What Parents in the Digital Era Need to Know

As parents in this digital era, there’s no avoiding to digital technology. So the best you can do, when it comes to your kids, is navigate it with care, oversight, and lots of communication. For instance, focus on positive reinforcement for good behavior, as much or more as you penalize choices you’d rather they didn’t make.

Learn about the media your kids are consuming and the platforms they use, and make choices about when it’s better to share a good old-fashioned board game for family time, than to watch a movie.

Above all, remember that they are learning from you, so make sure you know enough to guide them through digital options and that you have your own habits in check. Here are some things to keep in mind as you make decisions.

There’s a limit to healthy screen time

There is so much media available online to help you teach your children about every topic imaginable. They can experience new countries and cultures through videos and photos, and they can learn about math and science via online programs. There are educational games galore and sites for creative expression, for all ages.

But being in front of a screen can have a negative effect on children. Excessive screen time has been linked to sleep loss and diminished fine motor development, as well as changed brain development (more on that later). And all screen time is not created equal: watching videos is less engaging than video chatting with grandparents, for instance. One removes opportunities for connection, while the other creates them.

Make sure you know what the guidelines are for your child’s age group and be discerning in what you set them up to do on a screen.

You’re a model, whether you intend to be or not

Observational learning, in which children behave as they see others behave, is an inherent part of childhood development. So it’s important that as you teach your kids how and when to engage with screens, you’re setting a good example. Otherwise, your message might not get through. Don’t want your kid to eat in front of a video?

Make sure the TV is off during meal time. Trying to make sure your child doesn’t get too attached to video games? You might need to check your own behavior and make sure you’re not spending a lot of time playing your own favorite game. Another way to model healthy behavior is to engage in screen activity with your kids, whether that’s watching TV or playing a game.

While doing this, you can talk with them about what they’re seeing and demonstrate good etiquette in playing games with others.

Tech use changes the brain

Screen time affects kids at every level: behavioral, physical, and neurological. A recent study used testing and MRI scans with 3-to 5-year-olds to investigate what effects screen time has on developing brains.

The researchers found that lower levels of literacy and language skills were associated with higher screen use, as well as lower “white matter integrity,” which refers to the brain’s communication network. And an organization concerned with children’s use of digital technology, 5Rights, discussed the issue of the addictive nature of games and apps that results in a reward loop involving dopamine to keep kids playing. This kind of neurological effect suggests that changes need to be made to game design, but as parents, you can interrupt it by limiting the amount of time your kids spend playing games and setting a schedule.

Kids need help

There’s no going back: digital technology is here to stay, and kids are going to want access no matter what you say. Instead of focusing on restrictions and limits, try finding the ways you want your kids to engage digitally and focus on those.

Teach them about related skills, such as empathy, which can prevent cyberbullying and lead to more positive online social interactions, and critical thinking, which can help them be more discerning in what they choose to consume. To support your children in building healthy screen time, you’ll need to get comfortable with these technologies and platforms yourself, which may not sound like an easy proposition. But you can use some of the same tools they do to learn how to navigate the digital world. The more comfortable you are, the better you’ll be able to guide them.

With digital tools available everywhere, you need to be proactive in deciding when, how much, and with what your kids will engage. Remember that not all screen time is equal: some is more socially connecting, and some is more isolating. Do your own research about movies, apps, and games while deciding what you want to guide your children toward.

Morgen hails from the beautiful mountains of Utah. She writes about a variety of topics, from business to travel to technology. When she’s not busy writing, you can find her baking in the kitchen and traveling the globe. Check out more of her work at https://hendersonmorgend.contently.com/.


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Lockdown: Pause, Reflect & Let’s Not Repeat History

In the routine of complex living, we fail to realize the void due to connecting less than usual with our loved ones, and even voicing our feelings not as much as expected to? Amidst the day to day chaos, aspirations of all kinds, things to do, and the things that don’t reach the much-desired finishing line we are all continually juggling. But in the progression, we are drifting away from likely feelings that separate us from androids.

“When life goes down, don’t worry. Sometimes you have to go down to learn the things that are down.” ― Ernest Agyemang Yeboah

Do we ever get enough space to see our privileges compared to many others, or think about all that we do and what even possibly makes us seem gifted to multi-task? COVID-19 and the consequent lockdowns all over the globe have compelled us to pause open-endedly and look within. It has made us realize that there will never be any greater reward for running away from relationships than actually staying closer to them.

Lockdown: A moment to pause, reflect and untangle

Shortage of time has been a constant complaint and now that we somewhat have it on hand, yet we appear unhappy. This phase has left many of us numb and muddled about the misplaced feeling. Not just confused but this crisis has made us all emotional too. Won’t you approve?

The activities and the duties haven’t gone down and the fatigue is getting the better of us. Schools and offices are closed, the basic services and amenities that were earlier enjoyed righteously are now luxuries beyond the scope. We can’t stop weeping over this temporary slowdown because it’s exhausting in every thinkable aspect. This is a slump in the face of a pandemic that is beyond anyone’s control. But if this slowdown hasn’t made you fall in the introspective line then nothing ever will.

Reframing is a superpower!

It’s important to understand that not everybody is heroic or privileged enough to skin the not-so-pleasant emotions under the layer of a new found love for an activity, long lost interests, or even chattering with a like-minded group of friends. Courtesy social media and exceptional communication technology, I am seeing a lot of people loosen up and express more care-freely about their sentiments. They are talking a lot more openly about their unsettling moods, fears, and even insecurities due to the current situation and thereafter.

With the trapped-in-our-bubble kind of a situation, I am beginning to comprehend and express feelings that I didn’t earlier. The aloofness we all face today due to the restrictions over normal living is upsetting but I am beginning to appreciate the tête-à-tête with my unattended emotions. It is bringing me closer to the people that matter and should always. It is giving me a clear view of my strengths and allowing me a window to work on my not so strong aspects.

Moments that connect us with our precious days from the past…

Yesterday, I ran after my 4-year-old as she attempted to ride a bike without training wheels. In the pursuit of training her to ride successfully, I must have yelled at her uncontrollably. I thought she didn’t want to follow my instructions, whereas, I was trying to save her from falling. I felt she isn’t going to learn and I must have contemplated giving up on her more than she.

Amidst all the emotional and physical stress that I endured, I also shed tears of regrets for not hugging my father and thanking him. He must have run after me the same way but never yelled. Not just for the bike learning but every single thing I know or do today. If at all I fell, he used to say “I let you fall because I knew this is the only way you will avoid falling in the first place in the future and give your best in whatever you do”. His ways have taught me to be vigilant and perseverant. Giving up can never be an option and I never thanked him enough for instilling this in me.

It’s almost like an invisible & immortal book of parental proverbs

I have seen the new generation including my own get easily nervous over unsought guidance. If not all, most of us at some point in life have ridiculed those pearls of wisdom that came to us at no cost but then life is vicious. It works in a way that you come to the same pass where our elders once claimed to have stood. I call this “The Wheel of Life”.

This will sound familiar as my parents said this to me, not just once but perhaps repeatedly in my childhood and thankfully it continues to date. The immortal warnings “One day you will realize this when you have children of your own!“, “We didn’t do this to you and this isn’t right the way you are doing!”, “I was once where you are today but I listened to my parents and you aren’t.” If these words don’t sound familiar, then a smirk would equate just fine. The smirk that spoke as loud as words and meant equivalent to “You were exactly like this but we handled you with love and hugs.”

A note of thank you for bearing all tantrums

On many occasions, my father seemed indifferent from outside and his ways of dealing with us were inconvenient, so I would every so often grumble myself to sleep. My mother who knew me well, used to encourage me to speak more openly about my feelings as she said the more you communicate, the better nurtured your relations will be. This advice from her has helped me across all the relations I deal with today. I asked her once how she or her age people handled issues like generation gaps, the difference of opinions, day to day worries, or even ego clashes? And if they also had similar anxieties due to the slit?

