How To Have Less Stressed Kids


As a parent we want our kids to have best and do best, so we sign them up for classes such as sport, art, piano, violin, Language learning, lego and robotics and so many more.  3 months break in summer will give kids some break but no, we sign them up with summer camps during summer break. When do kids get a chance be a kid and play? It seems because of extra activities and fear for safety, kids are no longer free range kids as 30 years ago. Kids are showing stress signs but acting up, health issues and other disciplinary problems which may indirectly related to being so busy and high exceptions from parents, to school. One of the kids who  is in Private school 2nd grade has 2 hours daily homework, in 2nd grade, can you believe it? May you can but it baffles me.

There are many kids who are either bored and too much stimulated by activities that surrounds them. Parents are not happy either, many parents seems to think they are busy driving kids from one activity to another. If no one is happy, why do we parent do this to ourselves? Stress  survey done by Lucile Packard Foundation for Children’s health (Palo Alto) found that over 50% of 9 to 17 years old were stressed out on average to high level of stress. That can’t be good.

Tips for Less Stressed Kids and Parents:

We can not eliminate 100% stress and worries from our own life, let alone our children’s, however, we can surely try to minimize it by doing a few things. I think it may help parents and kids both relax a lot. Last semester, we followed hectic schedule our 2nd grader, and we have slowed down this month so we can get a bit breather. Here are a few things that we did that might work with other children as well.( Note I write child as he or him but this case goes for both girls and boys.)

1. Slow Down:

You might think every waking moment your child should be doing something magnificent or learning. And it might be hard to see your child laying on sofa doing nothing, telling you he is bored. Creativity strikes right after boredom happens in many cases. Unwind after school activity for a day. Let them think and soak up all they did and did not do.

If you do extra classes such as music, art, swimming and other cool things, make sure your child has only 2-3 activities per week so give him time to relax his body and mind.

2. Create Mini Goals and Solutions:

If your child has tons of home works or things to do, it can be overwhelming. Sure it is overwhelming for adults too. Breaking down things to do list or a problem in to mini section and tackling it helps see the result much faster and keeps us motivated, same thing with kids. In beginning you may need to help your child do this, until he learns how to do that on his own.

3. Create a Space:

Majority of our stress comes from not finding stuff when you need it, especially for kids. If your kids or you are always looking for book, home work or a project you worked on last minute, it will increase blood pressure for all of you. Create a space for your child’s things, school works, hobbies so he can put everything in its place and find it when necessary.

If you teach kids to clean up since they are young, it helps them when they’re older. However, there is never too late to start, even for older child or even teen. Teaching them keeping their stuff organize and helping them by getting them bookcases, boxes to store stuff.

4. Make Time For Sleep:

It has been said that minimum of 8 hours of sleep is needed to function better, but little kids to teens sometimes need more than 8 hours sleep. Do you remember when your infant was born, he was sleeping or cat napping 18 hours a day? Of course, kids do not need less sleep as they grow older, they may need 8-10 hours sleep to feel refresh and function properly. So, make sure you have routine for them and they get enough sleep to feel rested.

I have a younger kids so it is easier for me to stick to sleep routine and Zenguy has perfected sleep routine with kids so well, they know it and do it well. I am not sure yet how to enforce on teens but they can be reasoned with as well.

5. Eat Together:

With family so busy with activities and things to do, we hardly tend to eat together. I fall in this category occasionally so I know. Making time to eat together as a family does wonder to kids self esteem and share what they liked on that day and what they did not. Young kids tend be chatty so we listen a lot or should I say we try to. 🙂

Seeing family life together and what everyone has done that day, makes everyone feel in “know” and be part of something special. At least, I know I felt that when I was a kid.

6. Talk and Listen:

Being a parent can be demanding and we have things to take care of, bills to pay, dishes to clean, and so on, but taking time to talk to your child if something is wrong will help by asking direct and open questions and then listening to them. Always ask questions that can not be answered in “yes” or “no”. If you ask how was your day, you may get answer like “fine”. You should ask “What happened during X event?”

