Tag Archives: motherhood

No more labeling my child

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/no-more-labeling-my-child

As a new age parent, I find myself exhibiting paradoxical behaviour sporadically. That’s because as we are evolving and aligning our parenting methodologies with the ever changing times, we are also somewhat influenced by several other factors, both external and intrinsic. More often than not, we are aware of what the right thing to do is in a given situation but we end up contradicting our own ideologies. Refraining from labeling my child has been one such aspect of parenting which I personally have struggled with for a while. Most of us do understand the repercussions of tagging our children and strongly believe that it is unfair to refer to a child as “bad girl”, “bad boy”, “arrogant”, “stubborn” etc. Indulging in attaching such labels to them is not only an insensitive act on our part but can actually leave a long-lasting impact on the child who is at the receiving end. Sometimes, the psychological damage can be irreversible. Children behave according to their age and their personalities are not even fully developed. In fact, negative labels can lead them to believe that they belong to a certain bracket and then they subconsciously start manifesting those traits. But, as the famous adage goes – it’s easier said than done, more so when it comes to parenting. In spite of acknowledging all of this, I found it difficult to not label my daughter at times in the past.

I recall an incident when I was undergoing a particularly tough day and was feeling debilitated. My daughter was having a typical toddler meltdown over an insignificant matter (well, insignificant according to me!) when we were inside the lift of our block. In a fit of anger coupled with a state of mental frenzy, I retorted with a bitter “You are a bad girl and so stubborn” comment and continued to utter these words. At that point, I just took her back home instead of taking her to the park but felt awful later on when my temper had diffused. I knew in my heart that what I was saying was extremely unwarranted and thoughtless, all the more because I did so in the presence of some acquaintances. Yet, I could not hold back those hurtful words. I wondered why. Was it because I was just frustrated? Or was it my way of justifying my inability to control her tantrum? I don’t know the reason for sure but what I do know is that it was a parenting blunder. The next day, my heart broke when my daughter repeated my words and in the midst of a casual conversation told her father that she was a “bad girl”. The twinge I felt at that moment is something I can never forget. That day onward, I sincerely began to work towards attaining a grip on my emotions and one of the things I did was to identify the triggers for these outbursts.

How NOT to create a fussy eater!

//This article has been sponsored by Junior Horlicks and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/how-not-to-create-a-fussy-eater

The other day I was whining about my toddler’s exasperating antics in the presence of my friend and I was consoled by her with just one statement – “At least you do not have to worry about food and her eating habits. That is a big thing you know.”  Well, I get that a lot, because frankly my daughter is not a fussy eater and most of my friends are aware of this. However, this does not mean that she blissfully gobbles up all her meals every day, but that has never been my expectation. I know that for most parents, a key concern is “Oh! My child does not eat” and I absolutely empathise with their situation.

Personally, food is never a matter of anxiety for me whether at home or outside, because my 2-and-a-half-year-old tiny tot is experimental and usually finds something to her liking in most situations. Partly, I would say I am fortunate but I would like to believe that this is also because of my weaning approach with her since the beginning. I would love to share some tips here which hopefully can help parents to raise children who have a healthy relationship with food. However, let me clarify at the onset that this is not a rulebook. Every child is different and hence, I would urge you to ultimately follow your own instincts when it comes to introducing your child to solids. Whatever I am penning down in this article is just based on my own experience and research – this is how I went about helping my child to embrace food and not be averse to it.

Let go – It may seem beyond the bounds of possibility in the beginning but we really need to learn to let go of our own apprehension and fretfulness if we want our children to associate food with happiness.  When I started the process of weaning with my daughter, there were days when she did not ingest even a morsel of food, and I would just let go to normalize the process for her without making it a battle of sorts. I did not want to overwhelm her and wanted to let her take it slow. I let her develop a taste for the various food items offered to her at her own pace.

I would recommend every parent to read the book “My child won’t eat”. It marvelously elucidates how we need to align our own expectations to tackle this “problem” before we expect anything from the kids. In the initial years, children have tiny tummies and hence, they do not require large portions of food. In fact, in the first year, solid food is not the primary source of nutrition (breast milk or formula milk is) and food is just a supplement to fulfill the growing nutritional needs of the child. So by letting go we are not depriving our children of nutrition but are rather helping them by not pushing too hard.

