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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Newborn Care During Winters

Caring for babies

Those of you who are new parents will agree wholeheartedly that caring for babies is a daunting task in any season. Baby care is a specialized subject which requires 100% commitment from parents. If you have a support system consisting of doting grandparents, adoring aunts, fawning friends, dependable paediatricians and even the neighbour ladies who will drop in to care for the baby, you are one of those lucky people who will breeze through the initial months of baby care.


What next moments

All parents face those moments of uncertainty when the baby just won’t stop crying. You have tried all known remedies. After spending yet another sleepless night nursing your baby, you make a resolve that you are going to be more careful in the future. Truth is no matter how hard the parents try, babies will fall sick. But one can take certain precautions during all seasons of the year to see that the instances of illness are infrequent and discomfort to the baby is minimal.


Common Winter Illnesses

Winter does bring some respite from the humid and sultry months, but it also brings its own set of challenges. As the baby’s immune system is still developing, they tend to be vulnerable to common cold and other winter illnesses like flu, viral fever, meningitis, pneumonia and bronchiolitis. Ear infections are very common in winter, and your baby can cry for hours without anyone being the wiser about what is causing your infant the discomfort.

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A no-panic guide to fever

What is fever

A fever is caused by a number of medical conditions ranging from viral, bacterial and parasitic infections. Fever is one of the medical signs, an objective indication of some medical fact or characteristic that may be detected by a physician. Fevers do not normally go beyond 410 C to 420 C (or 105.60 F to 107.60F).


A trying time

A condition like the fever in children is a real test of parents’ patience and parenting skills as younger the children the scarier it is for the parents. Fever makes children cranky and  restless. Sleep eludes them and high fever causes children to whimper through the night, giving the parents some anxious moments. Parents sometimes blame themselves for not being careful enough.


How to deal with fever

Understand that falling sick is part of growing up and no matter how careful parents are, kids will fall sick at some stage. But it is important for parents not to panic. First check the temperature using a standard digital thermometer or a temporal artery scanner. Use a rectal thermometer for infants and young children.

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DIY activities for toddlers- Diwali Paper Lanterns

Tradesmen are busy people

You have been trying to get your dripping tap for weeks and your plumber has been playing truant, promising you all the time he is almost at your doorstep but some ‘urgent’ work has come up in the meantime. When the sound of the dripping tap and the thought of wasting all that precious water has fairly driven you up the wall, you decide enough is enough.


Do It Yourself

You turn to, you guessed it, Google, the go-to person for everything from how to fix a dripping tap in 5 easy steps to making a paper lantern for your child for Diwali. A helpful step-by-step procedure and an infographic listing the essential items to learn your new trade of plumbing and you are good to go. After a few trials and lots of errors, you finally manage to fix the leaky pipe. The satisfaction derived from taking on a challenge and doing it well, you realize, is immense.


Festival of Lights

Diwali is the most popular of all the festivals in India and signifies the victory of good over evil. It is a time to meet family and friends, exchange gifts and burst firecrackers. During Diwali, every house is lit up with traditional diyas, decorative lights and paper lanterns to signify the move away from darkness and towards light. So what does the concept of DIY have to do with the festival of lights?

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Kids’ Kitchen Korner: Learning from the Kitchen


A kitchen is a storehouse of our happiness. Not only does it contain the delights that satiate our sense of taste but also does well to bond us to our family through numerous memories of dining delights. Today we will use this happy storehouse as a creative place for our little monsters.

Sometimes all we must do is stretch our minds beyond the visible. Kitchen utensils sure can be used to teach how to cook and about cookware but can also be helpful in other ways. Below I am listing activities that will suit different age groups ranging from toddlers to 10!

MUSIC and EXPLORATION –  (1 year to 4 years)

A year in kids will begin exploring one of their favorite environments – the kitchen. Ever wondered why kids love the kitchen cabinets so much? The strongest reason is that they connect YOU – The Mother/Father to the Kitchen. They observe you cooking, spending time there, and nurturing them with the food you cook in the kitchen. Plus, if they want to be around you, they will follow you into the kitchen!

The other reasons are: Variety of utensils – different sizes, shapes, different sounds when explored + the fact that utensils are ‘hidden’ behind the cabinet doors, gives a thrilling effect to the curious minds. This makes for great sensory exploration!

You may set up two days in a week to allow kid/s to explore kitchen utensils. Either you can have them come in and explore in their own manner or you can put out a set of utensils and give it to them to play with. Each week you can pick a different set of utensils. Great music can be made with different vessels. Explore with plastic measuring spoons, steel spoons, glasses, containers, serving spoons, cabinet doors, etc. In fact, you can also teach them about loud vs. soft sounds and difference in sounds created by contact of different materials.



