Category Archives: Pregnancy and Parenting

Parenting: how much is too much?


Pic: Shree D N

Being a mommy blogger and more importantly a mother for sometime now, I have realized how many parents find it tougher to raise a child than ever before. On one hand, one is supposed to monitor the child’s activities so that he or she is guided in the appropriate path in life. On the other, parents are supposed to allow the child to grow independently and let the growing one celebrate freedom.

However, to prevent abuse and to ensure that the child is not misled by people, social media and various other distractions, a parent has to be constantly vigilant and on his or her toes to be able to take immediate action, about anything that may be suspected to cause damage to their child.

A recent video of a man forcibly trying to kiss a young child in a mall on a toy car ride sent shivers down the spines of many parents who saw the disturbing video. It made parents question whether they could set a boundary on monitoring their child’s life?

Does it include every second or minute, until the child is completely aware of taking charge of life. And when is that appropriate age? Not everyone has answers, but sharing such information to make other parents aware of unpleasant activities that can be hopefully avoided, does help. Many seem to agree that parenting in the current times is not an easy path to walk through.

Shuchi Chokhawala, a mother to young daughters, aged eight and five, says, “Earlier parents would be concerned about a few things like education or health; simpler things. Today, putting the child in a prestigious school, cannot guarantee the right development or safety, and this is a major concern. Moreover, tremendous cyber exposure is available, where children get hooked to it from the time they are toddlers. While this undoubtedly opens doors for knowledge, parents need to be cautious about what the child is learning.” Children easily get addicted to various gadgets. The trick is in ensuring that they use them the right way.

Agreeing that parenting has changed drastically, Pooneh Shah, mother to a teenage daughter and a six-year-old boy says, “Earlier, parents had it easier. There was no internet or mobiles that bombarded us with unwanted information. Today, although parents want children to be independent, it isn’t easy. We hear of many unpleasant incidents and that makes parents more alert and anxious. We want to monitor every aspect of the child’s life. Like many others, I too am forced to do many things which actually make my kids more dependent on me; a sad reality of parenting in today’s world.”

Given the scenario, it is therefore important that young people who want to be parents be aware that they must embrace this phase of life wholeheartedly, and not just because of pressure from family or relatives. It is also critical to understand that this phase comes with responsibility and that it needs to be treaded carefully. This obviously doesn’t make being a parent a less joyous experience.

However, one needs to take care to avoid donning the role of being a helicopter parent. There is a fine line between monitoring, and the damage of overdoing the responsibility. It is also essential to remember that regardless of whether one is a mother or a father to a child, we have equal responsibilities to raise responsible children. It is also equally important to make children aware of how they can take care of themselves in the world.

Parenting is tough, but not impossible.

Written by  Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma


Published originally in Citizen Matters on September 18th 2015

Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma lives in Bangalore and loves reading and writing on society and changing lifestyles.


Writing about pregnancy and issues that I had more often dealt, coerced me to write on parenting as well.

More often it has been to retain my identity as a writer as well along with the intention to earn my own income.

The last two years I have also realized that I have narrated several stories to my child who to my delight gets amused, satisfied with my character creations before going to bedtime. Generally it has been animal stories and he gets to pick two animal characters and I have to spin a story instantly.

I am not sure if it will appeal to other little children but I do think I should give it a shot.

The Lion and the Crocodile
Once upon a time there was a ferocious lion living in a distant jungle. The lion had no friends and was lonely. His aggressive behaviour made him all the more lonely with no friends to talk to or play with. All he knew was to kill an animal when he was hungry.

In the same jungle, there was a beautiful river with lots of fishes and sea animals. There was also a crocodile who was very friendly by nature. One day the crocodile noticed the lion coming to the river banks to drink water and he swam up to him to say a hello.

The lion didn’t bother and gave a disgruntled look to the crocodile. The crocodile asked him if he was upset with any matter. The lion shooed him away, but the crocodile was calm and swam to a nearby rock.

He still had a very friendly smile. Then the lion said that he didn’t want to be bothered and he can get aggressive if he is not respected his privacy. The crocodile stayed mum. Meanwhile lots of fishes swam in the water and waved at the crocodile as greetings. The lion noticed that the crocodile was very popular with the sea beings.

