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! 

30 % Discount This Summer.
Grab it for a Quick Summer Read Now!

 

Traveling is the Biggest Learning Experience You Can Give Little Kids

steamboat springs

Winter Activities in Steamboat Springs CO – A Travelogue

I love traveling to the core.  I enjoy each and everything about the travel – the planning, the scenery, the drive, the stay, the activities, of course, the photos, the peace, the relaxation, the happiness and the beautiful moments we create as a family. So, this time, let me share my favorite travelogue in Colorado.

We traveled to ‘Steamboat Springs’ in the last winter. Steamboat Springs is a town in Northern Colorado which is famous for skiing. It is also famous as a destination for winter sports and it is also a home to 86 Olympic champions. When we planned to visit this place, we wanted to try the popular winter activities like skiing, snowmobiling, snowshoeing,  Snow tubing, Gondola rides, Hot springs etc.,

We have 2 sons and our younger one is just 4 years old. So, we had to keep this in our mind as we cannot venture into adventurous sports. The drive from our place is around 5 hrs and we had to take multiple stops due to kids. When planning a trip with our kids, usually we don’t hurry and prepare for unexpected stops, delays, and change in plans in the last minute.  The weather was very harsh and extreme cold in Steamboat Springs, so we bought thermals, good jackets, gloves, scarfs, snow boots, hand, and toe warmers etc., before starting for the trip.

steamboat springs

steamboat springs

Skiing:

The Gondola square at Mt.Werner circle is always buzzing with tourists who come for skiing. There are skiing classes available for both adults and kids. Kids from 2 years of age can take beginner skiing classes. Steamboat ski resort offers nighttime skiing as well.  We haven’t tried skiing yet, but if you can stay for 3 days, your family can learn skiing and enjoy.


Snowmobiling:

We have reserved our spot for snowmobiling in advance from Saddleback ranch. We were ready by 11 am with layered clothing(thermals, jackets) and hand, toe warmers etc., The Saddleback ranch team have also provided outer gear and snow boots. Even with all these, it was difficult for us to bear the coldness after 1.5 hrs. We have booked for a 2hr slot. But, Snowmobiling was super fun as a family. It was as if we were swimming in a snow ocean. There was only snow within miles of distance on all sides. It looked like heaven.

Snow Tubing:

We have booked tubing as well from the same ranch. Our kids enjoyed tubing a lot. It was 100% safe and fun for all ages. Sliding through the snow was really awesome.

snow tubing

snow tubing

Gondola rides:

Whenever we visit any place in Colorado, we make it a point to ride the Gondola. The breathtaking views of mountains should be experienced and can never be explained in words. There is a sunset ride as well for couples including dinner.

Mountain coaster:

We have assigned our next day to try the mountain coaster. Did you ever think how it would be to have a brake in your hand while riding a roller coaster? That’s exactly is a mountain coaster. If you are afraid to slide quickly, you can come down slowly by breaking your coaster. While riding the coaster you can stop and enjoy the beautiful views around. We enjoyed this ride.

Hot Water Springs:

There are many mountain towns in Colorado with natural hot water springs.  Old town hot springs is an old natural hot springs pool which was existing from around 100 years. Temperatures of water range from 80 to 104 Fahrenheit. They are believed to have therapeutic properties. Strawberry hot springs are also popular in Steamboat Springs.

Hot springs

Hot springs

Overall, that was a memorable trip. We also experienced driving on icy roads while snowing. We were careful and drove slowly.  So, if you want to plan a trip in Winter to any Colorado mountain town, don’t hesitate! Just buy proper winter gear and enjoy 🙂

Winter Activities in Steamboat Springs, CO

 

Broaden Your Parenting Horizons

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Top 10 Economical Things to Do in NYC with Teenagers

Visiting New York can be quite the challenge when you are on a tight budget and have children in tow. All those expensive hotels, restaurants, attractions and stores threaten your wallet with their high prices and upscale services. Nonetheless, we took the chance this last Christmas and flew to the Big Apple with three teenagers and a extremely thrifty allocation. 

And we couldn’t be happier! We had a great time and the kiddos are already planning to go back to this great city once mom and dad recover their financial health (maybe it is time for me to get a second job? Ha!). 

