Wednesday, December 18, 2019


I have always been a person who associates the word 'routine' with monotony. I would purposefully do something out of the everyday routine to just break it, like I'd skip bathing for a day if nothing else is working out. So, hearing from me about routines for children, can be a complete shocker or stupid or essential. I mean come on, if I can now relate routine with harmony rather than monotony, the story is worth going through, right!

Okay, you don't have to go through everything to learn a lesson. It's not necessary to take the harder way always, I chose an easy one here. If I say my parenting began before I had a baby, then it won't be wrong. I am this, analyzing, judging and ruminating over facts kind of person. So, before conceiving I observed all the kids around me, asked their mothers about their day to day activities and much more. I have seen that, those babies who had no regular bedtimes became the preschoolers who gave their parents tough times in the morning when schools began, those toddlers who did not have proper eating habits became the teenagers who bent towards junk food more often, those who were never taught proper communicating etiquette became adults who were annoying in the public scenes. I came to a conclusion that if I have a baby, I will have to turn upside down to retain my sanity in future. No matter what it takes, who says what (giving that the Indian family routines are bizarre), I will have to stick to proper routines.

I mean, everyone is born with a concept of time even if they can or cannot read a clock. Look at my first babe, Limo loves sleeping and sleeps late in the evening on the sofa but exactly by quarter to eight, he wakes up, stretches out and by dot eight he is right in front of me, nose to nose, just an inch away, starring into my eyes and saying "it's dinner time mommy, get your lazy butt to kitchen and warm up my meal". So, if a dog can sense time then a human baby is expected much more of - routine.

No one loves routine, neither a baby nor a toddler and never a teenager. But at every stage in life, routine plays a different role. When a baby goes through same routine for meals and bedtime each day, he knows what to expect and what is expected of him. He might fuss in the beginning but a few days down the line, he is habituated. When he turns to a toddler, a few things that would excite him are to be added to keep him aligned to the plan but the routine remains constant. Even if he hates it, he himself reminds you if you skip a step between. And what happens when they turn teenagers? The routine by then is memorized by their body and it is easy to trick the mind but not the body.

You can endlessly argue over why you are not able to set a routine with your child but the winner will always be a - routine. A good routine or a bad routine, set by purpose or unintentionally, it will have a domino effect on the coming years of the child and you'll see that. Observe

Wednesday, December 4, 2019


Like every other sincere parent around, even I want my son to grow up with books, loving them and wanting them. But whenever I go out to buy some for him, all I see around are the navneet books of ABC, 123, names of animals, fruits and things. Ugh..... To hell with the ABC, man. A two year old is least bothered about the facts and lessons plated out to them in a very straight manner. Then there are nursery rhymes books of baba black sheep, humpty dumpty and what not, not relatable either. And the panchtantra stories...!! Yes I get it, they are all moral loaded but still not age appropriate for a toddler and then those classic stories like Cinderella and pinocchio, seriously but they have so much text that needs patience which no two year old exhibits. So is it an open and shut case? Should I just postpone my book indulgence fantasy for a later age?

I would have but thanks to, I found many books and authors who really understand the toddler brain and their learning ways. And once you buy a few from Amazon, it just keeps suggesting more and more similar books. Ah, I love Amazon for this and I am sure Amazon too would love me for buying hysterically.

But, trust me once you see what amazing magnetic qualities these books have and how creatively they impart knowledge to the kids, you'd prefer signing your will to Amazon than breaking your head teaching your child from textbooks. So, let me list a few of my favorites with description and many more with just the titles.

Ergonomically, the book is perfect for a tiny toddler hand and sturdy for his explosive ideas. This hardcover book, not just shows the child the life cycle of a Caterpillar but also teaches the names of the days of week, numbers 1 to 5 and the power of eating greens. Boom...!! So much in a pint sized book...!!

This one as the name suggests, teaches empathy. It has rhyming text and descriptive pictures that work best for a 2-3 year old. A has definitely learned to empathize with me to begin with and I am grateful for that.

This book has a collection of 10 animals that are close to extinction. Not a storybook but a book that describe each animal, their daily routines, food they eat and fun facts . Ok, this one is going to cost us a fortune as A wants to visit these animals in their natural habitat places. But anyways, we had pledged not to introduce him to the caged animals and lock in his mind the prevailing myth that human race is the only significant specie on earth.

