Fun O Factory – A Play Area Review

Fun O Factory


Indian Bloggers

The other day I was WhatsApping with my girlie gang (Shoutout to Nu, Rauni, Heer, Beenii and Neha) and we were talking about how children of today lose their innocence early on and how tech savvy they are. While parents are responsible for that in a large way, another fact is that our cities have become so crowded and a casualty of this has been play areas. When we were young, each building in Mumbai had enough space in the compound for us to run about and play in. Same thing has happened to our locality in Delhi too, said the husband. Those conversations made me realise that my gratitude list should have another inclusion. I should be thankful that my daughter has access to open spaces where she can play safely. However, for those who do not have acess to those, there are plenty of play areas that are coming up in the city. One such play area where I took my daughter to was Fun O Factory at R City Mall, Ghatkopar.

Fun O Factory Concept

Fun O Factory is a covered play area within R City Mall. It has three sections – one softplay area for toddlers, one ropecourse for older children and one trampoline park for every body. When I say everybody… I do mean everybody – even you! Yes, the adults can play on the trampolines too. In fact, Fun O Factory plans to start fitness classes for adults very soon… on these trampolines!

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Are We A Generation of Anxious Parents?

Goofing in Lonavala


Indian Bloggers

My daughter was sick last week. She missed school almost the whole week. Missing school means missing out on lessons and falling behind your studies, a whole lot of homework and catch-up when you get back to school and a whole lot of worry for the parents and children. This seems like a pretty common scenario. Right? In fact, as the weather changes up, kids and falling sick by the dozen and class attendance levels are falling. I noticed a very curious trend in her school WhatsApp group. You know the one meant to discuss projects, lost and found, test preparation, holidays etc. etc. That group was literally flooded by requests from parents asking others to share what was done in school. Fair enough, engaged parents would like to know. But what surprised me was that the topical lists soon transformed to photos of note books and text books! Sympathetic parents, knowing the trauma the fellow parents are going through, would click picture after picture of class work and home work and share on the group. My first thought at such interactions was:

Stop!!! The children are only six years old. So what if they missed a few school days. Let them be!!!

 

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Is My Child Growing Right? The Parental Anxiety Story!

Is My Child Growing Right-

I am sure Paediatricians all over the world will agree that the most common query they get from parents of perfectly healthy children is

“Doctor, is my child growing right?”

In today’s world of fierce competition, we start off as soon as the child is born. Looking at percentile growth for the weight, the height and even the circumference of the child’s head. While I understand that these parameters need careful monitoring for early detection and prevention of problems, obsessing over them incessantly is what I have a problem with. When my daughter was a few weeks old, I remember a conversation in the waiting room at her Paediatrician. It went something like this

Mom 1: “So, what is your baby’s current weight”

Mom 2 (referring to the birthing chart): “It is xyz”

Mom 1: “But that must have been from the last visit. I asked current weight”

Mom 2: “That would be measured today”

Mom 1 gave a horrified gasp. Her eyes became large like an Ekta Kapoor over actress. She launched into a tirade over parent’s not caring enough about the child’s growth and relying too much on outsiders (the doctors!!!!). She stressed how important it was to monitor the daily progress of the children and know every statistic by heart. She went ton to recite weekly milestones of her baby’s growth including her sleeping patterns and the rest of the mom’s listened on. When she paused to take a breather, Mom 2 who was pretending to listen but had tuned her out at the first mention of statistics, asked..

“And how many times does your baby smile in a day?”

Mom 2 looked as if Mom 1 can a complete idiot for asking a question like that. How do smiles measure up to pounds and ounces, to percentile height growth and enlarging heads? Mom 1 decided Mom 2 was not worth her time and went on to pass on the gyaan to another new arrival in the waiting room while Mom 2 shook her head and looked on sadly.  Mom 2 remembered an episode at work where the dad of a young girl was recounting their experiences of multiple doctor visits. Apparently his one and a half year old daughter had not started teething yet. They were going to visit the fifth doctor now. The parents were worried because no doctor they had seen thus far seemed to share their concerns. They all said that the teeth will come eventually. His boss then asked him, “Dude, have you ever seen an adult with no teeth?” and this everyone had a good laugh and Mom 2 learnt a valuable life lesson.