7. Let Child be a Child

Sometimes we want so much from our children and we think of them as little people. They are not, they are still kids and will make mistakes. When I teach some concept to R, and I expect him to get it, and when he does not I sometimes get frustrated. I usually do not get upset with other child making same mistake. So I came to realize that wearing mom hat makes me expect a lot from my own kids, so I tried to wear teacher hat and try to be rational when I know a parent in me want a super smart child, instead of just human child.


We ll need help to lessen stress in our children’s life and our’s too. I am a work in progress and as I mentioned despite using pen name of Zengirl, I get un-Zen sometime, so I wrote this article for me to read when I need little motivation booster.

How do you keep your self or your child less stressed and more happy?

Image source:Stree Free Kids Curriculum

How to Have a Safe Halloween

I admit, I celebrate Halloween much more as a parent then when I was in college. Sure, as single gal, we did costume party and gathering but now as a mom we do pretty much whole October month as a Halloween celebration that includes, visiting many pumpkin patches, petting zoo, jump houses, attending fall carnivals, costume party and family gathering sometimes. Most kids love Halloween, what is not to love? Dressing up as their favorite super heroes, princess or character is fun and getting free candies while playing dress up! It sure seems like logical fun holidays for most young kids, some teens and a few adults too.

Kids loves trick or treating and we attend a few safe school or neighborhood trick or treating. My kids also love when other kids come and trick and treat at our place. We have fun guessing what they are dressed up as. As a parent safety during trick or treating is important to all of us. Here are a few quick tips to make Halloween fun and safe for kids and parents both.

Halloween Safety Tips for Kids :

  1. Go with your kids to trick or treating, specially if they are younger. For older kids, still go together, some parent may choose to follow older kids with  bit distance. My kids being young I or Zenguy usually go with them.
  2. Do not go to strangers house or dark houses you do not know well. Try to visit your local street or people you know for trick or treating.
  3. Always watch out when crossing the road and hold hands, specially young kids.
  4. If older kids or teens want to go alone, make sure they carry cell phone and tell parents the path may they take and stick to it.
  5. Pick and choose a costume that is safe to walk in to. It can be store bought or home made.
  6. I am always shocked at sexed up costumes for young girls, avoid it and choose age appropriate costume that is well suited for kids and colder evenings during Oct 31st. You can make some easy costumes at home as well.
  7. Do not over plan and make a busy Halloween with trick or treating, parties and gathering. Keep it simple as younger kids tend to get tired and cranky easily.
  8. If you host a party for family, try simple decor as too much scary decor will scare some kids.
  9. Keep simple finger food, music for fun gathering for family and kids alike.
  10. Most of all, make sure do not finish all candies on same day! That goes for mom and dad too!

With simplicity and clean fun in mind, Halloween can be fun for all ages of kids, teens and adults.

Here are some fun Halloween read you may like;

How to Create great Halloween Bash!

How to Use up leftover Candies

Have a fun and Safe Halloween!

Image source: here

How To Fight Driving Fatigue

Img source:

As an adult many of us are driving daily to work, groceries, errands and social and official gathering. Things gets more hectic, if you have kids as a parents we tend to drive kids to one class or sporting event to another. At the time as mom of 2 kids, I feel like a overworked driver sometimes. It is easy to feel tired and get driving fatigue, if there is a such thing as that!

While talking to other parents, I realized that I am not the only one, other parents also feel similar ways along with a few single people who seems to be doing lot of driving for various reasons. So, how do you fight the driving fatigue? How do you keep yourself energized? I found a few tips that helps me when I am feeling driving or parenting chauffeur fatigue, I am sure it may help you as well.

1. Get Enough Sleep

Most of my problem of fatigue that I do not get enough sleep. As I am busy all day with house, kids and other things, I sometimes stay awake after kids go to sleep to read a book, do bills or even watch a movie. Nothing wrong taking sometimes for myself but problem is I get little less sleep so next day I am usually bit tired as soon as the day starts. Not a good way to start a morning. So getting enough sleep for what your body need is first step to stay awake and energetic.

