you, they know you are around to protect them.
  • Separate baby not the mother: The way to help your baby to develop a healthy sense of self is by making the baby to separate from the mother and not the mother from the baby.

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