Allow them to self-feed – I think this is the most important factor which aided in getting my child interested in food. She used to self-feed certain kind of foods since the time she started with her intake of solids and because of that, she began to enjoy the process of eating gradually. Most of us think that babies cannot self-feed and worry that they might choke themselves. This is where research comes into play. Making ourselves aware can help curb such concerns related to weaning. The fact is that children without teeth can very well chew soft food as their gums are strong enough for that. We just need to ensure that the finger food or whatever else they are being offered is squashy yet firm and well cooked. Also, we need to understand the difference between gagging and choking. Most of the times kids can handle gagging by themselves and choking can happen even when we feed them mashed or pureed food. The best bet is to equip ourselves to handle such an untoward situation. There is an excellent video on YouTube which explains how to deal with a child who is choking and how to identify it. Also, I know that self-feeding causes so much of mess and it can be such a daunting task to clean it all up. But it all seems worth it today when I witness my toddler relish a meal tidily.

Carrying Your Child Will Not Spoil Your Child

Are you a mother to a tiny tot? How many times have you heard the statement – “Oh! Don’t carry your child all the time. Kids get accustomed to it and then always want you to carry them. Don’t spoil your child.”? I am sure each one you must have been the recipient of this unsolicited advice at least once. I have been too. It is a ubiquitous notion that carrying a baby habitually is going to spoil the little one.

Firstly, I am not sure if I understand what people mean when they say “spoiling”. Do they mean that the parents would end up carrying around their grown up children in their laps because they did so a lot during their infancy and toddlerhood stage? Or do they mean that the children would be too dependent on their parents for life? If it is the former, then it is such a preposterous thought. Have you all ever seen a grown up wanting to be carried around? What are we really trying to caution the parents about here? If it is the latter, then pray tell me, how does one make a child independent without making them feel secure? In fact, it is the other way round – providing your baby the comfort and security which they need for their emotional growth is only going to make them independent faster than when you try to keep pushing them to become self-sufficient while they are not even ready. They will certainly come into their own sooner or later depending on their environment and personality.

A letter to a Mom from her Toddler

// This letter was published by Women’s Web and is also available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/10/toddlers-tantrum-dear-mom-a-letter-to-a-mom-from-her-toddler/

Dear Mom,

It seems like I gave you a very hard time today like I do on most days perhaps, as I can sense by your exhausted and flustered state. I am sorry but I did not mean to do so. I know there are times when you are at your wits end because you are unable to figure out the reason for my tantrum or outburst. But trust me Mom, that during such times, even I have no clue about the cause of my tears or feeling of distress. I am still learning about a lot of things. I have just begun to acknowledge my feelings. I have just started understanding the ways of the world. There is still so much that I cannot comprehend.

I know that you get tired of my howling at times. “Why do you have to cry or scream for everything!” you say. I am sorry mom but I am slowly learning to express myself and don’t know how to handle my emotions yet. I can communicate but I have a long way to go before I can talk to you clearly about what is going on in my mind. When you refuse to let me do stuff which I am keen to do, I feel unhappy. I want to explore everything in this world which I have only recently begun to perceive with my own senses. But, according to you I cannot do certain things and I wonder why. You explain to me about danger on some occasions but I don’t really recognize the safety risks you speak about and even if I do, I am not yet capable of retaining it all in my memory.

Short Story – The Unwed Mother

// This short story is the winner of “Muse of the Month” contest conducted by Women’s Web in the month of May 2017. It has been published and is available at the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/the-unwed-mother-may-2017-motm-winner/

Araina goggled at the test results in disbelief. The second pink line had appeared, turning her world topsy-turvy in an instant. She was perched on the sofa with a deadpan expression on her face. And then as reality hit her, panic mode kicked in. A whirlwind of emotions churned inside her and she cursed herself for changing the course of her life for a few moments of bliss and pleasure. She started pacing all over the room fretfully, while trying to figure out ways to sort out the mess she had got herself into. She clenched her fist and thwacked the wall, and broke down hysterically. She had to let those emotions come out to be able to think rationally about the situation. Araina was a strong and pragmatic person. After crying her heart out, she regained some composure and decided to face the circumstances head on. She could not change what had already happened, but she had to approach this with a sane mind.

Araina dropped an email to her reporting manager stating that she was sick and hence, had taken a day off. She booked an appointment with a renowned gynaecologist in the city for 12 PM. She took a rapid shower and hastily slipped into her office wear.

D For “Do Not Judge A Child With Your Own Yardstick”

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link to it:

http://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/d-for-do-not-judge-a-child-with-your-own-yardstick

It was a lazy, summer afternoon and the clock seemed to be ticking away at a sluggish pace. I was racking my brain to figure out the next activity to keep my toddler occupied as she wasn’t ready to shut her eyes for a quick nap. I am amazed by the stamina of these tiny tots who can tussle with sleep and stay hyper-active even when their body is signalling otherwise. The buzzing of my mobile handset jostled me out of my thoughts and I was pleasantly surprised to be greeted by my friend who lives in the same locality. She had been keen to visit us since a while and apprised me that she would be arriving in a few minutes. I was eagerly looking forward to meet her and her infant, and rushed to churn curd to prepare a beverage for them. They were home soon and I was introduced by my friend to her mother-in-law who was accompanying her as they had arrived directly from a mall. After the typical exchange of pleasantries, I offered some homemade snacks along with iced buttermilk for them to relish. As we spent a while indulging in some general chit-chat, the topic of discussion steered towards parenting which was bound to happen with two children around. My 2 year old daughter was clinging to me, hence Aunty tried to garner her attention by engaging her in a conversation. After a few unsuccessful attempts, finally my daughter started responding but lost interest when Aunty began to ask her about what the various English alphabets stand for.

