My Top 2018 GOALS – Finding the Right Balance

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December is coming to an end and holiday festivities are winding down and pretty soon we’ll have a fresh start for “resolutions” or “promises” for 2018. Honestly I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, as in the past I have typically bitten off more than I could chew, which led to disappointment. Have you been there before? I certainly have.

I started to work on making goals few years back that are realistic and logical. I try to work on goals that can be accomplished in a calendar year. As goals force you to look at the big picture and work towards something, instead of just working. I want my goals to be doable and also enjoyable and eventually become second-nature. They should contribute towards a happier life and a healthier body and brain. I followed below simple steps to work on them-

How to make Goal?

Start with some categories like Personal, Health, Family, Financial etc and focus on just a few.

Classify the Goals

Big Goals (Mostly Yearly Goals) , Smaller Goals ( Quarterly Goals) and Tasks (Monthly Goals). In my opinion, the best actionable way to meet goals is to have a mix of the three and then break each down into clear achievable monthly objectives. Remember the saying -“How do you eat an elephant ? One bite at a time”.

Prioritize

We need to set priorities and reminders for our goals. A good way is to maintain a Planner, or simply set reminders on your phone and email calendar that sends you alerts weekly or monthly. I also like to put notes on my refrigerator on a white board or sticky notes.

So before the start of 2018 I took out sometime from my schedule to set my 2018 goals that will help me find a better balance.

  • Find more ME Time – Honestly I have been stretched too thin and have overextended myself this year with my full time job, running behind my toddler, managing my home and all my official and personal travels. So this year I am going to take out more time for myself. Personal space is very important for my sanity and I am going to start by organizing my home, binge watching my favorite shows in my bed and going on a SOLO trip this year (I need to plan this out and it will definitely be somewhere close to nature! )
  • Mixing up my workouts- This year I have focused only on running to maintain a healthy lifestyle and I definitely need to switch it up and start going to the gym. Running has been convenient because my son also joins me in the stroller and I don’t have to worry about leaving him for my workouts right after I finish work. However, this year my goal is to workout at least 4 times a week in the morning instead of evening.
  • Plan a Special Activity every weekend with my kid- Being a busy working mom I end up being away from my kid for a solid chunk of the day while he is in daycare. So my goal is to make sure that every week or weekend we do fun activities together like going out to a Library, children’s museum, the zoo, botanical gardens, open gym etc. I will be making a list of all age appropriate events happening in our city and plan to attend them too.
  • Set Long Term and Short Term financial goals –It’s important to look household finances squarely in the eye, because that’s the only way to control them. It is very important I sit down with my husband and set a family budget. By watching our income and expenses, we can better plan for our vacations, activities, big purchases and plan for future. As distasteful as the task is, it really is important to map out our expenses and purchases so we can see just where our money is going.
  • Learn to cook 1 new healthy recipe weekly – This is definitely something I can accomplish in a calendar year. I am hoping to find new recipes I love, and that I can incorporate into our weekly menu. I want my son to enjoy different types of meals and get introduced to new flavors too. Definitely will be bookmarking many healthy recipes on Pinterest . While my life may be busy, I have found that making the time to learn something new – and eat at least one good meal a week – is always worthwhile.
  • Concentrate on my Relationships– As moms we tend to put our energy into kids and that doesn’t leave much time for anyone else. I want to make sure I am planning Girl’s Night with my gal pals once a month. Find a good babysitter so that I can plan date nights with my husband. Nurture my relationship with distant family members by calling them more regularly. Making these relationships a priority is good for the soul.

I will be giving you updates on my progress on my workout goals, the new recipes I am trying, plus more as the year progresses!

What are YOUR goals for 2018? I’d love to hear! Let me know in the comments!

Arushi (2)

Airplane Busy Bag Must Haves + Tips on Flying Internationally with a Baby or Toddler

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A recent pic from our Portugal travel diaries. (Pena Palace,Sintra)

Me and my husband love to embrace adventure and explore new places. The idea of exploring this big beautiful world with our toddler is exciting.  Yes it takes a lot of work, time, patience and planning and no doubt it gets difficult sometimes too. But, then anything difficult has the opportunity to help you grow. I have realized after travelling to 4 countries and total of 6 destinations this year with my son,  that each trip comes with new challenges and learnings.

In this post I will be sharing all the different techniques l learned from our past travels for not just surviving but thriving with a growing toddler on our travels.

In April we travelled to Switzerland & Amsterdam for 2 weeks,(Post here with our travel pics and more tips) Our son was 10 months old at that time . His major food source was formula, he was crawling and standing with support and was understanding just a few words. This is a good age to travel as they sleeping comfortably in the stroller.

My learnings from that trip was –

  1. Always carry at least 2 days worth of formula or milk in the carryon luggage, to avoid shopping for your baby’s food in a foreign land (with packaging in foreign language) since they are chances your baggage can be delayed
  2. Try to take only red eye flights so your baby can sleep in your lap and not be awake throughout your ten hour journey
  3. Every country is not baby bathroom friendly (We faced this issue in Amsterdam). It was almost impossible to find a restroom that had a changing table in the city.

