Category: Kids

Day in the Life of 3 Year Old + Daily Activities

Now that we are parents of two kids (can’t believe it!), the time we spent with each kid is limited.  We try to make sure each kid gets their 1×1 attention everyday. Jeev is also at an age (3.5 years old) when we need to spend more time teaching him habits and basic skills. So we have a set routine for Jeev and we are slowly teaching him to do some of his works independently.

Although it’s not set in stone, the below schedule has been working well for us at this phase of our lives.

Morning Schedule:

Jeev wakes up around 7 AM and gets ready with little help from us. We still brush his teeth as we think the kiddo is still too young to brush well on his own. Once he is brushed, he will have his breakfast on his table. Again, I try to keep the right portion for him to finish well without feeling like he cannot finish his food (we went through a phase on that). After that, he drinks fruit juice if he wants before he is off to school.

Evening Schedule:

As soon as the kids are back home from school, we change clothes and sit for dinner. In the past few months, we have been eating dinner as early as 5.30 PM and it’s been working well (Around 7.30 PM, we munch some fruits and snacks before we hit the bed). We all sit together and eat our dinner. It’s a dedicated family time and no one is allowed. After dinner, Jeev and I print our lessons for the day and go over the lessons. I try to introduce him at least two activities in a day.Typically the session goes for 30-45 minutes and I make it as fun as possible. He doesn’t enjoy all the lessons the same way everyday. For example, I tried to introduce him reading and he doesn’t really enjoy much of it. So, we are taking a break on that. Some days he wants to do lessons until he goes to bed and some days and I can see that the boy wants to do something else. Our sessions vary based on his interest. However, I make it a point to do activities every single day.

Once the lessons are done, he takes bath and off to play on his own. Some days, we play together / some days we go directly to read books. It depends on his mood on that day.

MORE: how to save money on kids books

We also go to the library once every 10 days and get new books. Currently, one of his favorite books is pictures and details of sea animals. We read the book, act like a sea animal and talk about their features/habits. It’s fun guys, even for adults 🙂

In summer, we used to go for walking right after dinner. Since the weather is a little chilly lately, no more walking and we are home bound most of the evenings.

Planning the weekends:

The only way we take our kids out during weekends is if we plan early. I’m worst at last minute planning, so I plan at least 2 weeks early and block our calendars. That way, I know what to expect when the weekend arrives. For example, we have a couple of kids shows in the library this Saturday. I need to get the tickets on Saturday morning for the show. All these details went on the calendar last week itself.

Note:

If Meera had a late nap in school, she would join us or Hubby will play will her until we finish the lessons. I have a separate set of activities for her that I do as well. , Also she sleeps early and I spend the rest of the evening exclusively for Jeev. None of the household work or electronics are touched until the kids go to bed.

Independent Work:

We researched so much about it and talked to his teacher a few times before we finalized the below list of independent works for him. These are the things Jeev does independently and we jump in whenever he needs help, but not without him trying first:

  • Put the plates away after he finishes the meal
  • Put the clothes in laundry basket after he changes dress
  • Dress himself up (little help from us when needed)
  • Put/remove shoes/shocks and put them in place
  • Clean up the toys after he is done playing. We help him when necessary. We have this fun song we sing every time we clean up: clean up! clean up! everybody clean up!
  • Put things back in place once we finish using it – it’s applicable to the whole family. Once I was rushing to feed Meera after entering the house and kept my winter coat on the chair itself. You guys, Jeev called me out. Probably not a big deal. But it was a proud moment for this mom 🙂

Below is a snapshot of our current week lessons:

3 year old daily activities list

I have a similar schedule for Meera (11 months old) with just 1 activity a day. The goal is to create a habit of leaning and make the whole experience as fun as possible. With Jeev, we print the activities together. So he is involved from start to finish and loves the whole process so much that some days he wants to do lessons even before our dinner time.

Keep in mind, it’s not always rosy as it sounds. There are days when we decided to stop early as the kid is too distracted or wants to do other things. Some days he spends a good 30 minutes watching TV and some days more. Although we follow this schedule every day, we try to keep our minds open for any changes/improvements.

