Summer Holidays and Parenting

Summer holidays and parenting can be strenuous or fulfilling and fun. All you have to do is to be a little bit adventurous and imaginative. This way kid and you both can enjoy the summer break. For the last two years, my track record was not very good. And I heaved a sigh of relief when my kid’s school reopened. But that was because I was bed ridden for months. This year, I was determined, bed ridden or not, we will enjoy the summer break. Thankfully, I am active this year, so its a bliss to enjoy all the benefits that health can offer you.

Summer Holidays and Gardening

I am an outdoor person. I love spending time in the open. How hot outside is, doesn’t matter. Thankfully my daughter share this passion with me. She too is an active child. We love beaches, climbing on trees, going for walks, swimming, getting drenched in rain or just sitting on a bench in the garden and chatting. We try to indulge in all these activities whenever possible. Yesterday we tried our hand at gardening.

But the problem is we don’t have a piece of land for gardening! But its no deterrence to us at all! We collected the seeds of fruits we ate in the morning and headed towards our community lawn with our seeds and a small shovel.

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  Seeds

A gardener was already working in the field. We showed him the seeds and wanted to know where we could plant our mango, cherry, plum and muskmelon seeds. He guided us to some spots. Some we chose on our own. My daughter first wanted to plant mango seeds. She started digging a hole but it was too shallow. Later on I decided to give the gardener a break and did his own work for a while. He was watering the lawn and plants. From time to time I wanted to pour some water on my head too, but I resisted the temptation. The gardener sat in the shade. If you try hard, you can make out his outline.

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The Gardener

My daughter had finished planting most of the seeds and wanted to swap work with me. We changed places. I want my daughter to enjoy nature and develop a green thumb. Gardening is also a good way to teach them about patience. No matter how well you are taking care of the sapling and plants, they will grow when they have to, they will bear fruits when they have to. You have to take care of them almost everyday and then you can’t do anything except step aside and watch.

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Chilling Out

Gardening also involves a cycle of care. You have to go to the planted spots everyday and water them. You have to keep a watch on your activities too. Don’t put too much water or too little water. And the biggest learning experience for my daughter can be, when the trees will be ready to bear fruits, we might not be living here and will move to some other place or city! I know that will be a real life lesson for her. 🙂

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Feeling Of Gratitude and Parenting

Developing a feeling of gratitude should be an important part of parenting, especially in today’s world of abundance and pampering. Kids should be taught early that nothing can be done in isolation so they should not take things for granted. At the advent of our civilization, a typical day started at the crack of the dawn by taking a dip in the river, thanking river for its life giving properties and then offering prayers to Sun, the source of every kind of life on this planet earth. But somewhere down the line, we lost this sense of gratitude and started thinking about such prayers as needless exercise from the past.

Even grown ups have stopped noticing the good in their lives and concentrate on what we have to achieve, where we have to reach most of the time. We tend to hold out till we achieve something big. Somehow this feeling get rubbed off in the kids too. But for a happy and fulfilling life, its necessary to pause for a while and think about what we already have and how grateful we are for finding joys in small things. We should teach gratitude to kids from early age. I have never given it a thought till now and used to wonder why my daughter was not happy with the goodies she has got. We have never explained to her, what is gratitude and why it is important. Not even from parenting, but gratitude was absent from our own lives. I hardly used to pause and think about gratitude. But I felt deeply distressed the way my daughter used to treat her toys, color books, crayons, skates, story books and clothes. One fine day, my husband told me about the absence of gratitude from our lives. And it got me thinking. I tried to explain to my daughter what gratitude is, and she showed mild interest.

