3 Parenting Tips I Learnt from Friends

Parenting is an ongoing, lifelong learning process. Just as your child makes mistakes while stumbling along, we as parents do too and quite frequently. As long as we step back and learn from them, these minor hurdles do their bit to make us better at parenting with time.

I consider myself lucky to have a large number of parent friends whom I meet quite frequently, thanks to the playing sessions of my little ones. On these occasions of dropping and picking up, we tend to get chatting for a few minutes every now and then over a cup of coffee (now who can say no to a weakness like that!). On these cuppa conversations, here are three bits of ‘learning from experience’ – parenting tips I would like to call them – which I gained from like-minded parents of kids like mine.

  1. Keep it simple and focus on what matters – simple, but significant.Image 1

    American canning” by johnny_automatic is licensed under CC by 2.0

    It lies in the everyday tasks and activities that you do with your kids. Playing ball, washing the laundry and hanging it up to dry, watching a sport together, ordering in pizza or even making a messy homemade pizza in your own kitchen – these are simple and yet significant activities that can be a wonderful way to spend time together with your kids. Come to think of it, I have fond recollections of most of these back from my own childhood.

    1. Your children will follow your example, not your advice.

    Parents will be parents; we’ll keep telling our kids to do a certain thing in a certain way and repeat ourselves not once, not twice, but zillions of times! Nothing wrong, especially since it comes naturally to us in front of our kids. But it helps to remember that kids learn best by example. When we are wrong or have messed it up, we should own up to our mistake and apologize. They will do it too. Reading before bedtime is for parents as well as kids. Mom has work on her computer but he shuts it down when bedtime is near; the kids will then also know they have a fixed duration of time for their online games and need to switch off the tablet once time is up. Dad cleans up the kitchen after meals; kids do their own share and clean up the dining table. The easiest way to reinforce good behavior in your kids is to show them the way to behave yourself.

    1. Let them be.

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    Gardening scene” by Firkin is licensed under CC by 2.0

    I know this particular point is easier said than done, but it tends to become very important especially in the younger years. One of the world’s leading child psychologists, Alison Gopnik has penned down a wonderful book called The Gardener and the Carpenter.  To quote her: ‘The human mind is more like a hand than a Swiss Army knife. A human hand isn’t designed to do any one thing in particular. But it is an exceptionally flexible and effective device for doing many things, including things we might never have imagined.’ The key is to allow your kids to mold themselves into what they want to be, rather than us chiseling them into what we feel is right. Guide them along the way, definitely; but let them be what they want to, eventually.

    Food for thought!


4 New Year Resolutions for Dads/Husbands

Resolutions are meant to be broken, aren’t they? Or so they say. So this year, I decided I would try to make resolutions that make me feel happier, instead of having to do something just as a compulsion. This way I’ll probably be better off at keeping them till the end of the year.

Here are my 4 New Year resolutions as a dad/husband for 2018.

  1. Home = NO Office Work

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Family Fun Silhouette” by GDJ is licensed under CC by 2.0

I admit that I don’t carry office work back home regularly but then particularly near the weekends, I do often work late nights at home just to get things done and wrapped up. Now that I come to think of it, most of these tasks can easily be carried forward and done the next working day, in office itself. So my first resolution for 2018 is – home means NO office work at all. That is me time, us time, family time, reading time, virtual games time, outdoor games time. Personal relationships and spending quality time together with my near and dear ones ranks right on top of my list in the New Year.

  1. Unplanned Date Nights MORE Often

I was reading an article from The Huffington Post website here the other day and they were talking about how date nights take a backseat when you’ve been married for a considerable duration of time, plus why they are so important that they need to be marked on your calendar as a ritual of sorts. A candlelight dinner would be a nostalgic trip back to our courtship days – check. Not having to get things done or look after the kids and actually spending time connecting with each other – true, much needed. I don’t remember the last time me and my wife went out dancing, while back in our college days it was a part of our weekly routine and something we looked forward to the most. The icing on the cake? The children will get to have a good time being pampered (and vice versa) by their grandparents while we are out. A win-win situation!

  1. Actual PRINTED Photograph Albums

A popular photographer made this very important observation: Since cameras are making their presence felt everywhere from our phones to our tablets, it is estimated that in the last 5 years or so, more photographs have been clicked in the world than all the prior years combined! But then, where will these photographs end up? They’ll probably die a quick death in our phones itself when we upgrade to a newer model. I remember my childhood vividly even today as a result of the actual print photo albums we still dust off the shelf and open on birthdays and other special occasions. So my third resolution for the New Year is this: I will get an album of selected digital images printed for every occasion – birthday, anniversary or anything else – in the form of an actual physical photo album. My kids will definitely thank me for it one fine day.

