Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

Incredible Lessons Imbibed When Teenagers Travel

There is no gate, no lock, no bolt that you can set upon the freedom of my mind.” – Virginia Woolf

Teenage children are rebellious, tenacious and passionate. I don’t want them any other way. But as a mother of three teenage kids, I crazily bounce from loving them to pieces to wanting to send them to the moon with smart phone and video games included! 

Raising teenagers is not for the faint of heart and parents must be ready to put on their thinking caps to empower their children while establishing clear rules and boundaries. I try, as a respectful mom, to explain the reasons behind every rule and consequence. I listen to my kids’ points of view and ideas.

However, there are situations in which negotiation isn’t an option and in which I don’t yield to intelligent and persistent youngsters. It will be done as I say: period! 

There are decisions and moments in which learning and being healthy are priorities and in these cases I refuse to negotiate with my teenagers and instead I proceed as a merciless dictator telling everybody what to do and how to do it. 

Traveling is one of them. 

Traveling encourages curiosity. Bali, Indonesia

Why do I strongly encourage my kids to travel?

It may sounds like a cliché but traveling is an eye-opening experience for children and adolescents alike. Represents an opportunity to grow and learn to make decisions on their own;  constitutes a meaningful way of interacting with siblings and parents while developing team-work skills. Traveling represents the chance to learn a new language and culture. 

Although, many times my teenage kiddos don’t see it that way. They don’t want to walk all those kilometers to visit another church (Europe is full of them), or don’t want to explore the rainforest in Indonesia because is unbearably humid and hot. They complain and beg to stay home or at the hotel.

That’s when I start giving orders to every one in sight asking them to carry their own luggage, fill their water bottles, walk, and enjoy because the benefits of traveling are too many to risk missing them for some teenage tantrum. 

Don’t get me wrong! Once we are on the road, ideas about places to visit and explore accordingly to my children’s interests are quickly written at the top of our to-do list. It is not about making their lives miserable. It is about taking control of the many possibilities they have to grow emotionally and physically and that teenage kids sometimes don’t see by themselves because of their short and inexperienced years. 

Discovering Barcelona with our three nomads. Spain

When it comes to learning and raising diversity awareness I feel the need to behave as a parent who guides and encourages. As guidance, many times you will need to establish priorities for your children even though these concerns don’t align with your teenager’s desires. 

How do teenagers benefit from traveling?

To travel with adolescents is an invaluable experience that brings many benefits to our children.  Some of these advantages refer to their core values, some others will enhance their understanding of diversity and cultures. From my family to yours, these are the amazing things I have seen my teenage kids to enjoy and learn during our adventures abroad:

Lessons Learnt When Teenagers Travel

  1. Learn how to save and budget money.

Once my kids are informed about our travel plans for the next weekend or holidays, they begin this unstoppable race to make money so they can buy souvenirs, comics, books, and clothing in our destination. It is so rewarding to see them plan their budgets, brain storming about selling the toys, gadgets and clothes they don’t use anymore, and also helping with extra chores at home… wow! They become so persistent and motivated. Traveling has given them without a doubt some of the tools needed to budget money and the importance of saving. 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/04/16/5-awesome-travel-hacks-when-traveling-with-your-teens/

Paris isn’t a cheap destination. Some serious budget planning needs to be done before traveling.

2. Empowerment of navigation skills. 

Teenagers like to be in control, they want their opinions and input to be taken into account and traveling allows that. In our family, we encourage our kiddos to suggest and create an itinerary and also to gather info about the transportation and costs of moving around our destination. Technology makes everything easier, so our children handle maps and coordinates with the apps they find more user friendly on their own cellphones. 

I must confess that at first they were so afraid to make mistakes… Afraid of getting lost! But now they feel more independent and capable of finding their way around without the help of mom and dad. And that my dear readers is priceless. I feel like I’m giving my children wings to fly away and be prepared to be successful abroad. 

travel teenagers

Finding her way around London, United Kingdom

3. Lowers the risk of youth depression. 

Millions of teenagers struggle with depression on a regular basis and it’s not uncommon for doctors to over prescribe medication without treating the reasons behind this behavior.  It is important to acknowledge that there are cases of clinical depression and other mental behaviors that need to be treated by specialists.

Let’s be clear, these facts and statistic are scary. Even more scarier is that many cases of teenage depression aren’t recognized by parents and caregivers.

Being on the road with your kiddos helps promote a deep connection between you and your offsprings and this connection is very important to lay the foundations for an emotionally healthy young adult. Additionally, traveling gives you the time to nurture your parent-child relationship, without distractions from work and school, and this allows you to recognize any signs of melancholy, chronic sadness, worries and problems that your child may suffer. 

Crazy moments but always connected as a family! Road trip to Lake Como, Italy

4. Break stereotypes and experience diversity. 

It is a fact that our children are constantly bombarded by the media with statements and generalizations about other cultures, their religion, traditions, and values. By traveling, you are exposing your young adults to diverse cultures and people so they can come with their own ideas and opinions.

For us it has been an eye-opening experience to hear our kids talk to each other about how they had certain biases against a specific ethnic identity, but after a trip they come back home with a totally different approach. When a teenage child travels overseas, he or she has the opportunity to break the often vicious cycle of prejudice and biases by experiencing diversity first hand. That’s awesome! To me it sounds like a more peaceful future for the world! 

 

http://localhost/raisingworld/2019/09/04/top-10-fun-loving-places-for-kids-in-india/

5. Discovering unknown abilities and personal traits. 

Traveling doesn’t go smoothly all of the time. Many times we need to reschedule train rides, change hotels, plan a new budget or itinerary or simply deal with illness in the middle of nowhere in a language we don’t speak.

However, traveling maximizes our problem solving skills to their maximum! Cool, isn’t it? But the benefits don’t end there. No. Let me tell you that we have discovered so many things about our children while traveling! Skills that our teenagers didn’t suspect they had… passions they didn’t want to pursue at first and now they love! 

During our last trip to France, my son started to compare some words from French to the Spanish language. He was excited to see that his knowledge of Spanish had helped him understand some ads, street signs, restaurant menus and so on in French. Then he surprised us with several translations using his mobile phone, his Spanish understanding and new discovered ability.

Bingo!

Our teenage son has found a new reason to pursue his career as an author and writer, adding some translations certificates along the way while being motivated by linguistics of Romance languages. He has a new passion now. Is it going to last forever? We don’t know. But being able to find and recognize the good inside themselves is for teenagers the key to a healthy self esteem and happy future. 

In conclusion, I invite you to give your teenage child the chance to see the world! Don’t fall for tantrums and NOs! Stay firm. You are giving them the gift of a lifetime. They will come back home to share with family and friends their experiences about people and their cultures. Instill in them the same curiosity about differences and appreciation of similarities that you have. Traveling will help your children to keep an open heart and become global citizens. 

So, where are you going next?

Don’t Forget to Grab Our Book

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children

Do you notice yourself getting more and more impatient with your children?

Human nature is such that we are always craving for more. In our teen years, we are constantly craving for freedom. In the 20’s, we look forward to having fun, getting a good job, buying the newest gadget and more. When we reach our 30’s, we think of traveling, marriage and buying a house.

So this vicious circle of always wanting more never stops. Growing older doesn’t necessary help this process BUT growing wiser definitely helps put things into perspective.

Accept it or deny it but one of the most important reasons we get married is to procreate. A few honeymoons later, everyone begins to think of having children. One of the biggest mistakes most adults make today is listing ‘Having Children’ in their checklist of duties to do. Oh and believe it or not, some of us can’t wait to put a ‘tick’ on that box.

Children are truly a blessing of God and as their parents it is our duty to nurture them with love and care. During pregnancy, we tend to be very cautious and take care of every little detail of our daily routine. We do everything that would NOT harm the baby. And when the baby enters this world, we become even more careful and protective and do everything to care for this little being, who is totally dependent on us.

But as parenthood progresses, we tend to take our blessings for granted. We are overcome with impatience and feel pressured by our changing lifestyle. The journey of a happy couple to new parents and then to being responsible and hands-on parents can be a bumpy one sometimes. In the quest to be perfect parents, we often want to be in control of everything and that is when things seem to fall apart.

Real Reasons Behind the Growing Impatience with Our Kids

We lose patience easily and become extremely intolerant towards our kids. We begin to expect them to behave like adults, forgetting that they are still children because they are not so little anymore.