Meaning of Gratitude

Why Teaching Gratitude To Kids is Important : We love pampering our kids and we always want to have the things we never had as kids. Nothing is wrong in that philosophy. But teach your kids about feeling grateful. Be thankful for what they already have. It is important for their social, physical and emotional well being. Gratitude touches almost all the aspects of our life. It improves health, boosts immune system, reduces stress, strengthens relationships, encourages positive emotions etc. Grateful people sleep better. They have stronger bonding with family and friends because they practice gratitude. As a parent its important for us to teach kids, that they have not achieved anything in isolation. Whatever they are doing, many strangers have worked for that joy and satisfaction. The color book and crayons they are using re the result of hard work of many strangers.

Importance of Gratitude

How To Develop The Feeling of Gratitude In Kids : The good thing about gratitude is it can be learned. You don’t have to be born with this feeling. You can teach your kids to be grateful by following many methods.

  • Encourage Kids to Maintain a Gratitude Diary:
  • Encourage your kids to write down about things they feel thankful on daily basis. Initially they might need your help but later on they would love to count their blessings. Help them noticing small things such as enjoying a good sandwich, watching birds flying, enjoying a good game with friends, having picnic, kindness of a total stranger or simply watching a good program on TV. Later on they will pick the cue and maintain their diary on their own.

  • Teach Kids to Write Gratitude Letters or Notes
  • Encourage kids to write gratitude letters or e-mail to the persons they are thankful to but have not expressed their gratitude yet. Encourage kids to write small notes to the concerned person and stick these notes where the concern person can spot those easily. The echo od such gratitude goes a long way.

  • Be with Mother Nature
  • Sometimes make time from your schedule and take the kids to a park, beach, lake or jungle. Mother nature soothes our nerves and have a tranquil and calming effect on our mind and body. It slows down our process of thinking for better. Teach kids to show gratitude towards the creature of nature according to your religious belief. If you are an atheist, still tell your kids to enjoy and admire the beauty of nature and be thankful for such a bounty bestowed on our planet only. Go for camping and watch stars on the sky unadulterated by city lights.

  • Use Gratitude Stones:
  • I use this method with my daughter. She is not interested in maintaining a gratitude diary or journal. So I devised this technique with her. She already has lots of colorful stones of various shapes and sizes. Whenever she feels gratitude, she picks up one stone from the bowl and drops it in another empty bowl. She loves doing that. Sometimes she needs reminding. Sometimes I ask her, after an specific event, if she is feeling grateful for so and so events? She gladly picks up one or two stones and drops those in her gratitude bowl. She made her own additions. Bigger stones means bigger gratitude, smaller ones for small mercies.

    Gratitude Stones

One day your kid will grow up and join this giant world. He /She has to face their Waterloos. Feeling of gratitude will be one of best gifts your parenting can give to them to sail through. They will appreciate this and definitely pass on this beautiful gift to their kids too.

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Clean and Organized House and Parenting

A clean and organized house and parenting often present conflicting pictures. If you are hell bent on having a clean and organized house, think for a while that once your kid’s childhood has gone, it will NEVER come back. These days most of us live in confined spaces and kids are the worst sufferer of this modern day phenomenon. Due to safety reasons they can’t spend enough time outdoors alone and you can not tag along with them all the time. And when they play indoors and start spilling water or papers or colors on the floor, we especially mothers start wearing their squeaky clean avatar.

Take a break and think for a while, at what cost you want a swanky neat house? Because on surface it seems your kid is playing and making house disorganized and dirty. But if you give your kid’s play a thought, you will realize that your kid is not just playing. Try to look at the following and give it a thought.

organized and clean house and parenting

If you try to observe nature, you can see that animals who have to learn more, play more. Carnivorous play more than herbivorous animals because hunting requires more skill than grazing. When kids play they naturally leave house and its floor dirty and create chaos too. But its better to have all these things than curbing your kid’s natural instincts and curbing their creativity and imaginary models.

