Work life balance for a working mom

 

Work life balance

 

Perhaps the greatest challenge for a working mom is finding that elusive balance between work and home. Where exactly does work end and home life begin? Should you allow your family time to be compromised by last minute urgent work? Do you even have that choice?

In one of our earlier articles we had spoken about the predicament of an Indian working woman. She is a wife, a mother, a daughter and a sister, but the fact that she has a career too is just incidental. It shouldn’t interfere with her domestic life. That’s the general idea that her family has. Or sometimes even she could think the same. And this could make matters worse because she will frequently find herself in a situation where she doesn’t like her job but has to do it in order to support her family.

Today we impart some pearls of wisdom to all you mothers out there who want to have a perfect work and home balance. You can’t literally have it all. But baby steps will surely see you a long way through.

The first step is to acknowledge the fact that you will always be playing multiple roles. Acceptance is the key to a happy time taking all those responsibilities through.

There will be role models that you would want to follow. Women who have seemingly managed to master it all. But refrain from doing that. Your situation can never be compared to another.

It is in a woman’s nature to look for guidance and acceptance from friends, family and society. Indian culture allows for family to be around for help. Accept help whenever needed. Invest in a day-care without any pangs of guilt tugging at your heart. You are doing your best, always remember that.

Spending at least an hour of gadget free time with your child everyday has shown to make the bond stronger. When you are home, be there physically, as well as mentally. It is easy to let your mind wander to unfinished business, but training yourself not to go down that road will help you in the long run.

And lastly, listen to your inner voice. Your natural maternal instincts will always help you make the right decision for your family.

Do things that make you happy, and do it with your family too. But keep some time aside just for you. Doing things that you loved doing before domesticity set in will make you relaxed and happy.

 

 

Potty Training: Success Now, but Where to go Next?

Having kids is certainly rewarding and a great experience, but it’s also extremely confusing! I find myself reaching to my blog or parent community websites more often than not, just to find advice from other parents who are asking the same questions or going through the same experience as me. Okay it does sound a little weird to get advice from complete strangers online, but it has actually helped me quite a bit. This is especially true after dealing with many of my friends (a lot of them without kids), who would tell me just to “not worry about it” when I asked them about how long my daughter should have her pacifier or wear diapers to bed at night.

Well, I know my daughter isn’t going to be going to college with her binky and a Pull-Up, but that doesn’t mean I shouldn’t be worrying about these things right now! My little one is 3 and a half, and the potty issue has been difficult to say the least. She really has a hard time sleeping through the night, and that’s why I ALWAYS put a diaper on her at night. I don’t think that she is too old for these yet, and I only use them when she goes to bed at night. This means she’s going to day care and taking naps throughout the day without the diaper, and so far it’s been smooth sailing with no accidents.

Right now my biggest surprise is that my daughter wants to sleep through the night without a diaper and with regular underwear. Yes, she actually asked me if she could wear her big girl underwear to bed! I think it’s absolutely fantastic she wants to feel like a “grown up”, and I’ve been trying to find the right time to get started with diaper-free overnights. Before I couldn’t do it because I was going out of town and trying to get on a potty system would have been difficult. Plus, she didn’t express the want to not have them, so I just waited. I am worried that there are going to be a lot of accidents resulting in my washing machine running 24/7 (I should probably stock up on additional bed sheets), but it’s still exciting nonetheless.

Update

Have you been waiting to hear what happened? Maybe not, but I’m going to tell you anyways! Hey, if you have kids then this advice just might come in handy in the near future. The first couple of days went pretty much as I expected, and she ended up having a couple of accidents. I ended up putting her back into diapers after that, because she actually asked me to. I figured that I should start putting more effort into this now, so I ended up keeping those diapers on and waking her up a couple of times every night to go to the bathroom. Was I exhausted? YES!

Okay, I am still exhausted from doing this for TWO WEEKS, but it was definitely worth it. Guess what? She hasn’t had an accident since those first couple of nights, and although I miss sleeping through the night, things are going fairly smoothly. I’m actually surprised things have gone so well, and hope that it will continue like this for at least a week or two more until I can transition her into self-bathroom trips. After all, I’m really only being an alarm clock, and that is getting tiring.

