World Environment Day Resolutions for Kids

June 5 is celebrated the world over as World Environment Day. Established back in the year 1972 during the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, the day holds significance as a means to encourage awareness for our environment. Why not use the opportunity to get kids to be environmentally-friendly from an early age?

Here are three simple ways to get kids acquainted with how to care for their environment in simple, everyday ways.

Say no to plastic: Though World Environment Day falls every year on the 5th of June, the year 2018 in particular has been earmarked as the year when we should ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’. Children should be introduced to small, plastic-free alternatives in their everyday lives. For instance, encourage them to say no to plastic cutlery of all kinds. I remember my mother carrying around a stainless steel spoon in her handbag everywhere she traveled; she would whip it out the moment anyone offered her plastic cutlery and say an outright ‘no, thank you’. Your kids will follow you if you take the lead. Replace plastic drinking water bottles at home with reusable water bottles or flasks. A good way to start a discussion on the topic could be to watch this Great Pacific Garbage Patch video with your kids. Mark the occasion on June 5 by taking your kids out shopping and getting them a colorful environmental-friendly bottle of their choice.

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Planting a tree” by Iyo is licensed under CC by 2.0

Plant a tree: It has been shouted from the rooftops all over the world millions of time in the past but it’s never been enough – we need to plant more trees and give back to Mother Nature. Like the Chinese proverb goes: ‘The best time to plant a tree is 20 years ago. The second best time is now.’ Get hold of a shovel, a bucket of water and a seedling from the local nursery and get planting with your children. Allot a certain corner of the garden to them which is exclusively their responsibility to tend to on a daily basis. To make the activity more exciting, get your little ones to click a picture of their tree every week, in order to mark its growth from a seedling to a plant.

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girl cycling in spring” by rg1024 is licensed under CC by 2.0

Cycle together: Did you know that June 3, 2018 will officially be celebrated as the first World Bicycle Day the world over? If you and your kids don’t have a bicycle already, invest in them this World Environment Day. We did last year and it was one of the best decisions we could have made. Most of our weekends are now spent cycling around the neighborhood, with picnic baskets packed on our carriers behind us. It’s invigorating in the fresh air, we get our required dose of sunshine plus the added advantage of quality family time together. Remember: when in doubt, simply pedal it out!

Gone are the days of taking up New Year resolutions and not keeping them; this World Environment Day let’s take up environmentally conscious resolutions with our kids and resolve together to do our bit, however tiny, towards the environment we live in. I’ve decided to give a break to all sorts of online games that I allow them to indulge in and spend the day outdoors. After all, don’t we owe it all to the fresh air we breathe in and the pure water we drink?

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Family New Year Resolutions for 2018

Another New Year, yet another chance for us to make the wrongs right and be more awesome than the year that went by. Less junk food and more real green leafy food; less late nights and more early to bed and early to rise; less frowning and complaining with more smiling and forgiving; less talking and more listening; less sitting and more walking… and the list goes on. But yes, like always – easier said than done, of course.

Instead of making the same old promises to yourself at the beginning of the year, why not take this opportunity to make some New Year resolutions as a family, which you can all work on together in the coming year? This way someone will always have your back to give you that extra nudge or a word of encouragement when you wander off your set path.

Here are three New Year resolutions we have decided to adopt as a family this 2018.

Sweat, Smile, Repeat

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Kids on a Jungle Gym” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Exercising together as a family is resolution number one. It is no myth that happy healthy parents make happy healthy children. Let’s lead the way and become examples for our kids, making our exercise time a fun activity rather than just sitting indoors and playing all sorts of virtual games on your tablet every evening. No, going to the gym is a big no here. Go for a short jog with your kids early in the morning and hear the birds chirping. Cycle together with your kids as a weekly ritual to the neighborhood grocery market. Learn a sport together and get really good at it. It’s a win-win situation all around – you keep fit, you spend quality time together and you have fun together as a family while doing it.

Collect Moments, Not Things

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Old Man Teaches Boy” by j4p4n is licensed under CC by 2.0

Mark Victor Hansen, the successful book author, trainer and inspirational speaker puts it like this: “Give your children family pictures. Create family memories and leave a pictorial family history. Keep a journal so that your kids can really know you… Maintain a library. The books you keep will give your children an idea of what you read, what was important to you and what you found influential. Kids can see where you have dog-eared a corner or underlined a sentence.” He said it all in those few words. Collecting moments and not things will always prove to be your life’s greatest treasure.