This one teaches about different seasons and all the conditions that are essential for the germination of seed and growth of a plant. Amazing concept and story line.

Along with the repercussions of being bad tempered, this book teaches about the concept of time. The book has pages, graphics and story sequenced so beautifully that you see the movement of sun throughout the day and also learn reading clocks. Eric Carle is a genius..!

Looking at the mind blowing graphics of this book, I thought I bought a wrong one for his age but watching him decipher the complexity of graphics to understand the characters sketched in the book, I think it was totally worth the buy. And ofcourse Ganesha is the God all kids love, may be because of the sweets...

Okay, it's not A but me who hates the typical nursery rhymes and honestly, there is no rule that without knowing them you cannot move further in life. So, I bought this one for A. The pictures are very realistic in this one but what I loved the most is that all the rhymes are grown around the character Annie Rose and her everyday life and activities. Very relatable and imaginative.

Like I said, learning ABC from the navneet books is very cliche and uncreative. So we got more graphical and interesting ones, out of which I really liked this one. So, every letter has got a story which has characters and events that start with the same letter and hence the lessons of letters and phonics happen together. Isn't it wonderful...!?

These were the very first ones I bought for A, from a bookstore! The stories are fun and the pictures are really descriptive. A loves them so much that they have withered within two years of buying them.

Now, I am not an expert or a critic to review books. But the fact that I love books (and now children's books), encourages me to buy more. I have loved all the books that I bought for him but him, I tell you, these little experts can be cruel critics. He listens carefully and then observes the images on the page and if they don't relate much, that book is touched rarely and only when forced, like this one we bought called "Farmer Falgu goes to the market" and then he has his own sense of graphics and if the book does not have catchy pictures or interesting lines than that too goes in the back of the shelf like this one we have called "The ant thief". But there are many more that we love like "Here we are, notes for living on planet earth", "Clouds", "Energy - makes things happen", "Forces - make things move", "The mixed up Chameleon" and almost all by Eric Carle.

Sure, these books will cost you five to ten times that of the navneet books but what they have to offer, is priceless. These books by great creative artists and writers, brings so much art in these little people and art is enticing, irrespective of age. To grab a child's attention the book has to be appealing in every sense. You feed your eyes before you feed your other sense organs, does not just stand true for the food we eat but also for the food we feed our brains. Feed good, reap even better.
P.S. Check my upcoming Instagram story feed for future book purchases. 

Monday, November 18, 2019


Last night we were playing dress up with A. We made him wear my scarf as a saree and took my mom's bindi to put on his forehead. Awe, he looked like a pretty little girl and we all teased him and had fun. After sometime when we wanted to pack up, he came up and said "I want to wear the saree and bindi, I like it very much". My dad's jovial voice turned serious and he said "now don't ever dress him like a girl". This got me thinking.

Saree and bindi are not gender specific, are they? Look at our past, our ancestors wore dhoti and angvastram irrespective of their gender. And some communities still have their males wearing tilaks which are bindis in a way. Then why does a boy's liking for saree and bindi become alarming to us? Why do we buy kitchen sets for girls and doctor's set and mechanics set for boys? Oh wait, yes, we evolved. Now we get doctor's and mechanics set for girls too. But still no rolling pins and whiskers for boys. Do you see how we are creating imbalance in the society?

As described in yoga, within every human body is the ida and the pingala. These are energy channels or nadi which represent the basic duality of existence. Ida and pingala stand for feminine and masculine, intuition and logic, respectively. That means both the energies reside in every body! But nowadays, we don't look beyond bodies. We have confused characteristics with sex. Anything that is punished or rewarded when done by one sex but not by the other is gendered behavior, either masculine or feminine depending on which sex the behavior is "allowed" in.

No one is perfectly masculine or feminine—that is, no one tends to do only the things their culture defines as appropriate to just their sex. If I talk about us, between me and my husband, he is the one who takes more time shopping and he is the one who is better at housekeeping; on the other hand, I am the one who is least bothered about my looks and my attire and it's me again who cannot multitask when its worldwide proven that women are better at multitasking. Does that make me or him anything less of our respective sex? No. In fact, we are perfect yin and yang together but the ideologies that have been fitted in our heads since the very initial years about gender specific characteristics make us doubt ourselves and criticize other person's shortcomings.

