I fund my daughter’s hobby classes and I am proud of it !!

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Image Credit: pxhere.com

Women have this innate sense of ‘saving’. As soon as the husband hands over his monthly salary to her, she starts thinking of ways to save from it. A rupee here, a rupee there, and by the end of the month, she has a little something saved for the rainy day.

I had seen my mom doing it. She was a homemaker, so she was fully dependent on my father for all the household and education expenses. After my graduation, I enrolled myself into French learning classes. It was a hobby for me. I loved the language and realized I was good at it. I decided to pursue French language at a higher level. My father didn’t understand my passion. I was supposed to get married, and not think of higher studies at my age. He refused to pay my fees. That’s when my mom stepped in. She dipped into her personal savings, the savings she had been collecting since years, and paid my fees at Alliance Française.

This was the event that made me realize how important it was for women to work. But, the more valuable lesson I learnt was the importance of saving. So, when I started working, I started saving. I quit my high paying job once I conceived, and it was a big financial blow for me. Of course, my husband assured me, “I am earning enough. Don’t you worry about finances.”

But, I worried nonetheless, for the future and my self esteem. Well, soon after my daughter came, I started working from home. I didn’t earn much (peanuts compared to my earlier job), but I started saving right from day one.

A child is mentally and physically exhausting, but gradually I realized she was financially exhausting too. School tuition fees, medical, clothes and toys…the demands were many. And, then there were extracurricular activities like drawing, swimming, tennis, singing, etc. that I wanted my daughter to enjoy and pursue. I didn’t want her to suffer because of lack of sufficient finances.

That made me invest wisely in different instruments. I bought a little gold for her (I am a mother after all, and a Marwari at that! ). I had parked my savings in fixed deposits with my salary bank account. Later on, one of my ex-colleagues who had also quit job for her baby told me about Kotak Mahindra Bank’s Silk Women savings account. Thankfully, we have a Kotak Mahindra bank branch nearby. So, I didn’t think twice before closing my salary-savings account and opened up a new Silk Women Savings account with Kotak Mahindra Bank.

I earn 6% p.a. interest per year on my savings. Secondly, I use credit and debit cards a lot. I believe in cashless economy, also I hate going to ATMs to withdraw money. And, with Silk debit card, I get cashback upto Rs. 4500 per annum on my spends. That’s not little; remember for a homemaker, every tiny bit counts. I have also opened up a Junior savings account in my daughter’s name, and got a non maintenance fee waiver on it.

So, yes, though it’s my husband who is largely running the show in the house, my contribution is not to be entirely ignored. I have enrolled her in various activities and I can proudly say I pay for each one of them. In my own way, I contribute and I am proud of it. I earn, and so I like to spend, on me and my daughter. I like the fact that I don’t have to ask my husband for every little expense. He is a busy man, he has a lot on his hands, why should I bother him with tiny details. Having said that I also want my daughter to enjoy her life. Today, she goes for swimming, gymnastics, dance and drawing, but tomorrow she might want to pursue skating, ballet, and God only knows what not. However, I am prepared for it, with my small savings that is turning big with every passing day.

I have learnt these few things in my life-

  • As a mother, we have various responsibilities – to not only feed our kids on time (to keep their bellies and bodies warm) and to keep them happy, but also to teach them to be independent. But, for that, a mother herself needs to be independent from daily financial worries.
  • Every homemaker is plagued by the fact that she doesn’t earn or earn enough. But, you needn’t turn it into a sore point of your life. Every mother I know has her own ingenious ways to save. It is just that I urge you to save smartly and wisely in women oriented schemes. They have been created for a purpose that revolves around YOU !
  • Also, don’t ridicule small savings, remember, an ocean is made up of tiny single drops.

So, save and let the power be with you !

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Mother’s Day Contest

My Dear Mommies…it’s contest time on Firsttimemommy.

It is a Facebook contest. Here’s the link to Firsttimemommy Facebook page – https://www.facebook.com/mammaspeaks/

All you need to do is:

  1. share this review link on Earth Baby products on your Facebook page – https://firsttimemommy.net/2017/04/27/review-earth-baby-the-goodness-of-earth-for-your-baby/
  2. tag 5 friends
  3. and tag firsttimemommy too.

50 lucky winners will get a beautiful gift hamper from Earth Baby. The winners will be announced on Mother’s Day 2017. Contest valid till 13th May, 11:59 pm.

PS: Contest limited only to India and the sole discretion to choose winners rests with Firsttimemommy and Earth Baby.

Review: Earth Baby – The Goodness Of Earth For Your Baby!