 

Some reasons why parents tend to be overly intolerant or impatient towards their children are:-

Multitasking

We often want to have control of everything happening around us and prefer to multitask than to delegate. Women especially are known to be great at multitasking but how good are we at managing the stress that comes with it. In the quest of controlling everything, we tend to be intolerant and neglectful towards our children and tend to respond to them only after our work is completed.

Marital Issues

We Need to Be Mindful About Our Impatience with Children. Reduce impatience with Children

In most marital problems and arguments, it is an innocent child who bears the brunt. We need to vent out our frustration somewhere, and children can be those soft targets. The age and maturity of a child doesn’t matter. Whether it is a small child or a teenager, the effect of our anger and anguish is always negative.

During a heated argument, we don’t raise our hands on our spouse because that would be physical abuse and no one wants to be accounted for domestic violence. Instead, we lose our cool on the kids and raise our hands on them (because no one looks at this as child abuse).

Financial Stress

The slowing economy, job cuts and inflation can put pressure on any household. This in turn leads to making us impatient and agitated, and we tend to lose our mind at the kids more often, when things get out of control at home. If you sit back and think about it, children are not affected by these socio-economic factors because they don’t have an understanding of it, and at the end of the day they are only being what they are…children!

Work-Home Balance

Trying to maintain a work-home balance can be very taxing, when there are children and/or other family members involved. Finding a good helper, a caring nanny or the right daycare can be very challenging for most parents.

Long working hours and work-related stress takes a toll on most individuals. Worked-up individuals then carry forward their frustrations and agitations to their family. Parents either tend to snap at their children or ignore them completely, while trying to deal with their daily problems.

Competitive Nature

Parents these days are very competitive and want their children to excel in all aspects of life (which is not ideally possible!) We tend to overlook one very important thing – whether our child is enjoying the learning process or not.

Structured learning post-school hours can in fact bore a child and make him less interested in learning newer things because anything monotonous is never appealing. We need to start letting our kids plan their learning and play time according to how or what they feel that day.

Of course that doesn’t mean we let them play with gadgets all day. We can help them with their choices and steer them in the right direction, which will empower them to make correct decisions as adults.


Phone Anxiety/Gadget Addiction

We have gotten so used to sliding, swiping and switching from one page to another that we think we can use this flipping technique to shoo away our kids too. Children need care, attention and time and we cannot just slide them off like a notification on the phone. As parents, we need to pull the plug on gadget addiction and re-focus on our children.

Selfishness

Some parents refuse to let go off their pre-parenthood lifestyle for their own selfish reasons. They arrange for play dates to get their children off their back, enroll them in back-to-back classes to have less of them to deal with, spend the weekend shopping or dining with friends (while the kids are back home).

The fear of losing out on fun with friends often makes parents neglect their kids over the weekend, which in reality is a time for family-bonding. Striking a good balance between having a social life and spending time with family is important. Choosing the former over the latter can have devastating effects on our children.

We must remember that our negative behavior towards children can have very damaging effects on them. It can result in:

Childhood/teenage depression and anxiety (which usually carries forward in to adulthood)
• Susceptible to bullying
• Lack of motivation and goals
• Low self-esteem and self-confidence
• Become social misfits or introverts
• Addiction to drugs, alcohol, gadgets and material pleasures

Let’s hope to make a few changes in our lifestyle and re-think our priorities. In a few years, when our children have gone away to acquire an education or for better work prospects, we will be left longing for them.

Let’s not make them long for our genuine love and affection as children. NOW is the time to spend their best years being there for them, so that when they go away, they have a reason to come back. NOW is the time to listen to them, so that when they grow up and need advice, they know where to look for it.

The best use we can make of our love and time is to INVEST it in our CHILDREN!

Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

Parenting Tips for Parents with Large Age Gaps Between Kids

When I thought about how I wanted my family to be, when I was younger, I never thought I’d have a 15-year gap between my oldest and second children. My children are 20, 5, 3, and 2. While I love how things shaped up (it took me a while to meet someone I wanted to settle down with and have more kids with), having a large gap between kids has presented a bit of a challenge. My big kid has a completely different set of needs than my younger kids do, and because the younger kids need a lot more hands-on from mom, as much as I hate to admit it, my older kid can get lost in the shuffle of everyday life.

While my 20 year old is crushing it at college now, there’s still a good bit of balancing that goes on to keep family life running smoothly – and to make sure no one is left out. Without further ado, here are things I found that work well for parenting when there’s a large age gap.

Set aside time to focus on the older child(ren).

I can’t stress enough how much I cherished the time last summer with my oldest. We went on a daily walk/run for all of July and August. That provided my son with an opportunity to have his mom all to himself for the duration of the outing, without interruptions from younger siblings. This meant he could talk about all the things that were bothering him, important to him, etc. It was great.

We also take him out to dinner – just him – at least a few times while he’s home in the fall and winter. It’s not really possible to do that during the summer due, but we do that whenever we can – and it’s really nice to have that time.

Don’t make your older child your designated babysitter.

I know. I’m guilty of this from time to time, but last summer we compensated him for the time he spent watching his siblings. It’s really easy to get caught up in the convenience of having a child old enough to babysit at home. Be sure that you’re not relegating your child to this role.

parenting tips for parents with large age gaps between kids

Be aware that even with big gaps between kids, sibling rivalries can exist.

Growing up, there were 14 years between my older brother and myself. He grew up in a different household, so he always felt like my younger brother and I were the “real family” and he was an outsider. It’s so important, especially if there is a new relationship involved, to protect your child from feeling “cast aside” in favor of younger siblings. I was actually pretty shocked when my big kid was picking on his younger sister and taking her toys – who knew you had to worry about a teenager snagging a toddler’s toys?

Let your older child be a big sibling and mentor to your younger child.

In fact, encourage a mentor ship role. Life is hard, and your older child has navigated a big part of it. Let him or her give your younger child tips – whether it’s on avoiding getting in trouble with mom & dad or it’s sharing the best ways to learn to ride a bike. The magic of this is that it will foster closeness between siblings – even when one sibling is out of the house already.

Maintain a sense of flexibility.

Kids, particularly the 5 and under crowd, bring a certain amount of chaos into the picture. Have a backup plan for family activities, and try to plan them when best for the energy levels, hunger levels, and moods of the younger child(ren). You won’t regret it.

Support your older child’s activities and interests.

This may mean hiring a sitter for the evening. Show up to games, meets, plays, recitals, etc. It’s worth it. Again, the last thing that as a parent I ever wanted to do was to have my oldest feel he’d been replaced by his younger siblings. It isn’t always possible for us to get up to his college to see him perform, but in high school, we made sure to go to every home game or meet and every play he was involved in.

Do you have children with a large age gap? Share your experiences in the comments. Read more about raising children here.

 

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Books About Bullying for Elementary Age Kids

Bullying can be tricky. There is just a fine line between one off meanness and consistent bullying. In my book, Strong Roots Have No Fear, I have spoken in length about step by step actionable steps you can provide your child. One of the most important ones is to give them scenarios and how to handle them. What better way than books to show them stories of every day children facing the same in a real or magical world.

The Shrimp and the Bully

I picked up this book on a whim and what a wonderful resource this is for kids who are small in height or feel they are different.

Bucket Dippers and Lids

This is a wonderful book for 6-8 year olds, to teach them the difference between someone who fills another’s bucket with kindness or reduces another’s happiness.

Berenstain Brothers – Stand Up to Bullying

If your kids like Berestain Brothers like mine do, you will love this look through their eyes. My boy used to love the read.

Why Bully Me

This is to show all friends come in different sizes and we need to empathize with everyone.


Juice Box Bully

One of the best things kids can do to combat bullying is to stand up for one another, which is exactly what The Juice Box Bully is about. Students will learn how to have each other’s backs instead of doing nothing when they witness bully confrontation.

Hundred Dresses

Style is a BIG issue for multicultural kids. It addresses a classmate who is ridiculed by bullies for wearing the same dress to school every day, while other students stand by and do nothing to help.

Bully

It is a perfect read for our increasingly digitally-savvy students. You want your kids to know how to handle cliques and digital pushing around.

Wonder

I cannot recommend this book enough for little kids aged 6-8. It is so important to see the strength of every kid. August was born with a facial deformity so he’ll have to convince his classmates that he is normal, just like them, despite his appearances.

I Am Enough

Before anything, we need our kids to know that they are enough. How they are, in every way they are.

Llamma Llamma – The Goat Bully

Such a great book for tiny little ones, to show they what to do when bullies trouble them.