Time to plan!

Once you have figured out the plane tickets and hotel expenses (there are many offers and sales to go to NY), it is time to think about the places you want to explore. You will need to find a good combo of entertainment and price to keep your family excited and to add some cultural value to your traveling experience. We focused on points of interest, culture, uniqueness and cost. After much needed discussions we agreed to visit the following crowd-pleasers:

  1. Macy’s 34th Street. 

Even thought this is a shopping place, we love Macy’s because of their magical Christmas decorations, ambience (hello LIVE music) and “Believe” motto. We spend approximately 45 minutes walking around the store while my children took pictures of the festive displays. After that, we explored Herald Square and drank hot cocoa. 

2. Times Square.

The most popular commercial intersection of the world is the perfect background for holiday pictures with teenage children. Yes, it was crowded. Yes, many consider Times Square to be a tourist trap. But I can assure you that if you avoid eating in this area and stick to enjoy the lights, the multicultural environment and make some good family photographs, you will have fun without spending a dime. Remeber that Times Square stretches from West 42nd to West 47th Streets, so take the time to check the little souvenir stores in the area. Also, if your kids are into comics, there are a couple of cool places that sell limited edition issues and memorabilia to go with it. 

3. The Oculus. 

This impressive train station designed by Santiago Calatrava is perfect to warm shivering children after exploring the World Trade Center memorial site. The Oculus futuristic design left my boys speechless! Stroll around this beautiful structure and talk to your children about the power of hope and resilience. The Oculus is a statement to celebrate life and the willingness of human kind to overcome tragedy. 

4. Federal Hall National Memorial. 

Pay a visit to George Washington in front of Federal Hall and discover the history behind this neoclassical building. Federal Hall became the first Capitol of the United States in 1789 and it was here where George Washington was inaugurated as first President of the United States on the balcony on April 30th, 1789. Visitors can take a look at the Bible used to swear Washington’s oath of office and the Freedom of the Press, the imprisonment and trial of John Peter Zenger. Entry is free. 

5. Fearless Girl. 

I felt so excited to bring my daughter to get her picture taken with Fearless Girl. This bronze sculpture by Kristen Visbal depicts a girl facing Wall Street and it was commissioned to advertise an index fund that comprises gender-diverse companies that have relative high percentage of women among their senior leadership. Remeber to take advantage of such an opportunity to encourage your children to think about gender-equality and women rights. 

6. Ellis Island. 

Before our arrival in New York City, we agreed on paying for just one attraction during our four day stay. The winner was the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island Cruise (Sorry Mr. Empire State and Top of the Rock). For us was a matter of cultural and historical traditions, and the possibility of having a place that our children could explore on their own. 

I must say that Ellis Island didn’t disappoint. 

This getaway for over 12 million immigrants to the United States is the perfect place to promote diversity among children and young adults. The exhibits include real artifacts, newspapers, videos, and plenty of photographs of immigrants from around the world. Our children read with special interest the information about medical inspections and English courses for Eastern Europeans.

We also felt moved by the wall of Naturalization Certicates, since I am a naturalized US-citizen myself. Be aware that you must allocate around 2 hours to explore the facilities, this could be somehow demanding for younger children. Our kids are 12, 13, and 14. You can read about the history of Eliis Island here.

7. Rockefeller Center.

If you are visiting the Big Apple during the Christmas holidays  you cannot miss the iconic Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree. We strolled around the center, took pictures, drank coffee and enjoyed the lights displays of the stores along 5th Avenue. There is nothing more magical than the Christmas ambience in this part of the city.

We also shared with our kids the story of the very first Tree at Rockefeller Center, that was erected in 1931 during the Great Depression Era. Back then the tree was 6 meters tall and was decorated with austerity by workers of the area. The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has always been a gathering place and reflection for locals and tourist alike. 

8. Samsung 837.

Located in the heart of the Meatpacking District, this digital playground is the place to visit when anxious teenagers start to complain about too much walking and too many historical facts. Samsung 837 is an impressive display of technology and culture where your family can try different virtual reality gadgets and rides. The attractions are free and there is even a nice area for mom to seat down while dad and the kiddos enjoy the extravagant show of futuristic equipment. 

