Category Archives: Family

Do Our Memories Define Us?

Posted by my wife Maya.

While I was reading this post I kept thinking of the many things I cannot recall – my college application, sitting through classes in high school, my fave dress from college etc. The list is long and I feel bad about not having those memories. Perhaps that missing memory might have added a new dimension to my personality. I don’t know. I have no reason to be this forgetful. All is well with my brain. But I have a tendency to forget things and can’t seem to recall things which others can. It’s not brain fog, because I have been this way for a long time.

Photo Album Images Old Album Photos Memories

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After we married, I wanted my husband to talk about memories which mattered to us as a family. I wanted to remember everything It was only when friends continued to feel terrible about things which people had said decades ago, that I realized I was blessed in some ways. My poor memory helped me hold no grudges or bitterness!

Recently I came across a video which talks of how memories which are often visited change over time. A sort of update happens to our old memories and the original memory is no longer pristine. Now, I wonder how changing memories define us!

 

Parenting in the Digital Age

I recently went on a train. I have always liked them, but haven’t made many trips. In fact my dream is to make a train trip across the Rockies in Canada. There is something hypnotic about sitting by a window and watching the changing scenery with the rhythmic sounds of the train in the background. In the newer trains designed with tourists in mind, even the roof is transparent! In my head the train is a whole city moving through the landscape and as a child, I had loved the feeling of going forward as the landscape moved back!

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By Intel Free Press – http://www.flickr.com/photos/intelfreepress/9527140076/sizes/o/in/photostream/, CC BY-SA 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=27914424

Train journeys are a great time to reflect. These last few months my wife and I have been talking a lot about parenting in the digital age. It’s hard to bring up kids without the influence of digital devices.

The Pros

A digital education has many pros. Educational kids games help with learning. Schools use them extensively. Kids can find information easily. They can watch videos of things they want to know more about. Boring subjects can be made interactive and interesting. Textbooks can be done away with and teachers can compile their own material. Children can explore what they want. It improves their problem solving strategy. The list can go on and this is a good list. There’s no denying it.

The Cons

Human beings are social creatures and we live such that there is give and take. Isolation’s definitely not good for kids. Our biggest grouse against digital device is the fact that it isolates kids with their device. They might chat with others or they might have virtual friends, but physically it’s lonely.

Outdoor play reduces. For kids in their growing years, its very important to be physically active. They need a good dose of Vitamin N, especially in the growing years. They understand their surroundings when they tramp through the countryside. Snow, slush, rain, heat etc., kids must have exposure to all of it. Their senses are sharpened by spending time in nature.

With more time spent on digital devices, the ability to make by hand is reducing. In a time when devices were not available, kids commonly had hobbies which involved collecting, building or some other activity by hand. Building something not only helps kids pick up a skill, it also helps them understand how things work and the properties of materials.

Staring at devices for a long time causes eye problems in some people. There has been a noticeable increase in the number of eye problems in young people. When kids get involved in what they watch, they actually forget to blink!

The Middle Path

Completely cutting off kids from devices or not stopping them in any way are two extremes we need to avoid. We have given this a lot of thought. We can’t ban devices, because we continue to use them. What we can do is set a good example, by not using them while we eat or spend time with the kids. We must get more serious about the time we spend outdoors with the kids. Summer really helps as the time we spend outdoors naturally increases. If kids have something more interesting than the game they have on their device, they will be naturally be weaned off digital content. We should increase the activities we do together and kids might be encouraged to put away their games to explore this beautiful world!

 

Put Away Those Reading Games

Yes, get the kids to put away those reading games and pull out their walking shoes. Spring is officially here 20th March on. As new life blooms in nature, it’s time to get out and enjoy the outdoors.

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Sakura tunnel by akaitori

Spring’s in the Air

After the miserable cold, spring is welcomed with open arms. This is celebrated across the world in many different ways. Some are new age celebrations, while others have a history of thousands of years. Vitamin-Nature is something which kids need massive doses off. As our lifestyle changes, lives are getting busy and kids as well as adults spend very little time outdoors. This is not a good sign for younger kids. Hit the park or the playground. Younger kids need to spend a lot of time in nature. This is crucial for their sensory development.