Stand in My Shoes

This book by the author of The Juice Box Bully helps children learn the meaning of empathy. Emily’s big sister explains that empathy is the ability to notice what other people feel. Emily wonders if having empathy really makes a difference, and puts it to the test! She suddenly has a whole new perspective on people.

Just Kidding

This is a problem even adults face. D.J.’s friend Vince has a habit of teasing heavily and then trying to brush it off with a “Just kidding!” D.J. worries that protesting will make it appear like he can’t take a joke. This book helps with a positive solution.

Bully Busters and Beyond

This book is a wonderful resource for 9 things you can empower your child with towards self-confidence, self-esteem, and strength of character.

Seeds and Trees

This is a sweet little book to talk to kid about the importance of words and the effect they have.

Toot Toot !

I read this book to my both my kids and we were so lucky to find it. It is a great way to show kids that EVERY single child has the power within to make a difference. My daughter still loves it.

Tales from the Bully Box

Real life stories that can make an impact as well. The book is really a collection of short stories about bullying from students of all walks of life. The subject matter is diverse and the book also includes discussion questions.

Strictly No Elephants

When a boy’s pet elephant is explicitly excluded from joining the local Pet Club, the boy sets out to show the other animals the error in their ways. A beautiful way to show kids the importance of inclusion.

A Glass Full of Rumors

We have all faced it. Which is why it is so important to share with kids early the importance of defining and stopping a rumor in it’s tracks.

My Princess Boy

It is a story of compassion, acceptance, unconditional parental love and friendship. We like it because rather than avoid a tricky subject.

There’s Roti in my Lunch Box

An important book for children living in a multicultural world, where other’s have different customs. Talk to your children about this .

For scenarios that you may come across in daily life and real world practical tips for dealing with bullying, what to do in case that happens and ensuring your child does NOT become a bully themselves, you can buy use the below book for your family.

If you found this resource useful, make sure to check out our post for books that help in empowering children early with a confident mindset.

Another great resource is https://www.drugrehab.com/guides/bullying/

Books to Raise Awareness About Bullying in Elementary Age Kids

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5 Awesome Travel Hacks When Traveling With Your Teens

 

Traveling with your teens is something extraordinary, but you cannot ignore the challenges it brings along. As your kids start getting older, from toddlers to early childhood and teenage, the travel challenges keep on changing, so you require new strategies every time you travel. This way you can have a new kind of holiday every time you plan a trip.

When children become teenagers, they get to experience a new set of challenges and most of all, new kind of vacation.

As the teens get to fine-tune their choices as well as teen personalities, their pals become more important to them than anyone else. Disney and all the fairy tale characters are replaced with outdoor activities and sports.

So here we have a few awesome travel hacks when traveling with teens. They will help you enjoy each other’s company and make everything less hectic.

  • Involve your Teen Child in the Trip Planning

Children mostly behave in the most casual ways, most of the time when you will ask them about what to do on the holidays or where to go, they will casually reply with a ‘whatever.’ But it is crucial to involve them in the trip planning and take their suggestions. Each teen out there wants to be heard, no matter what they say or how they act.

If the kids are involved in the trip planning at an earlier stage, they will enjoy it more and would not complain much. It will teach them how to compromise.

My teenage twins, son and daughter, are the two I discuss everything with, from the trip location to the cost. They are the ones who mostly decide the holiday destination. Both of them have different choice and taste; however, we always pay attention to anything particular that either of us wants. So we compromise for each other and respect each other’s choices.

  • Download Google Maps for Offline Use

When traveling with children, be it toddlers or teens, you don’t want to risk anything. In such cases, ‘Google Maps’ is a lifesaver. Make sufficient space in your tablet or mobile phone and download the ‘Google Maps’ app to browse it later in the offline mode when exploring and moving around the new places.

This app is simple to operate. You can ask your teen kid to the job for you. All the little heads these days are technology freaks; therefore, they know everything about the virtual reality.

Bonus tip: You can also download the ‘Google Translate’ app on your phone. It is another app that is quite beneficial when traveling. When you don’t know the native language of the particular country you are visiting; Google Translate is a true blessing. The best part about this app is that you don’t need an internet connection to make it work. So now you can understand any language and can reply in seconds with the help of this fabulous offline tool.

  • Pack Everything Together

Parents are mostly in panic when packing for themselves and their children. They don’t want to forget anything. When traveling, our brains are mostly consumed a lot, and we often feel overwhelmed, so we forget most of the things here and there especially children, they are more likely to forget things.

Ask your children to help you when packing. It will help them learn the value of things. Packing is an excellent time to teach your kids accountability. Ask your teen kid to prepare a packing list first, so nothing gets left behind. It is something that will make your whole experience a lot less stressful.

Make sure not to over pack. When flying, your luggage bag should weigh according to the weight requirements. It is quite challenging to make last-minute adjustments; therefore, you should pack sensibly.


  • Don’t Forget About the Basics

Everyone knows about the basics, but they are of great significance so mentioning about them is crucial. You need to take care of all the essentials when packing, for example, extra outfits for you and your family, a few favorite outdoor gadgets and a first aid box including all the frequently used medicines like painkillers for headache or stomach pain, anti-allergy, cough syrups and more.

You never know what the trip brings next for you; hence, you should be prepared for everything ahead of time. Besides, packing the outdoor gadgets when traveling with teens is a wise decision, for instance, you can pack a pair of skates, a football, hoverboard or even a scooter.

You may be wonder what a hoverboard is? A hover board is all the rage these days. It is something that every teen loves. It is like a scooter having a board and two wheels, you just need to balance it well, and you are good to go!

  • Take the ‘Me’ Time

Personal space is mandatory for everyone, be it your husband, parents, or your teen kids. When you are traveling, take out some time for yourself and give some personal space to your teen kids as well for everyone needs time to rejuvenate and relax. Consider it one great way to spend amazing family holidays!

Not everyone shares similar interests; it is as simple as that. Therefore, giving each other space to experience different things is not a bad idea. A dull plan of sightseeing can be sometimes exhausting, so you need to set a good set of rules, and then you can let your children roam around freely to all the nearby sights including shopping malls, beaches, restaurants and more.

Furthermore, trips should not be forced. So let your child rest in the hotel room while you hang out with your partner if they don’t want to come along.

Make your traveling time the best time of the year! All these tips and tricks mentioned above are simple yet quite efficient in their own way. Understand how your teens think and work and try and mingle with them at every step to make it work. Have an amazing trip!


Images Source: pixabay.com

About the Author:

Lara Stewart is a fitness expert and gym owner. She is obsessed with physical health as well as healthy eating. She has in-depth knowledge about the fitness needs of the body and how one can stay healthy on a budget. She regularly posts at Scooter Scouter.

5 Awesome Travel Hacks fo Traveling with Teenagers

Can Monolingual Parents Raise Bilingual Kids?

Can Monolingual Parents Raise Bilingual Kids?

“To have another language is to possess a second soul.”

-Charlemagne

Is it part of your priorities to raise bilingual children? Are you a monolingual parent trying to support your child’s language learning process? I know what you are thinking: Oh no! I can’t help my children as much as I want because I don’t know the language myself… what do I do?

As long as you are able to provide emotional and material aid and have the right attitude and persistence everything will be alright. You only need to process this adventure from a different angle!

Empower yourself with these practical tips and you will be ready to effectively support and connect with your kids in no time! 

First you have to lay the foundation for your children to learn a new language and feel supported by you along the way. Don’t forget that it is important to highlight the reasons behind this decision, ask for their opinion and promote motivation in many different ways. We cannot force our kiddos to acquire another language, so things need to be handled with tons of love, communication and assertive but fun resources. 

Learn the language yourself!

Does “teaching by example” ring a bell? Learning the language is a great way to work together with your children and develop stronger communication skills at home. Additionally, it is a fool-proof way to improve your resume, exercise your brain and gain confidence while traveling. It sounds like a win-win situation to me. 


Supporting our children’s German learning journey wasn’t easy. However, it was totally worthy!

Invest time and resources!

You don’t need to spend a fortune, check your local library, second hand bookstores, webpages, and Pinterest to look for tools that your children could use at home to work on the communication skills they need to be fluent. Keep in mind that it is necessary to develop four different aspects of communication: oral, listening, writing, and reading. Prepare yourself with the right material. 