 

Now you probably have guessed that Mom 2 in the stories above is Moi. My philosophy is to ensure my daughter has good nutrition and the right stimuli for her physical and mental growth. I also realise on the judgement of her Paediatrician for this. If her doctor feels she needs more nutrition, I would supplement with a product like Horlicks Growth +. I ensure that she has plenty of puzzles, worksheets and toys that stimulate her brain. I ensure that she plays and gets physical exercise too. The one thing I don’t do is compare her to others. There are children in her class who are taller than her. Some run faster, some read better. I choose to focus on the fact that she dances better than the fact that she runs slower. I know she is growing at her own pace and will grow up to be a fine lady

What about you guys, do you feel anxious about your child’s growth? Do share your stories and thoughts with me!

 

 

Once Upon a Time… A #SocialExperiment

I love stories. My love for stories and reading is the one things I have wanted to pass on to my daughter for sure. So, from a very young age, I have been telling her stories. We have a simple enough routine of stories before bed time. Most days, I either read a story to her or make one of my own. She picks out characters and I spin a tale… She has picked princesses, lions, magicians, hunters, magical flowers, naughty children, bunnies and all cutesy things. We really enjoy these sessions and I end up recording these stories on my mobile phone for playback later. I did wonder though if my purpose was being achieved. Was she developing a love for stories? Last month, I got a chance to test this out for real thanks to Colgate and IB.

I was invited to be a part of a social experiment involving little toddlers and young school going children. The premise was that children have very fertile imaginations and the right stimulants can lead them to be extremely creative. Colgate has launched the sea world packs which contain a myriad of sea creatures on the inside of the cartons. We gave the cartons to the kids and helped them cut out the characters of their choice. There were pirates, ships, sharks, whales, lion fish, sea turtles, dolphins, mermaids, octopus and even lost sea treasures to choose from. The kids picked out the characters that appealed most to them and concocted their own tales out of it. My daughter made a story about a treasure seeking pirate.

The pirate finds the treasure but is defeated by the octopus throwing ink at him. Blinded, the pirate returns to his ship. The pirate’s daughter then takes the help of a dolphin to reach the octopus and cuts off all his arms by a sword. She then gets the treasure on the ship. The ship is then attacked by a giant whale and is about to sink. The girl, her dad and the ship’s crew escapes the attack on a school of dolphins and save the treasure too!

Now isn’t that cute? What surprised me was that she talked about the octopus throwing ink to attack the pirate. I asked her where she learnt it and she reminded me that she had seen an octopus throw something black in a cartoon a while back. She had not understood what happened and had asked me about it. I had then explained to her about the defence mechanism of octopuses using camouflage and their preference of hiding out in sunk ship wrecks. I had also told her about the ink throwing. She was able to use this information and incorporate into her story.

Kuhu telling a story Colgate

I have never told her a sea themed story till date. Even so, she was able to look at the sea characters and relate it to the facts she knows about sea creatures and fishes from her visits to aquariums. She was able to put herself in the shoes of pirates and go seek treasures out. As a mother, I was extremely proud of her story and delighted at her creativity. In fact, her story was so good that the crew filming it as well as the Colgate team burst into a spontaneous applause as it ended 🙂

The team has put together a montage of the experiment and it is a lovely little piece with cute children telling a story. They have picked bits from every child’s story and made a tale that you all can enjoy. Have a look-

Do you love stories? If you do, how would you pass on that love to your children? If your children tell you such awesome stories, do share them using the hashtag #colgatemagicalstories 🙂

Colgate Ad

 