Here I don’t mean that you should encourage kids to clutter and make everything topsy turvy. Or you should forget about having a clean and organized house. All I mean is this should not be achieved at the cost of childhood. You can use your imagination to have a neat and clean house and have your peace of mind too. Here are the few simple tips, you can easily apply to have an organized house :

organized and clean house

  • Give Your Kid A Spare Bed sheet :
  • Encourage your kid to be a Picasso on a big spare bed sheet. This way his / her coloring and chaotic activities will be confined to a specified area and so will be your cleaning. Give them some sponge and a mop and encourage them to use it in case they spill colors and water on the floor.

  • Specify The Time of Play :
  • Kid’s playtime should be specific, this way you too will know the time of clutter and chaos. You know beforehand when the kid will get dirty and make your house dirty and plan accordingly. Encourage the kid not to be untidy after his / her playtime is over. You can sit with the kid and explain the virtue of neatness and cleanliness. According to your kid’s age, you can tell him / her why its not OK to clutter all the time. There is a time and place for every activity.

  • Encourage Kids To Clean Up After Their Playtime Is Over :
  • Develop it as a habit when they are young. So that they can consider it as a normal after play activity. If your kid is small, ask for his / her help in cleaning up. They will do it willingly. Kids love doing stuff with parents. Try not to be bossy and controlling. Ask for their suggestions.

  • Take Some of Their Toys Away :
  • If kids litter and throw their toys indiscriminately, take those toys away, saying, “Since you have thrown them so carelessly, it seems you don’t need them. I am going to give them away!” This will make them realize the value of their stuff and putting them in order.

  • Create A Space For Their Stuff :
  • Create a definite space for their toys, clothes, books and shoes. They should know where dirty clothes should go and where neat clothes are being kept. Kids like a definite pattern to follow. Create such pattern from an early age.

Its not difficult to have a neat and clean house. All you have to do is strike a balance between kids’ activities and getting the mess cleared afterwards. We should bear in mind the fact that childhood is precious and best part of one’s life. This should not be compromised.

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Don’t Be Too Logical With Your Kid

logic

Avoid being too logical with your kid. I have committed this mistake and results are not flattering at all. If you are trying to be logical with your kid most of the time, it won’t cut much ice with the kid. Here I am not saying that you should not explain cause and effect or action and consequences to the kid. What I am trying to convey is, don’t overdo it. I have overdone it and ended up being frustrated. It works nicely in the classroom and for the textbooks. But try something else in real life.

If you rely on logic and reasoning excessively, your are not going to get the desired response from your kid. See, what rational approach does to a child’s psyche:

logic1

Kid Finds it Boring and Dry: Take a simple example, my kid is asking for a glass of water, and I am working at that time. I tend to explain to the kid, why I can’t give her water right now and why she has to get up and fetch it herself. It continued on incessantly for many years and she couldn’t figure out for a long time, why Mamma can’t get up! Sometimes I kept on explaining for more than 10 minutes. At the end both of us, ended up feeling frustrated. And no one felt wiser after all those explaining. Now I tell her clearly, “Here is the Jug, here is glass and here are your hands! Use all the three!”

You become Predictable for Kids : When you use too much logic, you become predictable for your kid and he / she won’t enjoy your company. They will use worlds like, ‘boring’ , ‘not so cool’ , ‘uncool’ for you. My kid even stopped enjoying my own made up stories, saying, “In the end your story will tell, what’s the right thing to do! Tell me some humorous stories.” Its her way of saying, your stories are too logical. I can predict the end! I tried hard to come up with funny stories, stretching my boundaries. Try to solve your kid’s problems in funny ways to convey your message, so that the kid come running back to you because you are capable of surprising him / her.


After A While Kid Will Stop Paying Attention:
If you continue with your too logical behaviour, your kid will stop listening to you after a while. Mine did. She knew if she had done A thing, I would take route B. It was like an ongoing repetitive thing for her. Like my stories, my behaviour too was quite transparent for her. And my logical methods lost all the relevance and effectiveness. My utterances were like water on duck’s back. Being too logical is good in academics but not in a kid’s life. They have imaginations, questions, curiosities etc. If you keep on being logical, you are discouraging him / her being a child itself.

