How can husbands help during the breast feeding phase

Any pregnancy, be it normal or complicated, is tough. Keeping the mother’s.biological and psychological adjustments aside, the ladies have to adjust to changes in lifestyle as well as giving up quite a few things that they may enjoy. In such a scenario it is up to the man to step in and make sure that the mother- to- be is comfortable and has all that she needs.

Post the delivery the situation escalates as now the mum needs more support hands-on as well as emotionally. My wife had a complicated pregnancy and c-sec delivery and I know first-hand how breastfeeding can become that much more complicated.

Traditional roles have placed Dads as the providers and mothers as the nurturers. However, one of the things fathers have to remember at all times is that they are equally responsible in conception and birth of a child. While the mother does the hard work of carrying the baby for nine months and then delivering the child, Dads too have contributed in creating a living being and, therefore, they too must take responsibility for bringing up the child.

And this is a demanding life-long journey. The first of which begins in feeding the baby numerous times a day and at odd hours. Here is where as fathers we can play a significant role to ensure that the stress on the mother is reduced and the important task of breast feeding the baby is not impacted in any way. Breast feeding goes a long way in building immunity and has numerous other benefits which have been articulated by the medical profession.

Sleeping in another room basis the excuse that the child waking up in the middle of the night and will disturb your sleep is hardly valid as it is the same for the mother. While there may be work pressure to deal with, picking up the baby in the night if it cries can only help in reducing the stress on the mother. Yes, in the initial few months, the child may wake up for a feed, but there are ways around that as well and other times too when the husband can easily assist. Having the mother express her milk and you taking the charge in the night is one such way.

When my son was born, I was on late night shift and had set up a schedule with my wife where she would express and leave a bottle ready so I could take the early evening feeding and she could sleep longer, this also gave me exclusive bonding time with my little angle. This arrangement also meant that I could take the little fellow for evening walks and not be worried about the feed and giving the wife much needed rest and recovery.

The first couple of months for new parents and first-time mothers can be fairly chaotic, with well-wishers and closet experts sharing varying opinions.

However, in all the chaos and excitement which accompanies a birth, one crucial aspect for the sake for the baby is for the mother to breast feed as long as possible and for this the husband and the eco system in the house has to be supportive

I am doing my bit as a dad and husband, are you?

Rise and Shine – waking them in the morning is not a cake walk

Driven by school timings, kids generally do not have the luxury of sleeping in late. Yes, vacations and weekends do provide them an opportunity stay a-bed a little longer, but primarily they are bound by the clock and have to get into a routine of sleeping and waking up on time.

While making them hit the sack has its own challenges, we have found waking up in the morning the bigger of the twobattles.

Here are some effective tools we have managed to deploy in our favour:

• Gently nudging the child to wake up and snuggling/tickling

• Putting on the music in the morning works wonders most kids are fond of music and are likely to rise from their slumber

• Switching off the fan / air conditioner or removing the quilt /blanket depending upon which geography you are in. Yes, does sound mean but the response is fairly quick and fast.

• Last and a little extreme is to splash some water on them (again a may seem a little harsh, but do keep in mind that the little angle is also a superb actor and is probably only pretending to snuggle in to avoid leaving a warm and comfortable bed)

While, it is natural for us to take it easy on a Friday eve as there is no pressure of morning alarms the next day, avoiding a late bedtime ensures that routines are not alarmingly disrupted. Sticking to the daily schedule with only a slight variance will mean that the entire weekend can be fruitful and meaningfully deployed for catch up on studies and other outdoor excursions and, if nothing else, just bonding time with the family.

Please do remember that any of the above mentioned techniques can also be deployed by the children over the weekends when you are trying to catch up on your sleep. So if you do feel a splash of water rudely awakening you from your dreams there is no retort available as it is fairly tit for tat scenario

Learning spellings is still relevant for kids

Are competitions like Spelling B likely to lose their lustre in the coming years? Probably no, but the way technology is changing life around us, they may come under a serious threat.

Case in point, the auto correct or the intuitive features in most smart phones and tablets today. The minute the kids become older and start sharing or using these devices to communicate with friends and family through text, mails or other apps available in the technological world you’ll discover that 8 year olds are very adept and nimble in figuring out that through this feature they don’t have to concentrate and get the correct spelling. To me this is one of the few instances where technology can be defeating.