Connect with people that speaks the target language

This is a great way to get your children practice their new skills with native speakers, and it can be done on a regular basis to keep the input of real-like situations going on. At the end, our children are learning the new language to communicate, and it is through speaking that they will achieve higher fluency levels. Relatives, friends or colleagues that speak the target language are always a safe bet to contact to practice speaking and listening skills. Hiring a tutor is also a great thing to do. Nannies and au pairs are very common in the expat community as well. 

Now my son helps me improve my own German skills when we travel. I learn so much from him!

Be creative and reach out to other bilingual families! 

The idea is to provide children with as much exposure to the language as possible, thing that can be difficult to do when you don’t live in the country where the target language is spoken. However, don’t despair! There are many ways to promote learning of a foreign language. I highly recommend visiting websites from bilingual families and multicultural blogs to get ideas, motivation and support. This is a journey better done with the help of those who already have a little bit more experience than us. I personally like Instagram for quick tips and Pinterest for crafty ideas. Don’t forget YouTube for songs and sing-alongs in the target language. 

Put your apron and chef hat on! 

One thing I have learnt all these years of teaching Spanish to children and adults is that we need to keep things fun. So what better way to learn vocabulary in the target language than cooking a traditional recipe? Imagine spending time with your children making a delicious dish, learning about the culture and practicing new terminology in a interesting way. You don’t need to know the language for that matter. Simply write down the vocabulary, look for it online so you can listen to the correct pronunciation and voilá!!! You are good to go…. don’t forget to go to the supermarket though, you still need to buy the ingredients.

 Additionally, you could plan a special family dinner to enjoy the end results of your cooking and learning process and you can invite relatives and friends to show off your new language skills. 

They speak English, Spanish, and German. Now they want to learn French!

 Find a pen-pal for your kids! 

Writing and reading are two of the language dexterities that your children will need to develop. Having someone to exchange emails or even snail mail using the target language is a wonderful tool to support their learning journey. Just remember to check well before contacting other people to pen pal. Our children’s safety always comes first. 

So what are you waiting for?

There are many ways to promote language learning at home, you just have to dare to leave your comfort zone and make the process effective, entertaining, and stress-free. Parents support is the best thing children could receive and I’m pretty sure you can offer them that! Also forget perfection and learn to speak a foreign language too. Your children can be of great inspiration to you and they could even help you with your pronunciation. They will be delighted to have you on board!

Just remember this will be one of the greatest investments in the future of their careers and it is totally worth it to try! Make it fun! 

Understanding the Duality of Our Child's Identity

Understanding the Duality of Our Child’s Identity

We bring to you the fascinating Niyati Desai-Kadakia. During the day, Niyati runs her tech start up – Nulern. She is also an expert packer-of-lunchboxes, kid activity coordinator, chauffeur and PTA enthusiast. At night she moonlights as a story-teller, spinning tales to answer the darnedest questions posed by her twin daughters. Her stories are mostly inspired by her own experiences of being an immigrant student and then a first generation Indian-American mother. Her stories focus on questions, concerns and feelings children have as they are being raised by parents who grew up in a different culture than theirs, which encourages them to create their own unique identity that is whole and complete.

She founded KidzBelong to meet a pressing need to have picture books address needs of children of immigrant families who are particularly vulnerable to feeling marginalized and different.

Niyati holds a B.S. in Biochemical Engineering from USC, B.A. in Literature from Scripps College and M.A. in Biotechnology from Columbia University. In the past, she has worked as a scientist in several biotech start ups and innovation centers, that specialize in Brain Health and Drug Delivery. She has lived in 3 countries, 5 states and 8 homes (although not all at once) with her husband and daughters. She currently enjoys life with them in Greenwood Village, Colorado.

Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

(A long long time ago, in a galaxy far far away), I came to the US from India, to study for my bachelors. I met my husband, Niraj, during my under-graduate studies and we noticed that we laughed at each other’s’ jokes, when others around us didn’t and we liked the same movies, so we decided to get married.

Soon after we got married, we found every chance to camp, backpack, binge on TV shows and make moderately edible food together. Although all that was a whole lot of fun, we proceeded to bring twin beautiful girls into this world – Nivedita and Niharika. In our sleep deprived state, we went on to live in 3 different countries, 5 states and 8 homes. We continue to camp, backpack and binge on tv shows – we just do it with our 10-year-old daughters now. Life has never been more fun.


Which cities have your lived in/ visited in your lifetime? Which is your favorite?

It is virtually impossible to pick a favorite city. Each place that I have lived in has so many beautiful and cherished memories that picking one out of them would be unfair.

 I have liked living in the following cities:

Baroda, Gujarat, India – this is home for me. I grew up here, went to school here and learn ow to ride a bike here.  I describe this city with the words – home, roots, security, family, food and love.

Los Angeles, CA – I studied here at USC and Claremont. I also met my to-be husband here. I grew from a girl to a young woman here. It is also the first city I landed in as an immigrant student when I came to study in the US. So this city always brings back a lot of emotion. I describe this city with the words – studies, competition, immigration, homesickness and letters.

New York City, NY – I did my graduate school here, at Columbia. I decided to get married in this city – and have some beautiful memories from here. I moved on from being a young woman to a wife here and made some of the most important decisions in my life in this lovely city. I describe this city with the words – love, marriage, energy, immigrant crossroads.

San Jose, CA – I lived here soon after I got married. I was getting used to getting called someone’s wife. This is also the place where I started my professional life as a scientist and worked in several biotech startups in the bay area. I earned my first paycheck here and learnt what a 401K is here. I describe this city with the words – married life, natural beauty, adventure, money and profession.

Philadelphia, PA – My husband and I moved here, while my husband studied towards his business degree at Wharton. My twins were born here. 2 Biotech startups I worked for also got acquired while I worked for them here – so lots of activity here! I became a mom in this city and will owe a lot to the hospitals that helped my preemie babies. I describe this city with the words – motherhood, chaos, prayer and family.

Bombay, India – My family lives in Bombay, so this city is (sort of) home for me too. We also moved to Bombay with our daughters to try-out moving back to India. Although we enjoyed our life there, we could not settle down professionally and returned back to North America. I describe this city with the words – immigrant decisions, homesickness (but homesick for the US), citizen for the world, identity crisis and dual culture.

Toronto, Canada – My kids went to kindergarten in this beautiful city. And started elementary school here. I describe this city with the words – diversity, acceptance, home and friends.

Denver, CO – We live here currently and love the mountain that surround us. My daughters move from elementary to middle school in this city. I started my own startup here and am trying to manage being a mom-entrepreneur. I describe this city with the words – mountains, parenthood, entrepreneurship and family.

What brought you to what you do?

I run an online learning startup – Nulern. Nulern enables live, 1 on 1 learning in lifestyle based skill sets with globally accessible, vetted experts.

Since our family has moved a lot, we felt the need to start an online learning platform that makes learning proactive and removes restrictions like geography, time and location from accessing wonderfully nurturing experts in skill sets that are under-represented in our current learning environment, like music, language, cooking and art.

What is one aspect in raising multicultural children do we need to be MOST aware of ?

While raising multicultural children, I most emphasize on the empowerment of having a duality in the child’s identity. While it is easy and often natural to select one or the other definitions of identity for a child (I am Indian or I am american etc), it is important to emphasize the completeness in also having more than 1 identity (I am Indian, American and canadian etc)  and still being whole, complete and unique.

My daughters have 3 passports and while they often talk about patriotism in confusing terms, I encourage them and those around them to see them as complete individuals without any 1 patriotic leaning or cultural heritage, but more than 1 heritage and still have a wonderfully complete and complex identity.

What is one personal challenge you have overcome growing up?

I learnt about how money works much later on in life and wish I had learnt those lessons when young. 🙂

Share with us two parenting hacks that have made your/child’s life easy.

My husband and I set rules that we never break – there is almost no argument in our home because of these rules (no phones around family, no tv on weekdays, read 30 min before bed, no shoes in the house, in bed by 8:30 etc).

We always sit together and eat for dinner (this enables us to connect as a family and talk about what is happening in each of our lives).

We write letters to family abroad (helps with practicing how to write a letter for kids and helps them keep in touch).

Door are never locked in our home (enables us to be open and receptive at all times)

We emphasize that school and grades are not everything.  Believe it or not, this has helped them look at life quite differently.

What projects are you working on next?

I am the co-founder to an online learning startup – Nulern. I am consumed with that.

What is one thing piece of advice you would give to children?

Be good, kind and useful. Everything else is extra.