Do you guys follow any schedule for your kids? Please do share. I hope to learn from you.

Child Planning Checklist

As much as baby brings joy to the family, baby also adds major set of responsibilities for parents. Whether you’re thinking of planning for a family or currently pregnant, a little preparation for the upcoming Bundle of Joy helps you better prepared for your baby’s future.

Doctor Checkup:

Before planning for a baby, do your annual checkup (if you haven’t done one in the last 12 months), take that multivitamin, and workout. If you have any issues such as thyroid, PCOD etc, it’s time to address them. Reg multivitamins, I was told by the doctor to take prenatal vitamin at least 3-4 months before we start planning.

Insurance Needs: 

Health Insurance:

Does your employer offer health insurance? If not, search for the one that fits your upcoming needs. If your employer offers one, check your current enrolled plan to see if it fits your needs. For us, HSA was a little expensive than the PPO plan. My pregnancy was better covered under the PPO plan and we didn’t pay much other than the deductible for our second delivery. Even though we paid high premium, considering the delivery cost and doctor visits after delivery, PPO plan worked for us. For our son (my first delivery), we were under HSA plan. Comparing both the plans, PPO was a better plan for my pregnancy.

Life insurance:

Life Insurance itself needs a separate discussion. In summary, if you don’t have life insurance already, make sure to have term life insurance (why “term life insurance” is another big topic) to cover the baby needs until he/she becomes independent. I’m talking about 20-25 years term life insurance here.

Plan a Trip:

My husband is a big travel bug. We traveled quite a lot until our son was born. Even though it didn’t stop us from taking trips, the trips are shorter and planned completely around the baby for the first few months.

We took our baby moon trip to New Orleans just few weeks before my delivery. We are so glad we took it. Take that baby moon and travel as much as possible before delivery (if you health permits). Life takes a 180 degree turn after the baby is born.

Childcare:

I’m not kidding when I say some good daycares have long wait-lists. One childcare I know, had 2.5 years wait-list. Research the area you live and understand the available childcare options. Even if you don’t need to register right away, it’s good to have it in your list.

Baby Furniture:

If you are having a girl, get a full size ladies dresser. If you having a boy, get a man’s chest of drawers. If you do not know if it will be a boy or a girl, wait until the baby is born. By doing this, you eliminate the need to buy baby dressers etc. which will become useless after a few years. If you start off with full size furniture, it will be useful for many years to come.

Baby Freebies:

Here is a full list of baby freebies available for expecting moms. Babies add additional expenses. So, don’t forget to take advantage of these freebies.

Baby Essential Checklist: 

There are millions baby essential checklists available in Pinterest. Buy only the essentials until the baby is born. I got checklist from multiple sources and started putting together one of my own when I was 3 months pregnant. In the next 6 months, I tweaked it so many times and bought only the essentials.

For first time parents, until the baby is born you might not be able to predict the exact things your baby needs. Let me tell you, each baby is different. For example, my son hates the crib and my daughter loves it.

Education Plan:

If you are planning to contribute to your kids education plan, explore the options available in your country. 529 is an education savings plan in US. Here is more on how to choose a 529 for your kids. You can start investing in 529 plan in your baby’s name after he/she is born.

If you planned anything else other than what’s in the list, do let me know. I’d love to add them here.

Choosing the Pediatrician:

Start interviewing pediatricians as soon as you can; there are a LOT of well baby checkups and vaccinations the first year. If you can, talk to all of the doctors and nurse practitioners in the practice since your pediatrician won’t always be available in an emergency.

RELATED:

Post-Delivery Freebies from the Hospital

8 Baby Freebies For Expecting Moms

How To Choose A 529 Plan For Kids Education?

Post-Delivery Freebies From The HOSPITAL

Now that I just delivered our Baby #2 (a week ago), I want to share these freebies list with you when my memory is still fresh. Our body goes through a lot during pregnancy and delivery that these products we receive in the hospital help a lot during the first few days after delivery (and sometimes longer). As a followup to baby freebies for expecting moms, here are the list of freebies you can get from the Hospital post-delivery.