While we cannot wish technology away, here are some recommended steps:
1. Switch off the auto spell or intuitive feature in the phones / tablets
2. Encourage the child to spell out the word aloud before they punch it in
3. Reading is a must as it strengthens word formation. Encourage them to read out loud as they pick up reading. It helps in correcting the pronunciation as well.
4. Popular games like ATLAS played with the spelling version. Various renditions of ATLAS can be created depending upon interest. For example Atlas around car models works wonderfully well with boys.
5. Games like Name / Place / Animal / Thing to be played with a piece of pen and paper and extra marks for correct spellings

Critics may question the need for correct spellings as well as the need for traditional writing and a good penmanship, but then again, these are basic fundamentals which we have to help get the child right.

The points above can definitely aid in learning even though there will be a push back after a couple of attempts.

Meals together an absolute must

Family that eats together stays together is possibly an age old adage which may not be prevalent or has lost some of its lustre in todays, fast paced, hyper competitive and technology influenced lifestyle that most of us lead.
Reminiscing about my day growing up, wherein, my siblings and I would take turns in setting the table, cutting the salad and generally helping around the meals process and then sitting down together as a family to enjoy the meal over light banter. Conversations, sharing the day’s highlights, etc., were possibly a small family ritual every day of the week.
During school days we would return home in time for lunch and would sit down with mum and discuss how school was and in the evenings, dinner was always with the entire family sitting down for a meal. Television, the only distraction during our growing up years, was strictly switched off during dinner time, irrespective of what was being telecast at that time, not that we had too many options other than our state run TV channel.
Unfortunately, today on account of erratic work schedules, pressure of ensuring the children’s time lines are not upset specially during school week, diet plans and set meal timings, etc. have seen a breakdown of this ritual, in my household at least. A pity, but something which through a focused and determined approach can bring the train back on its tracks.
One may argue, that today, a number of schools are day boarding, as a result the child usually comes home late afternoon and hence lunch together is out of the question. Thereby, leaving dinner as the only meal during the week which the family can eat together. This too at times, on account of work or other social commitments during the week, may not be possible. Weekends off course are different and I feel all attempts should be made to ensure that the family eats together.
Eating together can also teach the children that doing things together, be it a meal, is important. It may also encourage them to try and eat all that’s on the table as they see the parents eating it as well and last not the least it also can be a great stress buster to have undivided, quality time with your loved and dear ones.

Good handwriting – is it relevant today?

Handwriting or the art of writing may become obsolete in the coming years.

With advancement in technology and innovative products around us, the need for writing professionally is in a regressive state, but for a few professions.

Many primary schools have also adopted newer teaching methods and standards which have done away with the traditional lead pencil and note books. Tablets are the new teaching tools and as technology revolution and economic development around the world infiltrate across the levels of the education system. After education it is the professional space where, today, writing is slowly becoming obsolete. Similarly, psychographic analysis and personality traits judging based on handwriting will soon become passé.

So does one embrace the environment around us and ignore bad handwriting in the children – the argument being that it is not going to have an impact in the future?
I certainly do not think so. Call me old school but the joy of writing with a pen and paper is unparalleled to punching on the keyboard or using a stylus. And if you have a neat hand it only adds to the pleasure. In addition to that, what of the argument that by letting go of this one simple skill, you are letting go of the development of one region of the human brain that makes it superior to other in the animal kingdom?

Just as logical, analytical and problem skills are required to succeed in life, similarly, creative and communication skills are required to achieve success in life. The development of handwriting also improved the reading capability of the child as it speeds up the recognition and learning of the alphabet.

In summation, we should continue to instil the need to have neat and clear handwriting as long as possible, eventually, we will all succumb to technology.

Cakes should be an integral part of birthday celebrations for all age groups

Kids cannot fathom / imagine a birthday celebration without a cake. Right from triple-decked cakes made at home to cakes 2.0 where in, the choice of the image on the cake lies with the kids and is printed on using edible glazed sugar.

And absolutely why not have a cake as part of the birthday celebrations – as this may change during teens or once an adult – where the impact of sugar may be the deciding factor in whether a cake is being ordered or baked. (notwithstanding the countless healthier / sugarless options available today)

Irrespective of what the impact it has on my midriff, cakes and birthday celebrations go hand-in-hand in my household. The protagonist in this case being my son, who, religiously ensures that we celebrate every member’s birthday with the customary cake cutting. So across generations, we are now accustomed to the customary cake cutting and happy birthday singing which goes with the process. The fact that you may be on a diet does not hold any bargaining power in front of the child. Their own birthdays are naturally more elaborate with the current favourite superhero likely to find himself on the cake with all the kids looking at it with barely suppressed glee in their eyes as they decide which part to consume – this site is pure pleasure to watch.

