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spaces for children that encourage creativity, play, health and happiness

I’ve always had an interest in doing up our home in a way that’s inviting, open, airy, well-lit and most importantly – feels warm and cozy and creative and sparks the imagination of the young ones (and older ones too!). This interest, since childhood, has become a passion ever since I became a mother. Yes, ever since I had my children – first Pari, and then Sufiana – rather than relegating the home decor (‘home environment’ is a more apt word for me) to the bottom of the daily bucket-list (due to lack of time) I’ve maintained it as one of the top priorities. Some might feel that it’s not prudent to ‘waste’ time on doing up the house when you have young children to attend to, specially a 1.5 years old. But, I can argue otherwise. And, this is why:

A home environment, I feel, can play a very positive role in the development of young minds and bodies. A child who’s actively seeking out the world and exploring new things will feel motivated and charged up to be in a clutter-free space that sparks imagination, allows freedom to move and play in safety, and puts the child at ease – to run, dance, sing, create, paint, mould, tinker – without being interrupted.

In this article, I’m sharing some of the ideas from my own home (at different times) that inspired my children and encouraged fun, learning, discovery and creation. Not to forget – beautiful bonding times for us all as a family.

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WildDiscoveries Mommy Labs Tinker Earth June 29 - Oct 4 2015

This post, friends, is an invitation – an invitation to participate (with Pari and me) in wild discoveries – in the yard, in the ditches, in flower pots, vegetable beds, forest floors, in and around water bodies, on the terrace of your home, in the balconies or courtyards or patios, in the gardens, parks, jogging tracks.

Here’s the idea. The monsoons (rainy season, in India) here have arrived, and has awakened the dry land with new life, fresh colours and rich fragrance of the soil. The canvas is being repainted and new elements are being added to this canvas with every glorious shower. Elsewhere around the world, it’s a great time for exploration too.

How can we not go outdoors to explore, appreciate and investigate this changing vista – this renewed canvas?

So, we thought, why do it alone? Why not invite all our friends, family, readers, fellow homeschoolers, unschoolers, school-goers, fellow bloggers – to join in in this wild hunt. Age is not a bar. Nor is geography.

So, here we are – shouting out to all you curious, nature-loving, fun-loving, adventurous people to join us in this journey of wild discoveries where we’ll observe, click, take notes, note species, location, description, our impressions, research, questions, inferences and much more – about the wild thing that we go out to find anywhere (as I mentioned in the beginning – yard, terrace, garden, park, forest…)

Read up to know more about this Exploration and how you can join us. Also, other details like when does this start and end, where can we all submit our weekly findings, how can we maintain a journal (if desired) and more.

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touch communication the power of baby massage

If you ask me to relate some of the most tender, fun, interactive, musical, nostalgic moments I’ve spent with my babies (first Pari and then Sufiana), those moments have to be from the “maalish time” (massage time) we’ve spent together every single day. Often, twice a day – for more than two years, consistently. Infact, I still massage Pari – before she goes to bed on days when she’s tired or cranky or just needs extra love.

Massaging infants and babies and even toddlers is not a modern concept. Definitely not in India (where the tradition of infant massage goes back several hundred years) and not around the world. Every culture emphasizes the importance of baby massage – for health, bonding, communication, for building trust and love between the baby and her parent/caregiver.

In this article, I share why infant/baby massage is the next best thing to exclusive breastfeeding – for the all-round development of babies. Yes, not just physical but also social-emotional-cognitive development.

Actually, it’s not just babies who will benefit, the mother (or father) stands to gain in ways that cannot be quantified. Think about the one-to-one “you and me” time, the hormonal surge in the mother’s system evoked by the touch on the baby’s tender body, the content and peace she feels watching her baby relax to the point of being blissed-out. All the positive signs and gestures and expressions through which the baby communicates to the mother (or father) how much she/he means to him/her; how much he/she loves her/his company, her/his voice, her/his touch. That “there’s nothing else that brings more joy to me, mamma/papa, than being with you, being loved and caressed by you. Thank you for your touch and intent.”

So, here’re some tid bits from my own experience of “maalish time” with my babies. Also sharing some key notes from expert articles and books on this subject.

Last but not least – a most enriching and aromatic gift for you and your baby – to make your maalish time the best time of the day. This gift – a giveaway – is contributed by Kaavya of Coconess. Coconess – as the name suggests, has come up with coconut oil at its best – extra virgin – infused with the soothing properties of Lavendar, toning nature of Brahmi and Bala – for babies, and for mothers – to tone and strengthen the post partum muscles.