Travelling with Young Children

Travelling with Young Children

Indian Bloggers

The first  long flight I took with my daughter was when she was 10 months old. We traveled from Delhi to Singapore and I was alone. I was freaked out and I remember reaching to my friends on facebook for advice. Some of the most solid advice I got was from a blogger friend of mine who I had never met! Over the last five years, we have taken our annual vacations and have had multiple trips to our native cities. So I did travel with her many times after that first one. Over years, I have my own tips and tricks to manage a long trip with your child. So here they are:

Clothes

Carry change of clothes for the child

That is a given. Right? Till your baby is toilet trained, it is a good idea to carry excess clothes in your hand luggage. I usually carried a pair for every hour we spent travelling. So for a five hour flight with three hours of airport stay and an hour each to and from the airport, I carried ten pairs! Seems excessive? You think I am crazy? Well, with young kids you never know. They could just lunge at your glass of water and drop it over themselves. Do you want to have your child travel in wet clothes, especially in an air conditioned flight, train or car? Baby clothes are small and light so adding them to your hand bag is not a problem. I used to put all her clothes in a plastic zip lock pouch and place it in my large purse. I would also carry multiple plastic carry bags for  putting the soiled clothes in.

When your baby is older and toilet trained, it still makes sense to have multiple clothes. I carried only one extra pair on our latest vacation. She was four and a half then. She spilled juice over her first set which I promptly changed. Our flight got delayed and she slept. When she woke up, her diaper leaked and her second set was soiled too! I had no other pair 🙁 Well, I had to wrap my stole around her legs as a long skirt and had to carry her till we reached home because, she could not walk properly with this makeshift arrangement. Last thing I needed at the end of a week long exhausting vacation. Trust me. I actually cursed myself loud for not keeping an extra pair.

Bottom line is, carry multiple changes!

Travelling with Young Children

Carry Clothes for Yourself

Carry your own change of clothes too. You never know when you could have trouble. I generally carry another top or tunic if I am wearing jeans and a jersey dress otherwise. If you don’t want to do that, at least carry a stole or a shawl. I can not even the number of flights it got too cold for her and blankets were not available. I would wrap her in my shawl and snuggle. The stole can also help hide any spills your baby may have caused on the journey.

Food and Drinks

Milk

Young babies experience a lot of discomfort on a flight during landing and take-off. When their ears clog up, they could get very cranky. Making them suckle during this period is a good idea. The best thing is to make them have milk or water out of a bottle. My trick has been to feed the baby just before leaving home. By the time, you are settled in the flight, it would be time for her to have milk again. So she would have milk happily during take off. Also, that would make her drowsy at times and she would sleep, giving me and the other travellers a bit of peace!

I do not advice carrying milk during travelling though. Unless there is a medical reason, carry formula. My daughter was two when we went to Sikkim and travelled overnight by train. I carried milk then. But she got motion sickness and did not drink milk at all. The thermos got spoiled. I had a tough time getting it cleaned and sterilised at the hotel. Since then, I always carry hot water in the thermos and powdered milk with me.

If your baby does not drink milk, then check with your paediatrician what can be given. My friend had a toddler and she carried Glucon-C. Her son happily drank the orange flavoured glucose drink! Something like this will keep the baby occupied but not fill their stomach fully. Works very well for a small journey because your child will be ready to have a hearty meal when you arrive 🙂

Travelling with Young Children

Juice

Carry fresh fruit juice if you can get your hands on it. This one time, the hotel we stayed in was serving fresh fruit juice for breakfast. I filled up a 200 ml bottle and carried it with me for the sight seeing trip. This was her first mid morning snack. Do be careful which juice you are getting though. Orange and Sweet Lime can last 2-3 hours but watermelon and pomegranate cannot. Tetra packed juices are not really healthy, but are still better than a soda.