My question for other parents out there (please help me out here, for my sanity) is: what should I do next? I’ve been scouring other parent blogs, and they say that waking the child up throughout the night results in bad habits. Well, I guess I’m already in too deep to care about that, but I don’t know what to do next. When will she start to wake herself up to go to the bathroom, so I can sleep and enjoy actually finishing a dream or too? Or should I continue doing this for the next couple of weeks and make it a month total?

Anyone who can offer insight, please help me out! I am interested in hearing opinions, experiences and basically anything else that will give me a smidge of assistance. Oh, and PLEASE don’t tell me “not to worry about it”, because I’ve heard enough of that from my friends!

Is your child sleeping enough?

25th Mar

When I wrote my article on ‘how to boost your child’s immunity’ for the September issue of ParentEdge, I was surprised at the number of health care professionals talking about adequate sleep, not just during illness but otherwise as well. Also routine for meals and sleep time was stressed a lot.  In the past few months I came across a few articles in ‘The Hindu’  — ‘we sleep to clean our brains’ , ‘sleep deprived teenagers may be at risk of long term damage to the wiring of the brain’.  To add to my growing concern and curiosity, recently a friend gave me a book on parenting (Nurture Shock, Bronson and Merryman) which has a chapter titled the ‘The Lost Hour’. That’s when I decided I really need to blog on ‘sleep’ because as parents, many of us may not be giving ‘sleep’ the attention it actually deserves!

Highlights from this enlightening chapter – ‘the lost hour’

There is research to show that around the world children are getting an hour less to sleep than what they got thirty years ago! Well it may seem rather inconsequential but apparently this is affecting IQ points, causing moodiness, depression, and also in some cases fuelling ADHD and binge eating! Things that we definitely cannot ignore!

Of course we all are aware of what is fuelling this lost hour – televisions (24/7 and hundreds of channels), computer time, and mobiles in bedrooms and of course academic pressure in schools is as taxing or worse! Now sleep scientists are saying inadequate sleep could cause permanent damage as a child’s brain continues to develop till the age of 21 and much of the work happens when the child is asleep!

In an interesting study done with 4th and 6th graders where children got instructions to go to bed earlier or later by 30 minutes for three days, results on standard computerised test used to rate a child’s performance and ability to maintain attention in class, showed that losing one hour of sleep is equivalent to losing 2 years of cognitive maturation i.e. the sixth graders performed like fourth graders! Other studies are finding similar results and even late weekend bedtimes for preschoolers can affect standard IQ test results by 7 points.  So there seems to be a correlation between sleep and school performance!

So what is happening actually?

When children do not get sufficient sleep, they are tired, the neurons, lose their plasticity and ability to form new connections required to encrypt memory. So this could mean –difficulty in improving vocabulary, memorising tables, history dates ..!

The brain needs a constant supply of glucose to function and with sleep loss, the body’s ability to obtain glucose from the blood gets affected. This in turn hampers the functioning of the frontal part of the brain which is responsible for ‘executive function’. So tired children have difficulty in studying and probably find tasks like watching television or playing mindless games easier!

The sleep pattern for children is different from adults – children spend 40% of their sleep time in deep slumber without dreams and during this stage their brains are shifting what they have learnt during the day to efficient storage regions! Actually the more they learn during the day, the more they need to sleep at night!!

Another interesting finding is that positive memories get processed in the deep slumber stage, so lack of it means a child will retain/remember more of the bad memories than the nice ones :(

Finally there is a link between sleep deprivation and obesity. This happens as hunger stimulating hormones are activated more than the one that suppress appetite. Also there is an increase in the level of stress hormone, which is known to stimulate fat accumulation. Hormones required for breaking down fat are secreted in the beginning of sleep and if sleep is disrupted the process does not work!

Clearly SLEEP MATTERS especially for children! We may be trying to address concerns in all other areas but ignoring this important need! So don’t try to add one more activity that you think might help your child –get her to bed early you may do her brain a favour!

——————–

So how much is enough?

3-6 year olds need 10-12 hours of sleep, children in the age group of 7–12 years need 10- 11 hours and 12-18 year olds need 8-9 hours of sleep.

