Friday, 6 January 2017

My parenting mantras (+Orange Rhino challenge update)

Last week, I decided to take on the Orange Rhino challenge in an attempt to stop yelling at my toddler. You can read more about it HERE.

How's the "no yelling" thing been going so far? Surprisingly well actually. I haven't yelled all week. Sure, I've raised my voice a bit but it's only been high enough to get my toddler's attention when he is doing something particularly dangerous (like using his baby sister as a chair).

And I have my parenting mantras to thank. I started 2017 by deciding to be a more gentle, intentional parent. As part of this process I came up with some mantras to remind myself of the sort of parent I would like to be. The moment I read them, my urge to yell vanishes or atleast reduces enough that I can control it.

The first is "This is not an emergency."
I say this out loud, sing it, whisper it, write it down every time I feel like I want to yell or worse still, raise my hand on my kids. Spilled milk? Pee on the floor? Skipped meal? Toddler woke baby up? So what?! While these things are annoying, none of this is as big a deal as it seems in the moment. So this mantra helps me step back and analyse the situation which helps me calm down and respond appropriately.

Second is "I take a deep breath before I respond to Krishna and Ira."
Similar to the previous one but works in more dire situations as well that involve hitting or big tantrums for example. It presses all my buttons when my toddler hits my baby or both of them are crying hysterically. All I want to do is scream loud enough to stun them into silence and compliant behaviour. Taking that deep breath reminds me that this isn't right at all, that short term obedience and fear based discipline methods can cause long term damage. And most importantly that my kids are just being kids and that I need to show them how to calm down and to stop their undesirable behaviour and that won't happen if I'm yelling up a storm.

I have both these mantras on my phone as the wallpaper so I'm constantly reminded of them.

This doesn't mean I will never yell again. I know I will slip up. It's not easy to reverse a habit like yelling. But this is a good start and I'm confident that I will see progress at the end of my 30 days of no yelling and that's what counts.

What helps you to not yell at your kids? Leave me a comment and let me know!

Monday, 2 January 2017

BEST books for 9-12 month olds

When it comes to books, my 9 month old daughter Ira is totally different from my toddler Krishna. While he would sit still, listen to the story and look at the pictures, she either wants to chew on the book or remove it from her path and keep moving.

I found it very tough to believe that a child of mine doesn't like to read so I kept trying book after book, but nothing really worked until I discovered the Ladybird touch and feel books.

These are absolutely brilliant. Minimal text, bright pictures and lots of different textures.

I place these on the floor and read while Ira plays or if she is getting cranky and she crawls over to touch the pages and look at all the colours. We especially love the one called Peekaboo. She loves pulling on the flaps to see what is behind them and her wide eyed wonder when she sees what it is makes me smile.

Surprisingly even Krishna, who is almost 3, will sometimes come over to feel some of the different textures or to see what his sister is gurgling and cooing at.

Overall, these are a big hit and I've ordered almost all the books in the series now, just so that I can spend some time reading with my wriggly little baby. If your little one is between 9 and 12 months old, maybe even a few months older, give these a try, I'm sure you won't regret it!

P.S. this post isn't sponsored in any way.

Saturday, 31 December 2016

Bye 2016 + my key word for 2017!

What a year this has been. I've struggled a lot this year on various fronts and I'm very happy to see the end of it to be honest. There were so many times when gentle parenting seemed impossible or money was tight or my marriage was in need of some TLC. And the health scares and issues.. right from a possible miscarriage to an IUGR baby to chicken pox and an epileptic fit, it's been stressful.

That doesn't mean nothing good happened. I became a mother again and had the natural birth of my dreams. I get to see my two beautiful babies growing up together every single day. My husband and I are hard at work on improving our relationship and streamlining our finances and taking better care of ourselves, something we wouldn't have done had things not gotten so bad.

What do I want from 2017? More love, more patience, more togetherness. Travelling more, eating better, sleeping better. Focussing more on my Youtube channel and this blog. Spending carefully while still living life to the fullest.

Quite a long list isn't it? But it can be summed up in one key word - INTENTIONAL. I want to be in charge of my life, I want to consciously live life instead of being overwhelmed and letting life just "happen" to me. I don't know if 2017 is going to be better than 2016. All I know is that I'm going to try my hardest to make it much much better.

Wishing you all a beautiful 2017 filled with love, luck and happiness.I've loved having every one of you as my readers and viewers. I hope you'll all continue on this journey called 'La Vie de Ki' with me. 

Wednesday, 28 December 2016

Taking the Orange Rhino challenge

It's easier to write about gentle parenting than it is to actually parent that way. 

Yesterday was one of those terrible days when I wondered who allowed someone like me to become a parent. Someone who would shout at a toddler and become frustrated with an infant and wonder why she even had kids in the first place. Especially when my toddler informed me that I was "being scary". That was heartbreaking and we all had a good cry.