9. Brooklyn Bridge. 

Young teenage legs will enjoy strolling across the elevated pedestrian walkway to experience unique views of New York City. The iconic Brooklyn Bridge is a free of cost attraction that has been featured in many movies and television shows around the world. It is a great place for family portraits and provides an opportunity to stretch tired muscles and get some fresh air. 

We searched online resources to enhance our visit to this renowned landmark and to have some conversation starters during lunch after crossing the bridge. Use the Internet to discover many interesting facts about the Brooklyn Bridge, many sorted out by age and theme. 

10. Imagine Mosaic-Central Park.

One of the focal points of Central Park is the Imagine mosaic, a tribute to John Lennon. My children read online that this mosaic was done by Italian artists and was a gift from the city of Naples. Since we are huge Lennon and The Beatles fans, visiting this are of the Park was one of our bucket list items. Please remember, that the Imagine mosaic is located inside the Strawberry Fields Memorial, a designated quiet zone that doesn’t allow biking, rollerblading and loud music. The ambience was that of reflection and peace. 

These are our top ten recommendations to enjoy New York City on a budget. There is still so much to do and see in the Big Apple! These are just an overview of what you can accomplish with your children in approximately 3 days without going broke. New York City is a place where we would love to come back since we felt absolutely in love with the many things to do. From museums to landmarks, to shows and even cafes, it is impossible to ignore the cultural value of this place for you and your family. 

Feel free to write comments below to share further details and ideas. 

 


Don’t forget to share this with friends and save for your next trip.

Economical Things to Do with Teens in NYC

6 Unexpectedly Positive Effects of Living with Food Allergies

6 Unexpectedly Positive Effects of Living with Food Allergies

Raising world children

Climbing up a hill behind a century old pueblo in New Mexico under an inky dark sky, I settled in a chair between my two children.  We are silent, gazing at a darkness we’d never seen, punctuated by blazing points of light.  I never dreamt a diagnosis of life-threatening food allergies for my son 12 years ago in Pennsylvania would have brought us here today.

Sometimes circumstance chooses you.

In the midst of closing on a new-old house in 2002, we were painting, racing back and forth between the two homes.  With my husband at the new house, I went back to give my 10-month-old something to eat.  I had grabbed a few jars of baby food at the market, thinking he might like the oatmeal & apple cereal as a treat.  Strapped in his high chair, smiling and babbling away, he obediently opened his mouth when I made like an airplane and zoomed the cereal to his mouth.

allergies became a cultureAfter a few bites, he stopped his normal movements.  His color turned gray.  I lived half a mile from the hospital, so I grabbed him and the jar and raced into the emergency room.  The nurse took one look and rushed him inside.  After doses of adrenaline and a battery of tests and several hours, they handed my son back to me with epinephrine and directed me to see an allergist.  I went home in a daze.  My son had a life-threatening food allergy to egg.  Further testing revealed allergies to wheat, peanuts, tree nuts and barley.  He had the same reaction to all of them.  He stopped breathing.

What do I do now?

There were no allergies in my family.  There also weren’t the products you see lining the market shelves today.  Even now, it’s rare to find something he can have.  There aren’t many products that encompass all his food allergies.  I didn’t know what to do.

His first birthday cake was a two-pound block of cheddar cheese with a single candle in it.  Three months after the diagnosis and I was still floundering.  My son’s allergist is one of my favorite people.  He galvanized me into action with one simple sentence.

Choosing to do nothing is a choice as well.

We decided that while his life would not be the same as others, it would still be extraordinary.  I learned everything I could about food allergies, cross-contamination, and to cook differently.  And I decided to home educate my son.

Some folks turn to home education because their school system is inadequate.  Some choose because their religious beliefs dictate another path.  And some choose because it’s the best way to keep their children safe.  We fell into the latter category.

After numerous close calls with cross contamination that wasn’t visible to the eye, we chose to embark on a journey I never envisioned. [bctt tweet=”Food allergies became the silver lining for my family, I had never expected.” username=”contactrwc”]

School is so much better the second time around.

