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

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Dealing with all of the end of the school year craziness have had me wanting to escape to a remote island, just my husband and I, far away from the chaos of last minute meetings with teachers, exams and next school year’s supply shopping. I’m exhausted. And I want a break from my children.

Well, I wanted to have a brake from them, until I realized how many summers I have left with them. Then it hit me. There is not so much time left, not so many holidays to be enjoyed all together, new places to explore and new cultures to learn. 

I felt sad. Somehow empty. 

Could it be possible to feel the emptiness of our nest with the kids still in there?

I am the mother of three intelligent and overachiever teenagers. They keep me on my toes. They keep me crazy “running around with mismatched socks” busy with all the activities, outings and adolescence related questions they ask. We have a very strong relationship and I feel very proud of it. Thinking about all this makes me crave more time with them. And I’m talking about quality AND quantity time. Those moments when we are so closed to each other that I can hug and kiss them within milliseconds with no adverse reaction coming from them. My “hen” mom instincts kicking in. 

Due to all these feelings I decided to share with you my reasons why you should travel with your children NOW! Not later, not when they are older, but now!

Odense, Denmark

Every single trip made with your offsprings is a wonderful opportunity to create memories. You will be laying your family’s emotional foundations. Every minute spent far away from home would be a reminder of how being together is the most important thing well above familiar objects, rooms, and other material gadgets. 

Is it expensive? Yes, it is. 

Is it time consuming? Yes, it is. 

Is it a roller coaster of emotions? Yes, it is. 

Is it worth the try? YES, IT IS! 

So let’s get ready for this emotional ride, because I am here to inspire you! You will feel confused, you will believe some of my reason for traveling with kiddos, you won’t accept some of them. That’s just fine. My goal is to wake your curiosity up and encourage you to give traveling with children a try. 

Why should I travel with my kids when they are still little?

Learning at its best

Children learn by observing, hearing and doing. Traveling is a great opportunity to expose your children to interesting places, cultures, and languages. Also, traveling can be an effective tool to show your kids survival and organizational skills and develop self-care awareness. The best part? You don’t need to engage in a cross Atlantic trip to teach your kids about the beauty of this world. Outings near home are an exciting way to get to know our own traditions too, thus developing a more clear identity sense of themselves and their culture. 

travel really worth

Paris, France

Safe space to acquire different values and recognize rough spots that may need to be a little bit “polished”.

When traveling many of the familiar things we have at home aren’t there. We find ourselves surrounded by unknown situations that will activate our self preservation instinct. Our usual selves with our ever present values will be changed.

In our search for familiarity we will approach the differences with personal traits we didn’t know we had. As a family we will develop skill sets triggered by our trips and that will stay with our children forever. Traveling prepares them for unknown situations, challenging scenarios and distinct people. 

Additionally, traveling with kids will show a side of us and them we didn’t think possible or existent. Our children are going to discover many things about themselves, they will experience irritability and tiredness, and they will learn to go on even when their energy level is very low. Traveling makes people resilient and children aren’t the exception. 

Morrocoy, Venezuela

Team building for the future

One thing that we have learned during our years traveling the world is that it takes a whole crew to make a trip happen. Since the planning and booking, family members are committed to collaborate with each other to create the most amazing itinerary.

Our kids sell some of their toys and clothing at the local flea market to have some extra cash to spend during the trip. They learn about budgeting and calculating costs. We purposely involve them in every step of the adventure. 

While traveling we also work as a team to stay safe and healthy. We look after each other’s belongings and are always willing to provide a comfy shoulder for sleepy heads on the train or plane. Together we take pictures, gather info and learn about the culture. Back home we put all of our photographs together (taken with our mobile phones) and create beautiful albums and videos to always remember our adventures.

This is an amazing chance to praise the strengths of your little ones as well. Highlight those personal traits that make them unique and valuable. 

Appreciating positive outcomes and learning from negative situations 

Not every hotel is clean. Not every museum is interesting and not every beach is as blue as the ones we see online. Disastrous trips are a reality. By traveling with our children, we teach them to be grateful for trips where everything works just fine, from the beauty of the surrounding nature to the smooth service of a under developed country’s transportation system.

But what happens when the ideal vacation turns into a nightmare? 

Three years ago we went to Brussels for a long weekend. We arrived to enjoy the most delicious chocolate in the world and the most crispy french fries ever! After spending the whole day exploring we decided to go to our hotel to get a good night sleep.

