In our ‘DadVersations on BabyChakra’ series, MomStar Asha Chaudhry talks to Arshad Jhatam - MomStar and popular blogger, Manveen Dua’s husband. She attributes a lot of her success to Arshad, an incredibly involved father, who even tucks the kids in bed every single night.
A Graphic Designer by profession, Arshad heads SmartFish Designs. He's an avid photographer and loves to explore nature too. Arshad loves travelling alone with his kids – Ruhaan (6 yrs) and Inaaya (3 yrs)!
Q: When I read your profile, I was awestruck by one line: “Arshad loves travelling alone with his kids and has already taken three trips with them minus Manveen!” Tell us more about your solo daddy-kiddo trips!
Arshad: Our first two solo daddy-trips came out of circumstances. On the first two occasions, it was just Ruhaan and me. The first time Manveen was recovering from a surgery and the second time, she had jaundice. The third time was a road trip with both the kids because Manveen had work commitments and needed to finish those. I thought I would give her time off. The kids and I have visited beaches, done mountain climbing, taken road trips and had lots of fun. It’s been amazing because we’ve been able to break ‘mommy-set-rules.’ Plus it’s a great way of bonding with the babies. We’ve slept at late hours, watched endless TV and eaten tubs and tubs of ice-cream!
I would definitely want to do more of these.
Q: For Manveen: Do these daddy-kiddo trips make you jealous? How do you make the most of your alone time?
Manveen: No. Not at all. The first two times I was bed-ridden. The third time around, well, I can’t lie… I did work but got a chance to stay with my parents minus any responsibility of my own family. It felt good. I took time to read, meet friends and I got time to miss my family. I think that was something I’ve never had a chance to do before.
Q: What’s your favorite activity with the kids that you never miss?
Arshad: Sunday Swimming at the club is special. We just laze in the pool for hours.
Q: What particular activity bonds you with Ruhaan and Inaaya individually?
Arshad: I have three set of activities which I enjoy.
Ruhaan and I love to cook together. We enjoy reading Geronimo Stilton series a lot. Inaaya and I eat breakfast together. Even if she’s eaten, she’ll eat a second round with me. I also love bathing her. When all three of us are together, we totally enjoy playing wrestling or roughhousing each other.
Q: The best compliment your kids have ever given you.
Arshad: Ruhaan has said “Papa, you are the best.” Inaaya hasn’t complimented me yet but her hugs speak a lot.
Q: For Manveen: One parenting skill you admire the most in Arshad.
Manveen: His ability to participate in anything and everything they want to do.
Q: Your craziest moment with the kids when Mommy was not around?
Arshad: Ha ha, I once got the kids to paint my face black when she wasn’t around. Obviously she freaked out when she saw it.
Q: One of your most challenging moments in your parenting journey as a new dad?
Arshad: Ruhaan had pneumonia when he was 4 months. To see him with IV and being nebulized, the shots and staying in the hospital was terrible. And then with Inaaya, when she was 5 months in the tummy, her triple marker revealed the possibility of abnormalities. We had to wait for further tests to decide if we could proceed with the pregnancy. Those 15 days till we got the test results were something I wouldn’t want anyone to go through.
Q: How have you matured as a dad from your first child to the second child? What have you done differently and better (apart from changing diapers!)…?
Arshad: I’m far more patient because I know it will pass. I am able to deal with Inaaya with far more skill and tact than I did with Ruhaan. I think with the third one, I will ace it!!
Q: Now that we’re talking about diapers – I believe you have changed many? Have your friends/relatives ever reacted negatively to your parenting approach?
Arshad: I’ve actually grown up amongst men who have always been very participating dads and husbands. My father, even today, cooks the yummiest biryani for all of us. It’s assumed that the man will help. But yes, I have had a few friends whose wives were really jealous and made life difficult for them. These men couldn’t understand why I had to miss a meeting because I had to reach home before the kids slept.
Q: You know your way around kitchen as well! What kind of food do you love to rustle up?
Arshad: I’m very good at making eggs and its variations. We often have friends coming over for brunch to eat Shakshuka with caramelized mushrooms, buns and cold coffee.
Q: for Manveen: Manveen, you mentioned that Arshad has played a stellar role in enabling you back to work. How so?
Manveen: He said to me, “Go back to work or divorce me.” I chose the earlier! After the kids, I was sinking in a black hole. I missed work and meeting people. I always loved language. In fact, I taught English Language for years. Out of the fear of collapsing, I started blogging. Arshad has been instrumental. He created my website, Motheropedia, taught me everything about blogging and well continues to do so. Slowly, he roped me into his office and here we are today.
Q: One piece of advice to new dads out there.
Arshad: Don’t miss a single moment with your kids. Savour it all. Enjoy it. They grow up really fast. Also be sensitive towards your wife. Take the kids away for a while. It earns you lots of brownie points!!
Q: How do you reckon a parenting and childcare community like BabyChakra can help dads & expecting dads?
Arshad: BabyChakra keeps my wife on the app for a long time. So I get my own time too!! But on a more serious note, I think it’s a treasure of parenting ideas and perspectives. With so many real life stories and contributors, you don’t have to wait for the second or the third baby to ace parenting!
Q: Arshad, where are you taking Ruhaan and Inaaya next?!
Arshad: I hope to take them to see the snow. This time though, I think I’ll take Manveen too.
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