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10 pictures and 10 different poses! I smiled looking at the picture collage of my munchkin. How time flies! She was 2 when I had taken her to a photo studio to get a passport size photo clicked. But she apparently was not satisfied with just a single click and to our surprise and photographer’s delight she gave endless poses. Such was her enthusiasm then, and thankfully continues to be the same even now that she is 7 years old. As her mother I make sure that her energy is always high and she keeps being her happy self.
I was deep into my thoughts when I heard, “Mommy, I am home!” I turned to look at my chirpy little daughter, Suhana. Oh God every time I see her I fall in love with her a little more! Suddenly I feel something wet in my hands and realise that while I stood musing, my daughter thrust a soiled handkerchief in my hand and zoomed into the other room. “What is this baby? This is not your handkerchief!” I asked surprised. “No, mommy I exchanged my handkerchief with my friend Tia as we have become best friends now,” she replied excitedly. Just like any other mom my mind was on high alert hearing this. Infections, cold, flu, fever, all these words started twirling in my head. I knew it was time for me to talk to my daughter about ‘Germ Etiquette’. And I did just that. I asked her not to share or exchange personal handkerchief or towels, to move away from any child who is down with cold and flu, to cover her coughs and sneeze so that even she doesn’t spread infections, so on and so forth. Well, even though I explained these to her I was not sure how much went into her 7 year old brain. I knew I had to come up with something different and just then clicked an idea. A child might not understand etiquette but will always understand love. So the next day there stood a beaming me holding a fresh handkerchief in which I stitched a heart and three words saying “Mommy Loves Suhana.” From that day on these personalised handkerchiefs became my daughter’s favourite and she never shared them with anybody again.
One isn’t born a super mom but I believe our naughty little brats teach us much more than we realise. World is a wonder for our children and they are full of what’s and why’s. I remember that every time I would ask my daughter to wash her hands she would tell me “But I have washed my hands mommy, very very nicely. See my hands look so clean.” And I would stare back at her asking “Did you use hand wash darling?” “No, but my hands are not dirty anymore.” I figured that since kids don’t see germs they don’t realise it’s in their hands and in the environment. So I remembered something we used to do in our science class in school. I called her and applied some hand lotion on her little hands and rubbed some glitter on her palms. I asked her to wash her hands with water and dry with a hand towel. Once done I asked her to see her hands. As expected she said “I still have glitter on my hands mommy.” I asked her to check the tap she had opened to wash her hands and the towel she used to dry them. There was glitter everywhere. Then I explained her that these glitters are just like germs. They cling onto us and also spread on whatever we touch. Only if we wash our hands with hand wash can we be sure that our hands are totally clean. Thankfully my trick worked and she understood the importance of hand wash. Now she makes sure everybody at home and sometimes embarrassingly our guests are also made to wash their hands before they touch their food.
The other big thing I learnt is that asking kids to brush their teeth or wash their face at night doesn’t work every time. It doesn’t take much to make the mundane magical. Before going to bed I remind myself aloud within her earshot to wash my hands or face or brush my teeth. I sometimes invite her into the bathroom while I brush, comb my hair or wash my face. Also a great way in which I engage my daughter in her own grooming is by pumping up her excitement for the task by adding in a little incentive. It can be as simple as toothpaste in her favourite flavor, a brand new rubber duck, or a cool light-up toothbrush. Who says hygiene has to be a chore? Suhana loves it the day she has to shampoo her hair. We make different monstrous hairstyles with shampoo in her hair or make funny beard with the foam. Also mornings when she wakes up grudgingly I put on her favourite music and we dance while brushing our teeth.
When we have a child who is active and loves to play outdoors it is not right to confine them in the house for the fear of falling sick. I hate to stop my daughter getting dirty or playing in the sand. But to ensure she keeps doing what she enjoys doing without falling sick I make sure she gets proper nutrition. Fruits & vegetables are a great way to build a child’s immunity. But do we take proper care before giving them these nutrients! Reports about outbreak of E.coli and salmonella remind us of another concern – making sure fresh produce is safe to eat. So I make sure to scrub all fruits and vegetables with plain water (even if I plan to peel them) to remove any pesticide residue or dirt that could contain bacteria. I also discard the outer leaves of leafy greens, such as spinach or lettuce. And very importantly I always thoroughly wash cutting boards with hot, soapy water after each use.
We also travel a lot. And it always becomes difficult while travelling with a child. The biggest problem is kids have their hands everywhere, whether it’s the handrail on escalators or the chairs in the waiting lounge at airports or on different items in a store. My constant companion when I am away from home is a Dettol hand sanitizer and multi-use hand wipes. There are times when we don’t find a washroom near us. For such times I make sure that I wipe our hands with hand wipe and before eating use hand sanitizer. In fact hand sanitizers and wet wipes are quite a blessing even at home. It’s one of the quickest and easiest ways to clean toys. I use it to clean my daughter’s Lego set, tennis racquet and even cycle handles. I just take a wipe and put two drops of sanitizer and voila, within a second the toy is sanitized.
Each child is different and hence parenting can’t be same for all but there are certain tips/tricks/hacks which works wonders and with a little tweak here and there would work for most children as well. Hygiene & a germ free environment ensure that our children build strong immunity against diseases. And what else would make a mother happier than seeing her strong, healthy children thrive with life.