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unschooling takes nurturing, understanding , letting go

Until about three weeks back, the tomato plants in my yard were all green. They had grown to a size that I was expecting them to flower. But the flowers weren’t blooming. Every morning and afternoon and evening I would go inspecting in the hope of spotting tiny yellow flowers. But, only beautiful green leaves greeted me. And then, one fine day I spot a few flowers. A few days later some more. Within 10 days, most of my plants were wearing their flowery yellow embellishments. Oh, how it suited them! I couldn’t stop admiring and telling them how gorgeous they looked. My yard looked like a cosmos of stars, only they twinkled in bright daylight. (My home is a cosmos too. My children the stars – the tomatoes – waiting to ripen to their bright red, ripe, juicy glory – given the nurturing environment, the time and space and the creative freedom.)

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sustainable menstruation #PeriodofChange MommyLabs

(this painting is from my #30DaysLeafArtChallenge in 2014)

It’s the Earth Day week. Earth Day was celebrated on April 22 – around the world, and it’s heartening to see so many indivuduals, organizations, groups, families and communities pledging to restore the earth and diving into action. The causes to take action for are innumerable. From – waste management to clean air and water to chemical-free farming to cleaning the rivers and shore lines.

But, being a woman, a mother and a child of this mother earth, the one thing that I personally feel for is women’s health, our natural (menstrual) cycle and it’s connection with and impact on mother earth. The fact that this natural process that’s at the core of a woman’s being can be so life-threatening to the health of our planet is really disturbing. That, this bodily cycle so intrinsic to female reproductive ability, her health and well being can lead to health risk for women herself, is an urgent matter to look into.

In this article, I’m sharing my own story about my experience, trials and errors and learnings in my search for sustainable menstrual wearing. Also, read on to know what cost we women and our earth need to pay for those seemingly hyigenic and ‘convenient’ disposable menstrual pads; and what viable and natural options do we have available today.

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A Place Where Children Can Play – Free Play.

learning by playing

“So, how are you feeling after moving to Goa?”

“Are you happy with your decision to move to Goa?”

“How’s Goa coming along for you? Are you satisfied?”

“I do know you like being in Goa, but let’s chat more about how you really feel about the day-to-day experience.”

These are the type of questions, inquiries that come our way these days from family members, close friends, casual friends, former colleagues. They all are basically curious about how it’s going for us here in Goa. Some are curious because they see a possibility of moving in the near/far future. Some are just plain curious (even astonished) that we should take such an extreme step – of suddenly abandoning the years of life and living that we made in Delhi and move over-night!

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cardboard box free play

I was running out of options that evening. Avie was out of town for a few days, and Sufiana, who’s very attached to Avie, was getting cranky and clingy by the moment. Balls, wind chime, stories, paintbrush+paint) songs – none of those things that she’s fond of – was catching her attention for more than a few seconds. She was tired and so was I.

And then, suddenly, I see a ray of hope in my mind’s eye!

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 it takes time to nurture the relationship with your child

Pari is a home-body. She loves being at home, reading, doing art, watching movies, listening to songs, cooking in the kitchen, writing blog posts, conversing with us. We understand this need of hers and try our best to balance – between the fun of going out and exploring this beautiful place where we live (Goa) and her need to cocoon at home.

Children need the TIME to BE themselves. Give them the time and they will surprise us all in more ways than we can imagine. And, when our children can just BE without being driven by the clock all the time, that will be the best TIME for this planet, for they will know how to be happy from within rather than go seek happiness in external factors.

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My Salad Days Are Back With My Children

my salad days are back with my children

My Salad Days are back and here to stay. Did I just say that? Do I mean to eat a salad a day or am I thinking back to the days of my youth – innocent, carefree, inexperienced, for that’s what exactly the idiom ‘Salad Days’ mean.

Well, to me, on the one hand it means innovating some brand new flavours of salad every day to add more and more greens to our meals. Yes, that’s a new-found interest for me. I’ve been experimenting with salad making. Will share one immensely yummy and healthy receipe at the end of this post.

But, at another level, it means something deeper and profound and intentional.

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 how babies learn

Right from her birth till today, I’ve eagerly observed to understand how she learns – my baby, Sufiana. Actually, it was not just my own curiosity that made me take notice. It was a lot about the nature of her learning that made me marvel, wonder and gasp at her spirit. She’s been a very, very passionate, committed and tenacious learner. I’ve seen her stick around despite failing again and again. I’ve seen her cry and kick and yell – so she could take her tiny thumb in her mouth. Her desperate struggle at day 5, day 6, day 7 and many more days and months after her birth – to put that dear thumb in her mouth to suckle at, was heart breaking for me. Sometimes, I felt compelled to show her how to do it. Other times, I thought it apt that she should try and figure out herself. Who am I to steal from her her zeal, her purpose. How can I not allow her the joy that’s truly her own when she figures it out. All through, I was just dazed with wonder at her persistence.

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