Snacks

Now this is the trickiest. I have struggled with this and observed what other people do. I always carry snacks. Even if it is a trip to the mall next door! I have realised that for many kids, this is the way of spending time and killing boredom. So here is my list of handy snacks –

Snacks for Babies

  1. Cheese – Sliced or cube; however your child likes it.
  2. Grapes – Plucked out of the bunch, washed and carried in a box. I would peel a grape and feed my baby.
  3. Biscuits – Glucose biscuits dissolved in a bit of milk or water make a gooey snack that babies love.

Travelling with Young Children

Snacks for Toddlers

  1. Apple – A whole apple works well as a snack for kid and parents alike.
  2. Orange – Quenches thirst too! A tad difficult to carry because they can be squelched. I carry them peeled.
  3. Seeds – Sunflower and pumpkin seeds are great for munching.
  4. Peanuts – Plain salted peanuts are a good snack but they make kids thirsty.
  5. Cereal – Those trial packs of Chocos have been my life saviour.
  6. Cake – Slice cakes are handy to carry and yummy to eat.
  7. Granola Bars – Much better than chocolates!!

The one think we need to remember is that travelling is stressful for the child. babies are away from their comfort zone and they may behave differently. A normally calm baby may be too agitated by all the strangers around. So the rules that apply to food and drink at home should be relaxed a bit. As mothers, we know what the boundaries are. It is okay for the kids to have a few sugary snacks and enjoy the trip rather than ruin it over food.

Entertainment

THE most important of all. How do you keep a child occupied and entertained while travelling. If you do not want to be pestered with the dreaded, “Are we there yet?” every 15 minutes, then plan well ahead what to do!

Toys

Toys during travel are an absolute must. However, due to limited space and weight constraints, the toys need to be picked very carefully, Needless to say, you cannot carry a bulky toy around. So go for the smaller ones. Children do get bored with one toy so I would advise carrying many smaller ones.

The one trick all mothers I have met swear by is carrying a new toy. We all know how they love new toys right? It is most likely to hold the child’s attention for longer. It works equally well with babies who are inquisitive about new things and toddlers who love to explore new toys. Do introduce the new toy just as your child gets restless tough. Do not wait till a full blown tantrum arrives!

Mobile phones and tablets too are very handy to keep the children busy. Test out the apps before you start your travel and be sure that the apps work in the offline mode. You may not have network throughout. However, restrict the screen time of the kids. Make the screen time clear to them before hand.

Travelling with Young Children

Books

A few story books or comics are a good way to spend time with the children while travelling. You can read to them and enjoy the stories together. Out here, don’t be too conscious of your fellow travellers. As long as you are not insensitive to them, no body would mind you making funny faces and telling a story to your child.

Things to Take Note

Airline

If you are flying with a baby, check out the airline rules. Most will allow you to bring a pram or stroller right upto the gate. That will surely help you at the airport. Ask for a crib before hand. If your baby sleeps in the crib, you will have some time to relax too! Ask the stewardess to alert you before the meal service begins and blocks the aisles. You can use the restroom and change the baby in advance instead of waiting for the aisle to clear up. It can take quite some time on a larger international flight. If your flight is not very full and you have 2 seats, ask the check in executive to allot you an aisle and a window seat. If someone does come for the middle seat, they will gladly swap one with you. If not, you will have 3 seats to yourself. That will give you loads of room to put the child down to sleep or allow them to play with their toys.

Travelling with Young Children

Train

If you are travelling in the evening / night, ensure that the child is pretty tired by the time the train arrives. This will cause the child to fall asleep quickly in the train. If they are well rested, the adrenaline and excitement of the journey will prevent them from sleeping! Try carrying your own blanket or sheet if you can. The railway issued sheets are generally not big enough for the mother and the baby.

Road

Plan your breaks. Children tend to get irritated in the confined spaces. It is a good idea to give them a chance to bounce around and breathe in some fresh air. The baby and you will be most comfortable in a car seat. So get one of those!

So here was my long list of tips while travelling with a baby. What are yours?

Travelling with Young Children