Soon after the lion left the place and came to the river after three days. This time too the crocodile said a hello to the lion. Every time the lion didn’t respond, yet one day he asked the crocodile why he was so polite even though he wasn’t to him.

The crocodile said ” It is possible to forget our sorrows and any negative emotions if we are with the right people”. The crocodile further that he would be privileged to have a lion as a friend who was brave. The lion had never heard any praise about himself from anyone. He immediately calmed down and became polite to the crocodile.

From then on there was a drastic change in his behaviour and more and more animals noticed that the lion was happy and had a positive aura around him. The crocodile had nothing to lose, he had gained one more friend.

New flavours in the kitchen

Are we going overboard when it comes to giving food choices to children?

Watch any channel on the television and you are likely to be bombarded with numerous food options for breakfast, lunch and dinner or even for after-school-hours snack time for children. These advertisements make you wonder if children have become fussy over the years or are we making them accustomed to new menus on the plate everyday.

Undoubtedly regular cooking has become more experimental and innovative than one could have imagined even a few years ago. Being a chef is cool and if you are a mom who can present innovative and fancy food frequently, it seems to up your cool quotient. Young children are getting used to a new cuisine every week. There are multiple options being showcased on television, food blogs, cookbooks, specialised classes in neighbourhoods and even available as key ingredients for menus on the shelves of supermarkets.

Walk to a supermarket and one is bound to be greeted with chocolate syrups to make milk more tastier to various forms of pastas, varieties of noodles to specialised cereals in mind-boggling flavours and not to forget series of special fruits and veggies that are sourced across shores to make a dish that none knew when we were young. But when the choices are overwhelming for someone who cooks regularly for families and for kids, is there a need to control how much we cook or is it time to enjoy the multitude of food options?

Says Nirguna Suresh, mom to two young daughters, “I have been brought up in a health-conscious environment by my parents and since the time I have become a mother, it has been like a natural action for me to give my kids a host of healthy options. I personally do not feel it is overdoing my activity as this suits my family perfectly fine. This does not mean that I buy instant foods or packaged foods. There is variety for my children even a noodle or pasta has wholesome nutritious accompaniments. Moreover when as parents we can afford variety, what is the need to hold back on the options we give to children?”

While there are moms who feel being experimental in cooking is a matter of choice, on the other hand there is a tendency towards instant food and dining out.

Marketers view children as emerging consumers. Pester power and a disposable income leads to culinary experiments.

Says Vidhya Ramasubramanian, a nutritionist and a mother of a five-year-old, “I have met a few mothers, who are quite obsessed with every meal having to be nutritious and they over feed their child. As long as you can balance out on how much to cook including buying special ingredients with your regular food, it is fine. Have a blend of food options including simple menus featured on your weekly menu list.”

For Smitha Anand Rao, a mother to two kids and an architect, “I have one child who is a picky eater and the other who is really casual about food like me. Generally, I keep my cooking priority simple and believe in presenting fresh food. However, I do allow for a few easy options in my kitchen, considering the practical constraints my life. It is after all about choices and I am clear on not being a super-mom.”

In the age of consumerism, perhaps it is on to the parents how one can present healthy choices and yet not forget that being simple and plain is fun and acceptable too, even when it comes to food.

Follow the paper trail

Spell it outIt is not just ink and paper but a whole lot of memoriesPhoto: T. Singaravelou

Spell it outIt is not just ink and paper but a whole lot of memories-Photo: T. Singaravelou

Authored by Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma

Electronic reading devices or hard bound books—the jury is still out on this one

“Sonali, we are going to a library today”, says Harshini Bharadwaj, a mother to her seven-year-old, trying to induce some excitement into the planned outing for the evening. The young one looks a trifle irritated as she thinks momma is a bit outdated. There are stories to be read on gadgets like the iPad. And they are readily available to her thanks to her dad’s involvement in digital tools.

Apart from digital tools, there is always telly and kids are glued to it with Chhota Bheem and Ben10. So are there parents, trying to keep the tradition of reading from a book?

Ashish Verma, a graphic artist and a parent says: “When you hand out a digital device like a flashy smart phone to children even before they turn one, it is natural that they will be attracted to it and want to watch content rather than read it. Unless parents make conscious efforts right from the beginning to read from books, it is not going to appear exciting for the children.”

