Investing in the Child’s Future

Snehal remembers reading when she was carrying Anaira – her daughter who turned 8 this year, that the baby in the womb is dependent on the mother for nutrition as well as mental, physical, and emotional growth. She adds, “It is true what you do, as parents, in the first 1000 days makes a difference to the rest of your baby’s life.” Research supports her claim.

Snehal Shardul and her partner Rakesh Shetty are both fitness coaches and help curate transformational and personal journeys for individuals. Their 21-day transformation challenge for those seeking healthier and fitter alternatives have produced many success stories.

“We are in the profession to make people fit and follow a healthier lifestyle. We also ensure that they understand the importance of leading a balanced life with good mental and emotional health,” says Rakesh. They have both been hands-on parents since the little princess stepped into their life. “Both Snehal and I try to make the most of what life has to offer. Our responsibility, as parents, is to nurture our child’s curiosity, answer millions of questions, and inspire her to be a learner,” shares Rohit.

We teach her to be a conscious citizen and give important teachings. Rakesh and Snehal visited the nutritionist, Rutuja Diwekar’s farm with Anaira and learned about how climate change is affecting harvesting because of extended monsoon. Getting your hands dirty, harvesting the crop makes us appreciate and acknowledge the efforts our farmers have to put in every single day, so we have food on our plates! Given the concrete jungle that surrounds us, letting children explore the nature around them, climbing trees, and eating fruits freshly plucked is something not heard. We wanted to expose Anaira to this rich experience and wanted her to appreciate these learnings in life.

While recalling an incident they call “monkey see – monkey do”, Snehal and Rakesh burst into laughter. “Last year, she asked us for a smartwatch for herself, saying how she wanted to twin with mummy and daddy. She loves keeping track of how many steps until she hits 10,000 every day. That is the wonderful thing about children, you do not need to force your way of life on them. All they need is to observe your commitment, they soon learn the ropes and want to pick up on those habits,” shared the couple.

“Just the other day, Anaira came running and told us to come to visit her ‘store’. We were awestruck when we saw what she had put together – all using eco-friendly clay,” told the proud parents. According to them, this little girl finds molding clay very therapeutic. Shaping the clay helps relieve stress. It is an outlet for young children who express their emotions physically. It’s also an outstanding sensory development activity for little hands! Young children who are still working on fine motor skills and dexterity – rolling, squeezing, and forming the clay helps their nimble fingers. This play is promoting these little minds to get busy by thinking about what they are going to create and how.

Rakesh mentions, to add to the realistic touch, “We got some pretend play cash so we can teach Anaira through practical exercises. She is still trying to grasp the idea of calculating without counting on fingers or without using pen and paper.” Children learn by playing, touching, and tasting the world around them. The best way to teach them about good nutrition and healthy eating is by involving them in grocery shopping. Let them pick which healthy food they want to make and teach them ways to make delicious healthy meals. We find cooking to be a great way to use all these senses at once. Letting children dig into whatever you are making, rolling the dough, making chapati, listening to the mixer, smelling the spices, and tasting the cooked food.

Snehal shares, “Cooped up at home, Anaira and Rakesh have come up with a ‘who makes a better shake challenge’ where they both compete with each other and I get to taste and judge.” Anaira finds it fun to dice the fruits and blend them into a shake which we all get to enjoy. The addition of fun and games in everyday activities helps keep it lively.

Anaira keeps coming up with creative ways to spend time during lockdown. The other day, she invited both her parents for a date night she curated, with name cards laid out on a table and a menu card too. “Anaira leaves us spellbound, every single day!” they said. When asked how they define a family, they say with a wide smile – a little bit of crazy, a little bit of loud and a whole lot of love!”

Mithila Naik-Satam