ZZZZ………………

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children. This blog was written by Meera Srinivasan, health and nutrition specialist on the ParentEdge editorial panel.

How to Raise Entrepreneurial Kids

Bril blog 6

It always begins as a childish dream, our secret ambitions usually remain secret, never to see the light of the day. Very lucky few get to transform their dream into a reality. Most likely, they had a little help at hand, starting from early childhood. Which is why, to raise entrepreneurial kids, you have to catch them young.

Let us take a look at what are the common characteristics of a successful entrepreneur:

Taking calculated risks
Leaving the fear of failure behind
Great problem solving skills
Innovation; thinking out of the box
A great grasping power
A knack for financial management

When we look at the list above, all characteristics can be nurtured in a child from as early as toddler years. So, the first step to raising entrepreneurial kids is to start early.

“Breaking rules, not in my house!” If you are constantly reminding your child to follow rules then also bear in mind that too many rules can hamper your child’s creativity. While some rules are important to ensure your child’s safety, constantly imposing rules is not going to nurture entrepreneurial skills.

Letting children make their own mistakes and learn from them. Swooping in to correct your child’s mistake will only make them depend more on you in future. Letting children struggle with problems will develop their problem solving skills.

Children learn from observation. They have a knack for thinking out of the box because their mind is not compartmentalised like this of adults. They can think beyond the obvious and are really creative. As a parent, you should encourage your child even when he/she makes stupid suggestions or tries doing something in a way that is not conventional.

As soon as children start third grade, you can start explaining financial management to them. Giving small sums of money will make them realise the importance of saving and the joys of spending. Whatever they decide, they are learning an important life lesson.

Above all, respect your child and encourage honesty, integrity, resilience and vision in children. These attributes cannot be taught but can only be nurtured.

True entrepreneurship is achieved only when a child’s vision is transformed into a commercial project. There are many young entrepreneurs these days. Even child entrepreneurs are making new internationally. If you think your child has entrepreneurship capabilities, do make sure you give it the right exposure.

 

How to Make Travelling with Kids Less Nightmarish

Bril blog 4 image

Travelling alone can be stressful enough. Throw in those restless, volatile, messy and impatient little humans and you have a completely new scenario. Your biggest fear is probably the harsh way in which other passengers are likely to look at you. Another thing is that you do not know how your kids may react to being airborne 10,000 feet above ground. It does not matter if your kids are among the most well behaved. You risk diaper blowouts, puking on a stranger and multiple scream sessions.
So how do you handle all this? Fortunately for you, it is not all doom and gloom. In fact, there is something you can do to keep this madness at bay. Although the tips discussed here are mainly for parents who are flying with kids, they can be applied to other types of travel.

Do not pay attention to the idiots

The first mistake that you should avoid doing is trying to please everyone on the plane. Other people just hate kids. They are likely to shudder by the sight or sound of a child, no matter how angelic the child might be. Ignore such people and also ignore their glares, however damning. Remember that your kids too, have a right to be on the plane, just like the other passengers.

However, as a parent, you should also refrain from being an idiot. It is your responsibility to ensure that your children do not infringe on the space and comfort of other passengers. Some parents do the unthinkable in the plane. They even change poopy pampers on tray tables. This way, they let their young ones kick at other passengers. Since you want to know how you can travel with your kids nicely, chances are that you are a conscientious parent keen on keeping kids well-mannered and as calm as possible during air travel. Therefore, so long as you keep an eye on your kids so that they do not become a pain to other people, you are going to be okay.

Plan for the flight

In case you will be flying in the morning, ensure that you give your child enough sleep on the eve of the flight. Taking an under-rested kid on the plane is asking for disaster. Trust me!
If you have children who still sleep or tire at certain periods of the day, consider planning your flight at those drowsy times.
For an afternoon flight, engage your children in activities that will wear them out. Expose them to sunlit physical play outside the house. Once you get to the airport, encourage them to scamper around the play areas as you wait for the plane.

Night flights are a torture, and so, in case you can avoid it, do not increase the severity of the torture by bringing on board a restless toddler. People want to relax and even sleep on the night plane. They will be very angry when you have a screaming baby with you.