Tell us three things that are on your bucket list?

To hike the Grand Canyon rim to rim.

To backpack across the country.

To maybe one day, meet the Dalai Lama.

What 3 books/movies would you say changed your life?

As a Man Thinketh by James Allen

The living Gita by Swami Satchidananda

Where this is love, there is God by mother Teresa

Millionaire next door by Thomas Stanley

‘It’s a wonderful life’ movie

Green for life – Victoria Beutenko

Do you have any freebies for our readers/listeners?

Buy one get one 1/2 off (non-amazon orders only)

Readers can place orders on kidzbelong@gmail.com or call/whatsapp 720-899-2590/or my PMing of FB/Instagram

You can find & connect with Niyati on social media here —

https://www.facebook.com/KidzbelongBooks/

https://www.instagram.com/kidzbelong/

Make sure you pick up copies of Niyati’s books to read to your child to help them understand the duality of their identity.

Also, be sure to grab a copy of our bestselling book for you for practical tips to better parent your multicultural child to thrive.

 

Understanding the Duality of Your Child's Identiy

20 Unique Children's Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

20 Unique Children’s Picture Books For a Confident Mindset

I love reading. It’s a HUGE part of my life. And in the desire for my children to be readers I buy books constantly and we read every single chance we get. Not just before bed time. In fact rarely then. But having built two readers, I know for a fact it takes enticing books to get them interested in reading.

Most importantly, it is important that we read books that help them build on the many values that we need them to have in order to grow to be thought leaders.

Below are some of the books I have found to be incredible in shifting my child’s perspective. Trust me. You won’t regret any of them!

Where Am I From?

Every child needs to know this in order to be aware of their surroundings. The question “Where are you from?” is a complex one in this multicultural environment.

The Jelly Donut Experience

Let’s talk about kindness. This book provides a wonderful way to be kind to those around us in the simplest of ways.

Guess How Much I Love You

It all begins with love. Let your child know how much you love them with this amazing book that talks about how much a parent loves their child.

Charlotte and the Quiet Place

We breathe along with Charlotte, bring calm in your child’s life with these words. My little ones can’t help but calm down as a result.

I am Enough

To be content with oneself is an important trait to develop. To be happy with our flaws and strengths equally. An important life lesson here.

Horrible Bear

This picture book teaches kids how to looks at the positive in others while also making you giggle.

Princess in Training

For little girls and boys to see how amazing it can be to learn about being a princess in a unique way.

A Sick Day for Amos McGee

Being a friend means being there for someone else when they need it. A beautiful book.

Stand Tall, Molly Lou Melon

Prepare your child to be bully free.

Little Giraffe’s Big Idea

Every person has different qualities and different ideas and not everyone can fit in. And yet it is okay to be inclusive of everything. A beautiful book of this big idea.

I Believe In You

Let your child know that YOU know that they are amazing and can do everything they put their heart to. I got this book for my son when we were learning cycling and it was a lovely re-iteration.

I’m So Thankful

Being happy means being grateful. This book is a fun little way to help children see the beauty in every day.

The Most Magnificent Thing

Not everything you do is going to be perfect, but everything you do leads you up  to that magnificent thing.

Not for Me, Please!

Encourage your child to be world wise by being environment friendly.

Thankful For God’s Blessings

Always Anjali

What If Everybody Did that?

This is a great series to teach kids why it is important to do OUR part, even when others are not.

You Can Face Your Fears

Yes, we all get scared. And yes, we can try our best to overcome book. A book to build persistence.

Listening to My Body

So important to pay attention to your feelings and what your body is telling you. A wonderful book to develop coping skills.

BONUS BOOK FOR PARENTS

Want your child to have strong values? Want to learn what to do other than reading to your child? Here is the book that gives you real world ways to helping your child be self confident, rooted while helping them develop a global mindset.

Strong Roots Have No Fear : Empower Your Child to Thrive in Our Multicultural World!

20 Unique Children's Picture Books for a Confident Mindset

Educational Candy-less No Prep Easter Fun for Your Child

Educational Candy-less No Prep Easter Fun for Your Child

Easter is not a part of our heritage but of course living in USA means, my children and I would never miss out on enjoying this celebration of spring and life.

I personally have organized two Easter celebrations within our community of 20+ families. One was a full on huge celebration with carnival games, scavenger hunt for adults even and even food. The second one is which one I am most proud of, which was on minimal preparation and Candy Less. Of course, we had that one mom revolt, saying kids would be super disappointed if there was no candy. But guess what?! They weren’t.

Our No Prep Celebration

Lesson learned, that the joy of the Easter celebration, other than the spiritual/religious aspect is also in the finding of those plastic eggs with their friends. The importance of any occasion is in it’s origin and it’s any way in which we commemorate the festival with fun.

The second celebration is the one I share here with you. I contacted all the families the evening before Easter weekend and asked them to give me 20 eggs per child in their family, filled with one non candy treat and ONE task that a child can do out of a list I had made. For eg. :

Do 5 jumping jacks.
Hug the person to the left of you.
Say something nice to a friend.
Take a circle around the group.
Do the floss.
Do the dab.
Give a high five to a friend.
Touch your nose.

The morning of, half hour before the party adults got together and distributed the eggs in a decided area. We marked a short area limited for the younger 5 and below kids. For the older kids when spread them out in a larger area, hidden in places etc.

As egg hunts go, it was all over in ten mins. What was MORE fun was we made all the kids get together and open their eggs and each kid did what was written in their eggs. The kids had a blast going around, checking out what was in their eggs. We got tonnes of videos of each kid and memories that lasted for ever.

Great practice reading for early readers.


Other ideas of Fun Easter Egg Hunts

Scavenger Hunt

Number the eggs and write clues within each egg about where to find the next egg. I did this one year for fun and it was a HIT! The kids have a blast going number by number because where most kids are concerned, they LOVE the mystery behind the hunt. My son even made a small scavenger hunt for me, after around his toys and had ME looking for eggs by giving me clues. “It’s next to the camel.” or “It’s in the princess caste.”

This helps kids think out of the box!

Games With Eggs

To be honest, we are more of an impromptu game creating family.  We will cut papers up, count them and add them to gets. Draw on eggs. Match colors to colors. Those plastic Easter eggs are a HUGE source of a lot of creative thinking. Kids themselves invented so many. It all starts from the simplest – counting the eggs we have.

MORE IDEAS FOR TEACHINGhttps://everydayabovedirt.com/easter-activities-for-toddlers/

 

Night Fun

Use small leds or glow sticks and hide the eggs around your back yard or inside your house in the dark. The kids go crazy enjoying running around to music and acting like fireflies. It also helps fight any fear of the dark kids might have.

Read Stories

Fill the eggs with names of books and ask the kids to make a pile of books. Meanwhile, make sure to read to your child about the origin stories and talk about the many values Easter and spring brings forth.

Here is a list of non candy treats that you can find to fill the eggs if you want something more.


Do Crafts

It goes without saying that a beautiful way to celebrate is to do the many crafts you can enjoy with kids. Here is an easy craft that kids can do themselves.

Bunny Mask
Colorful Basket

For many more ideas you can goto our Pinterest page where we have curated a TONNE of ideas for theme crafts.

Let’s shift our focus from candy to the meaning of celebrations and imparting life skills through the merriment.  Wishing you a Happy Easter!

Educational Candy-Less No Prep Easter Fun

20 Ways to Inspire Kids by Showing Up as an Everyday Activist

20 Ways to Inspire Kids by Showing Up as an Everyday Activist

Human progress is neither automatic nor inevitable… Every step toward the goal of justice requires sacrifice, suffering, and struggle; the tireless exertions and passionate concern of dedicated individuals. Martin Luther King, Jr.

What is Activism?

What comes to mind when you hear the term activist? Who or what are you picturing?
In conversations with friends, family members, and clients, I’ve noticed that many folks think that activism is only for people who are doing justice work full time. They associate the term activist with people who are leading protests or lobbying at the state Capitol building every day.
However, I’d like to remind you that every decision you make holds political weight. The personal is political.
That said, activism is work that all of us can engage in.
We all have the tools to stand up for our values and beliefs each and every day. The tools are completely free and are already at your fingertips. No degree or training or materials are necessary.
This is my working definition of activism: Using my resources, including my voice, physical presence, money, energy, and time, to honor and support people, institutions, and policies that align with my values and highest vision for our world.
For example, some of the ways I practice activism on a regular basis include recycling, donating to local organizations that I am inspired by, and taking my own reusable bags to the grocery store.
So, I will ask you to again consider: What comes to mind when you hear the term activist? Who or what are you picturing?
Is there anything different from your first thoughts, feelings, or beliefs? How so?