In July we travelled to Los Cabos, Mexico (Our Vacay pics are here ) for a 3 day getaway when our son was 13 months, almost walking,  drinking cow’s milk and eating real food.

My learnings from this trip was-

  1. Always carry extra food on the flight or places you visit at your destination -like bread, cheese, fruit or any other snacks, as you will run out of them especially if your kid throws everything on the floor. Be prepared if you have a picky eater at this age.
  2. Plan your day trips around the kid’s nap schedule so they can be happy when you plan to step out, since a tired kid and cranky kid can cause stress if you are miles or hours away from your hotel.

In September we travelled to Seattle for a 4 day trip, where Vir was walking, eating well and understanding many words and communicating with us.

My learnings from this trip was

  1. Even though kids are tiny and can fit in your lap easily, it is a good choice to get their own seat for more comfort. (I carried a pillow with me on the flight on which our son comfortably laid across me and my husband )
  2. Once they learn to walk, it will be hard to have them seated in a stroller for long periods of time, so be prepared to carry them in a baby/toddler carrier or in your arms half of the time when you are sightseeing or shopping.
  3. The best way to keep them excited about visiting new locations is to allow them to explore it by running around in a safe place and burn all that energy. Once they are tired they eat peacefully and want to sit in the stroller.

 Post these travels I started to plan ahead of time on what I need to do for our recent vacation to Portugal. We were now aware of all possible scenarios   – covering in flight entertainment, meal preps at destinations, planning the day trip around the toddler’s schedule, dealing with jetlag , expected crankiness  and meltdowns at public spaces etc.

However my biggest concern this time around was to handle the 14 hour journey with an extremely active and energetic 18 month toddler.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a red eye flight from Houston to Lisbon and for that reason I worked on my BUSY BAG solution to keep my little guy occupied with the least amount of screen time possible.

Below are the items I used in the busy bag that was a huge success in keeping my little one entertained.  Honestly, I was so happy my tricks worked and we had a smooth journey.  Also as expected my son didn’t sleep the entire flight, which means I had to keep him engaged for over 14 hours.

15 Dinner Ideas for You and Your DadToys

I only pack items that are small and can be sorted, stacked, or otherwise moved from place to place. My son’s favorite are his pull back Cars from My B toys  (good for play at the airport ) Finger puppets, legos , a musical remote,  wooden activity board were a huge hit too. The buckle toywas a new toy we introduced on the plane, it’s great for learning basic skills and kept Vir busy for over 15 minutes.

Books

Small board books with flaps are great to engage also try getting new books so it keeps them interested , I really like this Water coloring On the Go book

Craft Play

Play Dough is low mess and easy to pack , my son tries to eat it but he enjoys cutting it and pressing it too. You can also get felt activity books.

Games

Flashcards are fun and also cheap, easy to find at the dollar store or at Target dollar bin, I never feel sad about losing half the cards by the end of the trip). (They’re great for quizzing her on words and sounds, and making piles to stack and counting the cards as we put them back in the box (that’s a game, right?)

SNACKS

Anything bite-sized is perfect for little fingers…plus, it stretches out the snacking time twice as long. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY SNACKS. I probably pack twice as many snacks as toys, because snacks double as entertainment. When it doubt, get out the snacks. I always carry the Oat bars from Happy Baby, raisins, fruit, cheerios , yogurt and for long haul flights even get homemade pasta, veggie sandwich or  veggie muffins(Recipe here)  and very importantly Horizon organic low fat milk. Always carry extra milk and yes these packs are allowed in flight in carry on luggage along with any other baby food.

Random Things like

Glow stick was very helpful to divert his attention if he was cranky and great play when it got dark on the flight. Stickers are fun to carry too.

Screen time (And yes the ace in your bag of tricks when everything fails )

Let’s face it. As much as I try to avoid giving our toddler the tablet, it’s going to happen on travel days. We expect a lot out of our little guy and we definitely push our limits of what a little body can handle, so I find that bending the rules and treating him to the Amazon Fire HD tablet and his favorite snacks is the least we can do to help ease the stress for everyone involved.

Downloads Shows  from  Amazon Prime or Netflix, Little Baby Bum, Super Simple Songs, Word Party, and Sesame Street are a few of our favorites.

Fun and educational Apps like Peekaboo Barn, PBS kids, Happy Valley Friends and Sago Mini Truck and Diggers are few of our favorites.

I completely forgot to carry headphones for my kid , so definitely going to carry them on our trips moving  forward .

Here is more information and tips on travelling with kids.

A pediatrician’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling

How I survived a long haul flight with a lap child

How I prepare to leave my Breastfed baby for a work trip

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Vir wanted to stand for sometime and play on his ping board in the flight

Hope this post was helpful, please do share any tricks or tips you have on travelling with kids. Please feel free to leave me your questions and I will get back to them as early as I can .

XOXO

Arushi (2)