“Sweetheart, you didn’t tell me what does ‘D’ stand for? ‘D’ for…??”

Mommy’s First Day Of Preschool

// This article was referenced by parenting expert, Dr. Debmita Dutta, from “What Parents Ask” in her article on preschool transition. Below is the link to the article:

http://whatparentsask.com/reduce-separation-anxiety-leave-child-school/

If you are a parent to an infant or a toddler, in all likelihood, you must have experienced more than one “I wish I could get a few hours of peace” moment. And then, that day arrives at last with a boom. The first day of your child at preschool/school! All that you love to do but never got a chance to indulge in due to parental responsibilities, you save for this big moment. “I will write more once my child starts going to school”. “I will watch movies when my child starts going to school”. “I will catch up on my lost sleep when my child starts going to school”. “I will visit the parlour at peace and pamper myself once my child starts going to school.” “I will this.” “I will that.” Isn’t the list endless? But, all you do once the child is away is sit aimlessly and cast a vacant, faraway stare into infinity.

So, yesterday was my daughter’s first day at preschool. No, let me correct that – it was my first day! Because I definitely seemed to be the more anxious, besieged and lost one. She is almost 2.5 years old and I was amazed at her confidence in handling this transformation sportingly and with zeal and alacrity. I had decided to wait outside the premises of the school on the first day but was advised by her teacher to leave once she settled down. When I reached home, I could sense restlessness creeping inside me and then, without a warning I could feel hot tears trickling down. Damn, I was weeping! I sincerely don’t know why but I was. Maybe because I was terribly missing the presence of my daughter and could feel the void; maybe because the peace I was desperately waiting for seemed like a sinister stranger whose noise was more deafening than the tumult created by my daughter’s antics; maybe because I was feeling guilty about having been a bit harsh on my daughter over the last few days due to extreme toddler meltdowns, whereas she made things trouble-free for me at such a crucial juncture of our lives; maybe because I was fretting over her well-being as she faces this big bad world outside; maybe because of the fact that she is growing at rocket speed and time is just slipping through my fingers like sand; maybe because I was genuinely glad and keyed up about her entering this new and vital phase of  her life; or maybe because it dawned upon me that finally I have to take that first step towards cutting the umbilical cord.

Yes, I Am Still Breastfeeding My Toddler. No, It’s Not A Bad Habit.

// This article was written as a part of “Stop Judging” campaign carried out by www.mycity4kids.com and is also available at below link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/yes-i-am-still-breastfeeding-my-toddler-no-its-not-a-bad-habit-stopjudging

If you are a breastfeeding mother, then you must have heard the following questions or advices umpteen times.

“Are you still breastfeeding your toddler? Stop doing it and wean him/her quickly. It’s a bad habit which they need to get rid of soon”. 

“Your milk is not sufficient and the child needs top milk for nutrition and strength. “

“Breast milk is just water after a year.” 

“You still nurse to sleep? Don’t be lazy to put your child to sleep by other means.”

“Isn’t is embarrassing when your child tugs at you for a feed at a public place?”

And so on and so forth. Phew!

Well, my daughter is almost 26 months old and we are still having a strong breastfeeding relationship. I nurse her to sleep most of the time and though the frequency of the feeds has reduced, I have no intention to wean her off my milk anytime soon.  While there is so much noise and judgement surrounding formula milk and formula feeding mothers, the ones like me aren’t spared either. I met someone a couple of days back who casually inquired about my daughter’s diet. The conversation steered towards the brand of milk I use and I informed the lady that I still primarily rely on breast milk for my daughter along with the usual solid foods, of course. To say that the lady was aghast would be an understatement. She chided me on being a careless mother by depriving my daughter of good nutrition. She also didn’t hesitate to cross the line and stated that I am responsible for developing the bad habit of breastfeeding and nursing to sleep in my daughter even at this age, by giving in to her demands. Honestly, I was in no mood to debate so I just cut short the conversation and moved on.