10 Ways to Show Up as an Everyday Activist

In developing a broad and inclusive definition of activism, one that invites each one of us into mindful living, I have come up with a list of 20 ways to practice everyday activism with your family.
I invite you to print and browse the list below and notice which items you are already doing; circle those numbers. Place a star next to the items that make you feel excited, motivated, intrigued, or curious. Additionally, notice which items you feel most resistant towards; put a dot next to these.
1. Spend time in your community. Get out and about in your neighborhood and city. Just being with diverse groups in the community will support your awareness and growth, and you’ll make meaningful connections.
2. Commit to one small act a day/week that connects to your passions, interests, and values. For example, if you are concerned about environmental issues, you can work on the community garden in your neighborhood. If you are interested in narrowing the class divide, serve at a shelter or food bank.
3. Vote. At every election. Did you know that school boards make a ton of decisions that impact your city at large? Yes, every election and every position matters.
4. Volunteer. Find local organizations to support through your time and energy.
5. Read and research about the topics and issues you are called to AND the ones that feel at the edge of your comfort zone. Read more; explore a range of sources and mediums. Know that you don’t always have to have an answer because questions and curiosity are powerful. Most importantly, stay open to learning more, not only about the “issues” on the table but about yourself as well.
6. Find creative outlets for your processing and expression. As you read and research and talk, things can get heavy and emotional. Having outlets for these feelings is important. I, personally, turn to writing most often. Art and music are other wonderful ways to express the depths of your experience.
7. Share your own stories and experiences as it feels right. When you have a story or experience that speaks to your values and positions, include that in your conversations as you are comfortable and as it feels relevant. Remember that you can engage in conversations virtually and in real life (IRL).
8. Talk with friends and family about the issues you are curious about. Sweeping politics under the rug just doesn’t work, and, furthermore, it’s a symptom of privilege. The call to action here is to be authentic in naming your values and concerns and engaging your loved ones on these topics.
9. Support products, services, and companies that DO align with your values. Spend your money supporting people and institutions that you agree with. Local is always a great place to start if this feels obscure or overwhelming.
10. Boycott products, services, and companies whose values DON’T align with yours.  Simply don’t buy from companies that don’t align with your values. Look into big brands, whether they make food, cleaning products, cosmetics, or clothing, and learn about how ethical (or not) they are.
11. Write letters, send faxes, or call local and federal politicians. Follow the legislation that is being proposed in your state and at the federal level. When you find a law that you align with, write or call in your support. Likewise, when you find a law that you see as harmful, write or call in your dissent. Find out who represents you here!
12. Use online petitions and bots to send letters and opinions. Show support for issues you care about by signing on to (or starting!) petitions; explore change.org to get started signing today. You can also easily write letters to your politicians through bots like resist.bot.
13. Share and retweet content on social media. The internet has allowed us to share issues and solutions in a matter of seconds. Hashtags have helped people gather both virtually and IRL, and one way that you can show support for movements, news, and leaders is by sharing or retweeting. #BlackLivesMatter helped us realize the power of the internet in creating a movement and inspiring professional and “everyday” activists to gather together.
14. Journal. Explore your own biases and gaps in knowledge and experience. When you have questions and curiosities, go to the page. Ask yourself to think through the questions. Maybe, like me, you’ll end up with more questions, and this, too, is growth.
15. Incorporate donation into regular events you host or attend. Ask friends to bring canned food or feminine hygiene products to events. Then, donate the collection to local organizations. Typically, most people will have these items on hand already so this is a great way to engage your community in activism.
16. Host or participate in book clubs or conversation groups that are focused on current events and issues. You can find established book clubs via MeetUp.com or branch out on your own to gather a group of folks who are interested in reading and being curious together. I have facilitated a feminist book club and a Decentering Whiteness community in Austin, Texas, for example.
17. Find mentors and guides. Lots of them. Notice which leaders you are feeling called to. Which ones challenge you and offer you opportunities for growth? Again, explore different mediums— podcasts, books, Instagram influencers, and so on.
18. Enroll in trainings to learn more about issues you care about and/or to hone your activism skills. Seek out trainings (again, online or IRL) to support you in your journey. Check with your employer to see if they are willing to sponsor your learning opportunities!
19. Financially support activists, educators, politicians who are working for change. Give money to folks on the front lines, people who are dedicating their lives to this work. You can do this through organizations, Patreon, or Venmo, for example. Many activists are sharing their Venmo accounts and taking compensation in this way.
20. Practice self-care. In order to show up fully for this work, you’ll need to be refueled and recharged. Maintain practices that allow you to rest and relax!

Practicing Activism as a Family

Activism is not adult work, it’s human work. Each item on this list is available to the children and teens in your life. Making activism a part of everyday family life will support tremendous growth, from self-awareness to connection with others to participation in community. This is what Connected Hearts is all about.
As you begin this work, you may find yourself and your family ready to engage in meaningful, yet difficult, conversations. This guide will support your family as you engage in these tough chats.
Here’s to living with open hearts and minds as we work together as human activists! See you out there!
Easy Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer Around Multicultural Homes

Easy Ways to Spread Christmas Cheer Around Multicultural Homes

Every festival creates a remote, yet a faint sense of goodness. Irrespective of how we fare other days, festivals are when we feel forgiving in a kind and noble way. I think that’s why such days seem all the more beautiful because we tend to unlearn a lot of things, while embracing an aura of goodness around.

Christmas is no different as well. Like other festivals, we feel beautiful and wish to create some beautiful memories as well.

Back in my growing up years, when fetching a decorative Christmas tree was out of bounds, I remember how my mother took the pains of creating one, from a green shimmery chart paper. With some added chart paper balls and bells, she turned my fantasy Christmas tree, into a reality. Nothing seemed as beautiful then.

I remember how my other friends relished the look of the tree and so my mother decided to have the tree parked right at the entrance, so that it looked as if it belonged to everybody in the building and not just me!

My friends were elated. I wasn’t so pleased initially and scowled at the suggestion first. I felt it was too much to demand from an eight year old version of me. However, after much of persuasion, I gave in!

Since then, I try to imbibe the spirit on at least the festival days like Christmas. There’s no rule book of doing things. Only one simple rule implies-do things which give you happiness and happiness is contagious. It will spread like wild fire, differently though, through different people, but yes someone has to ignite that spark.

And what better way to bid adieu to the year gone by than to say it with Christmas bang! With kids, it just becomes another beautiful way to unwind, relax and enjoy! Here’s what you can do to spread cheer!

Cook together

There’s nothing as beautiful as whipping up that basic meal with everyone. Trust me, too many hands might spoil the dish, but will make the moment cherished! Try it! Whether it’s that traditional recipe or a simple cake, the more the company, the merrier the memory! After all, isn’t festival a great time to create some wonderful memories with kids!

Eat together

Time to savor the creation or maybe the disaster, but who cares! Food is a mere excuse to enjoy the company! It’s just a prop to relish each other’s company and when the company’s good, everything feels good. Even if its’s an underdone or overdone meal!

Make crafts

Simple crafts like drawing Christmas trees, making cards for family or ornaments are a great way to rejoice during this time.

Watching movies and reading books

Kids love to get a hang of everything that tells volumes about the festival. Reading books or watching movies like “Polar Express”, “Christmas Carol” or even “Home Alone” series are just about enough to get bitten by the magical charm of the festival!

Visit special fairs and events

I love visiting events and places, which get decked up during festivals. It just creates the perfect ambience of the occasion. Book fairs, craft fairs selling Christmas trinkets and décor, Secret Santa are just an amazing way to feel the vibe and kids love to see such Christmassy things!

Share gifts with underprivileged

The thrill of unwrapping presents is priceless! However, the thrill can be extended if the gifts are shared with friends or perhaps some underprivileged ones. Nothing beats the feeling than giving joy to someone, who really deserves it! Try it with your kid, to derive a feeling that just cannot be explained in words.

All it takes is a smile

Smile and the world smiles with you! Yes, whoever said that just simply nailed it! And smiling and wishing people a simple “Merry Christmas” could become that little spark to spread that flame of happiness! I have managed to make it spread and spread it further so why not this Christmas.