  1. Family Breakfasts EVERYDAY

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Full English Breakfast” by OgreofWart is licensed under CC by 2.0

What could be a better way to set the tone for the day than breakfasting together with family, howsoever hurried it may be? Breakfasts are pretty easy to whip up (there’s always cereal and milk if running short of time), everyone is fresh and well-rested (hence lesser squabbles – hopefully – than during the last meal of the day) and the family can plan together for the day that lies ahead of them. A simple way to feel grateful for life’s little pleasures at the beginning of the day and get charged up to face the world head on – that’s how I look at my fourth and final resolution. What’s more, it has scientific backing too (read more here).

At the end of the year, I’ll fill you in on how successful I’ve been at keeping my word. Happy New Year, everyone!

Memories – The Best Souvenirs

The dictionary meaning of souvenir reads thus:

‘A thing that is kept as a reminder of a person, place or event.’

Very often, souvenirs are little objects or memorabilia that we pick up on our journeys or vacations to faraway places. Thinking of souvenirs, what comes to your mind? Gaudy-colored key chains, small teddy bears in miniature jars or the ubiquitous fridge magnets? Well, to my mind, souvenirs are all this and more.


Shell” by Hope_first is licensed under CC by 2.0

Here are a couple of my most cherished and treasured souvenirs till date (all collected by my little one): a half-broken sea shell occupying pride of place on my writing desk (through which the daughter could hear the waves lashing the shore when she put her ear to it); a sturdy little pine cone up on the mantelpiece picked up on a random Sunday picnic from the side of a hill; the beginning of a diary entry written in scraggly letters on hotel stationery from one of our trips (abandoned mid-way) and a straw sun hat with a pink ribbon from one of our beach excursions.

Yes, our refrigerator too is home to a great number of magnets from many different parts of the world. But then, the best souvenirs are those that have a personal touch to them, like the ones mentioned above. After all, nothing can beat memories being the best souvenirs of all. Am I right?


The Different Shades of Daddying

Am I a geeky, nerdy dad? Well, yes and no. Truth be told, fathers and the love for gadgets somehow always make for a picture perfect couple. Gadgets are fascinating and one of my favorite pastimes is finding out more about the newest gizmo to hit the market, even if it is way beyond reach (monetary-wise, ahem). Well, what’s wrong with a little day-dreaming every now and then, huh, if it gives one happiness? And in the love for gadgets and other latest multimedia gizmos, my daughter seems to have taken after me.

Video games are dad and daughter bonding times. We’re comfortably seated in our favorite squishy bean bags and playing car racing games, pet games like these ones, Super Mario Run or something totally fun like Just Dance, accompanied of course with squeals of laughter and/or accusations of “But that’s cheating!” or “But you’re supposed to let me win!”. At that precise point I patiently explain to my daughter that I used to let her win once upon a time when she was much younger, just to make her feel happy. Not any more, since she’s growing up fast.

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Game” by monikabaechler is licensed under CC by 2.0

Initially, I always thought I would be a ‘tough dad’ – a dad who firmly believed in a disciplined, regimented style of parenting. But then as time went by, I realized something new; to be a tough dad, parenting would mostly always feel like having to say a firm NO to your kids for this, that and the other. It’s not that I don’t say no to my daughter now. Eating a full bar of chocolate fifteen minutes after breakfast? No. Ignoring the day’s worksheets and homework and prancing off to your neighborhood pal’s place? No. Throwing a tantrum for a new dress just because you feel like having it? A big NO.

But then, there have to be yes’s to balance the no’s too. An extra ten minutes of bedtime reading because you want to finish an interesting story? Yes. Enrolling in a guitar class because you feel you’ll enjoy it? Yes (even if you realize along the way you’re not suited to it and decide to give it up). Going out with your best friend and her parents for a day’s picnic? Yes.

Kids going out remind me of this news piece I came across recently. A really brilliant dad has reportedly come up with an app called ReplyASAP, which could soon come to be counted amongst the best parenting apps in the world (my personal opinion). Apparently, the kids’ phone screens will go berserk and all the alarms will set themselves off at the loudest volume until he/she responds to the text from his/her parents. Sheer genius! Wish I was an app developer of sorts and had got the idea before this brilliant dad did.

And now, I’m afraid I must wrap up all my ramblings and head to the video gaming session my daughter has been waiting for. She’s been giving me those side glances sitting on the bean bag with the controls in her hand. Who’s going to win? Daddy of course!

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Arms” by OpenClipart-Vectors is licensed under CC by 2.0


A Busy, Busy Dad


Cup Of Coffee” by freephotocc is licensed under CC by 2.0

Okay, so I’m not trying to exaggerate or anything, but the last month has been a whirlwind of activities, both on the personal as well as professional front. Let’s talk about the home front here, because I always leave work at work and then come home (even if it means reaching home very late as has been the case lately). I’ve taken up jogging daily, even if it means for a mere 10 minutes. I’ll gradually – hopefully – increase it for good by and by.