Her answer touches my heart to date. She said, “Be glad for the gap for that is where experiences come in handy. Think of it that there is someone more practiced to guide you when you need assistance. Be grateful for everybody is different, this exclusivity in each individual makes life thrilling and worth living.” In the current time, we need counseling and professional therapists to help us deal with our complex emotions but in earlier days, it was strong communication and affection for each other that healed and sealed the gaps if any. She taught me acceptance of who I am and that I am enough in every way. I never thanked her enough for making me see pride in being unique.

What joy did my mother derive from her repeatedly asking “How is the food and did you like it?” or “I won’t sleep until you come and have your meal”. I hear the answer now every time as I feed my children and with every morsel of food that goes down, I feel satiated. I realize the peace and incomparable joy in sleeping with well-fed children in your arms. I get it today and I regret not responding to her questions in a manner she truly deserved.

The fear of getting stranded with unspoken feelings tucked in my heart!

The schools are closed and we have officially become in-charge of the studies for our little ones and it’s the hardest job on earth I reckon. To educate your little ones and with an entertaining methodology, it is just a skill that is too hard to acquire, and for those who have this skill, we call them ‘Teachers’. It takes immense courage to handle the mistakes but not lose patience. The sight words, tips for simple Mathematics, and reading storybooks – nothing gets easy but then a thought dawned on me. I wasn’t born with these basics stuffed in my baby brains. I reached where I am today because someone handled me with love and motivating hugs. Someone helped me learn at my own pace and never pushed me into any race.

There is no end to the moments that make me stagger upon the memories from my growing up and years spent with my parents. Every time I think of my parents, their beliefs, and their unconditional love for me, my heart is filled with gratitude and also fear.

There are surging emotions in me due to the unspoken emotions for my parents but for many people it can be similar or deeper sentiments due to guilt, regrets, anger, or even love towards someone that must have been important at some point. A close friend, a partner, a sibling, or even a fellow worker. The feelings hidden for an untold number of reasons but now when they are reappearing in your mind, it is time to deal with them and bring closure for acceptance and peace.

This pandemic has already claimed so many innocent lives and the mark of salvage isn’t in clear sight yet. We are all stuck in our locations and many are far away from their loved ones. In the last 7 weeks, I have inexpressibly mourned the departure of so many people I knew and some I didn’t. Life is uncertain and everybody has to leave one day, agreed! But not when you don’t even get a chance to say the goodbyes or express your unequivocal love for them.

Nothing is permanent but memories are!

I am grateful for the fact that my parents are around and although distant but I can pick up the phone and make them feel important which they deserve to know. What you hear from them days after days, year after years is precious and someday you won’t hear it at all. That day, you will be lonelier than the lockdown phase is today. This social distancing is here to tell us that even if you have to be socially distant, don’t be spiritually distant. This figurative chapter in our lives is signaling to acknowledge all kinds of feelings and provide a much-needed restart to our fatiguing souls that aren’t made to carry the unwanted weight of emotions.

Acknowledge your feelings! If you haven’t acknowledged the efforts of your elders for guiding you and for bringing you this far, or any other relationship that suffered due to deficit of time, then it’s time you do that with the symphony of these words…“I Love You and I wish to see you soon after the lockdown ends.”

  Leena Asnani is an Indian but considers herself a global citizen.She has lived in the Middle East, India, and the United States. She is a mother of two girls and is currently based in Chicago, Illinois with her small family. With an MBA degree in Sales and Marketing and a rich corporate span of 12 plus years, her heart always remained in traveling, exploring the beautiful globe and still does. You can enjoy her curated content on Instagram @milesupheart.

Real Advice from Moms for Moms during Lockdown

These are unprecedented times. We all are feeling overwhelmed but so few are talking about how hard it is for us. As always, we internalize and try to hide behind our schedules, kids, commitments and need to stand brave. It’s so important to share what we are going through and what’s working for our benefit. Here are some moms talking about what helps them through their struggles.

The New Normal

Something that helped my mental state enormously & came from a licensed psychologist:

Act as if THIS is the new normal. Make all your plans based upon the way things are, right now. That way, if plans are able to change when things open back up, that’s a great plan to have, but you’re not constantly dealing with disappointmnets. Put things on the calendar like you would if we were going out – family game night! Buy a special game or two but don’t open it until that planned day – same with a family movie night.

I changed my mindset to this, and I brokethrough the ambiguity freeze I was in. My anxiety has settled a good bit. I’m finally able to work again.

Ronda Bowen

Small Changes Help

I have introduced my elder daughter to my complex art materials, which I earlier didn’t because they needed more care. This way I have managed to trigger curiosity in her to paint more often, learn new art forms and also become responsible at the same time as I am sharing my precious collection with her. This way I’m also reiterating the importance of sharing and entrusting trust. She has become more warm towards her younger sister now. We both have been creating lot of art stuff at home and out of waste materials like boxes, cartons, aluminum foils and even toys that they don’t play with anymore. This way she is learning to look at any waste material as potential raw material to create something unique. I enjoy her ideas now where she comes up with fun projects.

Recently, we have been improving our home decor by making small changes with the help of the little one. We ask her for decorating ideas so that way she gets involved and also learns to organize things. There is never a right or wrong age to learn the importance of decluttering and that’s what I have been trying to do these days with my little ones.

My daughter loves to dance and due to the lockdown she isn’t going for her ballet classes. We discussed with her teacher to send dance videos for the students to practice at home. We try and emulate the steps along with her so that she remains motivated to dance. Honestly, I love looking silly in front of her because I can never move like she does. To see her giggle under such stressful times is heartening ♥️.

Leena Asnanie

Ease Up on Technology for Homeschooling

Here’s my opinion on homeschooling.. Yes no one’s asking, but am saying it anyway.. NO.. just NO.

With a toddler screaming his head off because I wouldn’t let him tear his brother’s schoolwork and a pre-tween (an 8 yr old who thinks he’s a teen in making with all the cool attitudes and slangs, hi fives his dad but still wants to snuggle and likes sloppy kisses from his mom), I would rather sit down and watch Karan Johar movies over and over (pun intended). Homeschooling and getting schooled (on EVERY single thing!) was not on my mind when the lockdown started. I genuinely believed, I would impart my worldly knowledge to my beloved son and may be bring enlightenment. How naive was I? Which planet was I in, when all these apps were created?

For someone who had not held an iPad, not had a Twitter or Instagram account, relied on a single baby app, spoke only through Facebook and Whatsapp before lockdown, it was a technology shock!

Here I was, learning to navigate through Popplet to Kahoot to class dojo with the help of my son, how ironic! With the constant trivias on technology and new techniques and his questions that always start with “Did you know?”, made me wonder truly, I really didn’t know!!

Don’t get me started on SIRI, she replaced me slowly and steadily with her ever ready enthusiasm and vast knowledge. My trump card…SNACK!! ( very mom’s mind voice!!).

Mathangi Murali

Take Time to Relax EVERY Day

If we get time to relax a bit at regular intervals, we can even work for 12 hours on a stretch. Trust me on this. Working women might agree that taking 2 coffee/tea breaks in working hours and chatting with colleagues will boost their productivity. If you are a stay at home parent, I agree that there is one or the other task which keeps cropping up always but take a 15-minute break just to sit and watch TV or to read a book or to take a power nap. This keeps you active for the remaining time of the day.

Any creative art can de-stress our brain. So try any creative art that you enjoy at least once a week like painting, singing, dancing etc. Even playing sudoku or singing karaoke with friends is a fun way to de-stress. Many women feel relaxed by cooking and decorating their houses. Crochet, quilling, photography, craft making etc. – there is a lot to research on. Whatever it is that makes you relaxed, try it and implement it.

More tips on productivity by Mahathi Ramya here.