Try and feel as beautiful as you want because it’s the season of joy! These are simple things to remind you that life is beautiful and can be enjoyed through very simple things in life! Festivals are a joyful break for all of us, to halt, remind and help us savor the simple pleasures of life and the goodness around!

And children need such simple things to hang onto and create some wondrous memories around!

Read more about how multicultural families around the world celebrate Christmas in their homes here. Share your Christmas fun with us in the comments below.

The Danger in Over Scheduling Kids - How Much is Too Much?

The Danger in Over Scheduling Kids – How Much is Too Much?

Zoo class. Dance class. Scouts. Science hour at the museum. Soccer. Basketball. Karate. Gymnastics. Violin. Art class. There are so many different activities for kids to participate in. It’s easy to be tempted to sign an eager kid up for every opportunity you come across – but is it good to do so? Are we in danger of over-scheduling our kids?

The Feast of Opportunity

I home school, so the temptation to take advantage of every activity offering my kids the opportunity to be around other kids is strong. After all,One of the nice things about homeschooling is freeing the kids up to participate in a variety of activities. But even for those who don’t homeschool, there is a plethora of after school activities available to choose from. But how do you know when enough is enough? Is there too much of a good thing?

It feels like kids today have more options than ever before. Most museums and zoos offer a wide variety of classes. There’s in home and out of home instruction. If you live in a college town, the university offers a variety of opportunities for kids. Schools have before and after school programs as well as a selection of clubs from which to choose. There are community center classes and studio classes. Some places even offer foreign language instruction to children. That doesn’t even include Girl Scouts and Scouts, 4-H, youth groups, and other community opportunities existing for kids.

Time Management

Commitments add up pretty quickly. While it may feel like an hour here, and an hour there, kids still have to get to their activities. Not only does over-scheduling children have a negative effect on kids, but it can have a big negative effect on family life as a whole. Carting kids around from activity to activity means that someone is in the car an awful lot, leading to a more sedentary lifestyle. The likelihood of picking up food from a drive through goes up when kids are over-scheduled, and parents’ don’t get much downtime for themselves.

It’s important to factor in the time it takes to get to and from activities into one’s schedule before committing to another activity.

Signs a Child is Over-Scheduled

If a child is losing interest in activities that he or she once enjoyed, it could be the case that he or she is over-scheduled and stressed. Sometimes, it’s harder for kids than it is for adults to speak up about their needs for downtime – especially because our kids want us to be happy. If your child has no interest in previous things he or she enjoyed, it may be time to cut back on some activities.

Burnout isn’t the only sign a child is over-scheduled. If a child doesn’t have time for a social life or sitting and vegetating in front of a television set for an hour or two, it’s going to be more difficult for that child to learn how to just be. It’s actually good for kids to be bored once in a while or sit and watch the paint on the wall. Not only can this lead to creative spurts, but it can also help your child recharge so that he or she is processing what was learned through a day.

Frequent complaints about stomach aches, headaches, or other physical discomfort can be a sign that your child is experiencing the physical side effects of stress.

Another sign a child is overschedules is an increase in the number of mood swings or in the frequency of grumpy moods and tantrums. Kids who don’t get enough time to just sit or have open-ended play are also likely to have a difficult time calming for sleep and getting restful sleep. Some activities could cut into times that would otherwise be used for napping or sleeping at night. Remember, kids still need a lot of sleep.

A final sign a child is over-scheduled is that the child starts to do poorly in school. Learning needs a certain amount of intellectual energy. If a child isn’t having regular downtime and time free from scheduled commitments, then burnout is a real threat, and just like with adults, it can bleed over into every area of life.

How to Prevent Over-Scheduling

It’s okay if your child doesn’t take every opportunity that comes his or her way. In fact, learning how to say “no” to things is an important part of growing up and choosing the path that one will follow. Offering choices – gymnastics or Scouts, youth group or art class, can help your child start to prioritize what he or she wants to focus on in non-academic time.

Let your child choose his or her activities. Sure, for the preschool set, it’s fine to sign a child up for an activity or two to test the waters, but older kids have preferences. Be willing to listen to your child’s feedback. If soccer isn’t working out, it’s okay for your child to not continue it next season – and if over-scheduling isn’t a concern, allow your child to drop it after the commitment to the current season is finished.

Make a master schedule of all  the things your child is committed to already. Be sure to include meal times, self care, sleep, time for homework, and time for schoolwork (if you’re homeschooling) on the schedule. Add in all of the activities your child is already committed to on the schedule. How much free time is left? When will your child have friends over? When will he or she have unstructured time to play?

Learning how to manage a balanced schedule that leaves time for all of life’s activities is an important skill to have – but it’s very important to ensure that the schedule has time for downtime and time for self-care – even for kids.

What will you do to help ensure your child isn’t overbooked?

 

The Multicultural Guide To Your Advent Calendar

The Multicultural Guide To Your Advent Calendar

The origin of the Advent Calendar can be traced back to the 19th. Century. The first styles came from the German protestant area where religious families made a chalk line for every day in December until Christmas Eve. The first known Advent Calendar which was made by handwork is from the year 1851. Since then, this Christian tradition has been part of the Holidays repertoire of many families around the world. Family member and friends look for the perfect Advent Calendar to begin the holidays celebrations. 

This calendar come in a multitude of forms, from a simple paper calendar with flaps covering each of the days to fabric pockets on a background scene to painted wooden boxes with cubby holes for small items. Many families craft their Advent Calendars themselves, making of this process a great opportunity to kick off the Christmas season. There are so many wonderful ideas out there to create the perfect calendar for your family. Chocolates, candy, fudge, small toys, pocket books and many other items are suitable to keep children excited about opening their calendar every day. 

How to nurture children’s curiosity and raise global awareness during the Holidays season?

A multicultural Advent Calendar is the answer! 

Each day of this years advent my family and I are concentrating in being present, giving our time and attention as a gift, and learning more about holiday traditions around the world. These are some of the ideas that have made our Multicultural Advent Calendar possible. Remember to include some nick-knacks from your country of origin to learn more about your own heritage. Cultural awareness begins with the recognition and appreciation of one’s culture. 

  1. Time to visit your local ethnic market. 

From food to pottery, ethnic stores are a great place to introduce your children to another culture. It is a tiny appetizer to the knowledge of fruits, vegetables, tea, coffee, sweets, pastries, and even clothing from other countries. Depending on the age of your children, you can simply buy a traditional sweet as a gift for some of the days of the Advent Calendar, or you can gift the excitement of a new adventure. How? Write a note that the kids will unwrap to discover that they have been invited to explore a new supermarket with many things from far away lands. You can even include a small allowance for them to spend there. 

2. Sweets and Storytelling go together.

Enclosed your child’s favorite chocolate and a note inviting him to spend time on the sofa with mom and dad listening to a fun Christmas story. We have many books that we have collected over the years about Christmas around the world. Children love to hear what people from other countries eat on Chistmas Eve, or what present kids receive in other cultures. Keep it fun! 

3. Spending time together is always fun.

In any language, in any culture, the need for interaction is key element of happiness. The Holidays season is a great opportunity to give ourselves to others and experience the positive rush of thinking of others and helping the community. Including some “days” in your Advent Calendar designated to spending time together as a family is always fun and cheap (for those like us that are always on a budget). My daughter loves rubbers (erasers), so for her we packed tiny unicorn erasers along with a note (pink paper of course) that says “hot cocoa time with mom”. On that day, I turn off my mobile phone, set the iPad aside, and make delicious hot chocolate to be drunk with my princess, just the two of us, chatting and enjoying the warmth of our decorated living room. 

4. Treasure hunt meets Christmas season.

Treat your children to clues that will lead to a wonderful prize! Maybe a weekend getaway or a visit to a museum to learn more about your local culture. Kids will be for sure excited about going on a trip with mom and dad, and parents can make of this trip the perfect opportunity to explore their own traditions. Make an effort to prepare beforehand for the event. Reading about the place to be visited is always a good idea, that way children can reinforce hands-on what they have learned at home. Remember that if traveling is beyond the means of your family’s budget, you can try the next big thing: find a movie that will anchor your adventure. A film about other culture is a nice foundation for further knowledge. 

5. Teach you child the “saving & sharing” lesson. 

Saving is a skill that must be learned from a young age. Depositing a special Advent “bonus” into your child’s account is an exciting way to nurture the love for saving. Therefore, prepare an Advent day where kids unwrap a chocolate and a note that says that money has been added to their savings account. Do you want to take this gift one step further? Encourage your children to look for a charitable cause to donate part of their bonus to help those in need. There are a huge number of websites with information about charity institutions around the world. Help your children to choose one and then learn more about that country.