Our nightmare started. The charming hotel we booked based on the pictures and reviews from a well known travel website, turned out to be a whole on the wall located in a very shady neighborhood where the words prostitution and drug dealing weren’t that foreign. 

Immediately we went from “singing in the car” happy tourists to scared American family in dangerous territory. Don’t laugh! Don’t roll your eyes either. It was scary! But once the shock of the moment was gone, a very united and synchronized family started looking for solutions. After phoning and browsing online, we ended up sleeping in a beautiful hotel close to the border in the German side. It wasn’t cheap, but it was worthy.

This experience helped our children to realized that sometimes things don’t go our way. And that’s fine! We just need to clean the scratch on the knee and keep going. Better times will come for sure. 

You complaint about the challenges of being a parent. Aren’t you willing to enjoy the bright side? What makes travel really worth it all?

Parenting is similar to Jedi training and life. It presents us with both a bright side and a dark (sometimes very obscure) side. Usually we hear and read about the many difficulties to be a parent. We complaint loudly about it. I assure you that traveling, even with the challenging moments, is a great time to see and experience the sublimely thing that are our children.

Seeing them swimming, running, exploring, growing is so rewarding. All of the sudden everything makes sense, including those sleepless nights, hours of lessons and values we impart. Being away from home gives families the opportunity to better appreciate each other in a more relaxing setting.

To us, my husband and I, has been the best way to get to know our offsprings and see the results of our dedication and their personalities. We wouldn’t change traveling with our kids for anything in the world. 

In conclusion, my tears due to a feeling of soon-to-be empty nest have disappeared. It took me a while but soon enough I was already checking online the prices of plane tickets to travel with my pack. I am willing to enjoy every minute with my kids, spending time to hug them overseas and show them the world that surrounds us. 

Are you willing to give yourselves that opportunity?

You won’t regret it! 

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Grab it for a Quick Summer Read Now!

 

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World

The Festival of Eid al-Fitr is celebrated at the end of the Islamic month of Ramadan. Ramadan is the 9th month of the Islamic year.

In Ramadan, Muslims believe that God sent the Angel Gabriel to reveal the first oral verses of the Quran to Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).

During the time of Ramadan, from sunrise till sunset, Muslims across the world fast.  In Ramadan Muslims try to be extra mindful towards others, give charity, and most importantly they try to read the Quran as much as possible.

Eid al-Fitr means “The Festival for the Breaking of the Fast”. It is celebrated on the first day of the month of Shawwal, the month after Ramadan.

The  actual day of the festival day depends on the sighting of the crescent moon which marks the first day of the new Islamic month. This year the Eid al-Fitr Festival will fall on approximately the 5 June 2019.

After the Eid prayers in the morning everyone greets each other with “Eid Mubarak” which means “Happy Eid”.  The traditional response to ‘Eid Mubarak’ is “Kul aam wa antum bi khair” which loosely translates as “and a good year ahead for you too”.

During Eid, children receive presents from their family and close family friends.  They are usually gifted money for them to save or spend as they wish.

Everyone enjoys dressing up in their special new clothes for the Eid al-Fitr Festival.  Eid is a special time for Muslim families to visit their family and friends.

Many people also attend special celebrations across the city held in the parks so children may play together.  Many food tents are at the festival so you can try traditional Eid celebration food from many different countries from around the world.

Many delicious foods are made especially for the festival celebrations. All the food is made for sharing.

I love Eid cookies! ♡♡♡

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Making a huge shift from All-Purpose Flour to Whole-Wheat Flour and from White Sugar to Brown Sugar…starting with the kids fav chocolate chip cookies! Healthy beginnings to some happy endings! 💝 Whole-Wheat Double Chocolate Chip Cookies 🍪🍪🍪 Ingredients for 2 dozens 2 cups whole wheat flour 1 + 1/2 cup fine brown sugar 2 sticks butter (200 gms), room temperature 2 large eggs, room temperature 2 tsp vanilla extract 1 tsp salt 1/2 tsp baking soda 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips 1 cup hand-cut dark chocolate bits Method In a glass bowl, combine the butter and brown sugar. Mix well with a whisk or a fork, until light and fluffy. You can use your electric hand mixer too. Personally, I prefer making this cookie batter with hand tools. Then add the eggs, vanilla essence and salt. Beat until all the ingredients are mixed well. Now add the whole wheat flour and baking soda. Mix well until all the ingredients are combined. Add the chocolate chips and chocolate bits. Your cookie dough is now ready. Preheat the oven to 175 degrees C. Line your baking trays with baking paper. Drop a tablespoon of cookie dough about 2 inches apart from each other. Bake for around 10 minutes, until the cookies are golden at the edges and soft at the center. Remove from the oven and allow to cool. Don't forget to store them in an air tight container. ENJOY! #WholeWheat #DoubleChocolateChip #Cookies #ChocolateChip #Homemade •••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••••• #CinnamonCardamom #foodblog #foodblogger #food #foodies #foodtalkindia #foodnetwork #chefsofinstagram #fbai #ndtvfood #feedfeed #buzzfeedfood #foodgawker #f52grams #foodblogfeed #indianfoodbloggers #kuwaitfoodbloggers #StayAtHomeMom #SAHM #MomBlogger #KuwaitBloggers #indianbloggersinkuwait