2. Eat Well Balanced Diet and Snacks

I notice that when my toddler is cranky and acting out, usually is that either he is sleepy or hungry. After having a snacks, he is best kid again. I came to realize that might be true for adults too. At least it is for me, when I am rushing to get house chores done, I am eating on run. That means not eating well balanced food or not eating well. Now I stock my car with salted and roasted nuts, mixed fruits and nuts, granola bars, water so just in case when we are running late, me and kids have some snacks to eat to keep us going. I even keep small plastic bowls so I can put some snacks for kids to eat during go. It has been so helpful.

3. Listen to upbeat Music

Sometimes when we are stuck in traffic or have 30 minutes or longer drive to a class, I put some fun songs or music for us to listen. Sometimes we get also upbeat and start singing with radio or music CD. We might look crazy to next car driver but it keeps us happy during traffic jam.

4. Get Some Air

Sometimes when we drive air gets stuffy, so I open some windows to get fresh air in. It changes the mood quickly. When it is hot outside, we blast off Air condition in car for sometime. Cool air just lower our body temperature and cools us down too.

5. Take some Break

With little kids, most of our drives are around 30 minutes or so. When occasionally we have to drive longer, we take break after 40 minutes for restrooms or stretch a leg. Most of the time, it is rest room break with young kids for me, including one who is being potty trained so it is very much needed. Sure, it takes us longer to reach a destination but we are happier when we get there.

How do you fight fatigue when you are driving a lot?



How To Travel With Kids

During summer break, our family traveled around US, and India for 2 months. With 2 young kids, we learned a lot about traveling and adjusted as needed. Most time kids loved outdoors and new places but still needed some what familiar routine. Our younger one was traveling outside US first time, so I was bit apprehensive but in end kids adjusted much better than us. 🙂 Who knew?

Traveling With Kids: Tips for Tired Parents

Here are some lessons I learned during our long long trip and I am hoping our next one will be much smoother.

1. Keep all Kids Legal Document with you

If you are traveling by air line, make sure you have either birth certificate for domestic travel and Passport of international travel. In some cases, parents have been asked to show some legal documentation such as birth certificate for even infant. It is always good to have extra precaution to carry legal document to be on safe side.

If you have passport, make sure it is current. If country you visit, need a visa you will need to get those for yourself and kids too.

2. Keep Travel Itinerary light

We learned this hard way, when we decided to travel for months with visiting many places we thought kids may enjoy. Surely, kids would have loved it all, but young kids need break and free time in between so plan for it. Keep one big site seeing or little 2 things to see and do daily. Keep enough time for possible naps, relaxing play time and restroom breaks.

3. Carry small carry on suitcases with toys and books

Carry a small carry one suitcase or back pack just with kids small toys and books. We also carried crayons, coloring books and small easy crafts that can be done on go. It sure helped. In addition, we carried Dora and Diego DVDs or back up to see on Zenguy’s laptop when boredom hit with what they already played with.

4. Carry extra snacks, juice, Diapers and wipes

You never know what emergency may come during travel, so I always pack extra kids favorite snacks, juice boxes, diapers, wipes and extra change of clothes in carry on bags. It is also good idea to carry kids medicine and over the counter Tylenol just in case needed. When one is driving during road trip you may stop and buy things but it is hard to do when you traveling in plane or train so carrying extra is always better for parents, it was for us.

5. Bring Car seat or stroller for young ones

Most infant car seats and some toddler car seat will fit in airplane seat so bring it. You child will nap better and his or her neck will be rested on car seat better compared to regular seat on plane. You can use stroller at the airport before boarding and you can check in stroller at the boarding gate and pick it up when coming out. It will help you keep small sleeping child safe and secure in his stroller. Use heavy duty, umbrella stroller suitable for traveling. If you have a small infant check out 10 tips for flying with Baby for useful tips.

6. Take turn and Use help

Luckily both of our kids were fine and on very good behavior but surely seat next to us, kid kept on crying making it hard for parents. As a parent we were sympathetic and offered our help for a bit. If you are traveling with a spouse, use his or her help. Take turn for sleeping, eating or taking care of kids. I am double lucky as Zenguy helped me out a lot and kids were good on plane as long they as they had something to do and someone to talk to. If you are traveling alone with kids, ask help from air hostess or friendly person sitting next to you for little bit to give you a break.