On the other hand, there are those who feel digital is the way forward, considering how much content is digitised these days.

And keeping children away from technology is not particularly helpful. To those, the argument is there is more to books than just a reading tool.

Varsha P says: “I have been a voracious reader since my teens. It’s an amazing feeling to be surrounded by books in a library or a bookstore or for that matter to hold on to a book in your hand. While I do encourage my daughter to use the laptop, I do not think books will cease to be anytime soon. Don’t we like to read a newspaper, watch a news clip on television, read a forward joke on the phone? So in my opinion children can read from new devices, but the charm of a book cannot be ignored and I do hope children and parents understand this point.”

According to Kavya Hegde, marketing manager of Just Books, a library chain, “Reading from a regular book and reading from a digital device can be complementary.

Both can co-exist, in fact over 60 per cent of our readers are mothers who want to introduce their child to the world of books end up taking a book themselves too. We feel there are a lot of parents who want to let their children cherish the reading experience from a hard-bound book.”

A recent comment by the former President, Abdul Kalam endorsed the view on reading from regular books when he said there should be a library in each house with a minimum of 10 books, to encourage children to read. He also urged parents to take steps to increase the collection every now and then. The verdict seems to indicate – get ready to embrace the digital form, but do not ignore the traditional form of storytelling or reading.

Reading from a regular book and reading from a digital device can be complementary. Both can co-exist

Published in the Hindu Metro Plus on July 2nd 2014.

Another world-wide celebrated day-Mother’s day

I think since the last five to seven years urban India is unapologetic regarding celebrations of a few occasions that were completely unknown to the previous few generations. Valentine’s day,even a festival like Akshaya Trithiya -I do not remember the occasion being talked when I was young. But now if you do not buy something related to the yellow metal -gold on Akshaya Trithiya you are doing a crime.

Similarly while I do agree moms especially moms to new-born’s to a year old get some fun time, I do feel there is an element of unnecessary commercialization for Mother’s day. This year too there are advertisements running on what to gift your mom this mother’s day.

It’s a jaded feeling for me atleast. After a few years I really never wished like sending a card or a gift to my boyfriend or husband. Today I might feel happy if my child wishes me or gives me a hand-made gift but I do not want my little baby to feel pressurized and neither do I want to succumb to the pressure of giving a gift as on this occasion to my mom.

Nevertheless happy mother’s day. BTW the founder of this day as I had written an article last year on this never wanted this day to be commercialized and she wanted this day to be celebrated as a day where children would make hand-made cards, personally write for their moms and gift to their moms. She hated when the day became marketed for gifting white flowers, cards from stores etc. Today there are restaurants, jewellers and even online apparel stores tempting customers to send a gift for their moms.

Times have changed indeed

Right time to be a mother

Most working women find it hard to decide on the right time for childbirth. What really matters is your body’s ability to take you safely through pregnancy, your mind’s capacity to prioritise and your heart’s calling for motherhood, writes Reshma Krishnamurthy Sharma.
About two decades ago, education was a “privilege” to women, even those living in metros. They were expected to fulfill their family duties above all else, as their primary roles were that of a mother, wife, sister or daughter.

Only if these duties were met, as per family expectations, could the women pursue any professional aspirations (if they were allowed to have one). If, by chance, a woman was the breadwinner, it was usually only because there was, perhaps, a lot of financial constraints in the family, but not as a matter of pride.

 The scenario has changed to a large extent today. Education is no longer a privilege bestowed, but the right of every child, regardless of the gender. Women now pursue professional aspirations for not only financial security, but also for reasons of self-esteem.

Yes, times have changed. There’s a lot to rejoice about. However, all’s not well. While the women workforce grows stronger than ever in the corporate world, most women wage a battle within themselves on when is the right time to be a mother. When is the ideal time to have a kid? How long should the maternity break be?

When should she get back to work? How can she carefully restructure the career graph in such a way that neither the family nor work prospects suffer?

Unfortunately, the time to plan and stabilise a woman’s career overlaps with her peak fertility period. No wonder this poses a huge concern for a woman who wants to have the best of both worlds.