Also, a new resolution which I have pledged to make time for every day is reading. I used to read books by the tons back in college, post which something or the other always found precedence over reading. So half an hour before bedtime, all gadgets off and reading it is. Feels really good and satisfying. The daughter has specially designed a bookmark to mark where I left off.

What I’ve come to realize is this: There’s nothing known as a perfect work-life balance. If someone says it exists, they’re probably trying to show off or something. You work some, you live your life some, but both always tend to overlap. What is really important here is what works best for you and your family; whether you’re able to have an evening meal together at the dining table and laugh over the day’s happenings, planning for the next day to come. That, at least for me, is what I call the perfect work-life balance.

Adieu July. Here’s to a new month full of work and life!



For Chef Daddy

The daughter and her mom pulled off nothing short of an extremely clever coup this Father’s Day. I got a gift, oh yes, and a very, very thoughtful one at that. The dictionary defines it thus: ‘A protective garment worn over the front of one’s clothes and tied at the back’. I define it thus: ‘An excuse to trick dad into entering the kitchen’. Yes, I got an exclusive, personally customized apron as a gift last weekend.

The hand-painted message on the front of the apron read: ‘Love is sweet. So are you.’ Sweet, both literally and figuratively, I thought. And hence, out came the non-existent chef in me and I decided to take the family by surprise (that they were no doubt, expecting!).


Afters” by Meditations is licensed under CC by 2.0

The microwave came to my rescue. Sugar, cocoa and cornstarch went into a bowl, accompanied by whisking in a little milk. Approximately four minutes on high in the microwave, then stirring every 90 seconds and again microwaving for 3-4 minutes. One teaspoon of vanilla extract to the hot mixture and the ‘dessert-a-la-daddy’ went into the refrigerator to get chilled in time for dinner.

Agreed, the chocolate pudding (if you can call it that) wasn’t exactly lip-smacking but near enough. And the looks on the faces were of pure awe, if you know what I mean. After all, I lived up to the challenge. Needless to say, the apron stayed on my person for the rest of the evening!


3 Mother’s Day Ideas for Dads

Now that I come to think of it, the title to this post does seem a tad confusing; after all, Mother’s Day should ideally be for mothers, shouldn’t it? Well, let me explain what I meant when I wrote ‘Mother’s Day Ideas for Dads’. Mother’s Day is an occasion to be celebrated at home to make mums feel special. And in order to make the day extraordinarily special, dads need to lend their kids a helping hand with stuff. Hence, the title in question.

Here are three Mother’s Day ideas to be given the finishing ‘Dad-touch’ along with the kids’ help.

Picnic day

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Hat” by ki-kieh is licensed under CC by 2.0

Simple enough, if you think of it as a series of steps. One, zero in on a place that is clean, green and relatively noise-pollution free. Two, ask your little one to create a handmade picnic invitation card to be presented to mum with a flourish. For instance, it could have a scenery drawn and colored by mom’s pet on the cover, addressed to ‘Mom’ inside with the time, location and mode of travel all mentioned point wise. Next comes the food part. It need not be anything very elaborate; easy-to-munch fruits that are not messy such as apples or pears, cucumber and tomato sandwiches, cookies or chips and a bottle of lemonade are good enough (just make sure mum has no access to the kitchen while you are packing the food with your kids since it is supposed to be her special day). Ditch your tablets and virtual games, laptops and work emails for a day, shove in a football or a Frisbee into the car instead and you’re all set for quality family time mom would love!

Family picture

We hardly ever get family portraits clicked. I recently came across an article in a magazine in which a mom talked about how it was an annual family tradition of theirs to get family photographs clicked on a designated day every year, and how she treasures all the pictures now years after they were actually taken, now that her kids have moved out of home and are busy with lives of their own. I thought it was a very good idea. So this Mother’s Day, we’ll get out the tripod along with our camera, dress up in our very best and click away. The kids are already working on a ‘Happy Mother’s Day’ streamer to be put up in the background, on the wall behind the sofa. Getting the picture all nicely framed to be propped up on the mantelpiece is their dad’s responsibility.

Handmade happiness

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Girl” by kaboompics is licensed under CC by 2.0

Something that is handmade is so much more meaningful than something, say, that is just bought off a shelf. If mom loves reading, make her a handmade bookmark – it could be cardboard painted with water colors or even a photograph of her along with the kids stuck onto hard paper. If she loves gardening, dads could help kids paint terracotta pots in vibrant hues and present cheerful potted flowers to be kept on the window sill of the kitchen. If she enjoys baking or cooking, a hand-print apron (marked with fabric paints) could be a good idea. Or else, have a look at these handmade gift ideas. The possibilities are endless.

Dads, remember – Father’s Day is just around the corner too. Why not set a good example and wait for what comes your way next month in return?!