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My favourite Eid Cookie is called Klaicha. It is a traditional Iraqi biscuit made with fine Semolina filled with dates. Some people like to fill them a with pieces of Turkish delight or coconut and sugar mixture. Either way they are very delicious. Link to a recipe here:  http://globalcookies.blogspot.com/2007/10/iraq-klaicha.html?m=1

Maamoul cookies are made in Syria and Lebanon. These are shortbread style cookies filled with dates or pistachio nuts, and dusted with icing sugar.

Maamoul Cookies (Date Filled Cookies)

Egyptian Kahk – These are Egyptian Eid cookies made with pistachios and honey filling.  You can find more information and a recipe at the following link:

https://amiraspantry.com/kahk-eid-cookies-pistachios/

Reference:

Islamic Finder https://www.islamicfinder.org/special-islamic-days/eid-al-fitr-2019/

Sweeten the Festival of Eid al-Fitr with Cookies Around the World


 

Being Different - Empower Your Child to Overcome Self Doubt

Being Different – Empower Your Child to Overcome Self Doubt

Have you thought about how your child sees themselves? We see our children as perfect angels for their beauty lies in our eyes since moment they are born but these little humans will eventually grow to look at the world and start comparing themselves. Wonder how they overcome self doubt? Seeing themselves as inferior versions of themselves that can possibly cripple a child and how to overcome self doubt. It has happened to the best of us and will happen till time immortal.

My daughter is quite small for her age. It has been weighing heavy on us seeing other kids much younger to her, stand taller. Specially when we all hear comments like, “Oh, is she really 5?” or “I can put her in my pocket.” Off hand comments made with no thought, but a reminder of her being small.

As much as I worry about it and think about ways that we can help her grow, I have always worried more about the day that she starts seeing herself as different than others. And it happened on her fifth birthday!

She woke up early morning and questioned why she didn’t “look like she was 5”? Putting it down to a child’s question we went on with our day where she kept repeating and getting more disappointed to the point of crying hysterically after her birthday dinner.

When I went down to her level and talked about it, she was hurt that she hadn’t grown taller overnight. “Why am I not like 5 like other kids? They look so different.” It broke my heart. To witness my daughter seeing herself unlike other kids. I let the moment passed and comforted her. And later told her a story about a princess who was small but with a BIG heart and intelligent and helped others with her actions. She loved, loved, loved the new tilt to her perspective and slept with a smile on her face.

And as luck would have it, the next morning we got a book from the author of the book “Being Small Isn’t Bad At All”. Seeing her disadvantage as an advantage worked wonders for her self esteem. Just goes to show what the right books can do for a person’s perspective on life and themselves. If you happen to have a child facing our particular challenge, I can guarantee, this book will change your child’s perspective towards betterment.


This of course is not just restricted to being small. It applies to all those little or big things that make our children ever so slightly different than others. I have always tried my best to empower my kids in the many ways developing a confident mindset to overcome the daily overwhelm that comes with self doubt.

Overcome Self Doubt - Being Different

Get Down to Their Level

Not just literally (though that helps), but don’t just brush off what they are feeling. Help them address their concerns with empathy towards their view point. A hug often helps.

Some Time Off

A big hug, a walk, some time away from what they are feeling later with ice cream, helps them get out of their funk. At least it helps them get out of the hole for a while. Be a friend, by BEING with them, without forcing the issue.

Share Your Own Stories

I never try to hide my own insecurities from my children. I have often told them about times when I have been disappointed or failed or seen myself differently. AND I have talked to them about what I have done over time to overcome the same.