Unplug to Ditch the Judgemental Jerries in Your Life

We all know them. The people who have opinions about everyone and try to force them on others. Sometimes ‘Judgemental Jerry’ is a family member or a coworker.

Adjusting to this new normal is stressful enough without the input from others, who are not trying to help or be positive. Every mom needs to cut negativity out of her life.

Listen, social media is a great way to connect with friends and family as well as just chill and laugh. But sometimes it can be toxic. It can feed your fear and anxiety, and it can cause people to argue back and forth with each other.

If you feel like social media is not serving you in a positive way, it may be time to take a break or get off all together. And that unfollow button is there for a reason – I’ve used it quite a bit these days.

Every mom needs to unplug from people and things that don’t lift her up.

This and more things Every Mom Should Avoid During Lockdown by Diedry Anothony

Get the Kids Involved and Helping!

Speaking of variety, give kids options to choose from. As I have mentioned in my book multiple times, we want to encourage our children to become problem solvers and good decision makers. How will they do so, if we do not give them the room to make the decisions.

The options can range from what topic would you like to study to book to read or thing to do or board game to play. Kids need options to choose from.

Which brings me to making sure your kids are helping around the house. Yes, it is hard to do and be consistent but it is very important for their overall development and your own sanity. Have a family meeting and decide what each child can and will be doing. Take turns, pick your own thing to do, get incentivized. But make sure you delegate jobs around the house.

More tips for staying positive and organized by Aditi Wardhan Singh


School at Home Should Be at Your Pace – Rest & Create

In the midst of all the turmoil in the world it is very important to take the time to rest and let ourselves be.  Especially, if like me you are suddenly involved with another four hours a day in study time for children, where you have to school at home.

“You don’t always need a plan.  Sometimes you just need to breathe, TRUST, let go and see what happens!”

– Mandy Hale

In my case, in a language I do not speak or read at an academic level – it has been an interesting and occasionally stress-filled school at home time.  Needless to say, I am learning many tricks to translate all the data to English, learn the lessons in English and then once we understand the details of the lesson we are translating back to our target learning language to answer all the questions and send the corresponding answers back to my children’s teachers for marking.

We have a very large case of “Perfectionist, please meet your children”. Not one of them will operate on a schedule.  Not one of them ever managed to follow any plan that I worked on for hours, planned and researched till I was exhausted, and was enthusiastic to implement during our school at home time.

“What do you do?” I hear you ask…. Well, panic and mayhem were the order of the day for a long time. Until I learnt a valuable lesson…

“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than a year in conversation” – Plato

I had taken the fun out of learning with my scheduling and research. In my panic over the possibility of missing something, I had failed to recognize, I had left nothing to chance. No space for investigations.  No space for thought without an outcome already being known. No space for play.

Find New Ways to Learn

My having missed the mark significantly was summed up neatly whilst learning about volcanoes, when my daughter says, “Mum, we have talked about this till there is nothing to talk about, drawn about it till there is nothing more to draw, when do we get to make the volcano?”

Right, make the volcano… make a mess in my kitchen… for me to clean up mess-in-my-kitchen… eek…. I am thinking “How about, Never! Never works for me!’ Then my daughter pipes up again, “I saw this baking soda with vinegar experiment that they did, online.  The mum made the volcano down her kitchen drain because it is really good for cleaning out the drain.  Then you just turn on the cold water tap and it all washes down the drain to clean it! Wouldn’t that be neat?”  Wait a minute…. Clean my kitchen drain with a science experiment about a volcano…. I can get on board with that!  “Please tell me more?”

This was how I learnt that over scheduling, over planning and over stressing were taking the joy out of learning. I needed to step back and “make a time” as opposed to “make time”.  Here was where I had to prove to myself and my children that we were worth more than adherence to a schedule that was making everyone frazzled. It was time for a rest!:

Time to make muffins and declare it “all school work complete for the day”.

We covered maths (measuring ingredients), science (Learning about oven temperatures and how ingredients mix together),  literacy (reading the recipe) and geography (where did the food come from?). Oh, and don’t forget the tea, hot chocolate and candle for the table when the muffins are ready to eat!!!

Let me leave you with this quote:

“Have regular hours for work and play.

Make each day both useful and pleasant, and prove that you understand the worth of time by employing it well”

– Louisa May Alcott


Girls Are Not “Just Princesses!”

This women’s day I declare,  “My daughter is not a princess!”
When I say this I mean it. “A warrior queen (maybe) but not a princess.”
She is a normal child who is treated fairly, as any child should be.

In a world that is working diligently towards gender equality most parents proudly declare they are bringing up their daughters as “princesses”. I hugely respect this sentiment and the change in collective psych of society. But first a question I request an honest answer to.

When your princess grows up and makes her own decisions about the things that really matter, would you let her? They may be decisions that you might not agree with. Will you give her the right to her own life? Would you not second guess her?

You see “Princesses” just don’t get a cushioned upbringing they are also supposed to own their lives. Sometimes, I feel there is a serious overlap in parenting with the idea of gender equality. Many a times the pendulum seems to have swung to the other extreme, when the idea is balance. As parents it is our duty to rectify the mistakes of the past and empower our girls but for that they need not be treated as royalty.

What should stand true is the fact  “Boys rights are no less than girls but they are NOT MORE too.
Equal rights are simply  “EQUAL”.


What I think really works is being truthful about how things stand when it comes to gender equality. Giving our girls a tailor made existence is not really preparing them for the world that awaits. My daughter is pulled up for her mistakes, now that she is old enough to see right from wrong. She gets scolded and is taught to behave.

We try to incorporate in her upbringing her responsibilities with a very clear understanding of her rights. The rights she can and should exercise. One thing I want her to be very clear on is the fact that she can be as “difficult” a woman as she sees fit. She needs to have a voice and a shrill and loud one when needed, even at the risk of being termed as “difficult” by social standards.

Being self dependent plays a major role in bringing up a woman ready to face the world. A “princess” who can always stand for her self respect. I can’t even begin to tell you how many parents take pride in the fact their “princesses” are not required to do any work at home. It leaves me speechless! Since when has fending for oneself become a thing to be looked down upon? Nor should it be gender specific.

Teach your kids to work, they will thank you for it one day. There is a world out there that can be very unforgiving. Being just princesses helps no one!



Many situations in life have us women reeling with the unfairness meted out. How do you choose what to do or how to act when faced with an unjust situation? The answer is never loose your integrity. To pacify societal norms do not stand with any form of injustice.

I teach my daughter to defend herself I also try to instill in her the importance of standing up for other women. It is weak women who pull each other down. Compromising on ones values can never guarantee any long term happiness.

Also, girls need to learn to differentiate between any form of abuse and real affection. Many a times people disguise abuse, major or minor, as love. They need to recognize what is not accepted behaviour and put their foot down. Be true to yourself. Say NO if you want, stand your ground.

Women are expected to make relationships work when it is actually a two way street. People instill such a fear in girls of being single. I would never want my daughter to keep investing in an unhappy relationship.mSingle or hitched, integrity first. Make decisions that you can live with.


Freedom above all because “Real empowerment is the ability to choose.”
I would not give up my freedom for any form of privileges.

Your girls wants to lead their lives as princesses or as normal working women, giver them the right to choose. Be her guiding light not the chains that hold her back in the name of love or parenting.

No one can want her happiness more than a parent still let her fall. Give your princess the resilience to get up, dust herself and continue but do not be the hand that steadies her every time she stumbles. Do not doubt her strength and decisions.

Any kind of love without freedom is a hollow attempt at narrowing the gender gap.

Discuss your girl’s choices with her but do not undermine her choices because of her gender.

I would leave you with my thoughts on this topic with a confession.

Yes, my daughter rules our hearts. She sometimes even lords over us. She has the temper of a tempest, for someone so small. Still I stand by my claim she is not a princess, just a little girl who is loved very much.