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A few days ago, I got to know about Earth Baby products. Being a person who believes in clean eating and living, I was naturally pulled towards these products that used natural ingredients. Also, I am sure it’s not only me, but being a more informed and aware generation, we are very particular about what touches our baby’s skin and what goes inside her mouth. And we don’t mind going that extra length and spending that extra buck if we know we will get what we are promised.

As I went through its beautiful website, I realized they don’t only have baby skincare and food products, but also a gamut of interesting products that will help a new mother take her first steps into motherhood. From nutritional snacks for the mothers like lactation inducing panjeeri and hunger satiating organic jowar/sesame ladoos to naturally dyed cotton nappies and jhablas, and herbal mosquito repellent and natural hand made laundry soap.

I talked to the concerned person at Earth Baby and expressed my desire to review a few of their products. They agreed, and sent me samples of a few of their products.

However, before I give the product review, I must mention that the soaps, coffee powder and sunni pithi powder were packed in paper bags, and not in plastic. Being an environmentally conscious citizen, I was mightily impressed. Only the apricots came in a plastic bag, which though initially I was upset, I realized it was needed because of the nature of the product. Also, the plastic bag was not the cheap use and throw kind, but a Ziploc bag which can be reused. So the Earth Baby team believes not only in nature, but also in protecting it. Full marks to the team!!

And, now here is the review of those products.

SOAPS

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So, I got soaps. 3 mini soaps in 3 boldly coloured packaging (neither of the soaps contains colours, they are of natural colour).

Red packaged soap was Cow Milk and Sandalwood soap ideal for baby of 1 year and plus.

Blue packaged soap was Vetiver (Khus Khus) soap again ideal for baby of 1 year and plus, and,

Green packaged soap was for new born babies.

My daughter was excited on seeing these mini soaps, and called dibs on the Elsa (thanks to the movie Frozen, blue is not just light or dark, midnight or Prussian, it has a new tinge – Elsa blue) blue coloured packaged soap. She has been bathing with it for quite a few days, and she loves its smell.

I on the other hand took the soap covered in red paper and have been enjoying its mild flavour of sandalwood.

Verdict – These soaps neither boast of pretty colours nor bold fragrances, but that reassures me on the contrary. It means they are free of chemicals or even if I look at them with a cynical eye, they contain fewer chemicals than the ones available in the market.

BARLEY MALT CHICORY COFFEE

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I love coffee, but caffeine keeps me awake till the wee hours of the morning even if I have a cup at 4 in the evening. It has become a joke in my family that I can moonlight as a night guard on just an evening cup of joe. Well, this barley and chicory coffee has solved that problem. The other day, in a daring move, I made a glass of cold coffee using this decaffeinated coffee powder, and drank it at 5-5:30 pm, and I was still asleep by 10:30 pm.

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I am no new mother, but this coffee is ideal for new and lactating mothers as well as chicory promotes breast milk. It contains no caffeine, so no worries about caffeine finding a way into your breast milk and from there on being passed on to your newborn. Also, it relieves constipation (a mother who has had a recent episiotomy would understand its importance). It has anti-inflammatory and blood purifying properties.

Verdict – It tastes different (not like your regular coffee), but I like the earthy taste. I add some desi jaggery instead of sugar and enjoy my cup of brown wellness.

SUNNI PITHI BATH POWDER

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Indian moms bathe their newborns with a concoction of homemade powders. Earthy Baby has such a powder ready for your newborn baby of 1 week+. It contains chick pea flour, green gram flour, rice flour and turmeric. Green gram flour is supposed to remove excess body hair while turmeric improves the complexion and keeps skin infections at bay.

Verdict – I have been using sunni pithi powder to wash my face, as my 5 year old bathes on her own, and is not comfortable bathing with a powder. But, I like the powder as it gently exfoliates my skin. I have an excessive oily skin, and I find my skin fresh and moist (without the stickiness) after washing my face with this powder.

SULPHUR FREE ORGANIC DRIED APRICOTS

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My husband and I are a big believer of clean eating. We use minimal salt and sugar in our everyday food, and promote the same in our daughter. We use molasses, jaggery, coconut sugar, dried figs, dates and dried apricots to flavour our beverages and desserts. However, till I read the label “sulphur free” on Earth Baby’s organic dried apricots packet, I didn’t even know that I had been eating sulphite laden dried apricots all this while. On googling, I came to know that sulphur dioxide is a preservative used in dried fruits like raisins, apricots and prunes. And if you are sensitive to sulphite or have sulphite allergy, it might pose a series of health problems like difficulty in breathing, wheezing, etc.