Getting a big dose of Vitamin-N

Kids need to run about with shoes and without. They need to jump, tumble, hop, skip and spin with abandon. This helps in their health and development.Movement is crucial in the developing years. Many of the problems associated with kids’ development and health, like childhood obesity and sensory processing disorders, can really be helped with large doses of nature. Interestingly in Washington DC, children are prescribed doses of spending time at the park! Yes, it’s called Park Rx and it’s a communtiy initiative.

Swinging by themselves – basic playground stuff

Many kids much beyond preschool do not know how to swing by themselves. Parents rarely give pumping on a swing any thought. It’s complicated and crucial to developing musculature and coordination. Once the child is confident to sit in a regular swing and they are ready to follow your direction to hold the chains tight, start them slow. Coach them to stretch their legs and fold it as the swing starts up. Before you know it, they’ll get into the rhythm of swinging, and you’ll see the kids jumping off in mid-air and 2-3 of them swing all at once on swing! Make sure they are careful around others swinging high.

Enormous benefits

The benefits from nature are enormous for the development of kids. This does not mean going and living in a forest with your family. It just means increasing association with natural environments. Apart from parks, families can start small gardens. Watching something grow can fascinate kids. Get a pet. Buy fresh ingredients to make a meal and involve the kids. Soon they might be involved in cooking a Thanksgiving meal!

Encourage them to enjoy the rain, wind, sun and the snow. Do some activities which involve nature – hapa zome, flower drying, planting seeds, vegetable printing or anything that interests the kids.

Winding Up

My parents have always told us stories about the simple things they played with – cartons, tins, pieces of wood, bottles, sticks, newspaper etc. With massive doses of imagination, they got really inventive with their playtime. From such open ended play to the high levels of structured play that kids get, the move has been rapid and not fully beneficial. It’s time for a prescription of Park Rx!

 

Good Night, Sleep Tight!

Sleep is super important for kids. Yes, sleep. That state, where kids do nothing? At least it appears that way, but it’s that state where the mind builds memories and the body repairs itself. It’s so important that if kids don’t sleep in regular cycles parents should worry. Kids get cranky and their health deteriorates. Adults need 8 hours of sleep, but kids can easily sleep 10-12 hours a day depending on their age. Kids can practically sleep anywhere and anyhow!

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“L1009788 Kids, they can sleep anytime any place:)” by DaiLuo is licensed under CC BY 2.0

A routine helps

Most kids who play and eat well, have no problems falling asleep. When kids do find it hard to fall asleep, a routine helps. The picture book Goodnight Moon, is a slow elaborate procedure of saying Goodnight, by the end of which a child could be asleep. Families can build their own routines. Darkening the sleeping area is a good idea. Sometimes a hot drink before going to bed helps. Other times a soft song does the trick. Watching a screen definitely does not help.

Frequently sleep disruptions could be temporary. Parents just need to talk to their kids to find out if something is preying on their minds. It could be a simple worry, which can be fixed easily. The importance of good quality sleep cannot be emphasized enough for kids – as parents we need to ensure that our kids get enough.

Valentine’s Day Craft Ideas

We decided to help the kids make Valentine’s Day gifts at home. Our extended family enjoys  giving gifts and this year we decided to make them ourselves. Not all, at least a few of them. We are not very craft oriented, but we frequently get ambitious!

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Crafting with Kids by Suzette – www.suzette.nu

Here are four crafts we tried:

  1. Making a Snowflake

We made this snow flake with ice cream sticks and stuck the ends together to make a snowflake which could be hung up. The kids loved this craft – simple and it involved glue!

2. Toss the Shell

We collected about a dozen eggshells before we got ready for this one. Trust me when I say, think it through before you attempt this – leaves quite a mess! Fill the empty shells with different colored paints. Now stand up your canvas at 4-5 ft distance. Throw your shells at the canvas. The patterns created by the breaking shells can be spectacular. Let the canvas dry. Trim the edges neatly and stick it onto a nice thick sheet of paper, and voila you have your art piece ready for gifting!

3. Googly Shades

This one now is a recycled craft. Maya donated an old pair of sunglasses, the kids got their glue and googly eyes out, and soon we had the googly shades ready. Now they are arguing about who gets to keep it!

4. I Spy Bottle

This was made with a recipient in mind – a young relative, who loved playing with little things. His parents were always hesitant about giving him small objects to play with, and this was a solution our kids found for him. They took many small objects and dropped it all into a transparent plastic bottle and added some free flowing uncooked rice, and sealed it tight. This could get thrown and tossed around safely.