There is a section of society that celebrates the men who enter the kitchen and women who step out for earning a living and then there is the other half of the society that mocks at these same people. But, ideally they shouldn't be treated any differently. When a man and a woman come together to set up a household, there are a set of responsibilities that are to be dealt with and who picks what should not be anyone else's business. As an individual, a person should learn to exist and evolve, for which he needs to learn to earn and to cook (and much more) but when two individuals come together they share the duties. And the future generation observes when duties are been taken care of. They are wired to replicate until they grow their own brains and till then what they have perceived so far solidifies as universal rules or habits. And thus, the cycle of imbalance continues.

We need to stop this cycle. We need to stop genderizing every activity, every characteristic and every attribute and let every individual bloom into his own person. Putting a bindi, helping me in kitchen or grooving with all hip circles on music will not turn my son into a gay or preventing him from all this will not protect him from being one if he is meant to be. My job is not to restrict his ideology and identity but to ensure that he gets an environment where he can boldly and respectfully be the best of whatever he chooses to be.

Sunday, November 10, 2019


Keeping your toddler busy while giving his brain right kind of stimulation to increase the brain power and physical agility is challenging but quite an interesting project to take on.

After deciphering our language learning path, I figured out that me teaching him or someone else teaching him will be forced learning at any point in his life but if he has the urge to learn, to know then he will find the source of learning and do it all willingly. And just then, I stumbled upon the term called child led learning. There are ways to make child led learning happen without forcing them to sit, concentrate or leave their play in between. Forcing them to learn something just because their peers have already learnt it, will either turn them into submissive or rebellious beings. But, if we just bring things to their notice and then wait for them to naturally build their curiosity about it, then neither we'll have to force them into learning nor worry if they are learning enough. Hence we need to understand that lessons can be weaved around their plays and plays can be created to direct learning.

I know, we are so grained into the mundane that coming up with new ways of initiating learning seems difficult and doubting that the system can be flawed is impossible as we've been conditioned to follow the usual, blindfoldedly. Okay, I am not inventing something up or doing something extraordinary out of quest to promote organic learning ways. There are methods established that can give us ideas on how to integrate play with work and also bring to our notice what are the most foundational lessons for learning and how those lessons can be imbibed in a child to the earliest so that he can reap its benefits sooner in life. These methods of learning, like Unit method, Charlotte Mason method, Montessori method, Waldorf method, Unschooling method and Radical Unschooling method have been built on different concepts of raising learners for life. Each one is different in its approach but their concern over treating a child as a data feeding computer is the same.

No, I am not saying we all need to follow them to their written points or that we need to do courses in the respective method to be able to bring them into our homes. Thanks to Google, we can access their ideologies and tips and bring in whatever we find suitable and necessary for our house and child.

Ever since I figured this out, I have fixed a way to bring new learnings into his notice. I plant them around him and let him approach them when he feels interested. Here's our step by step recipe to learning derived from intensive Google research and own experience-

1. Firstly, I erased all the benchmarks I had put together in my mind watching other kids, like ABC by 1.5 years, 1000 words by 2.5 years and early schooling.

2. I then started observing A and his efforts throughout the day. He is always upto something and if I pay attention, I learn what the ultimate goal he is trying to accomplish like may be learning to jump or trying to understand the arrangement of batteries in his car or light and shadow.

3. Then, I go ahead and acknowledge his efforts and try to motivate him for sticking to it and not giving up if he cannot crack down what he is trying to learn. Sometimes though, he wants to be left alone. And I do so even if I know he is heading the wrong way.
4. Ignition. When the first three steps are taken care of, I am in a position to know what is it that he is ready for but is foraging in the wrong direction or what is it that he is ready to take on as a next learning step. Here, I know I should intervene in the subtlest way. I put an idea or method in front of him (mostly in the form of a book, as it's our chosen way of learning about things but also sometimes by practical examples) and let him decide if he wants to take it. If you know the toddler brain, they would never accept help and so does A. But once he figures out he needs to take it for further exploration, he accepts it and comes to me for further queries regarding the same if need be.

So basically, INTRODUCE - WITHDRAW - WAIT - JUMP IN (ONLY IF INVITED) that is my game plan. So, he learns through his own queries at his own pace and on his own track, not through a predetermined path and I trace the subtlest of his development and guide him. We are still in a dilemma of schooling or unschooling but till we decide, we'll continue with this track and trace method of learning.