Do share your views on how to bring up our girls stronger.

Raising my Indian Daughter Differently

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How Stay at Home Moms Manage Family & Self

I love my kids, I do. In fact, I chose to work from home, and continue to to do so in order to be there for my kids as they grow up. But biggest truth about being a ‘Stay At Home Mom’ (SAHM) is that it is challenging.

And that is the truth for many moms today.

It can be lonely and society seems to have a lot of misconceptions about what a mother who spends time with her children at home should be doing with her time. If you’d asked me at this time, last year, if I enjoyed being home with my little children, I would have politely smiled and laughed.

This ‘Stay At Home Mom’ Gig Is Hard

Can we take a minute here to talk about moms as a whole, before I talk more about the challenges of being at home with small kids. I’ve been on all sides of the fence – I’ve worked outside the home, gone to school full time, worked at home, and I can honestly say that it’s all hard.

Everything we do as moms is scrutinized by society as a whole. Kids can derail a whole planned day because they have their own little personalities and you know, as frustrating as it is, that’s okay. It happens to all of us.

I’ve quoted my undergrad professor more times now than anyone else, but I’m going to say this to you – whether you work at home, work outside of the home, or the momming gig is your job – “Life is what happens between plans.”

Now that I got that out of the way, let’s talk about challenges that are unique to parents, who stay at home with their small children.


Staying At Home is Lonely


At first, it may be nice to be away from everyone. But eventually either the crying or being in same messy bun for the nth day in a row, or the incessant talking about the infinite nuances of Blippi are going to get to you. You’re going to long for adult interaction. You’re going to want to put on a cute outfit and get out.

Around this time last year, after watching the mayor lose her chicken for the hundredth time, I decided it was time to get out. I needed to talk to someone whose main interests weren’t what Cutie Marks each pony had!

Coincidentally, it also happened to be Girl Scouts cookie season, and I was a proud parent of a newly-minted cookie boss. Cookie booths became something I looked forward to because it meant I got to talk to an adult, who I wasn’t married to or writing content for.

You Have All the Time in the World Yet No Time at All

Again, this is one of those things where you suddenly have these long expanses of time where nothing is scheduled, especially if children are young and you don’t have them in any activities. This is a double-edged sword.

I went from being extremely busy with appointments and meetings and deadlines to busy in a very different way – and it was really hard to adjust to. When you don’t have an outside world imposing a schedule on you, it’s very easy to lose track of hours – even days.

Granted, I wear a lot of hats, so I still have lists and deadlines of things I need to do for various people and projects. But even working from home, it’s all-to-easy to lose track of everything and get caught in the busy trap.

I find that when I feel like I’m in the busy trap it’s because I’ve let go of routines and schedules. Even when you’re staying at home and managing the household, it’s important to have a schedule.

Expectations Multiply

I’m not a great housekeeper. If there is anything else to do, I’d rather do that than deal with picking up toys and dusting baseboards.

Maybe if I weren’t trying to work full-time from home, while also keeping small people from burning a house down and making sure they’re fed and educated and cared for, I wouldn’t feel as pressured in this arena. But when people hear that a parent is a ‘Stay at Home Mom’ with kids, for some reason they also hear that there’s a full-time housekeeper in the home.

I feel even more pressure now to “do it all” myself and not outsource than I did when I was working outside the home.

I have a hard truth for you: Even if you stay at home, and you’re not trying to help bring in extra money in some way, shape, or form, nobody can do it all. You’re going to have to pick what’s important to you and focus on that.

In our home, there are 5-6 people living in it at any given time (as we have a college student who is home only during summer and for breaks). Despite the fact that my husband takes an equal share of the housework…the blame, when anyone feels that our house is a mess, gets put on me and it’s maddening.

So What Does One Do?

In addition to the tips above, get out of the house to volunteer or do things with others as much as you can, keep a schedule and routine, and pick the hills you want to die on.

In terms of priorities – there two big things you can do to overcome most of the other challenges you will face as a stay at home parent.

1. Make Self-Care a Priority

Yeah, I know you know this. You’ve heard the cliche example of putting your mask on before anyone else’s, but I promise you, it’s important. As a ‘Stay at Home Mom’, I got so caught up in taking care of everyone else and their needs and the house and my home business last year that I hit a wall at 100 miles an hour and slid down cartoon style.

I was still wearing maternity clothes and my youngest was going to be 2 in a few months. My hair was dry, breaking off, and a poof. Think Princess Diaries poof but with 5 different shades in there.

We all have to be a little selfish sometimes as uncomfortable as that may make us. If we do not, then we get spread too thin. T

here’s a reason my 2020 words of the year are “focus, prioritize, finish.” I was saying “yes” to far more projects than I was able to finish. Part of the reason for that wasn’t lack of time – it was lack of emotional energy. I was 100% drained because I was giving everyone else my energy and keeping little for myself.

It’s okay to go to sleep early and leave your husband in charge of the kids. It’s okay to decide “I hate cleaning, so I’m going to see what we can do about getting a housekeeper.”

It’s okay to have a sitter a couple times a week so you can go to the gym. I don’t care what you need to do to feel good and happy and like your bucket is filled – DO IT!

stay at home mom life

2. Stop Letting Others Dictate Your Self-Worth

There’s a constant battle between a ‘Stay at Home Mom’ and moms who work outside of the home. Compound that with in-laws, friends, Facebook people, various blog posts, etc.

And then on a particularly hard day where the toddler covered herself from head to toe in shredded wheat while you were in the bathroom, the preschooler destroyed the coloring books and spread torn paper everywhere, and the kindergartner flung herself on the floor screaming because someone changed the order her ponies were sitting in, you wind up in the closet in tears with a box of Thin Mints feeling like Worst Mom of the Year.

You know what?

It’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to cry with your child because she’s too afraid to use a public restroom. It’s okay to wish you could go on vacation for a week because you’ve got two kids who won’t stop fighting with each other. It’s even okay to go and hide for a minute and gather yourself. It’s okay that you didn’t finish the laundry today because your kids were just out of control and the only thing you could do was make sure they ate, didn’t kill each other, and that there would be dinner.

It doesn’t matter that you stay home.

Did I mention this ‘Stay At Home Mom’ gig is hard?
I love it, but it’s definitely the hardest thing I’ve ever done.

You can read our article about how Working Mothers Balance Life and Home here …

How Working Mothers Balance Work and Family


Let's Talk About Making Study Time Fun!

Let’s Talk About Making Study Time Fun!

Making study time fun! The holy grail of all parents. To make children enjoy the time they are missing out on their play and video games.

“The tree I had in the garden as a child, my beech tree, I used to climb up there and spend hours. I took my homework up there, my books, I went up there if I was sad, and it just felt very good to be up there among the green leaves and the birds and the sky”. – Jane Goodall

It’s back to school time in Australia! If you are anything like me in the midst of the excitement surrounding all the new school adventures my children are about to embark on this year is the ever present quiet pleas I am silently making to my children’s teachers for “useful homework please!”

Does your school give homework?

At our school the Junior Primary years (grades K – 2) have a set of sheets delivered on Monday for 4 nights of 30minutes homework and 15 minutes read aloud of their home reader each day, and all to be returned on Friday morning into the teacher’s homework box for marking. The teacher requests the spelling words to be written out each night. Also no longer than 30 minutes of time should be spent each night completing the sheets. If it takes longer the teacher needs to be advised.

Upper Primary (grades 3 – 6) are given sheets designated to Monday-Thursday which directly reflect and reiterate the weeks learning and are to be returned to the teacher’s homework box Friday morning.

Again spelling is written out using read, cover, write technique. Teachers’ advise that no more than 45minutes to an hour should be spent on the written sheets each night or please speak with the teacher. And again 15 minutes of read aloud time either of the designated home reader or the child’s own school library book.

Not this….