Make Up Stories

You will not believe the smile she had and the encouragement she felt when I told her about the princess who was small (with qualities of things that she liked) and then how it was not her shortcomings (no  pun intended) but her OTHER qualities that helped the kingdom out of the situation. A story tailor made for your child told in a different setting helps them be the 3rd person and see the situation different,

Empower Them with Empathy

Read to them. Talk to them. Not just about their particular self doubts but also, about the MANY different children there are. Teach them about children with different abilities and situations. When they learn how to be kind hearted and SEE other’s situations in a positive light, they grow to shine with their own light as well.

Wait for It

As parents, we all worry but with all the above, a day comes when all those moments come together towards a view point that makes you proud. Like your child standing up for themselves, or ever better, others!

Early, on recent morning, as we got ready for school I told my son to clean his glasses before wearing them and the conversation about glasses led to him mentioning that none of his friends at school wear glasses. He went on to tell me to my surprise that there was a time when he was embarrassed by them, but he got over it by thinking, “Being different doesn’t mean that I have to feel bad about it. I just have to be okay with it. It’s a part of me. “

And then, I knew my kids were okay. For they will grow to know, “Being different is not bad at all.”

 


If you enjoyed this and want more practical tips for imbibing your children with strong values for a confident mindset in the world that constantly evolves.

 

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!

The Paradox of Racing Time in Parenting

The Paradox of Racing Time in Parenting

To say that I’m time-obsessed would be an understatement. But it is also true that I was not like this all my life. I have always been the laid-back kid who never feels the urge to rush. I took my own sweet time to get around to doing anything.

I took time to warm up to people. I took time to understand a new concept being taught. But something about having my own kids changed my entire perspective.

The clock-obsessed lady was hiding under the surface of that calm, slow little girl. Now everything that I do revolves around the clock. I have to finish cooking by 10, sit with my son to do his homework from 4:30 to 5:30, take my daughter to a class at 6, pick up my son from his class at 4:30 and so on so forth. The time obsession has moved on to such level that I get impatient if I feel any member of my family seems to be relaxed, a little too relaxed in my opinion, especially if we are all getting ready for some event.

And of all the events, doctor’s appointments are the worst! The fact that you have to be somewhere at a fixed time can get your blood pressure raising very high. And if you add traffic in to this mix, it can really cause you to hyperventilate.

So you’re sitting there, not moving an inch, in the midst of the worst traffic of your life (to be honest, they all seem like that), one eye on the road hoping the car ahead of you will move and another eye on the ticking clock, your pulse raising with every increase of the minute hand.

You sit there wishing that you had started earlier than you did from home. You sit there trying to resist the urge to say some mean things to the guy who cut in front of you, after-all the whole point of this whole circus, the apple of your eye, your little son is sitting right behind you. You wonder why did everyone have to step out of their house exactly on the same day and at the same time when you were running late just a few minutes,  only to find that now you’re running a lot more than a few minutes late. And as you have nothing else to do, you drum on the steering wheel, make loud sighing noises and the merciless clock just keeps ticking and ticking and ticking.

For a second, you wonder if all the clocks in the world should be trashed in some dumpster for mocking your helplessness and then let out another huge sigh and drum some more on the steering wheel. Finally, after what seems like zillion minutes, the traffic lets out, and you feel like you’re flying through the streets.

Your turn to mock the clock. And so the dance continues, you win some you lose some.

 

Neha Narayan is a 9th grader in high school. She likes biking, drawing, and, well, watching YouTube. She hopes to be successful in whatever she decides to do.

Sangeetha Narayan likes to do everything. From writing, reviewing books, and being a great mother (even if she does say so herself) she keeps herself busy. She hopes to continue writing and reviewing and become successful.

 

 

Grab Your Copy of Strong Roots Have No Fear – The book for children to thrive with strong values in a multicultural world!

I Want to Raise Happy Kids : Not Just Miserable Overachievers

I Want to Raise Happy Kids : Not Just Miserable Overachievers

I see it everywhere. Parents cheering their kids on as they get trophies for participating and winning competitions that the parents have clearly done the work in. Kids exhausted and cranky from being over scheduled for classes in the name of all rounded development, exposure OR figuring out their talent.

We all agree we shouldn’t push kids for academics, but pushing them towards constant excellence in EVERY other field bears some thought too. 