If possible, fly nonstop. Alighting from the plane, pushing your luggage with your children in tow as you rush to make a connecting flight does not help your mental health.

Make efforts to reduce flying discomfort

As the plane takes off or descends, there is normally a rapid alteration of pressure that troubles even adults. For kids, you can imagine that it can even be worse.

Tips

  • The solution is to give kids juice or milk during takeoff as this can relieve the inside air pressure. It is also the right time for nursing babies.
  • If you have little kids, an alternative to chewing gum is the gummy worms. Not only do these last awhile but are also very popular among kids.
  • Earplane earplugs are another great solution to make kids comfortable during taking off and landing. They are available for different ages from age 1-10 as well as for the 11 year-old kids and above. The plugs are specifically designed to reduce the discomfort that the air pressure brings.

Pack useful items to help maintain your sanity. Other than the toys and other things, the following essentials are also important:

  • Spare outfits not only for your kids but also for you. These come in handy in case of spills of vomiting.
  • Several wipes as well as sizeable zip lock bags. These can be used as garbage bags among other uses.
  • Milk or extra formula
  • Snacks (some of the good ones include string cheese, crackers, dried fruit and carrots).
  • Any drug as well as First Aid supplies that you may require. Consider things like hand wipes, teething remedies, kid vitamins, anti diarrhea medications and band aids among other things.

Most people hate travelling with their kids because of the way they tend to be messy. This is why some parents will wait until their kids attain the age of 7 and above before they can move with them. However, following the tricks above, you can tame the kids and have a smooth journey.

Raising Thankful Kids

With a silver spoon or a silver lining?

As the year comes to an end, give your child the gift of gratitude. What am I talking about, you wonder?! Well, as a parent and as a professional working with parents and kids, I often come across parents saying ‘kids today are so hard to satisfy…when they want, they want it now..AND when they get it, it holds their attention for a bit and then they want something else….”  Am sure you get the picture!

So, here is something to think about…do you think we are raising a generation of “I NEED…I WANT…ITS NOT ENOUGH’ kids? I think to some extent we are. Part of that is a reflection of our own values as a society where we are so invested in acquiring  more and wanting more…be it a new gadget, a bigger car or the latest fashion trend. We seem to be in a constant rush and frenzy as we live life by our ‘wish lists’. Think about it, when was the last time you took a pause and put on the brakes, to appreciate all the things you already have?

So, in case you are thinking, ‘Okay we get that, but apart from the obvious reasons, why should we teach our children to be grateful and thankful?’ Here is WHY! Research has proven that when we teach our children to be thankful and count their blessings, it develops resiliency, happiness and a positive attitude to life. While having a thankful outlook will not change the events in their lives, it definitely changes the way they perceive them. As children learn to find and acknowledge their blessings, even in the midst of difficult times, they learn that problems can be conquered and difficulties can be solved.

So, now that we know why it’s important for our kids to learn to be grateful and thankful, the next questions to answer is, ‘How do we help our children develop this life skill?’

The answer is closer than you think, as it starts with you! Here are some tips:

  1. Model Being Thankful – while this seems obvious, how many times do we take the time to verbalise that we are thankful and share that with our children? When parents express thankfulness for things in their life, children learn to do the same thing. Remember there is no better role model than you!
  2. Thankful treeBe a Thankful Family – made a concerted effort to help your children identify all the things you are thankful for as a family, starting with having each other! Gather your family together and create a ‘Thankful Tree’. It’s simple – each of you draws an outline of your hands and then writes/illustrates what you are thankful for. Discuss and process this as a family. Encourage the kids to think beyond their new toys, and look at other things like, “I am thankful I can draw well’ or ‘I am thankful that I have good friends’. Creating your ‘Family Thankful Tree’ is also a great way to bond and have fun as a family! Here is an example of one we did…the kids will love it and so will you!
  3. See Gratitude Everywhere – it’s easy to be grateful when the going is good, right?  So, as you develop this habit of gratitude, take it to the next level by showing your kids how to be grateful even when things appear less perfect and not so rosy.  For example, “Yes, the rain means your field trip gets postponed and I know you were looking forward to having fun with your friends, but the rain is great for the trees and the crops, and the earth really needed that! And you will still get to go to your field trip next week…”

So, parents rather than raising children ‘born with a silver spoon in their mouth’, lets raise our children to be the ‘silver lining’ kind of children that can focus on the positive, even as stormy clouds enter their lives today or tomorrow!