Verdict – Earth Baby’s organic dried apricots taste different and better than the ones available in the market. However, it is a little hard to bite for my 5 year old, so I have started soaking it in warm water for 1 hour and add it to her curd. She loves it. Also, it might be me being overobservant, but she has not complained of constipation once.

Apricots has a high fiber content that helps rectify constipation and acts as a mild laxative. It is also a good source of iron.

I am super impressed with the quality of Earth Baby’s products. My sister in law is expecting, and I have a very good mind to gift some of these lovelies to her and her newborn.

Meanwhile, I urge you to try them out and experience their goodness too!

PS: I will be launching a CONTEST shortly! Stay tuned!

When my mother rubbed mustard oil on me post bath and I hated it…!!

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When I was a little girl, I remember my mom rubbing mustard oil on my body post bath in the winter months. Come winter, and she would keep a bottle of mustard oil in all the bathrooms. Post bath, everyone applied mustard oil to keep the skin hydrated. I know virgin mustard oil is better than chemically loaded winter creams and lotions, but somehow that smell. That smell that lingered in the bathrooms. That smell that stayed on my body and attached itself to my clothes all day long. I just hated that smell. Even thinking and writing about it made me conjure up that strong bitter smell. I would ask my mother to change the oil. But she would say – “Nothing doing. My mother has used the same oil since I was a kid. See, how my skin glows even in the winters.”

It was hopeless arguing with her. So, without a word, I kept on using mustard oil winter after winter. However, I vowed never to bring that bitter smelling, dark golden liquid into my house when I got married. My nani used it, my mother used it, but I would never use it. This tradition had to stop with me.

When I got married and moved to Mumbai, I stayed true to my promise. We never got mustard oil in our house. Mumbai’s mild winters helped too. But, then what to use? We didn’t want mustard oil and a particular brand of coconut oil, which is famous for hair, I just could not come around to use it on my skin (it has a very strong coconut-y smell too). So, with no option left, we switched to numerous body lotions and creams. But, somewhere it always pinched me that I was not using oils, something that I had grown up using. I was against chemicals, but was still using them. So, when a certain Yoga guru came up with his range of products, without a thought, I switched to them, in particular coconut oil. I used it for my daughter too, along with other baby lotion. However, deep down I knew it was not a baby product. I know coconut oil is a coconut oil, but still I wanted something that I could apply it on my daughter’s skin without a moment’s worry.

And, so when I came across Baby First’s range of baby products that included baby oil that had the base of coconut milk, I knew I had found what I had been looking for. I got Baby First’s baby oil, and started using it on myself. It’s my policy to first use any baby product on myself as a test. I used it for a good 10-day period. The skin on my hands and legs are a bit dry compared to my face. But, I never felt itchy or developed a white dry patch on my skin since I have been using it. It’s ideal for mild winters that we experience it in Mumbai.

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What works for me:

  • It is a non-sticky oil, with a mild and pleasant smell of coconut. There is something pure about the smell. I love it.
  • This oil does not contain any mineral oil or paraffin.
  • It neither contains preservatives nor added colours.
  • It contains lauric acid that is found in mother’s breast milk and vitamin E.
  • It’s affordable at Rs. 99 per 100 ml.

When I was fully satisfied, then only I started using it on my 5-year old daughter. She has eczema, so I have to be particular about what product I use on her skin. Once she takes her bath, I rub some oil into her skin. Every weekend, I massage her too with this oil. Her skin looks hydrated and I have never seen dry skin or her scratching. Her eczema has not flared up even since I have started using it. So, I think this product is for keeps, and I will continue using it on my daughter.

So, if you are using mustard, sesame, coconut or olive oil to massage your baby, move over and try this product. It’s good – non sticky and non overpowering. You and your baby will love it!

Baby First has a range of products including baby bar soap, body lotion, body cream and baby powder. Try them out!

Post-Bath and 2 Other Times I Apply Body Lotion on My Baby’s Skin

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Image: pexels

As soon as my daughter was born, we hired a confinement nanny who looked after me and my newborn for 40 days. Her job was to give me a massage and a bath (as if I was a newborn) and help me with breastfeeding.

As far as the baby was concerned, she massaged the baby with oil, bathed her, dressed her up and cleaned her. Those 40 days passed like a dream. However, even once the confinement nanny left, we continued with the baby’s massage by hiring a masseuse. This went on for 6 months till my daughter developed eczema. The doctor asked me to put a stop to her massage with oil. He, instead, recommended to just apply body lotion after her bath or whenever I sponged her.