And if you step back and think about it – we can certainly emulate some learnings from what we see with our kids – birthday cake is equal to celebration which equals celebrating life. So let’s not think cutting a cake is childlike but go out and order one when the special day arrives.

Battle for the TV remote

Parents, time for you to give up the battle for the TV remote in summer vacations!

I am sure this problem is not unique to me but possibly faced by families across the world. TV watching is an integral part of evenings for most families. Higher the family number, greater is the battle for the remote. Tastes and preferences vary with age and across family members. While men have a skew towards sports, women may lean towards soaps, family & drama, and for children, the first point of addiction is usually cartoons, edutainment and super-hero movies as they grow older.

Advancements in technology today have increased the number of screens we access during the day and have also given us options for the consumption of content. However, the simple pleasure of sitting together and catching up with the family cannot be replaced, even if it is as family hour over dinner or with TV. Kids, however, demand their exclusive TV time away from the family. If we succumb to this demand then we are only increasing their screen time.

Is there a way out? One possible solution could be that the family hour and the children TV time are clubbed together. The challenge is to break the grip of mindless and violent cartoons to loop in something more relevant and entertaining such as the new edutainment channel in India, DaVinci Learning. Having seen some of the shows in the evening with my son, I must say they offer a wide variety of informative content created in an captivating manner for kids and adults alike.

If this route does not work, the other solution could be fixed slots with a hard stop, where the children are allowed to watch channels such as DaVinci Learning for entertainment and educative learning. Hard stop is most definitely required as most kids learn early the power of “five minutes more” as they know the adult is likely to get distracted and the five minutes can easily become fifteen.

Yes, I do have a lot of experience of this debate as well. Either solution, mutually agreed upon, could work wonders in harbouring peace as against the battle for the remote.

Father – Son combine for Mother’s Day Surprise

Mother’s day is another reason for us to thank the mom’s. Each day is actually mother’s day

Yes, Mothers are indeed special, not only on Mother’s Day but 365 days a year. According to me #EveryDayIsMothersDay. The role they play in bringing up the children, managing the household and juggling between domestic and professional demands is probably un-parallel and the toughest in the world.

So this Mother’s day the boys in the house decided to give mom a special treat; a surprise by cooking dinner for the evening.

I do have a confession to make, it’s not the first time that I was cooking. I do cook occasionally, but the caveats are that the raw materials would be chopped and ready for use by the Master Chef, a.ka. ME. Like any celebrity chef (tongue-in-cheek), my prowess lies in mixing the ingredients and giving it the magic touch.

Since it was Mother’s Day the cook too had been given an off…so that meant that my son and I would have to do everything from scratch. Chopping and dicing are not necessarily my best traits in the kitchen and since we had planned the surprise there was no getting out of it.

So after freezing the menu, i.e. Kuchumber Salad, Bhunna Chicken (my style), Cucumber Raita along with Tandoori Rotis; my son and I took stock of the raw materials to set ourselves for the evening. Capsicum, Red and Yellow Paprika, Cabbage, Carrots, Cucumber, Onions, Tomatoes, Ginger, Garlic along with Boneless Chicken marinated in Curd were the raw materials identified to be used.

Now came the most boring and tough part according to me i.e. chopping and grinding. Here’s where technology came to the rescue in the form of Philips Onion Chopper. It is God sent.

Having washed and cut the vegetables for chopping, we plugged in the Philips Onion Chopper to use. All my son had to do was put in cut pieces of vegetables for the Kuchumber Salad in the chopper, and, lo and behold, finely chopped vegetables for the salad were ready. The consistency and size of the chopping was amazing and uniform across vegetables, i.e. carrots, cabbage, capsicum, red and yellow paprika were chopped squarely and fine. Same was the case with the cucumber.

We changed the blades for grinding the Onions and Ginger Garlic for the masala for the Chicken and were not disappointed. Extremely smooth and efficient with excellent consistency of paste is what we got courtesy the Philips Onion Chopper. My son felt extremely involved, motivated and most of all proud of his part of the program, as had it not been for the Philips Onion Chopper, he would not have been allowed to use a knife and chopping board at his young age.

