A Trip To Imagica – Beyond Imagination!!

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A few years ago, one of my cousins from Delhi visited us with her kids. I took her to all the usual touristy sites in Mumbai, Juhu beach, Gateway, Siddhivinayak, etc. I also wanted to take her to Alibaug given the attraction a beach holiday holds for non-coastal residents, however she was not too keen on it. She wanted to take her kids to Adlabs Imagica instead. Well, to cut the story short, she went to Imagica with her kids, while I chose to stay behind, my then toddler wouldn’t have enjoyed it, and so neither would I. But, I was still surprised that she chose a theme park over a heavenly 2-day stay at Alibaug. She replied, “When your child grows up, you will realize.”

4 years later, last Saturday, my daughter, now 6 years, and I visited Imagica to experience the wonder first hand. We started around 9 from Mumbai and reached Imagica at Khopoli around 11:15. We took the tickets for all the parks; i.e Theme Park, Aqua Magica (water park) and Snow Park. I chose to take Express passes (which for Rs. 1000 more gives you the license to surpass long queues at all the rides). And God, wasn’t that a wise decision, given the unusual crowds that day, as Imagica has been celebrating Children’s Day all the month round in November.

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We decided to enjoy the water park first. To my surprise, they offer locker facility at a charge of Rs. 150. It is compulsory to wear nylon clothes; swimsuits, dry wear, etc. would do. Aanya had a whale of a time at the water park, and didn’t want to come out of water, especially the waves pool.

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My water baby

There was vigilant and friendly Imagica staff (3-4 personnel per ride) stationed at all rides. As my daughter couldn’t do all the rides there, we finished early and headed to the theme park. There is a free shuttle service between the theme park and Aqua Magica.

Once at the theme park, we lunched at Armada, a boat-shaped restaurant that serves a limited but nice menu. Our tummies loaded with food, we decided to avoid the rides and try the indoor motion simulator rides instead. I for India takes you through the stunning sights of India, but Aanya was not too keen on it (also it’s not recommended for people suffering from vertigo), so we went for Anil Kapoor starrer Mr. India, which through an animated motion simulation form movie takes you through the various rides and attractions of Imagica.

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Mr. India and his car

Though we enjoyed the haunted by lanes and dungeons of Salimgarh, I personally feel it could be made more eerie and terrifying. Alibaba and Chalis Chor was like a real-life video game, and thoroughly satisfying. We missed Wrath of the Gods, which is said to be a sensory delight, as none of us wanted to get drenched again after our 2-hour adventure at the water park.

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Next, Aanya and I sat on various rides like Tubby Takes Off and Splash Ahoy! I liked the fact that I could sit on these rides with Aanya, as she was more comfortable with me around. I would have liked to try a few of the more adventurous rides like the Loch Ness, Gold Rush, Scream Machine, Dare Drop, but we were short of time. May be the next time!

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Steps to the faraway lands

There were many school kids on picnic from some of the popular schools of Mumbai and Pune having fun at the pop jets, licking ice creams and candies.

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We watched the end of the day parade, which is a visual treat while sucking on an ice cream. The last item on our itinerary was to visit the Snow Park. The Snow Park has 1-hour slots. We decided to go for the last one, that was at 6 pm. It took me a little time to make Aanya and I ready in gloves, jackets and gum boots, and so we entered the 50-foot-tall snow dome just in time for the snowfall. It was impressive and the highlight of the day. We indulged in a snow fight, crawled inside the igloo and touched the ice sculptures.

Before calling it a day, we decided to check out the evening lights. Imagica in the evening lights looks magical, straight out of a fairy tale.

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We left from Imagica around 7:30 and reached home at 9:30, exhausted but totally exhilarated by our memorable experience at the theme park. And, I finally understood the meaning of the remark my cousin had made 4 years ago. As children grow up, they become ready for a different kind of adventure. And Imagica, thankfully, gives it all!

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A few tips to note before you head to Imagica:

  • Buy Imagica coupons online. There are various deals available regularly. Find one which best suits your needs.
  • No outside eatables are allowed inside the park. However, you have a choice of 6 restaurants serving a variety of cuisine. The food is absolutely not an issue.
  • You can buy Meal Packs (food coupons) online which are redeemable at any of the 6 restaurants. However, you can use them at carts to buy ice creams, sweet corn, soft drinks, etc.
  • They have locker facility everywhere. Instead of lugging heavy backpacks that would hinder your fun, just make use of it.
  • Imagica is more fun if you have a bigger group. However, if not, try to visit on a weekend when there are more people. Don’t be shocked, believe me, no one wants to go on an empty ride.
  • Avoid visiting in Diwali or Christmas holidays, but if you must, to beat the long queues, I would recommend buying an Express pass for Rs. 1000 pax. It’s totally worth it!
  • In case you forget to carry a swimsuit, cap, goggles, fret not; Imagica has various merchandise shops from where you can buy everything and more.
  • Carry flip flops and a sarong for roaming in the water park. It can get uncomfortably hot even in the winter months.
  • Carry a pair of socks for the Snow Park. The rest of the snow gear jacket, gloves and gum boots are provided to you at no additional cost.
  • No one can stay beyond 20-25 mins inside the Snow Park. Time your entry around the snowfall, so that you don’t miss the experience.
  • If you have adventurous teenagers with you, I suggest enjoying the theme park on one day and the water park on the next, to get the maximum out of your adventure. Imagica boasts of Novotel where you can board up for the night, or there are more options at Lonavala.

Hope, after reading this post, you are raring to check out Imagica, that is at par with many international theme parks! And do let me know about your experience.

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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 !

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.