As per my pediatrician, I needed a baby lotion that would not irritate my baby’s soft skin but would actually moisturise it and deal with the dryness. Recently, I got hold of Baby Dove’s Rich Moisture Lotion for my daughter. I have been using Dove soap for years now, and so it was only right that I use its products for my daughter too. It has really proved to be amazing. It provides superior moisturisation, and that too for 24 hours, compared to any other brand that I’ve used before! Also, if you are a fan of mild fragrances like me, you will love Baby Dove’s products too! I wish it had been available when my baby was smaller!

I am sharing the times in the day when I apply body lotion on my baby’s skin:

Post-bath routine: I give a bath to my daughter every morning. Though I was scared at first (I had never given my daughter a bath in the first 6 months), I got the hang of it. I bought a bathing chair that I saw in a baby product shop and found it super convenient. I love giving a bath to my daughter and see her playing with her bath toys.

My experience with the Baby Dove Rich Moisture Baby Bar has been especially wonderful. I found that it replenishes essential moisture and nutrients lost during cleansing. Plus, other attributes such as being dermatologist and pediatrician tested, hypoallergenic, pH neutral and easy on the eyes are additional benefits of all Baby Dove products.

Post-bath, as I make her lie down on a towel, I generously apply body lotion all over her body. I had to be super quick with this when my baby was younger, as my daughter loved rolling over!

Evening sponge time: Every evening, I took my daughter out in the nearby park or for a stroll in her pram/stroller. But before that, I sponged her with lukewarm water to which I added a few drops of Eau de toilette! I put her on a changing mat, and gently wipe her with a cloth. After wiping off the extra moisture, I again applied body lotion on her skin. She smelled so divine, it was hard not to bite her super soft skin. I continued sponging her in the evening till she turned 2.

Bedtime ritual: In some countries, they give their babies a bath before they sleep. Well, I never gave my baby a bath in the night, but yes,

Read the rest of the article by clicking here.

My Clean House Was Shockingly Also A Polluted House

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Image: viivilla.com

I am a stickler for cleanliness. Though I don’t have a Monica-esque (from the American sitcom FRIENDS) reaction to dirt and dust, I am still somewhere close by. My house gets dusted, swept and cleaned every day. I use disinfectants for cleaning the floor and liquid sprays to clean the furniture. Of course, the maid does the maximum cleaning, but I still keep a dust cloth in my hand and wipe the surfaces after she cleans them. And on days she doesn’t turn up, I get an opportunity to go about the house cleaning even the nooks and corners. I clean all the cupboards every 3 months and stuff them with naphthalene balls and desiccants. So just imagine my shock when I learnt that the air inside my home may be more polluted than outside. And contributing to it is my beloved cleaning products.

According to WHO, 4.3 million people a year die from the exposure to household air pollution. More than 50% of premature deaths due to pneumonia among children under 5 are caused by the particulate matter (soot) inhaled from household air pollution.

Agreed that most of us are fortunate to have gas pipelines in our homes, and so our families are not breathing smoke and soot from coal and wood stoves. But, what about the pollutants from cleaning and aerosol products, pet hair and dander and poor ventilation. We are not safe from that, are we? It’s a rhetorical question. No, we are not safe. Our families and children are not safe. They inhale this toxic air day in and day out. No wonder, many kids suffer from cold and cough or some sort of allergies all year round.

As educated, smart and responsible mothers, we need to take the matters in our hand. It’s not difficult to get rid of these toxic pollutants and purify our home.

Here are 6 simple ways to improve the air quality at home:

Clean your home regularly: Diwali cleaning is obligatory, but Diwali comes just once a year, while your home is piling up dirt every single moment. So, it needs frequent cleaning. Engage a maid or a cleaning agency or clean it yourself.

  • Remove the shoes before entering the home. Because it can bring in the dirt from outside and with it the numerous pollutants.
  • Use a damp cloth to clean the hard wooden or tile/marble surfaces. They are better at capturing micro particles.
  • Remove the dirt from ceiling fans, tube lights, behind and top of the cupboards and refrigerator and under the sofas/beds (that’s where maximum dirt gets trapped).
  • Use a vacuum cleaner weekly to clean your sofas, chairs and tapestry. Remember to change the filters regularly.
  • Remove carpeting if possible.
  • Wash/dry clean your curtains every 2-3 months.

Do not smoke at home: If you or a family member have a habit of smoking indoors, it needs to stop immediately. Tobacco releases a lot of chemicals into the air that can cause cancer.