I promised both my kids I wouldn't yell. Not like that, not ever again. I don't want to see those looks on their faces. I don't want to have that hoarse throat and that sense of shame while my kids are confused and crying.

Today has been better. But that's not enough is it? Tomorrow needs to be as good as does the next day. So I've decided to hold myself accountable by taking the Orange Rhino challenge for 30 days starting Friday.

The details are HERE (plus there's also a book which I am going to spend the next 2 days reading) but the point is to stop yelling completely for a predetermined period and reset to zero if yelling happens.

I'll post a small update at the end of every week so that you guys know how I'm doing, good or bad. That's the whole point of this you know? By putting it out there, this entire "no yelling" thing will become more real. I'll be accountable not only to myself but to you all. I'll be able to feel you all cheering me on through your computer and cell phone screens. And if I falter, I know that this post and all of you will remind me of my goals again.

Wish me luck! No scratch that. Don't wish me anything. If you do make a wish, do it for my babies. Wish that their mother stays calm and loving even in the worst situations and that she never raises her voice again!

Sunday, 25 December 2016

I failed at attachment parenting

I have this great bunch of mom friends. They are fantastic people and I admire them both as women and as mothers. And they are all attachment parents.

I wasn't an AP mom the first time around and it worked out fine to be honest. But I always wondered about the bond my friends shared with their kids. Some of the things they did seemed magical. They breastfed their babies, often well into toddlerhood and seemed to love it. They slept with their kids next to them and talked about the great sleep that bed sharing helped them get. They swore by baby wearing and how soothing and comforting it was for their kids. I wanted to be part of this club too! So with my second I read up about the AP style and decided that we would try out some or the things my friends raved about.

I realised pretty soon that it wasn't going to work. To begin with, I didn't enjoy breastfeeding at all. I ended up formula feeding and I was totally fine with that.

When I stopped nursing, I realised just how much I disliked bed sharing. Don't get me wrong, I love snuggles with my kids and I'm constantly showering them with hugs and kisses all day long. But when that day ends? I want them in their beds in their own room. I like my space at night and I was a fool to think that this would change.

That doesn't mean I ignore them all night long. I'm up as soon as they need me. If they are unwell or teething they definitely end up in my bed. But if they are fine and fast asleep, they're on their own!

I have to admit that I wore baby #2 a lot more than I did my firstborn especially in the early days. But now that she's almost 9 months old she spends almost all her awake time on the floor and usually naps in her crib instead of on me. Which is great because she is getting heavy! I also prefer to take her out in her stroller because again, it gives me a bit of space and my baby can look around more freely. Plus the stroller has so much room for keeping stuff like diapers and snacks. Otherwise I'd be wearing the baby and lugging around a giant diaper bag and cursing my life.

I'm pretty sure that not fulfilling these three pretty basic requirements disqualifies me from ever referring to myself as an attachment parent.

But if you could see me right now with one kid hanging off my shoulder and the other clawing at my leg, you would notice that my kids are happy and thriving and very securely attached to me, often literally, even if I didn't do anything by the "rules". It's taken me three years to realise that I don't need to ape anyone's parenting style. It's ok to be an attachment parenting failure. I just try my hardest to be loving, gentle and respectful and that's what matters!

Thursday, 22 December 2016


When I decided I wanted to formula feed my first child I found barely any information for formula feeding moms out there. There is book after book written about breastfeeding but I struggled to find formula feeding "experts". This list, including all my picks, was born after a lot of trial and error on my part and has come in very handy while formula feeding my second baby.

What does a formula feeding mom really need?

1. Formula powder - Duh! I use organic when possible.
Ki recommends: Hipp combiotic infant milk
LVDK tip: You can use stage 1 formula till your baby turns one, no need for stage 2 or 3. Those have a lot more sugar but are otherwise similar.

2. Bottles - if you are formula feeding you need bottles. Lots and lots of them. This ensures that even if you don't manage to wash and sterilise them, you'll always have a spare or two handy.
Ki recommends: Avent natural bottles
LVDK tip: Change the nipples every 3 months!

3. Muslin cloths - These stop milk from dripping down onto baby's clothes while feeding and double as a burp cloth.
Ki recommends: Mother care muslins

4. Bottle brush - This removes all the formula residue and thoroughly cleans the bottles before sterilising. I like the ones which have a brush for the bottles on one end and nipple on the other end.
Ki recommends: Dr. Brown bottle brush.
LVDK tip:  Soak your bottles in warm soapy water about an hour before you wash them. You don't need a special bottle washing soap though, dish washing liquid will do.