Spend what is Left after Saving

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Coins (Money)” by mystica is licensed under CC by 2.0

It is never too early to teach your kids how to save money. Giving them a monthly allowance from their early years and helping them how to manage it can go a long way in developing healthy monetary habits for them in their later years. Gift them a transparent glass jar instead of a piggy bank so they can actually see their money grow. After a couple of months, let them buy something of their choice with their own money; and then begin by saving up again for something else they would like to purchase at a later date. Spending what is left after saving and not the other way around is what must be inculcated into the children’s minds from a very young age.

The key to keeping any kind of resolutions is this: If it makes you happy, you’ll end up doing it anyhow. If it doesn’t, then it’s just a matter of time before you’ll give it up. But since family is all about laughter, love and happiness, these family resolutions will definitely be yours to keep. Happy New Year!

The Importance of Fitness for Kids

Fitness is not about being better than someone else… It’s about being better than you used to be.

Fitness is not a one-off phenomenon. One fine day you decide to get out of bed early and go running – kudos to your enthusiasm. But the fact of the matter is – did you manage to get up and about the second day? And the third? And the day after that? If yes, hats off. If no, you’ll more likely than not end up with sore knees and calves, groaning your way to the couch. There goes your resolution kaput.

In our family, my husband has always been the active one. He can’t wait for the morning alarm to go off so that he can happily begin his daily exercise on the jogging track, earphones plugged in, oblivious to his surroundings. I’ve been trying to pull myself out of bed the same time as he does lately, and I can proudly say that I’ve managed to do so successfully for one whole week. Yay! Running (or perhaps just walking swiftly) is next on my to-do list.

The other day I was wondering: We as adults tend to try and be conscious about what and when we eat, how much exercise we get, so on and so forth. What about our kids? Do they also need a regular exercise routine that keeps them on their toes? Or is it too early to bring a regular form of physical workout into their daily lives?

Couch Potatoes

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Girl” by andrewicus is licensed under CC by 2.0

Thinking back to our childhood, most of the games we played together had some amount of physical movement involved. Having no video games or mobile phones, we ran a lot, tumbled in mud, rolled off hillsides (yes, I actually remember cutting myself in several places when I landed in a prickly bush of brambles once) and cycled away to glory. Cut to today. More often than not, your kids will probably spend their evenings glued to a screen of some sort, happily whiling away a beautiful sunny day feeding their virtual pets online, or laughing maniacally at some ridiculous animated creatures on the tablet and laptop. Physical exercise? Zero. The traditional definition of a couch potato is: ‘a person who takes little or no exercise and watches a lot of television’. Add to it ‘spends a lot of time on the computer/laptop/tablet/mobile phone’ and you have the modern day versions of couch potatoes, aka our children.

Kids Need To Move

It’s as simple as that. Move as in, not move their eyes across a computer screen. But get out there away from gadgets of any kind and seek out their peers to move with them. We need to make our kids realize that moving about frequently is a fun thing – it could be playing a simple game of tag, jumping about on one leg for hopscotch, racing to the nearest park with their friends or just cycling to the neighborhood grocery store to run a few errands. It just struck me; we adults complain of a whole lot of diseases we are afflicted with today – obesity, hypertension, fatigue and the like. And this was when we had a supposedly ‘active’ childhood. I shudder to think what our couch potato kids have in store for them in the future, with their totally ‘inactive’ childhood. We as parents need to change that and their perspective towards fitness to make things work in their favor in the long run.

We Need To Move With Them

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Girl” by Skitterphoto is licensed under CC by 2.0

That’s what I’ve decided as the easiest way to get them (and myself) up and about (this article proved to be a big source of motivation). We’ll go swimming together regularly as a family. We could cycle to the park every weekend for a picnic together. Their dad would simply jump at the opportunity of playing a game of baseball with them. Why not spend quality time together and have fun at it while keeping fit? For a person like me, it would do a world of good – a genuine reason to pick myself up and move with them out there. For the kids, it’s just inculcating (hopefully) a habit that will hold them in good stead for a lifetime.

And yes, what I need to remember more than anything else is – peanut butter is not the glue holding my body together!

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

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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

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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…

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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

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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.

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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.

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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!