Personally, I don’t get affected by people judging me for my choices as I take complete responsibility for what I do and I do it because I feel it is right. I also do my own research when it comes to parenting, hence I take such comments with a pinch of salt. But, I know there are many mothers out there who are constantly judged for everything they do as a parent and this takes a toll on them. There are many who don’t have the luxury of a sea of information at their disposal on one click. Such mothers, who are unfortunately not so well-informed, start losing confidence in their parenting skills after being the target of unnecessary and harsh judgements. Why do we need to do this?

Dotty, You do not need to fulfil my dreams

//This article was first published on the popular parenting platform ZenParent and is available at below link:

https://zenparent.in/zencorner/i-dont-expect-my-child-to-fulfill-my-dreams/

This article has been published by Women’s Web and is available on the below link:

http://www.womensweb.in/2017/05/let-our-children-live-their-dream-not-ours/

A fun part of parenting is sharing your little one’s antics with your close friends and family members. It is a great way to make the people who adore your child a part of the child’s growth journey. Recently, I shared an entertaining dance video of my daughter wherein she is grooving to the tunes of one of the latest hits of Bollywood. I cherish the moments when my daughter and I dance together and it is lovely to bond with her over something that I am passionate about. It also helps keep her occupied for a good amount of time because once she puts on her dancing shoes, there is no stopping her.

Now let me come back to my point before I start digressing.  When I shared this video, everybody enjoyed watching it and I received the customary heartfelt reactions. While everyone had some nice things to say for her, it was the comment of one of my friends which got me thinking.”

Wow, she is good Anu. Looks like she will fulfill your dream of becoming a famous choreographer.”

Well, why do I need my daughter to fulfill my unfulfilled dreams? I can do it myself and am already doing it as best as I can. Yes, I will be ecstatic if she becomes a renowned choreographer, but I will be equally elated with whatever else she chooses to do, as long as she is blissfully traversing her chosen path and is taking responsibility of her actions.

I know the comment was well-intended or probably said in jest, but it is quite common in our culture to expect children to accomplish the dreams of their parents. Whether it is fulfilling our own unfilled dreams or the new ones we start weaving for our children once we become parents, it ultimately boils down to making us proud or gratifying us. But, it is not about US, it is about THEM!

The Blues of the Flu!

//This article has been sponsored by Dettol and was first published on mycity4kids. Below is the link:

https://www.mycity4kids.com/parenting/my-voice/article/the-blues-of-the-flu

As I caressed and cuddled her in my arms before placing her on the bed, I hoped that this time she would sleep peacefully for a longer duration. I had been awake for almost 40 hours at a stretch, barring short power naps in between, and I just didn’t have the energy and vigour left in me to be up even for a minute. I wanted to shut my eyes and stretch my legs. I wanted to give my back the rest it craved for. I wanted to get over the exhaustion that had seeped into every inch of my body. And more than anything, I wanted my daughter’s discomfort to end soon.

Aah, the blues of the flu! This is the scenario every time my toddler is down with it. The last time this happened was during the monsoons and needless to say, it was a gruelling time for both of us. Apart from the physical uneasiness and sickness associated with the seasonal flu, there is a lot more that comes along with it in a package deal. Kids become clingy and cranky, their appetite goes for a toss and they find it difficult to sleep due to the congestion. Also, there is a high chance of the infection getting passed on to the other family members. In our case, all 3 of us invariably fall sick when one catches the flu. And then begins the series of strenuous days and sleepless nights till everyone recovers from it.

It has been a relief that we survived the winters without getting affected majorly by infections, but it is not yet over. The spring season is here with beautiful weather and pleasant vibes in the surroundings. However, the weather change is also a seedbed for all kinds of infection due to the pollen in the air. This is the classic flu season and I am doing all that I can to keep my child protected.

Balanced and wholesome diet – You are what you eat! Undoubtedly, the most important contributor to overall health and well-being is a balanced and nutritious diet. It’s essential to offer variety of foods from all the food groups to not only the kids but also to adults. I include different fruits and vegetables in our diet to ensure adequate intake of vitamins and minerals. Since deficiency of vitamin C is known to affect body’s immune system, I try to include food items rich in vitamin C and iron in our menu. Vitamin C aids in the absorption of Iron in our body, hence it makes sense to group them together in a meal as much as possible.

The “wonder” herb Tulsi – While there are numerous home remedies to improve immunity and fight infections, I personally can vouch on the goodness of Tulsi. It is a powerful herb with medicinal properties and I have found it to be effective in battling against viral infections. Tulsi is known to contain hundreds of valuable compounds which possess strong antiseptic, antioxidant, antibacterial, antiviral and immunity enhancing properties. Tulsi can also help in purifying the atmosphere. For centuries, it has been used in Ayurveda due to its diverse therapeutic properties. We either directly chew washed Tulsi leaves or drink Tulsi decoction obtained by boiling Tulsi leaves and then draining the water. Inhaling the vapours of tulsi leaves works well for clearing congestion.