Put those aerosols away: Minimize your use of aerosols (that means your deodorant sprays and perfumes), room fresheners, harsh household cleaners, candles and nail polish removers. They release VOCs that can cause headaches and nausea. If you love candles, try using beeswax candles instead of paraffin wax candles. Paraffin wax candles being a petroleum by product releases toxins, while beeswax is clean.

Use air purifying plants: Certain plants absorb air pollutants (benzene, VOCs, formaldehyde and carbon monoxide) making them ideal to be installed at home to improve the air quality. Get indoor plants like aloe vera, boston fern, rubber plants, goldon pothos, etc. and breathe cleaner air.

Increase ventilation: The circulation of air inside the house is very important. Hence, make it a point to open the windows every morning and let the sunlight and air come in. While you may hate the cold breeze in the winter or the hot winds in the summer, ventilation can control indoor humidity (that can lead to breeding mold that produces mold spores which when inhaled can be dangerous to humans) and airborne contaminants.

Use air purifiers: Installing an air purifier must be the easiest way to get rid of pesky indoor pollutants. Air purifiers can absorb harmful chemicals like formaldehyde, allergens, pollens, microbes, etc. They clean the air and make it cleaner and less toxic. There are many good brands in the market and installing one would be a wise choice, especially if you are expecting and don’t want your newborn to inhale unhealthy air, or your children are suffering from asthma or other respiratory problems.

When it comes to the health of our family and children, there can be no compromise. Installing an air purifier is not only easy, but is also safe and tested. Choose a trusted brand and see the air quality of your home improving. Even if you are like me who walks around with a dust cloth in her hand, cleaning is just not enough, you need a more powerful tool to beat the air pollution inside your home.

When we lost all our daughter’s baby pictures and still created a beautiful photo album!!

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During my pregnancy, my husband had signed up for a photography course. No, particular reason. He just wanted to learn the fine nuances of photography. So, of course, when our daughter was born, she was his first muse. He clicked pictures of her all through the day. When she was sleeping (which she did a lot in the initial few months), yawning, awake, crying, etc…he photographed her in her various modes. I won’t be exaggerating if I say we must have had a couple of thousand photographs of her even before she had turned two. Another shocking truth is that though we had so many pictures of her, we never had a single printed picture. They were all in his 2 large spaced external hard discs. He is a big believer of technology, and said why they needed to print the pictures when they can store it on the hard discs and view them whenever we wanted.

Now, one day, one of his hard discs corrupted. Many of her photographs destroyed with it. He suddenly checked his second hard disc, and to our utter dismay, it was corrupt too. He sent both the discs to a technician asking him to recover any data he could. Sadly, everything was lost. Our honeymoon pictures, the various pictures of our holidays, first year of life, my pregnancy. But, the one that pinched us the most was the loss of our little daughter’s early childhood pictures. We were left with basically no or little memories of her. Technology can deceive us too, I learnt belatedly.

When I came across photojaanic and learnt that they have various options to store our child’s memories in print, I was impressed. I wanted a photo album of my daughter. You must be wondering where would I get the photos from. Well, I searched the Facebook where I had uploaded some of her early pictures, requested friends and family if they had any photos of my daughter and even dug in my phone for some pixelated pictures (any photo is better than none). And, somehow I managed to get a decent number of photographs to build into a lovely kids photobook. Now, she is at an age, where she really enjoys seeing her pictures, so thought it would be a good gift for her. And, more than her, it would be a memory for me, something to hold on to, something to go through in the future.

So I ordered my photobook through Photojaanic and uploaded the pictures. And within a few days, the photobook was delivered to me.

The quality of prints of the photos were superlative, just as I had imagined and believed they would be. I am thoroughly happy with the end product, my daughter’s first photo album.

See the delight on my daughter’s face as she goes through her pictures.

It is a nice way to personalize your memories. And, it’s very simple too.

  • Log onto Photojaanic’s website.
  • Choose from the many themes they offer.
  • Upload the pictures.
  • Customize your photobook by writing text in your preferred font or colour, change the size of the photos, etc. Be careful while adjusting your pictures to the size of the image box on the website.
  • Save the album. Pay the money. And, wait for your book of beautiful memories to be delivered at your doorstep.

Though I can’t get all those thousands of pictures, I am happy that I have a few pictures of her, and in my hand. All this cloud stuff is OK, but nothing beats the real stuff; when you have something precious in your hands. It’s like having a book in your hand vs. an electronic book. This is going to stay with me forever, even after my phone conks off, Facebook shuts shop or any hard disc tragedies.