My kids usual approach to homework used to involve procrastination, getting upset and throwing a tantrum when I asked was their homework complete, procrastinating some more, and then… running around at the last minute in a total panic to complete it before bedtime. Topped off with a promise that it wouldn’t happen again tomorrow, and inevitably tomorrow arrived with a repeat of today’s homework events.

Simply the word “homework” used to invoke chaos and pandemonium even before a book, paper and pencil were involved in the equation. Add a dyslexia diagnosis and afternoons became simply stress central.

Making study time fun!

Definitely this… Afternoon Study Time!

How is this different from “homework” you ask?

  1. We no longer use the word “Homework”! The idea of homework is associated with stress, anxiety and panic. No more of that!
  2. Kids returning from school I asked for the schoolbags to be put in the kitchen next to the kitchen table.
  3. The same kitchen table… the same work to be done, but… I made some major changes in my attitude. My attitude needed to reflect I was joyful and ready to learn.
  4. I needed resources that brought joy to use only for “Study Time”. I bought a set of artists pencils for drawing and coloring, colored art liner markers for headings and outlines, and also a new lead pencil, eraser and notebook for each child.
  5. At the old “Time for Homework” I call “Anyone for hot chocolate or tea?” and all three kids come running. I already have the afternoon tea snacks (sliced carrots, sliced cucumber, mini chicken nuggets, crackers and cheese) set in the middle of the table. I take orders for drinks and then ask them to get their books and study sheets from their bags and put them on the table. Then we all sat down together in the cubby house I made under the table with the snacks, hot chocolate and tea. Much giggling followed. Amazing difference!
  6. I now have a different read aloud book that I can read or add an audiobook as we start afternoon tea. We started with “A Bear called Paddington”.
  7. After “A Bear called Paddington” we read our school read alouds. Taking time to listen to each other. Very positive start! Variety in books is the key to making study time fun.
  8. When it came to the writing we sat up to the table and I produced new colours to share and new pencils for our new “Study box”. Everyone was excited to start! All the daily sheets completed, including spelling and sentences with little fuss.

Study Time is fun!!

I learnt the level of struggles are all related to my attitude to homework! Make learning enjoyable for everyone!

Grab our book that helps kids build confidence and good decision making skills.

8 Brain Games for Kids Essential for Concentration

8 Brain Games for Kids Essential for Concentration

Brain games for kids are important for improving focus. Concentration and focus are a vital part of completing any tasks successfully. But, with so many distractions and multi-tasking, concentration levels are gradually sinking.

Building concentration requires discipline, taking an active role, and subjecting yourself to different exercises that build your brain’s core to improve focus. The good thing is that you can check recent answers online for games like crossword and compare with your answers.

For most people, getting that much time to work on concentration is a challenge. But, with a little help from brain games, it’s possible to improve concentration levels while making the process fun and engaging.


Here are the top 8 brain games that will give your brain that much needed work out and get your concentration levels up!

  1. Sine Line

This game involves the unending journey of an oscillating particle. Sine Line is unique in various ways. Unlike most brain concentration games, this one is fast-paced and exciting.

The goal of the game is to guide the particle through different obstacles without crashing into them. How the game works is that the longer you survive, the higher your score.

To give the game more spice, there are styles, streaks, and combos you can use to get better scores. The fun and indulging game is the perfect way to work the mental muscles for both kids and adults while kicking out some boredom at the same time.

  1. Brain Dots


Brain Dots is one of the most popular brain games on the market. Given the online reviews and number of downloads, it’s safe to say it’s also one of the most effective games.

The game is simple and straightforward. The clean design takes away most of the distractions and allows you to make the most out of the few minutes you can save for the game.

The concept is simple. Do whatever it takes to get the two dots on your screen to meet and touch! You can draw different structures, shapes, or even lines.

At first, the levels look easy, but you quickly realize that looks can be deceptive. The levels are harder than they seem.

As a reward for going through the different levels, you get pens that have different shapes, colors, and sizes.

  1. Opus: The Day We Found Earth

Improving your concentration doesn’t have to take all your free time. With short brain games like Opus, you can make the most out of your short break to give your brain a quick workout.

The game not only works your mind but tugs at your emotional strings as well. The relaxing stargazing game revolves around finding different planets around the universe that resemble earth and naming them what you like. The main character is a smudgy robot full of ideas and is the invention of one Dr. Lisa.

You have to remember the planets you’ve discovered by analyzing the details and differences. Discovering new planets opens up new areas of the shop, which gives the game some rhythm. The best thing about Opus is that it’s engaging. It’s only ranked lower because it takes up more space than the other brain games listed here.

  1. One-Touch Drawing

One-touch drawing is a leading brain game. It’s revered for its unique simplicity but imposing challenges.

All you need to do is draw different shapes in the game without your finger leaving the screen. To build confidence, the game starts simple and gets harder as you go up the levels.

If you prefer taking your time to understand the game and not having to rush through, this is the perfect game for you.

Take all the time you need. Analyze the different shapes and figure out a strategy. Just remember, once you touch the screen, you have to draw out the shape without your finger leaving the screen.

The best part is, you don’t have to pay a cent for this brain game. The addictive puzzle game is free and perfect for building and improving concentration.

  1. Piano Tiles


Piano Tiles is one of the oldest games on the list. The popular brain game leverages on the love for music to help players improve their concentration and coordination.

The idea behind the game is simple. You have some music playing in the background. You also have black Piano keys flying across the screen. The goal is to press the keys that are in sync with the music playing in the background to score points.

The coupling of songs and taps practices your listening skills and concentration to help you master which keys to press at what time.

  1. Flow Free

The vibrant colors of Flow Free are perfect when you want to engage your child in some concentration boosting games. But, even adults will find the game useful.

Like the other games featured on this list, this one also has a simple idea placing most of the focus on concentration.

The game has two dots of different colors in different squares in a grid. Your goal is to connect the two dots of the same color in the grid. But, the ‘Pipes’ connecting the two dots cannot intersect with pipes of a different color.

As you advance, the size of the grid increases, and so does the level of difficulty. Flow Free is perfect for players that can only spare a few minutes at a time.

  1. 2 Cars

If you’re taking improving your concentration a little seriously, this game will be the next level for you once you master the others.

In 2 cars, you have two cars and four lanes. Two lanes for each car. The two cars speed up along their strips of road, and ahead, you will find heaps of circles and squares blocking the road. You have to collect the circles and avoid the squares blocking the lanes of each car.

It’s the ultimate concentration brain game that will test your ability to multi-task and control different events at the same time.

  1. Dancing Line

To close down the list of the best eight brain games essential for concentration, let’s dial down a notch and help your mental muscles cool down after a vigorous workout.

Dancing Line is a straightforward puzzle game that both adults and kids will love. The game is diverse to make it a little more interesting, but the concept remains simple.

Guide the red line through different obstacles without crashing into them. The line starts slowly to help you warm up, and the speed of the line, and obstacles gradually increases. You have to keep a close eye on the screen and have quick reflexes to avoid the challenges that keep popping up.

 8 Brain Games for Kids Essential for Concentration Levels


Building concentration and focus in both children and adults is essential. The numerous brain games and exercises available are a testament to how important it is. If you’ve not considered it in the past, it’s not too late to start, and these eight games are everything you need to start boosting and improving your concentration.

Author Bio:

Rebecca Siggers is a Teacher and passionate writer. She enjoys writing about the Kids learning activities, Parenting tips, effects of Puzzles and Crosswords all around the globe. She has been workingas a freelance writer for quite some time now. Through her writing, she hopes to influence as many people as possible to help kids grow their mental skills.