For The Mom:

  1. Mesh panties
  2. Disposable underpads
  3. Hospital squeeze bottle
  4. Wound creams
  5. Pain relieving spray
  6. Maternity pads
  7. Travel toothbrush
  8. Travel toothpaste
  9. Lanolin
  10. Bath and body products (if you don’t find them in the bathroom, you can request some)
  11. Witch hazel pads
  12. Water jug – I used my own water bottle instead
  13. Egg crate foam
    1. I didn’t know about egg crate during when I delivered our son 3 years ago. During the hospital stay this time, a nurse gave me egg crate when I had a hard time sitting on the bed. It was super comfortable that I carried it home and have been using it ever since.

For The Baby:

  1. Newborn diaper
  2. Baby wipes
  3. Nasal aspirator
  4. Baby comb
  5. Baby formula

Other items I haven’t mentioned are, baby blankets and baby clothes that you can use at the hospital. We never carried them home after the stay even though I don’t think it would be a problem.

Hospital Food:

During my first delivery hospital stay, I had no idea food is covered with the hospital stay until the last day. So, this time I specifically asked them how I/my guest can order food  to make sure I don’t pay anything extra for the food that’s already covered under the stay. Some hospitals do offer food for one guest.

RELATED:

Note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. By taking action through these links, I’ll be able to earn some money at no cost to you.

How To Choose A 529 Plan For Kids Education?

how-to-choose-a-529-plan

Investment is such a boring, yet important task that we all need to do no matter whether we like it or not. It takes a whole new level of importance when we need to invest for our kids education.

If you’re in US and looking for ways to save for your kids college education, 529 is a great option to explore. We have invested in 529 plan for Chuttu and planning to open one for our 2nd baby as well.

What is 529 Plan?

529 plan is a tax-advantaged savings plan for future college costs.There are 2 types of 529 plans. Pre-paid and savings plan. Pre-paid meaning, you’ll pay the money upfront and let it grow till your kid is ready for college. Savings plan is, recurring contribution to the 529 plan (For example, monthly contribution of $200 or $1000 every few months).

You decide how much you want to invest. There are no hard rules here. The maximum amount you can invest every year is $14,000 without any penalties.

529 withdrawals, without any taxes, can be used for tuition and related fees, room and board, books and supplies, and any school-related special needs services.

Pros:

  • Although the money you contribute is an after-tax income, earnings from 529 plan are tax free when used for the above college expenses.
  • 529 plans can be transferred among family members. Lets say you have some leftover money from your first kid’s 529 plan, you can use that money for your 2nd kid’s college education without any penalty or even your first kid’s masters, cousin’s education, your education etc
  • Grand parents can contribute to their grand kids 529 plans
  • Some states offer tax deductions when you contribute to 529 plans
  • If you kid decides to study abroad, some universities/colleges allow you to pay through 529 plan
  • You can invest in any of the state offered 529 plans. It doesn’t have to be in your home state 529 plan
  • you can transfer the money from one 529 plan to another without any penalties (allowed once a year)

Cons:

  • The money you invest in 529 plan can be used, without penalty, only for college education purposes
  • We don’t know how much college will cost in another 10,20, or 30 years. So a balanced approach is necessary to avoid over-investing in 529 plan
  • The money you contribute are just like regular investments and there is no promise on how much return you’ll earn (you get to choose your preferred investment options from the provided list)

How To Choose A 529 Plan:

As I mentioned, we invested in 529 plan for Chuttu’s college education. From on my research, our final list of 529 plans are Utah, Ohio, New York, Florida, Alaska, and Lousiana. Below are the criteria we looked at when selecting the 529 plan.

  • Expense ratio
  • Age based investment options
  • Static/individual options %
  • Minimum initial contribution
  • Enrollment fee (initial fee)
  • Individual portfolios (do they let us invest in individual portfolios and if so, how many)
  • Annual maintenance fee
  • Residency required?
  • Maximum fund amount allowed
  • State tax deduction (adding this one for you in case if your state offers state tax deductions for 529 contributions)

We were living in Texas when we started the 529 plan for Chuttu and now even after moving to NJ, the plan we chose works for us as there is no state tax benefits for 529 contribution in both the states.

How Much To Contribute?