5. Steriliser - When I started formula feeding my mom used to boil the bottles. What a pain it was. We couldn't find a vessel big enough for more than 4 bottles at one go, we had to wait ages for the water to boil and keep monitoring the process and worst of all was digging all the parts out of the scalding hot water. Sterilisers are awesome. They fit 6-8 bottles at one go and they all get sterilised just by the touch of a button. It's nothing short of a miracle!
Ki recommends: Avent bottle steriliser

5. Microwave steriliser bags - These are lifesavers. They usually fit 2-3 bottles and take just a few minutes in the microwave to deliver clean bottles. I love to travel with these rather than take my bulky steriliser along.
Ki recommends: Dr Brown's microwave steriliser bags

6. Formula maker machine - This basically measures out the water and brings it to the perfect temperature so that all you need to do is mix in the formula powder. It is perfect for those bleary eyed nights when you can't be bothered to read those tiny measurements on bottles.
Ki recommends: Tommee Tippee Perfect Prep
LVDK tip: Don't forget to clean the inside of the machine every once in a while! And always fill it with cold water.

7. Formula dispenser - This is basically a set of containers stacked one on top of the other to hold the exact number of scoops of formula that you need. Mine has repeatedly proven itself amazingly useful for travel, especially on airplanes.
Ki recommends: Pigeon formula dispenser
LVDK tip: It also works great for nights. I fill 2-3 containers with the amount of formula I need before going to bed. So all I have to do when the baby wakes is switch on the perfect prep and then just add my pre measured formula to the bottle. This is a big big time and sanity saving hack!

I hope this list helps other formula feeding mothers out there. If you have any recommendations, tips or hacks please leave them in the comments below. And feel free to ask me anything about formula feeding. I know how hard it is to find sound advice for formula feeders and I'm always happy to help!

Tuesday, 20 December 2016

Why I'm glad to be formula feeding again

When I ended up formula feeding my first baby I was ashamed. I had always intended to breastfeed him and it hadn't even occurred to me that I wouldn't be able to do it. Formula was my big failure as a mom, the one area where I couldn't provide my baby the best option out there settling instead for a mass produced copy which came along with lashings of guilt and a copious amount of judgement and disdain from others.

When I was pregnant with my second baby I vowed that I would not repeat my mistakes. I was well informed and totally prepared to succeed at breastfeeding. But a few months after her birth I found myself at the same juncture, supporting a wailing infant with one hand and holding a bottle of formula with the other.

However this time, to be completely honest, I felt kind of relieved. Don't get me wrong, I still felt bad that despite trying everything under the sun I couldn't nurse my baby for very long. But formula felt like an old friend, not a sworn enemy. When everything else failed, there was another way to feed my baby, one that, despite its poor reputation, had done no harm to my perfectly healthy toddler.

Instead of cringing as soon as my baby cried, gearing up for unbearable pain, I began to look forward to each feed. Hearing her gulp her milk down rather than seeing her struggling and flailing endlessly at my breast made me so happy. Knowing how much milk she actually drank rather than worrying when she popped on and off the breast gave me peace of mind. Someone else could feed her at night while I caught up on much needed sleep so I was able to keep up with both my kids' needs the next morning. Formula feeding no longer left me feeling inadequate. On the contrary, I felt like my bond with my baby became stronger because I wasn't as stressed.

I don't want to pretend that formula feeding has no downsides. To begin with, it is bloody expensive. The milk itself costs a lot but on adding in bottles, nipples, a steriliser and various other accessories including a machine that always produces bottles at the perfect temperature, we ended up paying a small fortune for the nourishment that would've. been free had I managed to breastfeed. Washing and sterilising the above mentioned stuff every day is another freaking pain in the butt.

And don't get me started on how inconvenient it is, be it in the middle of the night when I am trying to measure out the right number of scoops while simultaneously trying to soothe a screaming baby or when we are travelling and I realise we need an entire suitcase for the formula tin, bottles and all the other paraphernalia that goes with them.

But this time around when I chose to stop nursing and pumping and turned to formula feeding, I knew what I was getting into. I was aware of the negatives and they didn't faze me at all because I knew it was all doable. After all I'd done it before!

It's been about 8 months now since that first bottle of formula and we are doing great. I'm a happy, relaxed mother and I have a healthy baby whose growth is absolutely on track. I don't regret this choice at all and I would probably make it again if I were to have another kid.

It's a hard choice to make though, especially for a first time mom, because it seems like the worst possible option out there.

So here is my message for formula feeding mothers: Formula is absolutely fine. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. It isn't breast milk but it is as close as mankind can make it. So whether you choose to formula feed from the beginning, switch from breastfeeding to formula feeding or just give a bottle of formula here and there, relax. You're not a bad mom. Your kid will be fine.
Breastfeeding, awesome as it is, isn't the defining factor of successful mothering. Bottle fed babies aren't loved any less and they are as fiercely attached to their parents as all other babies and toddlers are. You have a lifetime of choices to make for your child so don't get so worked up about this one that you forget that this is just a phase. Enjoy it and move on! It's all going to turn out fine. Trust me. :)

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