Help Your Child Become Confident with a Global Mindset

An Easy Read for Parents


Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

When I thought about how I wanted my family to be, when I was younger, I never thought I’d have a 15-year gap between my oldest and second children. My children are 20, 5, 3, and 2. While I love how things shaped up (it took me a while to meet someone I wanted to settle down with and have more kids with), having a large gap between kids has presented a bit of a challenge. My big kid has a completely different set of needs than my younger kids do, and because the younger kids need a lot more hands-on from mom, as much as I hate to admit it, my older kid can get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

While my 20 year old is crushing it at college now, there’s still a good bit of balancing that goes on to keep family life running smoothly – and to make sure no one is left out. Without further ado, here are things I found that work well for parenting when there’s a large age gap.

Set aside time to focus on the older child(ren).

I can’t stress enough how much I cherished the time last summer with my oldest. We went on a daily walk/run for all of July and August. That provided my son with an opportunity to have his mom all to himself for the duration of the outing, without interruptions from younger siblings. This meant he could talk about all the things that were bothering him, important to him, etc. It was great.

We also take him out to dinner – just him – at least a few times while he’s home in the fall and winter. It’s not really possible to do that during the summer due, but we do that whenever we can – and it’s really nice to have that time.

Don’t make your older child your designated babysitter.

I know. I’m guilty of this from time to time, but last summer we compensated him for the time he spent watching his siblings. It’s really easy to get caught up in the convenience of having a child old enough to babysit at home. Be sure that you’re not relegating your child to this role.

parenting tips for parents with large age gaps between kids

Be aware that even with big gaps between kids, sibling rivalries can exist.

Growing up, there were 14 years between my older brother and myself. He grew up in a different household, so he always felt like my younger brother and I were the “real family” and he was an outsider. It’s so important, especially if there is a new relationship involved, to protect your child from feeling “cast aside” in favor of younger siblings. I was actually pretty shocked when my big kid was picking on his younger sister and taking her toys – who knew you had to worry about a teenager snagging a toddler’s toys?

Let your older child be a big sibling and mentor to your younger child.

In fact, encourage a mentor ship role. Life is hard, and your older child has navigated a big part of it. Let him or her give your younger child tips – whether it’s on avoiding getting in trouble with mom & dad or it’s sharing the best ways to learn to ride a bike. The magic of this is that it will foster closeness between siblings – even when one sibling is out of the house already.

Maintain a sense of flexibility.

Kids, particularly the 5 and under crowd, bring a certain amount of chaos into the picture. Have a backup plan for family activities, and try to plan them when best for the energy levels, hunger levels, and moods of the younger child(ren). You won’t regret it.

Support your older child’s activities and interests.

This may mean hiring a sitter for the evening. Show up to games, meets, plays, recitals, etc. It’s worth it. Again, the last thing that as a parent I ever wanted to do was to have my oldest feel he’d been replaced by his younger siblings. It isn’t always possible for us to get up to his college to see him perform, but in high school, we made sure to go to every home game or meet and every play he was involved in.

Do you have children with a large age gap? Share your experiences in the comments. Read more about raising children here.


20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurricular activities, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.

I invite you to Stop. Breathe. Feel.

How is this landing with you? You might consider the number of transitions you’ve endured today. What are the various roles you’ve filled today?

Notice the quality of these considerations.

Calming practices connect us to our breath, our body, and the moment, are crucial.

The Power of Calming Exercises

Courtney Harris

Thu, May 2, 10:47 AM (22 hours ago)
to Aditi
Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurriculars, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.
Energy is transferable. That said, think of the last time a family conflict occurred.
Stop. Breathe. Feel. What sensations or words or images are bubbling up?
Science helps us understand that Once one family member escalates, it’s likely that everyone else in the room will escalate. Likewise, if one family member can stay grounded, it’s more likely that everyone else in the room will stay calm too.
I invite you to become familiar with your body’s unique signs in various states, including calm and activated. As you model this awareness and talk about it, you will support your kids and family in growing their emotional awareness as well.
Again, life is busy and there’s so much that’s outside of our control. This said, you have the power and responsibility to care for yourself in ways that help you feel calm and grounded. If you are experiencing any of the following sensations, you have an opportunity to practice grounding self-care:
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Anxiety or worry
Calming exercises can be used preventatively, especially as we become more familiar with our body’s signs and signals of stress or disease. Yes, they can help when things are beginning to escalate or when we feel overwhelmed; AND, the practices themselves can aid in preventing escalation to begin with. These practices are for both consistent and emergency self-care.

Exercises for Self-Care as a Parent

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

  1. Stand barefooted on the Earth. Grass, dirt, and riverbeds are great, and if only rocks or asphalt are available, this works too!
  2. Hula hoop OR do the movement of hula hooping, keeping your feet rooted to the Earth and circling your hips in a way that feels soothing or stretchy.
  3. Do a set of lunges and squats. Work until your leg muscles feel awake, alert, and heavy.
  4. Take a slow, mindful walk. Notice each step.
  5. Lay down on the ground. Rather than a bed or a couch, try laying on the firm ground. Bonus: lay down outside on the Earth!
  6. Hold rocks, stones, or crystals in your hands. Alternatively, lay down and place the stones on your body in places that feel supportive for you. (I like to put stones on my thighs, belly, chest, and forehead.)
  7. Stomp your feet while reciting a mantra or affirmation. For example, “I am steady and strong.” (Bonus: Do this barefooted and outside!)
  8. Hug a tree. Really. Feel how strong and sturdy they are.
  9. Wherever you are, notice your feet. Pay attention to how they feel and what surfaces they are touching and how they are supporting you.
  10. Spend time gardening or doing yard work.
  11. Lay down with extra blankets on your torso. Weighted blankets can be one of the many useful tools for helpful for better sleep.
  12. Sit or picnic in a park or garden or forest. Let yourself be surrounded by nature.
  13. Notice your breath. No need to alter or change it, just follow up.
  14. Eat a meal that includes root vegetables
  15. Take a sensory journey. Notice what you are seeing, feeling, touching, hearing, and tasting. Take time to inventory and/or engage with your surroundings.
  16. Practice self-massage or Abhyanga or schedule a massage with a therapist.
  17. Try a rooting or grounding meditation on YouTube.
  18. Open windows (or at least blinds and curtains) so that you can see and connect with the elements outside. Natural light can be grounding and energizing.
  19. Get a pedicure or give yourself one. Give attention and love to the roots of your body!
  20. Use sandbags to lay across your body as you rest, meditate, or relax.


How to Use These As a Family


Some families I work with integrate select practices into their weekly routines. Other families use this list as a menu that can be consulted at family meetings, during downtime, or even in the beginning stages of a miscommunication or challenging moment.

In fact, the more familiar you and your family become with calming practices, the more likely you will all be to access them as self-care maintenance. At first, these might be a bit more reactionary. You might find yourself using them when you are already overwhelmed or frazzled and anxious. I encourage you to stay patient, though, because as the word practice implies, you will become more comfortable over time and will create easier access to the strategies that soothe, calm,  and steady you.

As you dig into these practices, you may also find yourself (and your child)  noticing what best supports you. Together, you and your family can build individual support system maps to document the people, places, and things that bring you the most comfort and calm.

This article was first published https://courtneyharriscoaching.com/2018/12/04/20-ways-to-be-a-calm-grounded-parent/

20 Unique Children's Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

20 Unique Children’s Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

I love reading. It’s a HUGE part of my life. And in the desire for my children to be readers I buy books constantly and we read every single chance we get. Not just before bed time. In fact rarely then. But having built two readers, I know for a fact it takes enticing books to get them interested in reading.

Most importantly, it is important that we read books that help them build on the many values that we need them to have in order to grow to be thought leaders.

Below are some of the books I have found to be incredible in shifting my child’s perspective. Trust me. You won’t regret any of them!

Where Am I From?

Every child needs to know this in order to be aware of their surroundings. The question “Where are you from?” is a complex one in this multicultural environment.

The Jelly Donut Experience

Let’s talk about kindness. This book provides a wonderful way to be kind to those around us in the simplest of ways.

