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Category: Useful Tips

Why Chores for Kids are Necessary and Helpful

Why Chores for Kids are Necessary and Helpful

Do you get your kids to do chores? Or do you do everything yourself?

For your sake and for that of your kids, I hope you answer ‘yes’ to the first question. No matter what their age, unless of course they’re still crawling around pulling things off shelves, kids can and should be helping out. Chores for kids need to be an integral part of their routines.

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How & When to have the Puberty Talk with your Daughter

How & When to have the Puberty Talk with your Daughter

Puberty talk. Adolescence. Hormones. Growing up.

It’s that phase when you go through every imaginable change possible and are confused, worried and wondering what on earth happened with your body. We’ve all been through it. Yet, how many of us are comfortable talking about it with our kids, our daughters and our sons?

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Social Media and my child

Social Media and my child

My daughter doesn’t have a Facebook account. She isn’t aware of how Twitter works and she knows that Whatsapp exists but only knows that we can send and receive messages and photographs via this medium.

Of course, she is only 10. She turned 10 just last week, as a matter of fact and it was a matter of great joy and pride to see the baby I held in my arms now all grown up as a young lady making her way into the world of double digits.

People have asked me in the past how much time she’s spent with gadgets and it’s a matter of personal pride that I’ve been able to say with confidence that it’s been hardly more than 2 hours in a week.

Social media and my child, Shailaja, Doting Mom

You’d think that’s impossible given that we’re surrounded by gadgets today. In a household that has 3 family members there are at least 6 digital devices at any given time. But, it’s honestly just been a matter of choice where we were concerned.

Social media, in my opinion, has two major influences on children today: one being the amount they themselves spend online and the other being the amount they are projected online via their parents’ updates and photographs.

Children and gadgets

Friends of mine have wondered how I’ve limited the use of gadgets for Gy. The answer is pretty simple: I say ‘No’. I tell her that there are so many other things she can do: read, quill, play outdoors, chat with friends in person, go for a Nature walk, ride a bike, use a skateboard, clean up her room, organise a shelf in her wardrobe, paint, sketch, draw – you get the idea.

Does this mean no gadgets at all? Not necessarily. The school has also recently incorporated some gadget use but it’s all educational so I set aside time for her each week to spend on learning apps as well as some sketching apps. Games? A few here and there are fine but I am a stickler for time and definitely do not allow more than 20-30 minutes at a stretch and just once during the week.

To her credit, she’s been very conscious herself and switches off gadgets when I say so.

I’ve heard parents say that it’s impossible to keep kids occupied and they especially find it challenging when they go outdoors for a meal or an evening out with friends. As much as it may kill you to hear this, let them get bored. Boredom is good for kids as it helps them unwind and also process the idea of doing nothing. Too much stimulation of the brain is also not ideal, as you’d have noticed.

Gy received a Wi-Fi device this birthday from us which does not have a SIM card. She accesses Skype which we use to chat with her dad who’s away during the week and a couple of learning apps which help with her academics. That’s about it.

Read: Is your kid smart enough for a smartphone?

Children and being on social media

Child, Social Media, Picture, Shailaja, Doting Mom

For the purposes of this post, I’m going to restrict myself to parental roles and assume that your kids are below the age of consent. Older kids and social media behaviour will have to make for a separate post.

I’ve been a vocal advocate of cyber security and cyber safety when it comes to information being posted online about children. Cyber bullying is a real threat and most of us brush it off with the notion,’That couldn’t happen to me. I’m too careful.’

There’s a reason I use Gy when I refer to my daughter. It’s her identity online and one that I don’t want to mess around with, frankly. As she grows up her full name with her credentials will have to lead back to her and what she has done, not what I’ve done for her. 

I think I may have offended a  few people recently when I gently messaged them to say that they use ‘Gy’ when referring to my daughter on Facebook, even if we are good friends offline. But I don’t mean to upset anyone; I merely request that you protect her privacy. Not all my friends on my Facebook list are people I have necessarily met in person and it pays to be wary.

I’ve also spoken about the need for better privacy controls and settings when it comes to sharing pictures of your kids online. I get that you’re keen to share your joy with the world, believe me. But these are kids we’re talking about.

If you must share pictures of your kids, do it with caution:

  1. Do not geo-tag photos of them or add any identifying marks such as the names of the schools/ places they visit.
  2. Try not to take photos which show their face completely or at least ensure that these are only shared with very close friends and family that you can trust.
  3. Use tastefully taken photos that you can use online without compromising on their identity. 
  4. Do not use pictures of your kids in your social media profile photos or cover pictures. These are always public.
  5.  If they are old enough, ask them before posting their pictures online. Trust me, it’s never too early to start asking.