Kids do not know what to do with themselves during free time. They can’t process failure, full of their own self importance. We unwittingly cheer for mediocrity while pushing our children to discover their hidden talents.

When I see dance/cooking competitions on Television with kids as young as 5/6 and parents of 6-10 year olds celebrating their kids’ accomplishment of being authors of stories they made up at bedtime. Kids gaining false confidence of talent when winning competitions that are rigged. Let’s face it, the pressure of the first is certainly not good for that young a mind and the second is a child’s ramblings put into a book with the parent having done ALL the work. Who truly benefits from this?

Constantly Reaching for the Next High of Success

I have been guilty of it too. We see our kids excelling at something and rush to show it off, challenge them more,  hoping they are the master in that field.

I see others like me taking something their kids enjoy doing, like building with Legos, or drawing or be good at engineering and start entering them into competitions or leagues. Thus taking away the doing just for “joy” and adding stress to it since of course now it has to be perfect before submission added to that the fact that one needs to work with team of different people, where they lose their own creativity and have to submit to the idea that’s best for the submission.

Why can’t we let kids be creative JUST for the sake of exploring? Free play has so much more to provide.

(I don’t know. If you do let me know in the comments below. I’m always open to seeing the other side of the coin.)

There is a fine line between providing your children opportunities and overwhelming them by teaching them that you need to get a medal in order derive joy from DOING. 

On the other hand, we have preschool teachers and parents who encourage others to hold their child back a year before starting kindergarten so that they get a leg up on the other kids who will certainly be younger since they would be MORE mature.

Where does that common sense of KNOWING that children are not mature enough to handle stress of a certain kind go away when you are pushing your child to get into gifted programs or competitions which add so much more pressure on the child?

As as Indian, I faced it quite early and consistently. My mom pushing me to get that one extra mark for a 100 score. Studying for hours at end. But then that’s all I had to do. I wonder how miserable I would be if I was in today’s world where I see kids doing 7+ extracurricular classes each week (more than there are number of days in the week), after a full day at school.

Both my children are quite perceptive and intelligent for their ages. I would imagine they both represent the average child and I see both being overwhelmed with the extra curricular classes or over activity. My daughter is too young to articulate the overwhelm. But my son says it time an again, ” I don’t get any time to just BE and PLAY!”


It disturbs me when all around me I see parents pushing children to go through TONNES of classes so they can explore their inner self OR stay away from gadgets. While I’m the first person to celebrate a child’s drawing or out of box thinking or grade or admission into gifted program (when achieved without hacking the system), I truly wonder how healthy it is for children that we as a generation are pushing our children to grow beyond their years.

And then we wonder why the younger generations are getting more and more miserable?!

People have forgotten how to JUST BE. How to be content with what they have in their hands. How to look at another and NOT wonder how I too can get that. How to be happy for anther’s naturally achieved success. It is a wonder why children today don’t know how to just play by themselves.

I won’t lie. I would LOVE for my children to be the next Einstein but only if they get to it on their own. I truly believe the talent within grows with time on it’s own, but happiness and how to enjoy life is something we need to teach by example. I imagine I would love my children to be amazing at everything they do. BUT I know as strongly as I know that I am breathing now, that a child that is PUSHED towards success can only learn to be on the GO, constantly wanting the next HIGH of getting that next medal or achievement. They will never learn how to be happy in the moment.

Empower Kids with the Contentment of Just Being

Life is stressful enough as we grow.

That first F. That first failure. That first heartbreak and many more. That job rejection. Those times when one feels looked down upon by the Success Gods. There’s enough of that without us setting them up for failure in the long run by handing them embellished achievements when they are young.

What we need to do, is teach them how to handle all those times when you feel the world is falling in within you and your heart is shattering into a million pieces.

I cry as I write this while coz I hope every single day that my child does not face any of the heart aches that I did KNOWING full well that they WILL, some day. And I pray that I give them the strength to handle them all. To know to be strong for themselves and those around them. Standing up when they don’t have the strength to.

Recently, a mother celebrated her child’s 60s while others were rejoicing their child’s 90s at school. Many questioned about my she needed to put it out there at all. I on the other hand wonder why so many of us don’t celebrate our child’s mediocrity enough? For every child has struggles they personally go through and achieve. I’m not talking about making it out of preschool. But that child who is struggling with anxiety issues or is shy. The child who got that C after getting tonnes of Ds or Fs. Not a celebration with a party or trophy but maybe just a sweet treat and a recognition of their hard work with a hug and a trip to their favorite place.

