3 Simple Cleaning Hacks for Parents

Cleaning house while children are growing is like shoveling the sidewalk while it’s still snowing.

I couldn’t have put it better. Agreed – in the present so-called modern era kids are supposedly more into online games on the computer and cartoon shows on the television rather than actually creating a physical mess like we did in the yesteryears. But even then, our home is a complete mess at the end of the day. This only means that kids today are more adept at multi-tasking and manage to do anything and everything that they can get their hands on! Well, for a majority of us parents out there who have kids that create a mess, here are three simple cleaning hacks which can make life easier.

Sweep It Clean

image-1

Lego” by blickpixel is licensed under CC by 2.0

So your kids never give you a hand with cleaning up around the house? Well, you’re definitely not alone; neither do mine. My son absolutely adores creating a mess – be it on the kitchen table with bread crumbs and marmalade, with crayons and paints on the wall (yes, wall) in his room, or on the carpet in the living room. Some of these messes, I’ve realized, are beyond my control to control. However, I do try and distribute the basic cleaning chores around the house by making it up like a game. For instance, both my kids have miniature, colorful brooms of their own. They have a doormat marked right outside the door of their rooms on the floor with colored chalk. They have got the hang of what to do by now – broom their room and get all the grime from the corners of their room into the square outside their doors. It takes each one of them barely five minutes to do their rooms and only then do we sit down for a leisurely breakfast. No questions asked.

Paint Your Dreams

Every child is an artist, albeit a messy one. We have all kinds of artistic work pinned up at various prominent positions on the walls of our home – most of them are unfathomable riots of color and hence, my husband likes to call them ‘modern works of art’. I remember a couple of years ago, when my daughter started dabbling in colors – both literally and figuratively, as in she loved immersing her hands and feet in paints and then walked around – first I tried using newspapers to lessen the mess involved. She didn’t enjoy crayons too much, so (messy) paints it was. Usually, the water colors she used soaked right into the paper she painted on and the entire ‘artwork’ was ruined, accompanied by sobs. Then I tried something new – discarded egg cartons and cleaned up empty pizza boxes. Newspapers spread out on the grass in the backyard, opened up pizza boxes acting like a huge canvas and water paints did the trick. The paints did not soak into the thick cardboard, there was no dearth of space with regard to the size of paper available for painting and the mess was as minimal as could be in the situation.

Squishy Soft Toys

image-2

Stuffed Animals” by ErikaWittlieb is licensed under CC by 2.0

Well, now that I come to think of it, one never outgrows soft toys. There’s proof – have a look at this article which explains the science behind the love of stuffed animals. After all, I still have the cute brown bear with flappy arms sitting on my favorite armchair in a corner of my bedroom, after all these years. And especially where there are kids, there will be soft toys. Loads of them. Our home is no exception. You’re very likely to step on at least half a dozen monkeys and rabbits and puppy dogs as you step into our main door and walk to, say, the dining table. Soft toys are cuddly, huggable and best of all, squishy. So when I chanced across this idea online which talked about making a neat, squishy bean bag out of them to keep them out of the way, I was eternally thankful. Strewn all over the place, they lend color and cheer to the room. Zipped up in a thick cloth bean bag, they are not messy and make for an extremely comfortable, squishy seat. A storage bag-cum-bean-bag of sorts.

Wish to add any other parenting hacks you use to this list?

This is the way we brush our teeth…

Image

Bedtime” by ArtsyBee is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is an unwritten rule at home that the kids need to brush their teeth before turning in for the night. Now they have got used to it and don’t create a fuss of it. But back when they were younger, I remember resorting to various ways in order to get them in the habit.

Here are a couple of ideas which might come in useful if you’re facing the same predicament.

  • You could make it a bedtime routine by standing side-by-side in front of the bathroom mirror together and asking your child to mimic you as you yourself brush your teeth. Let this be an everyday ritual before bedtime.
  • Let brushing teeth signify something they look forward to; for instance, in my case it was story time. I made it clear that bedtime stories would only be read out on the pre-condition that they brush their teeth before coming into bed.
  • For younger kids, a good idea would be to allow them to choose their favorite color/design of toothbrush (and change it every 45 days or so). What toothbrush to buy can be their choice, and they can feel more grown-up this way.
  • Print out a fun quote in big letters and put it up alongside their toothbrush stand in the bathroom. We have one saying: ‘Even superheroes must brush their teeth’ up on our bathroom wall with Batman on it.

Happy brushing!

The Unpredictable Flu

Image

Influenza” by OpenClipartVectors is licensed under CC by 2.0

To say that the last fortnight was hectic would be nothing short of an understatement. Both my kids decided to catch the flu at the same time. To put it in a nutshell, here’s what we at home were up to over the time span of the last two weeks:

Trying to sleep: Humidifiers were tried in order to release moisture into the air. Hot showers were a daily ritual. Gargling with warm salt water was experimented with too, successfully to a certain extent with the older one and not so much with the younger. All these activities were carried out with one primary goal in mind – to try and get a good night’s sleep; which was still hard to come by (both for the kids and parents).