Happy Parenting and see you in the New Year with a Thankful and Grateful Heart!

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children. This blog was written by Aparna Balasundaram, Psychotherapist and Life Skills Expert.

5 Strategies To Put Your Baby To Sleep

Putting-A-Baby-To-Sleep

“I rock my baby to sleep, she has slept like that ever since she was an infant”, says a mother of a 10 month old. Another says, “Nothing works like a drive in the car, the gentle rocking motion puts my toddler to sleep in no time” and yet another harried mother claims she has to carry her 3 year old in her arms and pace the room, crooning songs that her child likes.

Whatever your method of putting your child to sleep is, it should not turn into a bedtime battle. We commonly meet mothers who complain that their kids just refuse to understand the fact that they are tired and it is their bed time. What ensues is a battle between the child and the mother, where the child invariably takes a long time to sleep, leaving the mother physically and mentally exhausted. If you have a similar bed-time scenario with your child, it is time to change the dreaded bed-time routine into a more peaceful one, where the child learns to soothe himself/herself to sleep.

Develop a flexible attitude when you decide to help your child to self soothe and sleep

Treat sleeping like any other activity that your child engages in. Just like eating and playing, you can’t force your child to sleep. Just like how a child learns to recognize hunger and demands food or milk, similarly you have to help him discover sleep. For that to happen, the setting has to be consistent and soothing. Following a routine helps in the long term as children learn to pick up the pattern and expect sleep to come at the end of the routine.

Be vary of sleep tactics that work for other children

Your child is unique and only he/she can show you what works in their case. Take all advice with a pinch of salt. You may try it once or twice with your child but never force it. Sleep time should be pleasant for your child, not distressing.

Deciding where to sleep

Sleeping arrangements vary from co-sleeping, to cribs to bassinets. Decide which one is best for your child. Based on your routine and lifestyle, pick one that suits you and baby the best in the long run.

Take one step at a time and remember, the initial month is always the hardest

Whatever routine you decide for your child, it will seem not to work in the initial few days. Hang in there. The child is also figuring out and forming patterns in his brain. However, if the routine is obviously causing distress to the child or is doing the opposite of calming the child down, dump it. Stay flexible and implement another routine.

Sleep association in children

Let your child associate sleep with self soothing. This means that the baby is put down when awake. Parents provide a comforting environment but do not help baby to sleep by any external stimulation such as rocking, singing or patting. The child learns to recognize sleep and sleeps without any intervention. Subsequently, you will discover, that night time waking will reduce as the baby learns to put herself to sleep without any help from you. As hard or impossible as this may sound, it is possible.

Remember, consistency and self soothing techniques are key to help your child sleep peacefully.

 

What to Do when Kids Ask Tough Questions

kids asking parents

Kids ask questions. Whenever they want, wherever they like. They ask because they are curious. They ask because they think you know.

If they knew that they can get those answers somewhere else, they would do that. (Let us face it, sooner or later that is bound to happen.)

The reason why we get irritated with kids and their questions is that, often, we do not know the answers. In addition we do not want to admit that we do not know. Either to the kid or to ourselves.

But there is a nice way out.

Let us imagine a scenario – my grandson has asked me a question about the stars. And I do not know the answer.

“Arhan, Thatha does not know the answer. What should we do?”

“I don’t know”

“Should we ask Amma about it? Or should we look up some book? Or may be the computer?”

“Computer?”

“OK, let us check the computer.. “

We sit together and I enter his question in my search window in the browser. As I type I keep talking about what I am doing.

“I now open my laptop and I click on this red, yellow, green and blue button. (That is the Chrome Icon). And now I have to type your question here..”

We search couple of sites and let us say we found what he wanted. The matter need not stop there.

“OK when Daddy gets back from work we will tell him about your question & how you found the answer. Shall we do that?”

“Yes”

“Will you tell him? Sometimes Thatha may forget things.”

“OK I will tell him.”

“What will you tell him?”