As parents and as bloggers, a lot of us have a responsibility towards two sets of people: our kids and our readers. How do we tread the line of propriety without over-stepping the bounds of embarrassment and/or security?

We take precautions and we exercise our judgement as to what works for our family. I realise that will vary significantly with each parent and that’s fine. Just keep in mind that your child will grow up and will see themselves online in some form or another a few years from now. Putting yourself in their shoes each time you post an update or a picture today will go a long way towards striking that balance effectively.

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Managing time as a Work-from-home mom

Managing time as a Work-from-home mom

November 15th was my last post here. Wait, how did that happen? I thought I’d committed to writing a post a week?  Well, as it turns out, life came in the way, but I think what is more important and more true is the fact that I didn’t really manage my time very well.

Those who know me very well are gasping in disbelief, because everyone knows I am a tad annoying when it comes to deadlines and schedules. I positively turn into the Incredible Hulk if people don’t reach on time, leave on time, submit assignments on time or basically do anything on time.

Over the last 6 months (yes, I officially completed 6 months at my job today!), I’ve been juggling a full-time work-from-home job, three blogs, housework, chores, social media, bringing up my daughter, getting sucked into the vortex of homework, exams, assignments and projects and just barely managing to squeeze in some time for exercise. Oh, I’ve also been working on my memoir! Whew, that sounds like a lot when you see it all together, right?

That picture below just about says what my brain must look like on any given day; not a pretty picture, you’ll admit.

What changed, you ask? Nothing whatsoever. I am still that green monster, but there’s a trick I’ve learnt  which I am dying to share with you all, so here goes. 

There was this beautiful quote I read somewhere and  I am not sure who said it first: ‘You can’t manage time; you can only manage yourself.~ Unknown’

Suddenly, my entire paradigm shifted. I had been trying to bend time to fit my schedule when it should have been the other way around. Why didn’t I see this earlier? Such an epiphany, isn’t it?

Knowing that I have an obsession with time, it only made sense that I turned this into something productive and to my advantage. I’ve got a thing for checklists, to-do lists, schedules, planning and detail. It’s what inspires my work ethic and my personal comfort. (It’s an entirely different matter that I drive people up the wall with my insistence on order, but that’s besides the point.)

So a few days ago, I sat down and physically wrote down the various things that go into a normal workday. Now, based on the work you do this can vary significantly, but just go with me on the principle.

My daily tasks include:

  1. Working on my book
  2. My job
  3. My blogs
  4. Social media presence for work
  5. Social media presence for myself
  6. Cooking
  7. Housework
  8. Errands
  9. Exercise
  10. Time with my daughter
  11. Reading a book
Now, these are not in order of importance. What really matters is how I intended to carve out specific times of the day for each task. Given that some tasks will take longer than others, it helps to budget for extra time.
My day begins at 4.30 am. Some days, laziness kicks in and it is 5 am before I drag myself out of bed, though. So I start with what I feel would be the best at 5 am: Writing a few pages of my memoir. The stillness of the morning is very conducive to thinking and I find my fingers flying faster than they do at any other time of the day/night.
This is followed by chores and getting the kid ready for school. Soon after she’s left, I catch a bite to eat and then settle down to work. Work takes up a couple of hours, maybe more on some days. I then take a break to go for a walk and purchase some items from the grocery store. Not buying everything at once helps, since this means I get to walk every single day to the store. If I get a break, I spend it on social media time for work and intersperse it with personal social media time.
The afternoon is when I feel the most sluggish and unproductive, so I don’t force it and give myself over to either a quick snooze or just watch some TV to unwind. Once Gy is back home from school, I devote my time to her needs: homework, food, incessant chatter and more.
Dusk is when I go out for another walk and follow it up with a light dinner, some reading of blogs, replying to comments and wind down with a book before bed. I’ve stopped staying up late these days and most nights, I am in bed by 10.15 or earlier.
Obviously, this is not an iron-clad schedule. Some things or most of it will change given any single day. Five key tips that can help are:
  • Use a diary/planner to work out your important tasks for the day ahead.
  • Keep your phone in another room when you are working/writing.
  • Set a timer for social media and log off resolutely when the time is up.
  • Do not look at any screens, phones or tablets, before bed. Read a book and let the body relax naturally. You’ll sleep better.
  • Tell yourself that you cannot do it all on any given day. Let go of the guilt.
Do you manage time or manage yourself?
What do you find is the most time-consuming activity in your day?
Do share your thoughts.

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