Needless to say the tough part of cleaning post-use was also relatively simple and easy.

After the tough part of chopping and grinding was over, putting it all together into a mouth-watering, lip smacking meal for the Mrs. was left hand’s play for the Master Chef (tongue-in-cheek). Net-net, it was a great Mother’s Day Sunday evening where my son and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves thanks to the Philips Onion Chopper.

And as expected, we got a 12/10 for my cooking from the Mrs. and 100 on 10 for not creating a mess.
My son now wants this to be a weekly ritual…along with a contest thrown in…i.e. who can complete his task faster…..phew…..tough times ahead…🙂

Making our kids future ready

It will be safe to assume that most parents will, within their means, try and give the best of everything to their children, be it schooling, exposure, sports, materialistic possessions or, most importantly, principles and values.

While parents will have their own inimitable style and experiences to share and dwell on, two values which according to me stand out are as follows:

Dare to be different i.e. not straight jacketed, treading on paths unknown and breaking stereotypes. Seeing the number of new and different kind of businesses surround us it is evident that there are a number of people who create their own paths. The other value of significant importance is the ability to share. In a hyper competitive world we are all busy trying to acquire, live and build upon our dreams. Focus is on achieving, achieving and achieving more. While we are on a roller coaster ride pursuing achievements, it is of utmost importance to keep in mind the lesser haves, particularly in the third world and developing countries.

Interestingly, I am seeing quite a few communication campaigns based on these two values on television, one of the leading brands being Surf Excel. The brand has taken an angle that “dirt is good” to communicate that nothing is wrong in getting your hands dirty for a righteous and kind purpose without worrying about “daag”. Additionally, the ad shows friends helping and supporting each other.

The seeds of sharing as well as making your own path have to be sown at a very early age. It is fairly easier for kids with siblings than single children. Typically, this begins with sharing toys and goodies like chocolates and sweets with each other at home. With age the circle gets wider and can extend to old books, clothes and games, etc. Through free play, interaction and trial and error children learn to rely on themselves and their own decisions.

Parents can lead by example to inculcate confidence in children so they do not hesitate in exploring their paths in life. In a hyper-competitive world, as parents, we can only hope for the best for our kids and ensure we provide them the right platform to make a success in life. It is equally important for us to not stress on achievements alone but to encourage the children to develop into well-rounded individuals who know how to stand for themselves as well as the art of giving back to the society they live in.

Link

March is spent under the influence of examination fever, especially for parents with children in higher classes, also for the kids themselves. Some children in primary school also have to go through the rigour of exams albeit just for grades at the end of the academic session.

After examination fever pales, the anxiety of results/grades and beginning of a new academic session rules. Post the hurrah or disappointment of the results comes the task of preparing to go back to school, ie. new class, new session and a new start.

The key here being “new”, that is uniforms, shoes, stationery and most importantly books and of course a different class with different subjects, new teachers and at times new friends in schools which have a policy of shuffling the children each academic year. Last Parents Teachers Meeting (PTM) of the academic year where results are shared is usually followed by parents with the kids in tow making a beeline for the stationery and or uniform shop. To avoid serpentine queues most schools would give a window of a week or a fortnight to stock up on the “new”.

This year a trend I noticed on social networking sites parents recycling old books and notebooks to be used as reference material. Brilliant initiative without a doubt, but is there a way out of the long queues to pick up the new stuff in school?

Yes, there are shops in markets that are authorised to sell certain school uniforms, there are always stationery shops with pre prepared book bundles for each grade as per syllabus and then there are the shoe shops brand franchisees to save the parents and children another trip to the school.
The bottom line in the school or market choice is the apparent lack of perceived convenience for parents in the whole process. Yes, this is how we have been procuring new uniform, books, shoes and stationery for the children in the beginning of each academic cycle and I guess are tuned to it.

With e-commerce booming and the rapid proliferation of smart phones it was only a matter of time before the marketers on such platforms recognised the opportunity in catering to this particular audience, which in sheer numbers is humongous.

So this year I decided to buck the routine and explore the online world. Most e.tailers have categories for schools, however, I came across an aggregator for just school in schoolkart which was a very pleasant and economical experience.

Replacement or new purchase now with the convenience of a click, thereby making going back to school only easier and more pleasant.