Many a time, the woman’s career simply flies out the window post childbirth, and it is this fear that makes young women think of whether they need to marry at all in the first place, or whether now is as good a time as any to have kids, or whether to wait until she achieves a satisfactory professional tag.

There is no single outright answer. Every woman is different, as are her situations and resulting decisions. A few have tasted the success of achieving financial stability and well-placed promotions, and then gone on to sport the baby bump. Others have found it better to have a kid (or two in quick succession) and then chalk-out their career ahead.

On a general basis, younger women seem to find it easier to get back to work as their expectations may be low and they do not have a problem in starting all over again in their career.

But there are other women who prefer to have a baby later on in their life, provided both their health and financial situations are upbeat. Such women believe that they have a greater bargaining power, with respect to flexibility of time and workload, on their return, .

However, if there is one thing every woman agrees upon, it is that managing both motherhood and career is no cake walk, no matter how flexible their professional life may be.

True, many corporate companies offer the work-from-home option for women who prefer not to take long maternity leaves. But it doesn’t help much when the child is still weaning or an overactive toddler demands the mother’s constant attention.

Having said that, it so appears, in the larger scheme of things, most women manage motherhood just fine.

This is irrespective of the fact whether they opt for it early on in their lives at the brink of their career growth, or during their mature years when they feel have achieved enough to slow down a little.
There is no right time, really, to have a baby. The biological clock and career path have to be in sync. What’s ideal for one, may not work for the other.

At the end of the day, what really matters is your body’s ability to take you safely through pregnancy, your mind’s capacity to prioritise and your heart’s calling for motherhood.

Find the online link to the story here-

Bottoms up

Here are a few tips to get children to drink more water


After every snack, give the child water to drink. Photo: K. Ramesh Babu

There are several mums who complain about their children not eating enough fruits and veggies. And then there are children who do not like to drink water, which is not such a good thing.

Sreemathy Venkatraman, a clinical dietician and nutritionist says: “The main reason for this is that children have not been habituated to drink more water. Children prefer aerated drinks but these drinks have loads of sugar and sometimes caffeine too.”

Sreemathy suggests giving children water stored in mud pots as it is flavourful and cool. Dr. Prakash Vemgal, consultant paediatrician says, “Educating children on the benefits of drinking water results in better consumption.

There is also a cultural shift in the society’s preference to juices and sugar loaded drinks which need to be minimized. One can try simple techniques like offering filtered rather than boiled water. Keep a chart of the daily water intake and try to increase it by being an example yourself.

After every snack, give the child water to drink.” Here are some more ways to get your child to drink more water

Cartoon cups

Most moms probably are trying this already. A cup or a sipper that has your child’s favourite cartoon character on it might just make water a little more attractive.

Accessibility matters

Ensure you place a mug of water with a bottle or a glass with water somewhere where your child can reach easily. Every time he finishes it, be prompt to refill the glass and remind him to have another glass in an hour’s time.

Limit the options

Don’t stock beverages like colas or sweetened drinks at home. Even if you want to offer sweetened beverages once in a while, try and dilute the liquid with parts of water.

Read a story

Find a story that features a story of a character like ‘Potter the otter-A tale about water’. Or create a short, colourful self-made storybook that has a character who is healthy and wise as he has lots of water.

Be an example

Children learn by seeing adult behaviour. Make sure you have water at regular intervals and encourage the child to do so with you.

Make a game

Children of four and above can have a game of pouring water from a small pitcher to small glasses or paper cups and set a target of finishing at least five cups in one day.

If getting your child to drink more water is still a daunting task, then increase their fluid intake with fruit juices without sugar, tender coconut, soups, seasonal fruits like watermelons and muskmelons and beverages like buttermilk or nimbu paani.

Motherhood: The career changer


Mommy moments, March 15, 2014, DHNS


Making it through the initial years of motherhood is no simple feat. It’s, perhaps, all the more difficult for women who have always been career-driven. They suffer from a constant itch to get back to work, even as they tackle the new-found demands of motherhood. There are several “mommy moments” that steal the entire schedule of the new mother.

Restarting their career and reclaiming their professional identity may seem like a Herculean task. For several urban educated women, even a year’s break can mean a dip in self-confidence and inability to understand how to balance work and home.