Some little kids may cry during take off and landing as their ear hurt, so you may want to give them a sippy cup with milk, juice or pacifier, or even breast feed during those time to ease of pressure of those little ears.

7. Keep flexible

Having low expection and being flexible will keep traveling much smoother on you. Do not compare your crying child to easy sleeping child in seat behind you. Or do not expect you 3 year to travel as same as your infant, sibling may travel and have different temparament. Keep low expection and change as needed. Sometimes letting go of being in control and surrendering to reality of parenting may be a good thing.


While our airline traveling was much smoother, we did plan too many activities once we landed. Kids did not get enough rest as they needed and we all got sick and it was surely not fun looking for doctors and medical stores in new strange places but we became flexible and adjusted our plans as needed and still managed to survive and have fun in process. Next time, we will do short traveling and little less site seeing to make trip even more fun. Read How to travel with Children for more ideas.

How about you? What is your best travel tips with kids or as a single or married couple?

Image source:

New York School Spys On “Not So Thin” Kids 24*7

I was just browsing the news site as I occasionally I do, and this post caught my eyes. While this is not certainly a political blog, I thought parents around US will be concerned about it as it may spread to other states within US. Currently in use in St. Louis and South Orange, New Jersy and now New York. Mostly likely more to follow (I dread the thought)

New York school apparently has been spying on “fat” kids even at home, 24 hours, 7 days a week with electronic monitor. The updates are made in password protected websites that teacher and student can access. And you know, this is not even new, it has been going on for over 2 years and mostly without parental consent. One of the volunteer and active parent even did not know about it. School authorities are saying that it is because of “Reinforcement of Fighting Obesity”.

If that is the case, why not get consent from parents?, why not take out soda and junk snack machines from school?, Why not give school more lunch and recess time? Why not have more physical education and free play time? And what about “not so thin” teachers, principals and other adults?

Why not give parents and students chance to opt-in or opt-out instead of 24*7 monitoring? And how is that going to help encourage a student to lose weight? Questions are many, answers are few or none. Here see the original article and judge it for yourself.

Original NY Post Article below:

Big Brother is joining the battle of the bulge.

A group of Long Island students will soon be wearing controversial electronic monitors that allow school officials to track their physical activity around the clock.

The athletics chair for the Bay Shore schools ordered 10 Polar Active monitors, at $90 a pop, for use starting this spring. The wristwatchlike devices count heartbeats, detect motion and even track students’ sleeping habits in a bid to combat obesity.

The information is displayed on a color-coded screen and gets transmitted to a password-protected Web site that students and educators can access.

TOO FAR, TOO FAST? School aide records a student’s heart rate.

Angel Chevrestt
TOO FAR, TOO FAST? School aide records a student’s heart rate.

The devices are already in use in school districts in St. Louis and South Orange, NJ — and have raised privacy concerns among some parents and observers.

But Ted Nagengast, the Bay Shore athletics chair, said, “It’s a great reinforcement in fighting the obesity epidemic. It tells kids, in real time, ‘Am I active? Am I not active?’ We want to give kids the opportunity to become active.”

The monitors are distributed by Polar Electro, of Lake Success, LI, the US division of a Finland firm.

In the South Orange-Maplewood School District, where earlier versions of the devices have been used for two years, upper-grade students’ marks in phys ed are based in part on heart-rate monitors and activity sensors.

Teachers use hand-held computers to collect data from each student’s wrist monitor during class, then upload the information to the school computer system for storage and long-term tracking.

But privacy advocates and parents worry that schools are using electronic monitors in phys ed without families’ knowledge or consent.

“I didn’t even know it was going on, and I’m active in the school,” said Beth Huebner, of St. Louis.

Her son, a fourth-grader, wore a Polar Active monitor in class without her OK last fall at Ross Elementary School.

“We have gotten no information about the Web-site security or where the data will go,” Huebner said.