Guess How Much I Love You

It all begins with love. Let your child know how much you love them with this amazing book that talks about how much a parent loves their child.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

We breathe along with Charlotte, bring calm in your child’s life with these words. My little ones can’t help but calm down as a result.

I am Enough

To be content with oneself is an important trait to develop. To be happy with our flaws and strengths equally. An important life lesson here.

Horrible Bear

This picture book teaches kids how to looks at the positive in others while also making you giggle.

Princess in Training

For little girls and boys to see how amazing it can be to learn about being a princess in a unique way.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Being a friend means being there for someone else when they need it. A beautiful book.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Prepare your child to be bully free.

Little Giraffe’s Big Idea

Every person has different qualities and different ideas and not everyone can fit in. And yet it is okay to be inclusive of everything. A beautiful book of this big idea.

I Believe In You

Let your child know that YOU know that they are amazing and can do everything they put their heart to. I got this book for my son when we were learning cycling and it was a lovely re-iteration.

I’m So Thankful

Being happy means being grateful. This book is a fun little way to help children see the beauty in every day.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Not everything you do is going to be perfect, but everything you do leads you up  to that magnificent thing.

Not for Me, Please!

Encourage your child to be world wise by being environment friendly.

Thankful For God’s Blessings

Always Anjali

What If Everybody Did that?

This is a great series to teach kids why it is important to do OUR part, even when others are not.

You Can Face Your Fears

Yes, we all get scared. And yes, we can try our best to overcome book. A book to build persistence.

Listening to My Body

So important to pay attention to your feelings and what your body is telling you. A wonderful book to develop coping skills.


Want your child to have strong values? Want to learn what to do other than reading to your child? Here is the book that gives you real world ways to helping your child be self confident, rooted while helping them develop a global mindset.

Strong Roots Have No Fear : Empower Your Child to Thrive in Our Multicultural World!

20 Unique Children's Picture Books for a Confident Mindset

When Your Child is Reluctant to Speak Their Native Language

When Your Child is Reluctant to Speak Their Native Language

My son refused to speak or learn Hindi. Even though, we could see he could understand Hindi completely. How we knew was when his grandparents were visiting and he responded appropriately to their discussion solely in Hindi about when they should go back. Besides, he would vehemently respond should we ever talk about something he did not want to do. But embracing it, was a struggle!

We also made a lot of mistakes in teaching it to him. “The cries of I’m American, why do I need to learn Hindi?” ran rampant in our home. The conversations about how important it is to speak two or more languages went long and hard.

But why did this reluctance exist at all? I thought about it and related to it with my own upbringing.

My mother tongue, the language I grew up with, would ideally be English. Since I spoke it most often with my parents, friends, teachers etc. The language of my mother though is Marathi. The language spoken in my maiden home is Hindi as is the same that is spoken in my home today, other than English. My mother tried to teach me Marathi but at the time, I jumbled them all and she dropped it. Gave her an edge to talk in secret with her family members too. haha! I did learn to understand it completely but I wish today I had all the advantages to learning a native language. After all, most people around me are multilingual.

With my son, a mindset shift needed to be made.

What do do when your child refuses to learn their native language

Being Persistent

Once I realized the mistakes I had been making,  I worked on improving on them. I never stopped the conversations about why native languages are important and the many benefits a person can have. I used many practical ways to ensure that we made the effort to learn the language. The persistence would eventually pay off when all the tips were combined with the below. I never stopped the conversations about why native languages are important and the many benefits a person can have.

Working with Siblings

It was gradual, the shift in mindset. I kept working with my children constantly. With my two children I have often seen that if I need one to learn something, being persistent with one improves the other. Seeing his sister picking up the language so excitedly, sparked an interest and maybe a little competition edge too as he would see our joy at her attempts.

Friends Who Spoke Their Own Native Language

This was a wonderful happenstance. During play dates, his friends would talk about going to learn their mother languages and one even spoke to me in Marathi. That made him realize that this is something most people do. And it is fun when you can connect with your friends. Even in my book, I have used Hindi proverbs to bring home life lessons that are essential for children to grow with strong values.

Speaking It With My Own Friends

It is rude to talk in a different language in front of others, but bringing it up in reference to something while talking about life back home or how something is done in your own heritage or maybe a quote shows kids that there are things unique to your language that is interesting. Kids are always listening. 

Watching Fun Movies

Most Hindi movies are not very child friendly. I found a few that I knew would pique his interest. About warriors, sports etc that had good messages. Reading subtitles, he developed a desire to watch more content.

Simplifying The Learning

I did everything. Made up simple stories. Taught them a couple of words a day. Fun little quizzes when we were walking around. Spoke to them only in Hindi on weekends.

I essentially took the pressure off the learning. Instead of committing a time, I did it almost all day long, in various sneaky ways. The progress he shows now is overwhelming. His sister is way ahead of him now, but his desire to learn his mother tongue is heart warming.

What helps YOU in teaching your kids? Was anyone you know ever reluctant to learn their mother language? What helped them in the mental shift?

You can grab our free checklist for making sure kids speak their native language OR get my bestselling book that talks about multilingualism in detail with many practical tips to help your child.


Why Don't Americans Watch Foreign-Language Films?

Why Don’t Americans Watch Foreign-Language Films?

I am fortunate enough to live with my mother-in-law.

Maybe not everyone would feel that way but I do especially since she is from another country. Ukraine.

Since it’s winter and cold outside in my state and not always the most amount of things to do in the cold weather, we end up watching a good amount of movies. It has become one of my favorite winter traditions. But the more movies you watch the fewer ideas you have of what to watch next.

This has been our dilemma.

Recently we have been watching movies with seen before and sometimes my mother-in-law I will ask me if I have seen a certain movie which she says is fantastic. The first question I always end up asking her is, is it an American movie.

Because if it’s not I already know I haven’t seen it.

Maybe I am just ignorant. Maybe I just don’t love movies as much as I thought I did but I think it is more of a cultural aspect. Most Americans just don’t watch so many other form films like other countries seem to.

But what I am curious about is, why is this so and would it be beneficial not only for adults to watch foreign movies but kids as well?

Why the Disinterest?

The U.S. box office for the top five foreign-language films has declined by 61% in the last seven years.

But why is this?

I remember this episode of friends where Joey has to go watch a movie with one of the other friends, Ross probably. He was happy and excited to watch the movie until it started.

Once the words started scrolling on the bottom of the screen. It was a foreign film. He was, of course, hilarious and the sea and we all had a good laugh about it. But for many, this may be the problem that is truly wrong with watching foreign films.

Because people don’t want to go to a movie to read, at least that is one argument. Personally I don’t mind reading the translations, and actually, think it is a really neat idea to always have closed captioning for all, but I admit I can be a fast reader.

And not everyone is.

And then there is dubbing. When I think of movies that are dub from another language and English I think Chinese films that are quite cheesy perhaps in their mouth’s move at that separate time than the words they speak. Even just thinking of this makes me not want to watch a movie like that, though many love that niche.

But since I lived in Ukraine for four years I watched many Americans movies that were dumped into Ukrainian. I was surprised. As long as the actors are good and the movie has a nice translation you don’t have that separation from lips moving and speaking. You can’t hear they American voice then underneath it as well. And it’s actually quite enjoyable.

Who knew?

But these two reasons are why Americans don’t like to watch foreign films.


Foreign-Language Films and Children

Because my son was born in Ukraine we were able to bring back with us some DVDs. Some cartoons in hopes that he would learn the Ukrainian language. And it really has helped. But it has done more than help with this speaking skills, it has shown him culture as well.

Have you seen the cartoon called Masha on Netflix?

It’s about a little girl who lives with a bear. Is cute and my kids love it but the thing that makes me most interested in it, kind of fun for me to sit and watch with the kids is that the first time I saw it was in Ukraine, in the Ukrainian language.

It is a foreign-language cartoon.