The experience is still fresh in his mind and Arhan would describe what we did, in his own words. Therefore he will remember it well

I could follow this up with a question to Arhan that evening, for which Arhan has no answer. So I ask “What do we do? You want try the computer?”. If he says yes, ask him tell you what to do.

Every time a child asks a question, there is a great opportunity to bond with the child and discover something together. It will be a shame to miss it.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children. This blog was written by Sridhar Ramanathan, Strategic Innovation Coach.

5 Christmas Movies to Watch with Your Family

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Christmas is coming soon! You can feel the excitement in the air – the love, the goodwill, the peace, the fun and the Christmas spirit! Get into this festive spirit with magical, mystical and feel-good movies that you can watch with your family. What better way than movie nights to spend time with your family? Bring out the popcorn and hot cocoa and enjoy Christmas flicks that are sure to warm your hearts and teach your children about kindness, love, sharing and other such good traits.

Here is a list of our five favourite Christmas movies which one can watch over and over again:

  • Miracle on 34th street: 

A six year old girl doesn’t believe in Santa Claus. So, she doesn’t expect to get any important gifts as Christmas gift. Sounds kind of sad and disappointing right? But, then the story takes a magical turn as she meets a departmental store Santa Claus who believes he is the real deal. Watch this heart warming story of a little girl who finally starts believing in miracles.

  • All I want for Christmas:

This holiday season, two kids (brother and sister) make an elaborate plan to get what they want for Christmas – spending Christmas with their parents and grandmother. But, the best laid plans as we all know never quite works out the way we want! So what ends up is a hilarious flick. Add a little touch of Santa’s magic and you have the perfect Christmas movie.

  • The Polar Express:

With beautiful animations and exhilarating graphics, this movie takes you on a wonderful ride (on a train!) to the North Pole. A young boy who is doubtful about the existence of Santa Claus boards the train for a journey that he will remember all his life!

  • Elf:

An elf born in the North Pole one day realises that he may not be an elf after all! And that he was born in New York City – so off he goes in search of his real parents. What follows is a heart warming comedy and a Christmas adventure. Watch this with your family for tons of laughs!

  • Scrooged:

A selfish TV executive gets haunted by three spirits on Christmas Eve teaching him the lessons of life! A modern take on the classic tale ‘A Christmas Carol’, this movie is as magical (even with ghosts!) as the story. Watch as the protagonist breaks free of his selfish and arrogant ways and mends relations with everyone. This is a movie that will definitely fill you and your kids with the true Christmas spirit!

 

What parents can teach their kids about Mandela

The world is mourning the death of Nelson Mandela, an extraordinary man, a symbol of strength, dignity, leadership, survival and courage. Our children’s generation (many of whom were born after Mandela was freed), cannot even comprehend the 27 years of imprisonment he suffered and how he was able to win freedom for his country, the last remnant of European colonialism and the symbol of the dreaded apartheid. In telling the story of this great man to our children, there are several lessons we can impart:

1. The courage to hang in there:  what you think is difficult is almost negligible compared to what Mandela went through.  Unlike most political prisoners, Mandela was treated as an ordinary prisoner and given hard and menial tasks, and even contracted TB as a result.  But as Mandela himself said, “Difficulties break some men but make others.” About his persistence, he said, “Do not judge me by my successes, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.”

2. Do not hate:  Mandela would have been fully justified if he can come out of prison filled with hate. What is extraordinary is that he bore very little ill feeling towards his captors, saying, “No one is born hating another person because of the color of his skin, or his background, or his religion. People must learn to hate, and if they can learn to hate, they can be taught to love, for love comes more naturally to the human heart than its opposite.”  This is so true for us parents, and we should use the story of Mandela to show how hate and bigotry should be shunned.

3. The importance of education:  If Mandela could get a law degree in prison, in spite of working under  back-breaking conditions breaking rocks in the lime quarry, clearly he saw tremendous value in it, realizing that  “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”  We should teach our children to make education a priority, and that is  only long-term and peaceful way to change the world.

RIP Madiba.

Re-published with permission from the blog of ParentEdge, a bi-monthly parenting magazine that aims to expose parents to global trends in learning and partner with them in the intellectual enrichment of their children.This blog was written by Gayatri Kulkarni