That’s how we show our children to process failures. That’s how we raise children to KNOW that they are enough within and they don’t need to constantly keep proving to those around them that they are worthy and talented.

My heart glows with warmth when I see a my son know how to respond to weird questions, bullying or teasing by friends. How deal with personal embarrassments and frequent embarrassments. It makes me smile inside when I am working and they play/read by my side, without any prompts or nudging. I feel pride when parents wonder how polite they are and thoughtful. Yes, we are still working on a number of issues but I know we are on the right path a lifetime of success, measured by laughter and strength.

With all that’s been happening lately, it is so much more important now than ever that we focus on raising a generation that knows how to just be happy and kind to each other. 

 

 

For step by step practical tips on raising your child to have balanced outlook on life, grab my book at 30% discount now !!

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

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Accepting the Collective Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

Meet Johanna C Castillo-Rodrigez, a lover of nature, culture, and languages, backyard gardener, raising multicultural and multilingual children. Supporting families in South Florida to have families that are conscious, multicultural and green!! Proud Latina Mom!

  1. Tell us a little about yourself and your family.

My name is Johana. I am Mama Tortuga. I was born and raised in Colombia. My mother had to immigrate after my father died. After that, I stayed with my grandparents for 6 years until when she was able to bring me to the United States. Here I met my partner for life, Francisco from Honduras. We decided after having a relationship for 5 years, we got married!!

Now, we are raising two children in a completely different culture and style of life from the one both of us were raised in. We love nature and simple living. We believe in living a life where we can be respectful with everyone and protect nature. We also believe in the power of community and the power of being ourselves!

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

I really like where we live right now, which is South Florida, US. When I was a child I lived in a place called Aguazul which is in the East part of Colombia, a zone called “Los Llanos”. But I love mountains. I grew up surrounded by mountains in a city called Bogota.

  1.   What do brought you to what you do?

Definitely, being a mother. When I became a mother, that made me think about the kind of world I wanted to have for them and the community I wanted to have. Also, raising them to be multilingual citizens of the world!

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

At this time, we need to grasp the historical baggage of our cultures, countries of origin and the dangerous trend of being oblivious to it. I believe that in not acknowledging our problems we are bind to repeat toxic patterns. Raising multicultural children in an increasing global society makes many people that haven’t heal and grasp those historical fears and pains, very afraid of others. Sadly, the white supremacists agenda masked by nationalistic points of view is really putting all of us in danger. It is a worldwide spread disease that we need to address.

Accepting the Historical Baggage of Our Cultures

  1.   What is one personal challenge you have overcome growing up?

Fear. I grew up in a very violent time and my family was constantly full of fear. I am choosing to live a life free of fear to make my own decisions and also allow my children to do the same regardless the circumstances.

  1.   Share with us two parenting hacks that have made life easy.

A relationship with your child is the most important ever. We can’t have a healthy relationship with our children if we don’t heal ourselves. That is one thing we need to work on every day. Think about it as a garden. You need to water it every day.

  1.  What projects are you working on next?

I am continually working on many local projects of activism and support to parents and families in my community. Right now, I am supporting different initiatives to support immigrants and refugees in Palm Beach County and also, supporting multilingualism in my community. Also, raising the consciousness around human and nature rights.

Also, right now, I am having a series of IG Lives, presenting community friends from around the world that are making a positive change in the world! #mamatortugacommunityfriends

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

Be yourself and nature is your best friend. Learn from nature and play!

  1.  Tell us three things that are on your bucket list?

Visit Japan and get into an onsen. Watch the Aurora Borealis. See a world of World Peace.

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

This is a hard one!! But 3 of my favorite all time books:

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupery, Pax by Sara Pennypacker and The Book of Forgiving by Desmond Tutu and his daughter, Mpho Tutu.

Movies: On the Way to School, The Embrace of the Snake, Ready Player One, 50 First Dates.

  1. Do you have any freebies for our readers?

Yes!! I have a series of Latinamerican Women that Transcended, study guide in English and Spanish https://www.mamatortuga.org/latinamerican-women-series

You can follow Johanna here —

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurricular activities, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.

I invite you to Stop. Breathe. Feel.

How is this landing with you? You might consider the number of transitions you’ve endured today. What are the various roles you’ve filled today?

Notice the quality of these considerations.

Calming practices connect us to our breath, our body, and the moment, are crucial.