“When you get into monitoring people’s biological vital signs, that’s a pretty intrusive measurement,” said Jay Stanley, of the American Civil Liberties Union. “There are key privacy interests at play.”

At the very least, says Stanley, parents must have a say in how long the data will be stored and who will have access to it and schools must obtain parents’ consent.

“A program like this should only be voluntary. Nobody should be forced to reveal biological indicators,” he said.

“It’s all about secondary use,” said Virginia Rezmierski, an expert on information technology and privacy at the University of Michigan.

“Does the data pass along with the child from school to school? When will insurance companies want to get access to it? Will a school want to medicate a child that the monitor identifies as hyperactive? It’s potentially very dangerous ground.”

Source: NY Times


Kids Say Funniest Things: 4

had started a Kids Talk series in early days of Happy Heart and Mind blog but did not get much chance to post occasional silly and funny story until now. R likes funny and silly stuff like many young kidsand he actually quite funny on several occasions without trying that cracks us up. Humor is important part of life and much needed in our otherwise stressed life.

If you have your own kids or nieces and nephews you will know what I am talking about that kids can say cutest and funniest things and even if you do not have kids, I hope you can still appreciate kiddish humor in your life. Read on, hopefully it will make you chuckle a little.

Check out my Previous Posts on the subject:

Kids says funniest things :1

Kids says funniest things: 2 .

Kids says Funniest Things: 3


I have 2 little boys, who keeps me not only very busy to do many things, they are also my source of learning, amazement and smiles when I am least expecting it. I have written my and my kids personal funniest moment, which I am sure many of you have funny as well. Here are a few funny sayings that really happened;

Got Cold?

R got his first cold of the season this year! He was coughing and sneezing and it was hard for me to see him like that. Then he saw his dad and I concerned, so he says I am too young for coffeeing but not too old for coughing!  It took me sometime before I got it 🙂

How old are you?

Little P is now talking many things and learning a lot. So, I decided to wear my teacher hat and started to teach him about his name, his brother name and so on and then I taught him, when someone asks; “How old are you? You say I am two years old”. After practicing it all, I tried to show off his new knowledge to Zenguy when he came from office.

I as a parent should have known not to make a fool of myself, as child have capability to do amazing thing with you, when you are alone, but you try to show or share to others, your child acts like he does not know what are you talking about. Little P did better than that though.

So, when asked “How old are you?”  He said ” I am TOO old” 🙂 (instead of two years old)

Some Funny Pictures of Kids

Looking for decent images of funny kids over the internet is lot tougher compared to what I thought. I found many images, but most of them were crude, and some of them were offensive. I was however able to find a few decent, clean and cute images to share. Hope you enjoy it. Source of images are shown right below the image.

Spider Boy!


Copy and Paste 

source: funnypix


Comfortable, are you?

Too Fast?


I have been cloned!


No Chairs, No Problem

Kids are funny, even when they are not trying to be one. If you just listen to them and open up a world of constant wonder. Enjoy!



7 Ways To Motivate Learning In A Child (or An Adult)

Education does not have be boring for anyone, otherwise learning does not happen!

All of us learn new things when we are having fun, and schooling is no different. Many Indian and other parents start teaching kids at home way before preschool age. When I teach or share knowledge with younger kids, they are like sponge, they absorb everything and naturally curious about things. Somehow many kids and adults lose that natural curiosity as we grow older and we focus on getting scores or passing instead of learning.

There is also another issue with education that, not all kids will fits in regular standard curriculum levels. For example, some kids may be reading at 3rd grade level and 2nd grade science level when she is in 1st grade. How do you go about teaching that child in regular system without her getting bored? Homeschooling or Independent studies might be one option to let a child learn at her or his level.

I do not write much about homeschooling here, but Patty and other readers comment encouraged me to write about various topics in my life here. Even if you do not homeschool your kids, or have kids yourself yet, this post might help you motivate any child or even yourself to learn new things and keep you motivated.

7 Ways to Motivate Learning:

Here are 7 ways I have found to motivate learning in a child (or an adult). These tips are written with homeschooling child in mind, but I am sure it will be applicable to public or private school going child as well. While, my experience is teaching younger kids, I hope these tips will work for teenager’s education as well.