Some try to brush up on their skill sets, in the hope that it will fetch them lucrative jobs, while others get back to work, soon after their stipulated maternity leave, for fear of losing out on the job.

It maybe a long way before motherhood ceases to be a threat to working women, before they may no longer have to choose between a career and the joys of motherhood. Fortunately, the new careers of a few mothers are proving to be inspirational for many women to initiate the thought process to try something new.

Something that seems to be born out of being a mother. Something that chalks out a whole new profession for the mommy.
Few in number, they might be, but there are a handful of mothers who have found entrepreneurship to be a godsend option. These women have the luxury of enjoying all the perks of motherhood, even as they ride high on entrepreneurial success.

One such smart mother is Mahita Fernandez, founder of Gambolla, a kid’s activity centre in Bangalore. “I quit my job as a corporate communications professional during my pregnancy. I was very sure that I wanted to commit all my time to the first few years of my child’s life. I was an enthusiastic, first-time mum to a wonderful son, who enjoyed a great bonding with me in his infancy.

However, I found that there were hardly any places I could go to, to entertain an active infant. There was complete dearth of safe, hygienic play options for infants and toddlers until a few years ago. Taking him to public parks in all weather conditions was not feasible,” says Mahita.

So, this mommy simply conjured up an idea for a kids’ play centre. “It was during this phase that I decided to start ‘Gambolla’, with the intention to provide a safe, hygienic, all-weather play option for infants and toddlers. Since then, the overwhelming appreciation and encouragement from parents has propelled its growth as a one-of-its-kind activity centre for children of all ages,” she adds.

Being a mother made Chaitali Raizada, a one-time corporate professional, dig into her forgotten interests and rethink the needs of her child, as she embarked on a new venture.

“When I could not find anything of my liking on the shelves of local stores, I decided to try my hand at being an entrepreneur. ‘Taantraa’ originated from my need to give myself and my baby healthy food,” recalls Chaitali.

“I had decent knowledge about healthy ingredients and nutrition. So I came up with my own line of organic baked foods. Running a home-based company has several perks. I have a professional identity now. I also have all the time in the world to do things I love. But the best thing is that I can watch my daughter grow. Aanyaa happens to find me at home for every little thing – just as I did when I was a child,” she says.

For a few mommies, like Sowmya Srinivas, the career break post motherhood has turned out to be a blessing in disguise. She used to work as a tele-sales executive before pregnancy, and it was only during her extended stay-at-home phase after having the baby, that she considered pursuing her interest in fashion designing.

“I was interested in fashion since college, but I joined a fashion designing course only when my son was five. I didn’t expect anything from it, other than giving in to my long-cherished dream of doing the course. But it turned out to be an eye-opener. I realised I was very good at designing.

Two years ago, I opened my own boutique ‘Fashion Versatile’. Today, I have over 15 people employed with me and I make good money. I must thank my son. If I hadn’t had him, I, probably, wouldn’t have pursued my passion for fashion designing,” says Sowmya.

Professionally inclined mommies, often, face the flak (mostly from their own kind) for not being around for the mundane, but important, times in their children’s lives. Working mothers may not find the time for a peaceful play session in parks on weekdays, or watch an animated movie with their kid on a Monday afternoon. No need to go hard on yourself if you are one among them. It really isn’t your fault.

It is only natural that moms want to watch their children grow, even as they pursue their careers. It is in the hands of employers to create more jobs for such mothers. New mommies, with strong qualifications and professional experience by their side, make for a pool of talent that has been grossly neglected by companies.

However, until that happens, you could reconsider your career stream. How about a profession that is more lax on timings? How about a work-from-home option? Or, you never know, you might just find that spark of an entrepreneur in you.

Perhaps, motherhood is simply a catalyst that brings out dormant strengths of a woman. After all, entrepreneurship and motherhood are very similar.

You start out with jitters, and then realise that you’ve just let yourself in for the biggest roller-coaster ride of your life. In both instances, you have to find reserves of energy, time, passion, finance, and grit that you just didn’t know you were capable of. You have to be a specialist at everything.