As I mentioned earlier, there are no hard rules here. If you Google the question, you will get a quite a number of answers. Some plans don’t even have minimum contribution and some start with $25.

Savings for college has some good explanation on how much to contribute. Check it out for more information. How much you need depends on the return for your investment as well. So, there are multiple factors that we don’t have control over.

Here are couple of links where you can find more information about 529 plans:

RELATED:

like-it-share-it-1

8 Baby Freebies For Expecting Moms

8-baby-freebies-for-expecting-momsWe are expecting our baby anytime soon. With less than a month to go, I’m slowly preparing for our 2nd little bundle to arrive. Besides washing newborn clothes and packing for hospital, here are some pregnancy resources through which you can get free stuff for your baby/babies.

At The Hospital:

If you’re a new mom, you should know that the hospital stocks up on diapers (new born diapers) in your room and you don’t have to carry diapers in your hospital bag. Also, they carry samples of lanolin, mesh panties, sanitary pads, formula (if you ever have to use formulas) etc in your room.

If you want to try pumping in the hospital, from my experience, hospitals do offer breast pumps upon request.

When you are ready to go home from the hospital, you can always ask for more samples. It was a tip I got from a friend that I used in my first pregnancy.

Pediatrician Office:

During your Pead visits, ask your pead office for formula samples. You can ask them for one more can even if they offer one can during the visit. From what I know, brands such as Enfamil and Similac provide these free samples to pediatrician offices. So Pead office has nothing to lose.

A side note: if the doctor (yours or your kids) ever prescribes medicines, always ask for samples before you go ahead and buy it in-store.

Target Goody Bag:

Target offers free goody bag if you create a registry at Target.com. You don’t have to add anything in the registry to get this free goody bag. Just create a registry and when you visit Target next time, stop by at their customers service and ask for free goody bag. This bag contains a lot of free samples and coupons for your baby (picture above).

Free Breast Pump:

Thanks to Affordable Care Act, lots of insurances offers free breast pump to new mothers. If you’re expecting or a new mom, don’t forget to call your insurance and ask them if the breast pump is covered as a part of your insurance.

Formula Mailing List:

Enfamil has a program called “Enfamil Family Beginnings” and Similac has something similar called “Similac Strong Moms Rewards“. All you need to do is register with your email address. Even if you don’t have plans to use formula for your baby, these free samples are worth the registration. They give you free insulated bags to carry milk when traveling etc.

Pampers Gift To Grow and Huggies Rewards:

At the back of each Pampers diapers packages, you can find rewards codes that can be entered in their website for points. They have rewards available that can be redeemed using these points. Once I redeemed $10 Starbucks gift card with my points.

Same with Huggies Rewards. If you buy Huggies diapers, enter these codes and redeem rewards for codes as well.

I use their apps to enter rewards codes as I don’t have time or patience to go to their website just to enter these codes.

(This is the Welcome Kit I got recently)

If you have Amazon Prime, Amazon offers free Welcome Kit when you create and add items in the registry under each category. You will have to buy $10 worth of item from the Amazon registry to be eligible to receive the welcome kit.

[advanced_iframe securitykey=”3247fd57ef2633e01dc9c97208172d3306ab8403″ src=”//rcm-na.amazon-adsystem.com/e/cm?o=1&p=12&l=ur1&category=babyregistry&banner=1653WN2CMG2PEGSV2982&f=ifr&lc=pf4&linkID=32e64e90b931c983b0003b072cac9b38&t=centsiblein08-20&tracking_id=centsiblein08-20″ width=”300″ height=”250″ scrolling=”no” border=”0″ marginwidth=”0″ style=”border:none;” frameborder=”0″]

If you already have Amazon Prime, it’s worth the try. Even if not, get it using Amazon Prime 30 days free trial.

Babyganics Samples:

Go to this link and request “samples” from the dropdown menu. Let them know that you’re expecting a baby and would like to try their products. I requested mine and I heard they send a full-sized product and coupons.

RELATED:

Post-Delivery Freebies From The HOSPITAL

How To Choose A 529 Plan For Kids Education?

Child Planning Checklist

Note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links. By taking action through these links, I’ll be able to earn some money at no cost to you.