In conclusion, it is important that your family enjoys the Advent time and learn about diverse Christmas traditions. However, let’s not forget that despite the pervasiveness of Christmas, it is critical that any globally minded person not assume that everyone celebrates it. Be open to diversity and enjoy different cultures and “Christmasses”. 

Have a wonderful Advent time! For more such stories from me, visit Little Nomads.

Involving Kids of All Ages in Thanksgiving Preparation

Involving Kids of All Ages in Thanksgiving Preparation

As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to make a huge deal out of the holidays. Thanksgiving is no different in our house. I start planning for it months ahead by perusing recipe books and magazines, making notes about favorite recipes from years past, and putting together a plan. One of my favorite parts of Thanksgiving, though, is pulling together everyone in the family to work together toward a common goal – making an amazing and delicious meal.

That means that we involve our kids in Thanksgiving prep – in age-appropriate ways. Here are some tips for involving kids of different ages in this annual holiday.

The Smallest Kids

We’ve always either had an open kitchen or a large enough kitchen to set up a high chair in the kitchen itself near the food prep area. Even though children under 18 months old can’t do a lot of the actual prep work, I still like to include them if they’re old enough to be sitting up in a high chair. It’s fun for them to bang wooden spoons on the high chair tray, play with some homemade playdough, and taste some of the ingredients (chopped up apple, anyone?) It makes it nice, because from the littlest ages, my kids are used to being part of the festivities.

Toddlers

Toddlers (18 months – 3) make great stirrers, and many are capable of helping to help measure and pour ingredients into a mixing bowl. You can also have them tear lettuce for salads. I try to pick one or two recipes that my toddler can be fully involved with helping. I stress the importance of good kitchen hygiene (wash your hands, please), but this helps develop a good sense of self-confidence when that salad they helped with makes it onto the plate. I also like making salad dressing in a shaker bottle and allow the toddler to shake the salad dressing.

It’s also fun to have a couple of projects on hand that toddlers can do to help decorate the Thanksgiving table. The dollar store and Target’s Dollar Spot are great resources for this. Foam stickers are great for this age as they work the fine motor skills. Coloring pages, stickers, and other simple arts and crafts projects will help keep toddlers busy while you’re doing the things they can’t help with.

Preschoolers

Preschoolers (3-5) are a fun group. They really want to help, but they often want to help with the things that they can’t quite do. For this age, it’s great to put them to work on things they can do – like putting together sauce ingredients, measuring and adding ingredients to recipes, stirring things, tearing lettuce, cutting anything that can be cut with a butter knife, pushing buttons on appliances, etc. My soon-to-be-five year old loves to help with all of these things, and she does a good job of listening to directions, keeping her hands clean, and being safe.

Good activities include making place cards for guests (tracing names if they’re not yet writing), making crafted decorations, and helping to clean up toys from around the house. Preschoolers will also enjoy helping to set the table (the silverware, napkins, and placemats – leave the crystal and china to older children and/or adults).

For familiar products and produce, preschoolers can begin to help with the Thanksgiving shopping at the store (with supervision). It can be a lot of fun for them to pick out the right apples for the pie and to grab the acorn squash that’s at their reaching level.

School-Age Kids

Here are when things get fun. Once a child can read, he or she can (supervised) put together a dish of his or her own. My oldest has always made the deviled eggs for Thanksgiving and Easter, for as long as I can remember. Let your child choose an easy-to make with minimal help from mom or dad dish, and be in charge of that dish.

School age kids can also help cut and prep ingredients, given that they are tall enough to reach the surface they are cutting on without a stool or sitting on knees on a chair. You can use a kids’ table for this. You just don’t want your child to lose balance and fall backwards with a knife in his or her hands. Pre-teens can help to stir items on the stove – again, with the caveat that they do not need a step or chair to do so. Baking pies is a great activity for this age.

These children can also set the table in its entirety, and help to decorate the tablescape.

As children learn to read, you can assign them to get ingredients at the store that are at their arm level. You can even give older tweens (10, 11, 12) their own list to be responsible for at the store.

Teenagers

I put my teenager in charge of several items every year. By this age, they should know their way around the kitchen, be able to read and modify recipes, and know and understand all basic kitchen chores. Let your teenager choose a few recipes and then be in charge of researching them and adding the ingredients to their own shopping list, and then having them grab their items at the store. You get points for giving them a budget to work with, as this is an important life skill.

Because I have kids with a wide age-discrepancy, my oldest in the past has made his own recipes, helped with other recipes and things like washing dishes between making different things, and supervised younger siblings as they carried out their roles.

Making it a Fun Holiday

The best part of Thanksgiving is the tradition of togetherness that surrounds the holiday. Allowing children to be involved with the prep for any holiday makes for a nice tradition in and of itself. Be sure to allow for extra time if you’re involving small hands – that will help to give you more patience, and make sure the experience is a positive one for everyone.

Why I Let My Kids Play Fortnite

Why I Let My Kids Play Fortnite

One fine day, a boy was watching a YouTube video and his mom peeped. A dance competition among the family members caught her eyes. It looked so fun and such a great way to connect and bond among the family members that she asked her son what program  that was and eventually requested him to play the game in order to achieve the different dance steps.

What?!? A mom asking her son to play games?

I know you feel like throwing eggs and start judging how ignorant this mom is that mom is ME. Guess what game was that? It was Fortnite. Want to throw eggs at me, right? Well, before you do that. Let me tell you something.

I understand that many parents hate video games. The first thing that comes to your mind is of no learning values and there are many news about how those games can have negative effects on the children.

Parents fear that the children will get addicted and dropped everything else that they are supposed to do. Parents fear that they will have a problem managing their child.

I am a parent and I was a gamer too. I understand how addictive video gaming is and what kind of influence it may have on a person, which is why I allow my child to play. Many parents look at gaming as a bad influence but there is a good side of it as well and I’m making use of that good side to parent my gaming child.

I have already listed out the bad sides and I don’t think I need to list out more because I bet you can list out more than I do. I am going to show you the good side of it. You may think, “Hang on! Are you sure there are any good sides of it?” Well now, listen to me here before you start judging.

Do you ever play games?

If you do, then why are you stopping your child from playing it?

Do you know that games are not just plain playing?

They do need to find out strategies to get to next level. It requires them to do problem solving (critical thinking) and build their confidence and determination to reach to the next level or reach their goals.

On top of that it improves their motor-skills, creativity and is a form of stress-relief for them too.

Yes, some gaming scene can be rather violent and parents worried this can be detrimental to their development. But if you don’t expose them what violence is about, how would they know what it is.

Video gaming requires loads of parenting guidance to be frank. It requires a balancing work between the parent and the child.

How do I Manage the Balance ?

We have house rules set:

  1. We only to play during weekends and there is always time limit set for each game. Usually 1 hour per game. Extra time will be given if their conduct is good.
  2. They have to be responsible for their own time-table. During or near exam periods, they know that they have to cut down their game time and focus on their revision first.
  3. They know that whatever applies to the game is just for the game and not in real life. What I mean here is, the violence they see in the game, the vulgar language that they hear in the game is only for the game. They do not apply this in real life.
  4. Before any game, they need to make sure they have finished what they are supposed to do. E.g. Household chores, homework, revision, etc.

House rules should not be overlooked and is important when you allowing your child to do something and you need a limit to it. By the way, our weekends are not all spent on staying home and video gaming. We do head outdoors very often for nature walking or sports. We have loads of playdates and family gatherings as well where everyone will interact and play together not gather to sit at your own space and started looking at your own device. I know these happens to many people.

Balance is really the key and parenting guidance is important. Both my husband and I do discuss about the games together with our children and we play together with them as well.

All parents want the best of their children, so get alongside with them so that they feel that we are part of their world as well and they feel more welcomed then feeling that parents are always against them. This way, they are more open to you and you get to know them way much better than worrying too much about the “what-ifs” and struggling with the power of parenting.

  I am Lup Wai, a Parent Whisperer who helps families to transform their relationship with their children while injecting fun into it so that they can develop a nurturing, healthy and happy connection. Being a parent is so much more about just feeding and clothing a child. I help families to bring back the fun and build a long last relationship with your child which is crucial for a healthy and happy home. Your can follow me on Instagram here. 

Why I Let My Kids Play Fortnite | Parenting | Fortnite