The Power of Calming Exercises

Courtney Harris

Thu, May 2, 10:47 AM (22 hours ago)
to Aditi
INTRO PARAGRAPH CHANGED:
Have you taken a moment to be with yourself today? Life seems to move pretty quickly these days. Many parents share with me that they are constantly overwhelmed between texts, emails, school functions, extracurriculars, and trying to have a personal life! As parents and caregivers, you are navigating many tasks and many roles. (Your kids and teens are too!) Through it all, you likely have a strong desire to be calm parents. Furthermore, you want to be grounded and feel a sense of stability and ease within your family.
THE POWER OF CALMING EXERCISES CHANGED:
Energy is transferable. That said, think of the last time a family conflict occurred.
Stop. Breathe. Feel. What sensations or words or images are bubbling up?
Science helps us understand that Once one family member escalates, it’s likely that everyone else in the room will escalate. Likewise, if one family member can stay grounded, it’s more likely that everyone else in the room will stay calm too.
 
I invite you to become familiar with your body’s unique signs in various states, including calm and activated. As you model this awareness and talk about it, you will support your kids and family in growing their emotional awareness as well.
 
Again, life is busy and there’s so much that’s outside of our control. This said, you have the power and responsibility to care for yourself in ways that help you feel calm and grounded. If you are experiencing any of the following sensations, you have an opportunity to practice grounding self-care:
  • Lack of focus
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Racing thoughts
  • Being easily distracted
  • Anxiety or worry
Calming exercises can be used preventatively, especially as we become more familiar with our body’s signs and signals of stress or disease. Yes, they can help when things are beginning to escalate or when we feel overwhelmed; AND, the practices themselves can aid in preventing escalation to begin with. These practices are for both consistent and emergency self-care.


Exercises for Self-Care as a Parent

20 Steps Towards Finding Calm Within Self & Family

  1. Stand barefooted on the Earth. Grass, dirt, and riverbeds are great, and if only rocks or asphalt are available, this works too!
  2. Hula hoop OR do the movement of hula hooping, keeping your feet rooted to the Earth and circling your hips in a way that feels soothing or stretchy.
  3. Do a set of lunges and squats. Work until your leg muscles feel awake, alert, and heavy.
  4. Take a slow, mindful walk. Notice each step.
  5. Lay down on the ground. Rather than a bed or a couch, try laying on the firm ground. Bonus: lay down outside on the Earth!
  6. Hold rocks, stones, or crystals in your hands. Alternatively, lay down and place the stones on your body in places that feel supportive for you. (I like to put stones on my thighs, belly, chest, and forehead.)
  7. Stomp your feet while reciting a mantra or affirmation. For example, “I am steady and strong.” (Bonus: Do this barefooted and outside!)
  8. Hug a tree. Really. Feel how strong and sturdy they are.
  9. Wherever you are, notice your feet. Pay attention to how they feel and what surfaces they are touching and how they are supporting you.
  10. Spend time gardening or doing yard work.
  11. Lay down with extra blankets on your torso. Weighted blankets can be one of the many useful tools for helpful for better sleep.
  12. Sit or picnic in a park or garden or forest. Let yourself be surrounded by nature.
  13. Notice your breath. No need to alter or change it, just follow up.
  14. Eat a meal that includes root vegetables
  15. Take a sensory journey. Notice what you are seeing, feeling, touching, hearing, and tasting. Take time to inventory and/or engage with your surroundings.
  16. Practice self-massage or Abhyanga or schedule a massage with a therapist.
  17. Try a rooting or grounding meditation on YouTube.
  18. Open windows (or at least blinds and curtains) so that you can see and connect with the elements outside. Natural light can be grounding and energizing.
  19. Get a pedicure or give yourself one. Give attention and love to the roots of your body!
  20. Use sandbags to lay across your body as you rest, meditate, or relax.


 

How to Use These As a Family

 

Some families I work with integrate select practices into their weekly routines. Other families use this list as a menu that can be consulted at family meetings, during downtime, or even in the beginning stages of a miscommunication or challenging moment.

In fact, the more familiar you and your family become with calming practices, the more likely you will all be to access them as self-care maintenance. At first, these might be a bit more reactionary. You might find yourself using them when you are already overwhelmed or frazzled and anxious. I encourage you to stay patient, though, because as the word practice implies, you will become more comfortable over time and will create easier access to the strategies that soothe, calm,  and steady you.