No Place For Fun And Spontaneity: Childhood means fun and spontaneity. Don’t incorporate too much logic and predictability into it. If you want your kid to be open and communicative with you bring joy and fun into his / her life. If you want to explain something, use fun and humor. Kids appreciate it and they keep coming back to you with more questions and curiosities. My kid use to ask for something incessantly, till I give in. Now I say, “If I don’t do what you are asking for, first you will yell, then stomp your feet in the last you will cry! But still I am not going to budge.” Therefore by all means, use logic with kids but in interesting manner.

Parents End Up Feeling Frustrated: You you bring too much logic into your parenting, you will end up feeling frustrated. Kids won’t respond well to logic and explanation part. They don’t have enough data to foresee the results of your actions so they won’t understand your logic and explanation part well. In the end you end up feeling demoralized as if you have met a massive wall. In fact, don’t bring up too much logic and explanation into any relationship. Let the fun, spontaneity and simple joys of life rule your relationships to maintain its freshness.

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It’s Part of Growing Up!

HANDS
Parenting is the world’s most difficult job. No two thoughts about it. “One day, I have to be on my own, that’s why I want to go to my two day school trip, Mamma!” I was secretly quite pleased hearing this from my 9-year-old daughter. Last year I egged her on to go to her school trip but she refused point blank. She was unprepared to even discuss the possibility of going away from home for two whole days. This was a welcome transformation.

We started preparing for her trip. When days were coming near, my kid started showing signs of nervousness. Though she had traveled abroad without her parents, but that was with her aunt and cousin. She enjoyed that trip thoroughly. Till now she has a protected childhood and dependent on me for most of her work. My fault. Entirely my fault. I should not have made her so dependent on me. Its becoming frustrating for both of us.

With passage of time, I realized, doing your kid’s each and every work means you don’t love her. Though you think that you do. Making her dependent is bad in every sense. When I realized this, I am trying to make amendments. Now I try to assign her some household work which she does gladly. She also suggests to me , “Mamma , please teach me some cooking!” So I am taking baby steps in parenting all the time. Somewhere down the line I also realized that when you assign your kid some household work that concern everyone, she feels part of the family. Doing her own stuff makes her self centered. Cleaning her wardrobe, looking after her pet, packing her bags or arranging her stuff won’t make her feel connected to us as a family. It’s safe for her to go to the basement and buy some bread and milk for all of us. We make her do that. Sometimes few vegetables are needed, then we seek her help.

When I was trying to do such things, her school trip happened. Like her, I too was jittery. She is still very much a protected child. Last year, in our building, a couple was celebrating their anniversary and a doctor guest molested a 10-year-old boy while the party was on. Sometimes, I feel, before telling her about good stuff, I have to inform my kid about bad stuffs first. Its scary and makes parenting pretty difficult.

So when her trip was coming near, I kept on repeating the drill, “if you have forgotten something in the school bus, don’t go inside it to fetch it, if the bus is empty with one or two adults. Leave your things and forget about it. Your safety comes FIRST!” Till now, its the other way round, “You have left your slippers unattended, how careless of you!” “You have left your pencils and eraser? How careless!” “You have lost your exercise book? How careless!” But during those days, I was constantly telling her, “Look after your safety, it comes first! If you forget half of the things you are carrying in your suitcase, its OK!”

Due day came, I left her in her school lobby and came back. We have given her a small cell phone too. After one hour she called, her voice was full of anticipation and excitement. She just informed me that their bus has left and they are on the road. After few seconds she said bye and that’s it. I heaved a sigh of relief. She didn’t call whole day. In the night, she just made a call to inform me that she was getting ready for DJ night and partying. And what a fabulous hotel they were staying in!

Next day, in the evening I picked her up from school. First thing she told me, she hadn’t lost anything except her I-card! It rained yesterday. She got thoroughly drenched and got her clothed dried in the hotel balcony and then folded it and put those back in the suitcase!! She was all excited and chattered non stop. In between she asked, “Are you proud of me NOW?” What I answered , I will write in another post. 🙂 It seems, parenting is a constantly evolving process, for you and kid both.