Should one go for more than one child when she is content with her ‘only child’? Parents of onlies can answer best

An interaction with a complete stranger at the park made me re-think on my answers regarding an ever bothering question since the last few years. I had to connect, rather interact forcefully with the lady who was older to me and happened to be my child’s play home mate’s grandmother. And the kids bumped into each other at the park and while they had fun we adults had a brief conversation. It was a pleasant conversation but for the question that made me little uncomfortable. Nothing new.. but was not sure if I should ignore or answer her firmly or smile casually without really giving an answer.

With what began an simple questions from her end like –where do you stay? do you work outside home too or no?, it soon lead to the question of ‘is he your only child?’. When the response came as a yes, I was expecting the answer that I heard a zillion times in the past. “You should go in for another one or else he will be a lonely child.”

Taking a defensive stance as usual to this particular and often asked question, I responded saying I am not in the age where I can go for another child. Slowly it got me thinking that I had responded to a few relatives saying in addition that I am not in the liberty of complete economic freedom too where I can go for a second child. I didn’t say this to the lady but my response seemed silly for me and I felt I was lying somewhere to myself too.

Later when I was home, playing a puzzle with my kid, I realized that I had been answering the question wrong all along.

I have not gone for another child as I feel my kid –the only kid is the one who completes me. I am not having any further maternal instinct to have another baby. It has never been the case, so I should stop blaming it on unnecessary reasons and let others too know about it. Also I can admit that having the only child has helped me focus on myself back again, my part-time career again and enjoy my time with the child. As far as loneliness quotient goes, it is according to me not really dependent on having more siblings and giving a joint home environment but engaging the child in a happy and meaningful way- after all, that’s the best I can hope (for the present) -my child becomes a happy and independent adult.

So it is perhaps better if I start responding to inquisitive people that I am fine with one child and ignore or get immune to further comments.

Indeed it is so. And it is no one else’s business to be inquisitive about whether one gets married or not, is a heterosexual or not, has kids or not, want to have kids or not , when do they want to have their child and of course want to go in for a second child or not.

At least hopefully strangers (cannot really avoid relatives and friends in the society I live in) do not ask this question to women persistently.

As I finish putting up this blog, found two interesting links on the same topic.–Having-only-one-child–by-choice-or-by-chance–has-benefits.html?nav=5113

Thanks for reading this post and if you have any comments please do share if it is regarding this topic.

An outing with my child- With the Honeybees

As a mother living in Bangalore, I like to take my child out on as many variety filled outings. I truly believe it is experiences and exposure to a lot of things in the world that make a person.

So last week after many months of delay, I thought of taking my child to a group outdoor picnic by the Honeybees club. (This was in spite of criticism from my partner that I take my child out to commercial activities, when I can handle them alone better).

As expected it was a one woman show(I had nothing against it, infact thought I should encourage her) but the content of the outing was way to below expectations than it should have been.
We were a bunch of 15 moms (complete strangers), some who had come again (guess they found it beneficial than me), others were first-timers like me.

We were asked to assemble at Lalbagh and given a sheet to do sound mapping as part of sounds of nature -the first activity with the kids. Little D( my child) found it interesting to hear the sounds of nature and stick pictures on the sheet, but later to that there was no other explanation of nature, detailed activities for kids to understand what they need to do after sound mapping etc.

Like me, I found two to three other moms who were disappointed as their kids were not finding it amusing to do the activities with moms (just two of them) and were informed to go back home. They didn’t say anything but their expressions gave out their jaded and bored  feelings of being there on a saturday outing. One kid even gave back the sheet to Puja (organizer)as there was nothing else explained.

Those who love dancing, (kids), their moms were lucky as some found it good to dance to some tunes played by a guitarist and singer (the third and final activity).

Ideally outdoor picnics about nature should have included more understanding of nature -given as an explanation from the organizers.

Also I felt it should have had more fun activities.

We had to carry our own snacks and were asked to go to corners (moms and kids) and eat the boxes. It was supposed to be group activity to facilitate better interaction not better understanding in living me time.

The only good thing D has learnt now is -he wants me to hear everything around me, draw them and allow him to paste it on a sheet of paper. Art of mapping sounds..

At the end of the outing, just was content that henceforth, I will be able to draw better outdoor picnics for my kid and others than this which seemed so promising.

Oh yes we were also given a sticker too of honeybees…there was nothing more though the club meant to teach kids to be nature lovers can go miles in teaching this.

Hopefully they will learn soon enough.