And the kids love it. And I love how I can see bits and pieces of the Ukrainian cultural mixed into the cartoon story. The way she sometimes wears a handkerchief around her face, the certain phrases that are used only by Ukrainians but somehow work for Americans as well, and the types of foods that she may cook or eat was Bear. All these little things added and end up showing the way Ukrainians thank, eat, and the stories they tell. In other words, culture.

Watching foreign-language films can help kids learn about other cultures in fun and natural way, just as they would learn ABC’s from Wallykazam.

[bctt tweet=”Watching foreign-language films can help kids learn about other cultures in fun and natural way, just as they would learn ABC’s from Wallykazam. ” username=”contactrwc”]

And they don’t seem to mind the translation at all.

But here’s the thing, if adults and watched more foreign films well, we too could learn about other cultures. A way to experience culture without ever having to leave your home or city.

But It’s Not Your Fault

“Foreign films simply don’t play with American audiences.” —Foreign Policy

Why would we watch a film we know nothing about when we have so many amazing movies and trailers that already fill our commercials and lives.

Who’s your favorite actor or actress?

Do you sometimes go watch a movie just because they’re in it? I know why sometimes too. And most the time for foreign films we don’t know the cast. Another downfall for foreign films. Many people watch movies that have a feeling of familiarity. You naturally want to watch a movie we know something about.

We don’t get enough of the marketing to make us that interested. This combined with the other problems mixes not watch them even though we know we probably should.

So what can we do?

It starts with us. And we can start with our children we can start with their children. Not only are foreign beneficial for children but we as parents as we watch and make sure that they are safe for children might start enjoying them, too.


[bctt tweet=”Not only are foreign beneficial for children but we as parents as we watch and make sure that they are safe for children might start enjoying them, too.” username=”contactrwc”]

That’s one of the tricks of movies. It’s like a spiral. You watch the movie and the trailers that can become before it and you get excited for the next movie and on and on.

So go ahead take the timeout. Relax and enjoy some time spent with your kids learning about cultural an a fun and easy way.

And Watch a foreign-language movie. 

Broaden Your Parenting Horizons

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Visiting New York can be quite the challenge when you are on a tight budget and have children in tow. All those expensive hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores threaten your wallet with their high prices and upscale services. Nonetheless, we took the chance this last Christmas and flew to the Big Apple with three teenagers and a extremely thrifty allocation. 

And we couldn’t be happier! We had a great time and the kiddos are already planning to go back to this great city once mom and dad recover their financial health (maybe it is time for me to get a second job? Ha!). 

Time to plan!

Once you have figured out the plane tickets and hotel expenses (there are many offers and sales to go to NY), it is time to think about the places you want to explore. You will need to find a good combo of entertainment and price to keep your family excited and to add some cultural value to your traveling experience. We focused on points of interest, culture, uniqueness and cost. After much needed discussions we agreed to visit the following crowd-pleasers:

  1. Macy’s 34th Street. 

Even thought this is a shopping place, we love Macy’s because of their magical Christmas decorations, ambience (hello LIVE music) and “Believe” motto. We spend approximately 45 minutes walking around the store while my children took pictures of the festive displays. After that, we explored Herald Square and drank hot cocoa. 

2. Times Square.

The most popular commercial intersection of the world is the perfect background for holiday pictures with teenage children. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, many consider Times Square to be a tourist trap. But I can assure you that if you avoid eating in this area and stick to enjoy the lights, the multicultural environment and make some good family photographs, you will have fun without spending a dime. Remeber that Times Square stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, so take the time to check the little souvenir stores in the area. Also, if your kids are into comics, there are a couple of cool places that sell limited edition issues and memorabilia to go with it. 

3. The Oculus. 

This impressive train station designed by Santiago Calatrava is perfect to warm shivering children after exploring the World Trade Center memorial site. The Oculus futuristic design left my boys speechless! Stroll around this beautiful structure and talk to your children about the power of hope and resilience. The Oculus is a statement to celebrate life and the willingness of human kind to overcome tragedy. 

4. Federal Hall National Memorial. 

Pay a visit to George Washington in front of Federal Hall and discover the history behind this neoclassical building. Federal Hall became the first Capitol of the United States in 1789 and it was here where George Washington was inaugurated as first President of the United States on the balcony on April 30th, 1789. Visitors can take a look at the Bible used to swear Washington’s oath of office and the Freedom of the Press, the imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger. Entry is free. 

5. Fearless Girl. 

I felt so excited to bring my daughter to get her picture taken with Fearless Girl. This bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal depicts a girl facing Wall Street and it was commissioned to advertise an index fund that comprises gender-diverse companies that have relative high percentage of women among their senior leadership. Remeber to take advantage of such an opportunity to encourage your children to think about gender-equality and women rights. 

6. Ellis Island. 

Before our arrival in New York City, we agreed on paying for just one attraction during our four day stay. The winner was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise (Sorry Mr. Empire State and Top of the Rock). For us was a matter of cultural and historical traditions, and the possibility of having a place that our children could explore on their own. 

I must say that Ellis Island didn’t disappoint. 

This getaway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States is the perfect place to promote diversity among children and young adults. The exhibits include real artifacts, newspapers, videos, and plenty of photographs of immigrants from around the world. Our children read with special interest the information about medical inspections and English courses for Eastern Europeans.

We also felt moved by the wall of Naturalization Certicates, since I am a naturalized US-citizen myself. Be aware that you must allocate around 2 hours to explore the facilities, this could be somehow demanding for younger children. Our kids are 12, 13, and 14. You can read about the history of Eliis Island here.

7. Rockefeller Center.

If you are visiting the Big Apple during the Christmas holidays  you cannot miss the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We strolled around the center, took pictures, drank coffee and enjoyed the lights displays of the stores along 5th Avenue. There is nothing more magical than the Christmas ambience in this part of the city.

We also shared with our kids the story of the very first Tree at Rockefeller Center, that was erected in 1931 during the Great Depression Era. Back then the tree was 6 meters tall and was decorated with austerity by workers of the area. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has always been a gathering place and reflection for locals and tourist alike. 

8. Samsung 837.

Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, this digital playground is the place to visit when anxious teenagers start to complain about too much walking and too many historical facts. Samsung 837 is an impressive display of technology and culture where your family can try different virtual reality gadgets and rides. The attractions are free and there is even a nice area for mom to seat down while dad and the kiddos enjoy the extravagant show of futuristic equipment. 

9. Brooklyn Bridge. 

Young teenage legs will enjoy strolling across the elevated pedestrian walkway to experience unique views of New York City. The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a free of cost attraction that has been featured in many movies and television shows around the world. It is a great place for family portraits and provides an opportunity to stretch tired muscles and get some fresh air. 

We searched online resources to enhance our visit to this renowned landmark and to have some conversation starters during lunch after crossing the bridge. Use the Internet to discover many interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, many sorted out by age and theme. 

10. Imagine Mosaic-Central Park.

One of the focal points of Central Park is the Imagine mosaic, a tribute to John Lennon. My children read online that this mosaic was done by Italian artists and was a gift from the city of Naples. Since we are huge Lennon and The Beatles fans, visiting this are of the Park was one of our bucket list items. Please remember, that the Imagine mosaic is located inside the Strawberry Fields Memorial, a designated quiet zone that doesn’t allow biking, rollerblading and loud music. The ambience was that of reflection and peace. 

These are our top ten recommendations to enjoy New York City on a budget. There is still so much to do and see in the Big Apple! These are just an overview of what you can accomplish with your children in approximately 3 days without going broke. New York City is a place where we would love to come back since we felt absolutely in love with the many things to do. From museums to landmarks, to shows and even cafes, it is impossible to ignore the cultural value of this place for you and your family. 

Feel free to write comments below to share further details and ideas. 


Don’t forget to share this with friends and save for your next trip.

Economical Things to Do with Teens in NYC