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How My Kid Stopped Lying

We were constantly worried as parents when our 9-year-old daughter kept on lying constantly. Most of the time she was caught immediately but it didn’t deter her from lying. It was quite heart wrenching for us. We were extremely worried. We kept on talking to her. We kept on explaining. We kept on punishing her, we kept on loving her, we kept on preaching and teaching. But nothing, simply NOTHING, was working. We asked other family members to talk to her. Inside, it was eating me. Profound grief and sorrow engulfed me.

I tried every trick in the book. Tried to reason with her. Tried to explain to her patiently and calmly. Tried carrot and stick policy. Tried to say to her that gradually you will get rid of that habit. Tried to tell her that we believed her. But we were hitting a massive wall which was making us bleed.

Every day I woke up with determination and went to sleep with sense of doom. I tried to get to the bottom of things. When you are a parent, giving up is simply not an option. Sometimes I tried coercion and resorted to threats. Sometimes I tried emotional blackmail. But to no avail.

One day her teacher wrote in her diary that your daughter is not bringing lunch box because you are sick hence unable to prepare anything for her in the morning. The teacher in all good intention suggested us that give her some money because it’s difficult to concentrate on studies while having an empty stomach. She hid all her food in a pouch of her school bag. We were simply dumbfounded. How can things go THAT much wrong? My grief knew no bounds. What she told her teacher was partially true. I was sick. In fact so much sick that doctors advised me complete bed rest for months. But I packed her lunch box everyday. Not giving her lunch was not an option.

First we grounded her for a month. We told her patiently and calmly without showing much emotion. But as parents, saying we were extremely worried, was an understatement. By now we were thinking of getting professional help. We conveyed our feelings to the teacher too.

Our daughter was going to be grounded for whole month. She was not going to use her iPad, not going to watch TV, not going to touch my cell phone or lap top and not going to use her father’s computer. Not going out to play with other kids. We were naturally concerned. After 2 days we decided not to curb her outside playtime with other kids. We allowed her one hour playtime.

We purchased lots of storybooks. Lots of it and color books too. She loves origami, so we allowed her to watch youtube videos related to this. After few weeks, we realized suddenly that she has stopped lying altogether. Once in a while she lies but not the way she used to. So what happened during those days?

Actually my daughter was hooked to online world or virtual world. We didn’t realize when it has turned into an obsession. She had started resenting the real world and in her haste to get back to her own world, she used to lie whatever came to her mind. As before sleeping time she would be watching a video, and when I asked her to brush her teeth, she would calmly say, “I have already brushed my teeth!” If she was in the middle of something and I would ask for the pencil lying nearby her, she wouldn’t listen. If I insisted that she should first finish her dinner then watch something, she would throw the food away when I was away and coolly tell me that she had finished eating. She had no patience for the real happenings in the real world. In her haste to get back to the virtual world, easiest thing for her was to lie.

During her one month grounding period, when we took away her virtual world and replaced it with storybooks, color books, crayons, pictures, board games and friends, her lying habit disappeared. Now her grounding period is over and we do allow her to watch one or two programs on TV or few songs on youtube. But we keep a strict watch on her virtual world. We don’t use TV and internet as a babysitter. We also realized that she is very much fond of reading story books and her favorite author is Roald Dahl! When we purchased story books for her, she used to finish abridged versions in a day!

It’s not just her lying that vanished, she no more an irritable, short tempered kid. Her attention span has improved considerably. She had this habit of not writing anything in her class, that too improved. Now we the parents are not that obstruction standing between her and her world. She opened up towards our suggestions and advises. So everything is hunky dory now? No way. As parenting is an ongoing journey which throws new hurdles almost daily. But when a child is existing in our chaotic world there will always be a method in madness.

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