As you dig into these practices, you may also find yourself (and your child)  noticing what best supports you. Together, you and your family can build individual support system maps to document the people, places, and things that bring you the most comfort and calm.

This article was first published https://courtneyharriscoaching.com/2018/12/04/20-ways-to-be-a-calm-grounded-parent/

Would You Celebrate with a Fiver Birthday Party Theme?

Would You Celebrate with a Fiver Birthday Party Theme?

My daughter turns 5 this year. As birthday milestones go, this is certainly a big one. For her and us. Any parent can attest to the bittersweet moment when a child starts Kindergarten. Those first steps towards the bus, the new back pack and that last wave goodbye. Heart wrenching but so monumental in their meaning. I went online to find the best ways I can make her birthday memorable and among the many themes, came across the Fiver birthday party. For a 5-year-old, the name seemed like the perfect fit till I went on to read what it was.

Now, at the face it is a brilliant idea.

Every child coming to the party is requested to bring a $5 bill in a card and then the birthday kid gets to combine the total towards a larger present that they desire. The invitations would read something like, So-and-so is having a “fiver” party! He wants to save up for a [insert gift here], so if you wish to send a gift, please include $5 in a card instead!” or something along those lines; worded respectfully with no pressure to include any gift at all.


I certainly get why this would be a great option for the many celebrations we host for our kids.

A Rewarding Option 

With say, 8-20 kids in a class if you get invited to even 10 parties it reduces the overall cost. Even if you spend $10 per child, not counting the many other expenses of parties throughout the year this becomes cost effective. Not to mention the fact that the money goes towards something the kid really wants. 

Convenient

We all know how hard it is to go to the store and buy a gift for someone. We never know what the kid would like, and then end up spending a good amount of time pondering over the various options. Even if we know what the child likes, sometimes we do not know what they already have. Other times, we fear disappointment.

Reduces Clutter

Yes! A lot of presents translate into a lot of “stuff” around the house which eventually becomes a headache for us as we have to clean up daily after play or have to figure out where in the closets to place them.

Makes the Birthday Kid More Thoughtful

In the material world we live in, this may be a great idea where the child is not focused on the presents but on having a good time. Also, they would need to put in a lot of thought into what toy they most want. Or worry about who brought want.

Reduces Disappointment

Let’s face it. Sometimes those thoughtless, last minute or re gifted gifts can be downright hurtful, not just to the kid but to the parents as well. The disappointment is hard to witness.

 

I do have the other side of the coin to present on this subject though. My take on how traditional gifts help our children grow –

Exploring New Paths

When my son was little, I was dreading Legos. Having heard the horror stories of how much of a mess they make, they were the last thing on my mind when I hosted his 4th birthday party. One of our very good friends gifted him a Lego building box. My son took to it immediately and became passionate about creating. He went onto building vehicles, towers, cities, fidget spinners and now is into Lego animation. Last month he created a video for the school’s Reflections competition and won third place in it. All because someone gave an unexpected gift on his birthday. Over the years, he has received dinosaur building kits, robots, books etc that I as a parent would never have thought of and they all contributed to his mental development.


There is an Excitement in Opening Presents  

Even I as an adult love the excitement of removing the crinkled paper and seeing a thoughtful gift inside, however less in material value. I have pictures of both kids surrounded by their presents every year. That smile before and as they open them is precious.

Thoughtful Gifts Build Relationships 

Every cherished gift has made stronger the foundation of the relationships for every child remembers that one gift that meant the world to them. My kids have even kept most of the hand made cards they have received.

Giving with Meaning

I used to run to the store and grab a gift while the kids were in school. I thought it would avoid the drama of them crying for it. Recently though, I have started taking them to the store to pick out gifts for their friends. The reasoning they put into what they get for their friends is heartwarming.

Inner Growth

Yes, there is disappointment when you see someone put next to no thought in what they gift you. It is still a wonderful learning opportunity for our children to accept what they get with grace and humility. Also, it is our job to shift the focus away from the presents and onto the present. Taking ownership of their “stuff” and clearing things up is a big part of kids’ personal development.

The cons of a fiver party can certainly not beat the convenience and cost effectiveness the theme provides. But it is certainly something to ponder over. Maybe that is where balance comes into play. Like how some years we have birthdays that are over the top in their extravagance and other days it’s just us, pizza or a memorable trip somewhere.

Don’t forget to get your copy of our Best selling book Strong Roots Have No Fear! Empower your child to be empowered in their values with a global outlook.

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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!