Hot soup: Before and after breakfast, lunch and dinner, since the kids complained of a runny/blocked nose at all times, taste buds not working and practically no appetite. Chicken noodle soup helped on such occasions.

Fluffy blankets & a tissue box: These two pretty much summed up what we did the entire day, almost three days in a row. I would drag the kids outdoors to at least take in some fresh air on their evening walk but apart from that, they just wanted to sit in their comforters and sniff, sniff and sniff.

Touch wood, both the little ones are better now and have slowly started eyeing doughnuts and cookies, which I’m taking to be a good sign. Hopefully, this flu will take its own course and fizzle out soon.

3 Ways to a Healthy Lifestyle for Kids

The World Health Organization (WHO), a specialized agency of the United Nations concerned with international public health, held the first World Health Assembly in the year 1948. It was then decided that April 7 every year would be celebrated as World Health Day, a day to spread global awareness on issues of health the world over.

Image 1

World Health Day” by geralt is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is never too early to start inculcating healthy habits in children. Right from their toddler years, kids need to learn basic healthy habits – such as washing their hands thoroughly before every meal, having a shower daily, keeping their nails clean and the like. The best way to do it? Parents that lead by example. One must remember that happy, healthy parents make happy, healthy children. And as habits die hard, what the kids learn at a young age will hopefully stay with them all through their adult lives, doing them good in the long run.

This World Health Day, here are three simple ways we can help our kids lead a healthier and happier lifestyle.

Get up, get out, get moving.

Once a couch potato, always a couch potato. My kids are like that too – give them a choice between staying indoors and playing their favorite virtual games on the tablet or going outdoors to play tag with the neighborhood kids and more often than not, they’ll end up choosing the former over the latter. But the rule at home is that every evening, at least one hour is to be spent outdoors at all costs. So come what may, they find their ‘evil’ mom shooing them out of the house every single evening – barring the days when it is pouring outside (not surprisingly, those are the days they themselves want to get wet and muddy outdoors!). Dancing, walking, ball games, jumping a rope, running, hiking, swimming, roller blading, bike riding – the list is endless. One just needs to find where a kid’s interest lies and then there’s no looking back. Nothing beats the glow on the face after a good, tiring game of even simply chasing each other.

Good night, sleep tight. Wake up bright, in the morning light.

Image 2

Teddy Bear” by RyanMcGuire is licensed under CC by 2.0

A majority of the kids I know (including, of course, my own) absolutely detest anything to do with bed. Kids between the ages of 5 and 12 need at least 10 hours of sleep every night, so the researchers say. But tucking in kids early so that they wake up fresh and nicely rested is easier said than done (I’m sure most of the parents reading this will be vigorously nodding their heads in approval). It is best to set regular sleeping and waking up times for individuals of the family, which is followed (as far as possible) even on weekends. Consistent bedtime routines also help in setting up an atmosphere of bedtime. Ours is the simple tried-and-tested bath and story time ritual. Earlier me or their dad used to read out stories to the two kids when they were snugly in their beds, but now our daughter takes the initiative and begins reading out loud, while one of us parents take it up once the first story is done. Pajama Time by Sandra Boynton is my son’s latest favorite bedtime book.

Dinnertime is family time.

Okay, so probably the only scientifically ‘healthy’ aspect of eating the main meal of the day together as a family is that kids would probably tend to eat less of junk food and more of healthy stuff, so as to say. But the main motive of eating together is spending quality family bonding time. Of course, there are bound to be tiffs every now and then, but then that’s part and parcel of the process. From trying out and experimenting with new foods together to de-stressing and having a few hearty laughs can be therapeutic after a long day at work. You get to know what’s going on in your kids’ lives, they get to know how your day went; it works both ways. What’s more, researchers on the subject have this to say: ‘Sharing a family meal is good for the spirit, the brain and the health of all family members.’ So there. And if you haven’t already heard about something called The Family Dinner Project, do read more about it here.

Paul Walker made this gem of a quote once: “You know, all that really matters is that the people you love are happy and healthy. Everything else is just sprinkles on the sundae.”

Stay happy, stay healthy!

New Obsessions – Healthy Diets

I have a Pinterest addiction. Everyone who knows me know that once you show me even one pin, you’re not likely to get me to anything else for the rest of the day. Having said that, Pinterest has helped change our lives somewhat. For example, my latest obsession is Bento Lunch Boxes.

The Japanese are a health conscious race – some of the oldest people in the world are from there and it is due in large to how healthily they eat. I started experimenting with them a while back and realized that it is possibly the best way to get your kids to eat their veggies and fruits. I’m no artist and my lunch boxes look nothing like this but it has worked for me.

The drawback is that it’s not something a homeschooler can make everyday. Still, maybe a weekly treat isn’t too much to add to the timetable? I’ve already pinned a few Bento Lunch Box ideas on my Pinterest page. I’m going to, hopefully, start ticking them off as done.

Have any of you tried Bento lunches? Has it worked for you? Would you give it a try?