1.  Do Not Compare:

Comparing your child with another child of same age might be tempting but it will not flourish the young mind. All kids and adults have unique talents and we all work at our own pace. It will not matter if 7 year friend’s child knows how to read piano music or 4 year old neighbor kids can ride bike without training wheel. Kids learn best when they are ready to learn. That is what Sadbury method or Jiddu Krishnamurthy methods have been working for many kids.

2. Competition Free Education:

We are always pitted against our peers to compete in many subjects since we are born. Schools and colleges are big examples for it with grades or being best student. There is no win win situation as there can be only ONE person who can be 1st, rest of kids may feel dejected. While healthy competition can bring out the best in some kids, in majority time, competition kills the enthusiasm, specially for someone who keeps being second best. Learning is a process and it should be treated as a result.

3.  Memorization is not Real Learning:

Many educational system may encourages memorization and while kids seems intelligent, most kids forget what they memorized during summer break. Any memorization without real understanding will not take deep root of understanding, and hence will not remember what they have learned tomorrow. I am one of these prime example of it as I do not recall what I have learned in my engineering classes but I do recall what I truly understood things and had interest in it. If you have passion for something, you will retain the knowledge much longer.

4. Rewards for Simple Tasks are not needed:

Our current educational system is quick to punish and quick to give rewards for small achievement. Many experts think they are actually hindering the learning process and I agree. Giving Physical reward is different then showing encouragement to a child. When a child is shown a reward of food or new toy, learning is not goal but finishing the task to get a reward becomes the main goal and learning stop. Our mind is like a parachute, it works only when it is open. Child should learn something because there is an interest in it, not because of the reward.

5. Do not blame child for failing:

When a child has failed in learning new concept or old one, do not blame him or her. Do not even blame system. Try to find out the root cause of the failed issue. You may want to step back and take a break or see it from new perspective. Sometimes, child may have certain way to learning style that may be different from teacher’s teaching style. We all learn different way such as some learn better by visually seeing, some learn best for listening the step by step process and some of us learn best by actually trying our hands on it. Find out your child’s learning style. There might be some other issues or simple things that may make understanding the subject easier. Before you blame anyone, try to find the main cause and fix it and love and joy of learning will be back in the child.

6. Learning does not have to be expensive:

Many Asian Indian and other education minded parents spend fortune on kid’s private school, software, special tutoring programs and books. One does not have to spend lot of money for learning to happen. There are lot of free to cheap resources such as public library, PBS station, a few online websites and daily living can be part of learning.

For example, young kids can be taught colors when you fold your laundry, you can point out colors. Teaching shapes is easy as our own home or apartment have furniture, door, clock in various shape. Talking to grandparents or neighbor can make kids and us learn things from different time. My kids learn old mythical stories from his grandparents. Learning can happen anywhere, anytime. It is not confined to school or 9-3 time. There are many ways to finance your education if you are homeschooling or supplementing public school education.

7. Non Traditional Ways of Teaching and Learning:

My mom was a teacher and writer so she taught us at home, when we came from school and learning happened without us knowing that it was education. Learning happens when are having fun. For example, if your young child loves only cars, how can you teach math, history and science with it? It is possible, and it is called Unit Studies. In Car unit studies, you can learn history by learning and reading about early transportation such as first car, you can add cars or take away cars game to teach math. You can teach colors by different colors of cars. Science can be taught by if metal cars sinks and plastic car sinks or not for younger children. For older children, one can learn how car engine works to teach science or technology.

If you or your older child likes Harry Potter then there are Unit studies ideas for that also, such as here.

Keep Learning! and Keep it Fun!

Your Turn: How do you keep yourself or your child motivated to learn new things?

Image Source: Parenting Magazine

Humor: Kids say funniest things:3

I had started a Kids Talk series in early days of Happy Heart and Mind blog but did not get much chance to post occasional silly and funny story until now. R likes funny and silly stuff like many young kids and he actually quite funny on several occasions without trying that cracks us up. Humor is important part of life and much needed in our otherwise stressed life.

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