 HIDE-AND-SEEK UTENSILS (2 years to 5 years)

I must admit that I owe a lot of my creative ideas to my daughter. I learnt to be very creative with games and art since her birth. Until date I haven’t felt the need to look up a Pin-interest or to google games or art for kids. One such game which popped up is ‘Hide-and-Seek’ Utensils. Choose one cabinet to work with. Pick one utensil from that cabinet, show it to your toddler or pre-schooler. Tell the child to close eyes and count to 10. Hide it in the same cabinet at a different place, ask the toddler to find it.

Alternative: hide the utensil somewhere around the area where you are seated. Make sure it is easy for your toddler to find.

 MATCHING GAME  (2 years to 3 years)

Bring out a bunch of your kitchen utensils and identical / matching plastic utensils, maybe from your child’s toy kitchen. Keep her and your utensils at a good distance of 3-6 feet. Pick one of your utensil and raise it in the air. Ask your child to find the same kind from her section as soon as possible. This game can be more fun if the child gets a chance to run around. To do so, you could place your child’s utensils in another room.

 SETTING THE DINING TABLE – (3 years to 8 years)

Kids enjoy setting the table from an early age. Once they are engaged and understand that it is a way to participate in family chores and bond more closely, they want to do it more. Give them a chance every weekend to set the table under your supervision. If you are concerned about glassware, you may inform them that you will need to hold alongside or you may let them arrange one mat with plastic ware.


COOKING – (3 years to 10 years)

Involve children in cooking, small or big. It could be lemonade, chocolate shake, pasta, rice, or pancakes. Cooking teaches children several things:

  1. They have the power to create something that nurtures family members
  2. Promotes independence, creativity, and self-confidence
  3. Helps bond with either or both parents
  4. Develops skills in relevant areas
  5. Provides opportunity for self-exploration and fun



Children can also be mere helpers. My daughter would peel onions and garlic for me from age 2 years 7 months. Even if she did just 3 pods, she learnt a lot and enjoyed it thoroughly! Kids can also pretend to cook in their utensils within your kitchen area while you cook. This makes a good role model for their learning.

ART – (4 years – 8 years)

Use utensils to teach tracing. Place any utensil like bowl, spoon on a plain paper and have your child trace it. Tracing is a great skill in art and promotes co-ordination of fine and gross motor movements with the eye and brain. For older kids, you can have them do ‘object drawing’ – place an object in front of them and have them copy it on paper. You can also get craftsy e.g. tape a plastic spoon on paper and allow child to decorate it with pompoms, glitter, fuzzy sticks, stickers, etc.


Teaching them that kitchenware can be used in ways more than one helps them broaden their minds and promotes problem-solving. I offer kitchen utensils to children to use with play-doh. Rolling pins for rolling, fork for designs, spoons and bowls for impressions, etc.



Who said we need paper and pencil for math? Use the below ingredients indoors in large containers or outdoors on the grass, for fun play + math with measurements + motor skills: measuring spoons, container filled with rice, another container filled with beans or legumes, water is optional.

Ask questions like – how many scoops of this measuring cup will fill this glass with rice? Kids must conduct the activity and give the answer. Kids can learn to measure within scoop sizes e.g. how many of ½ tsp scoops we need to fill one Tbsp.



Although I focused this article on kitchen utensils, there are numerous other things in our kitchens that can be used as play and learning items for our children. Foils for making ball, throwing, foils for art, strainers as bats or for ball toss, plastic glasses to balance, etc. Challenge your mind to pick an item every week and use it to teach your child.

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 Rima Desai.

Rima’s has a Master’s Degree in Psychology from Mumbai, and is a certified Childcare Professional and Life Coach from USA. She has written numerous articles for parents and women in Tanzania, India, and in USA. Her work includes writing for airline magazines and editing internationally published books. She has extensive experience in training teachers and parents and working with children aged 2-7 years. Her parenting page can be accessed at Parenting Booth , and her personal blog here.

Tips for potty training in toddlers

The Parenthood

Being a parent for the first time is an experience one is unlikely to forget in a hurry. Raising a child, as parents soon find out, with sleeplessness and having to deal with illness, is a full-time job. Probably the concept 24×7 was coined by a young mother raising her child single-handedly. A young mother is easy to spot – she is that haggard looking individual, with dark circles under her eyes and who tends to doze off in the middle of a conversation.


A helping hand

If one is lucky enough, having one’s partner at hand to share some of the parental duties is a boon. Having one’s parents living with or even having them on a short visit is even better. Your mother knows how best to soothe a wailing infant, while your father will stay by your bedside to lend you the strength and extend moral support you so desperately seek.


A New Challenge

You heave a sigh of relief when the difficult initial months are over, only to be confronted by a new challenge – potty-training your child. This is the single most difficult challenge parents face with its potential to restrict your mobility and the need to clean-up often. The high cost of diapers and the anxiety to get your child to do what other children are already doing further weigh you down.

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