Advantages of crafting with kids

The point about making crafts is the unadulterated fun kids have. We also like to think it gives kids a good opportunity to think independently, explore materials, combine odd materials, break open things and seal things in. They explore opposites even as they find things which go together. Kids learn how to make do with things they have – we ran out of glue and Maya’s mother rustled up this flour based glue in a jiffy.

Maya and I had some wonderful hours bonding with the kids as they spent time making these crafts. Our kids have gamed with their grandma and crafted with her. The silly laughter, chit chat, glue spills and messes are unforgettable. Even the cleaning up after helped our kids understand the importance of handling materials with care(who likes cleaning up anyway!). We make memories which come back to help us in difficult times.

Well, I’m not sure the googly shades will leave us, but the rest will be gifted away for sure. We are also very sure the young recipient of the I Spy Bottle will love it!

Enjoy your Valentine’s Day!

 

 

 

Sharing Stories With Our Kids

A post from my wife Maya.

While I was reading this I got thinking about how our kids might never know about the pre-digital world we inhabited – about letters, land lines, rotary instruments my grandparents had, touch-tone phones, paper maps, pen pals, waiting for the mailman, telegrams etc. They might see it in movies but that’s impersonal. How do we get our kids to know of a bygone world? How do we convey?

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117/366 – Retro by Ravi Shah

The simplest way is to talk about those days. To share stories. A good storyteller can transport listeners to the times she is talking about. We can pull out old pictures and talk about the times those were taken in. Ask the kids what they don’t see in our homes that are there in pictures from our young age. A simple ‘Spot the Difference’ kind of exercise. It can be fun and enlightening.

We know a lot of things about the world inhabited by our parents because they spoke of those times. Our grandparents spoke of how they grew up. This is how memories are passed on via stories and also how connectivity is brought between generations. Today we might do it, but tomorrow our kids will have to do it in the future when the current digital age morphs and becomes a thing of the past!

 

 

 

Christmas Gift Suggestions

“Christmas gift suggestions: To your enemy, forgiveness. To an opponent, tolerance. To a friend, your heart. To a customer, service. To all, charity. To every child, a good example. To yourself, respect.”
— Oren Arnold

Oren Arnold was born in 1900, and what he said in his lifetime holds good even today. It’s simple and yet deep. When he talks about setting a good example to every child, it seems so obvious, but then in our everyday lives we forget it and live very unthinkingly.

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Sharing by Nathan

Sharing

Kids look forward to their gifts at Christmas and love opening them. Last year was about resolutions and virtual pet games, but this year, we want the kids to have bigger gifts. The gift of sharing and caring. There is a the millennial generation which understands sharing (of a sort), but younger children need to be reminded. Sometimes kids are naturally sharing. Other times wars break out. We need to bring up our kids who care about people and things around them. Not just sharing as it’s wiser, but to share because they wish to and it’s required, as resource sharing is a way forward. Cropmobster is an example of farming communities sharing their surplus. We can start early by asking our kids to share the gifts they get, with others less fortunate.

We could also take them to an animal shelter to help out. Alternatively, take them to a place where food is served for the less fortunate. Even as we do all this, we can encourage kids strongly not to waste food or other resources. This in itself is a huge saving. Food sharing is a growing social movement in many parts of the world. Sharing surplus food was not uncommon in earlier times, but today it has been forgotten and needs to be revived.

Parenting

A few days ago, I saw a young child aged 5 or so put a card to her ear as if she were on the phone. Then she used her head and shoulder to keep it in place, continuing an imaginary conversation, and dug around in her bag, just like an adult would. In about a minute, she calmly put away her pretend phone and turned around to her grandmother letting her know that she had finished her call. Then she continued, ‘Mamma does that.’

As parents we forget that our kids watch us all the time. They follow us, learn from us and imbibe many things that we do. If we don’t answer their question when they ask, they think it’s okay to do the same!

We have tried to be good parents. Most times we are(at least that’s what we think we are!) but we need to be aware that we need to set a good example. Well, this Christmas, we are going to give that gift to our children. Along with a few other presents of course!

We’ll go spend some time volunteering. If it touches our kids, who want to come along, I would say we have given them a good gift.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!