Much to my surprise, I found that I loved home education.  I loved sharing the discovery with my son.  I loved being the one that sparked the “aha” moment.  In the beginning we covered all the standards covered in traditional schools:  he learned his numbers, the alphabet, how to read, how to add and subtract, how to spell.

We fell in love with books together.

Reading room was our favorite activity.  I’d spend at least two hours a day reading aloud, small boy seated by my side.  “One more chapter,” he’d plead.  “We’re just getting to the good part.”  Weekly trips to the library fed our voracious appetites.  His comprehension and vocabulary soared.  It was magical.

We loved the stories we read, but it wasn’t quite so interesting covering every other subject.  It wasn’t tactile enough.  We needed to get up close and personal.

School Became Discovering Cultures

We took our classroom on the road.  After reading about Vikings and the settlement of North America, we headed north to Canada and Nova Scotia.  We hiked Cape Breton Island, learned about Alexander Graham Bell at his museum in Baddeck, Nova Scotia.  We visited The Gaelic College in Englishtown and learned about Gaelic culture.  We stayed in a small cottage on the sea, owned by a man who had left his homeland in Holland to pursue life in a quiet Canadian province.

In Florida, we kayaked with manatees under the watchful eye of a conservationist who taught us the best way to see is to be quiet.  We were rewarded with glimpses of docile, lovely sea cows in their natural habitat.

We hiked through wetlands, careful to avoid sleeping alligators sunning themselves on the banks in the tall grasses.  Together we learned to be more observant of the world around us.

In New Mexico, we marveled at the idea of a “wild cow.”  Though I laughed at my son’s suggestion when we encountered a lone bovine in the mountains of the Gila National Forest, a shaman (medicine man) soon set me to rights as he pointed out what we could touch and what we should avoid walking in the wild.

California introduced us to sweeping extremes.  Desert in the south, full of rippled dunes that encroached on the roadway.  Sunny groves of citrus and almonds and avocados.  We saw firsthand what living in drought conditions meant for families that farmed dry acres.  We drove up through clouds to wrap our arms around the famous California redwoods trees, and we were cautioned to watch out for the grizzly bears.

We drove through miles and miles of our nation’s farmland, lulled into a quiet rhythm by seemingly endless acres of corn.  The very next day, the sense of calm was shattered as we raced toward Kentucky, ahead of a series of tornados.  The skies were black and calm and too quiet.  The lines for fuel were long.  Every day brought a new aspect of the adventure.

Conversations and Music

Each day on the road, we’d pull out a map and get a general idea of where we were headed.  Nothing was set in stone to allow for detours as needed.  One of our favorites started with a barbecue billboard and ended eating sandwiches along the river in Ozark, Arkansas on my birthday.  The late afternoon sun was warm and we were the only ones in this little town at the river that day.  Magical.

The connections and adventures are equally strong in your own town, or the next one over.  The idea is to talk more, learn firsthand and spend time together.  Creating memories leads to conversation, sometimes even lively discourse.  My son and I hold diverse political views.  But at the end of the day, we are better for the interaction and the time spent.

And Every day ends the same …

And I’m grateful for that.  As the day draws to a close, my son gives me a hug, and an “I love you, Mom.”

I love you too, Buddy.

How Our Life Improved By Living With Food Allergies www.raisingworldchildren.com #allergies #parenting #life #silverlings

Deborah Fingerlow is a writer, traveler and explorer seeking adventures both large and small. Parent to one daughter in college and one teenage son in cyber-school. Food allergies play a significant role in day to day life decisions, as does the support network of a small town in south central Pennsylvania. Neighbors are known by their first names and a walking district encourages community engagement. Business to business communications and the development of authentic connections are Deborah Fingerlow’s superpowers. You can find her at the local farmer’s market, therapy dogs in tow, camera in hand. You can find her on twitter @debfingerlow and on facebook @connect.converse.write
How To Rock A Trip To London With 2 Little Kids

How To Rock A Trip To London With 2 Little Kids

Normally we visit our parents in India or they visit us in USA. The trip to India usually turns stressful considering the length of the trip, the agendas of meeting a whole lot of relatives in a short period of time, no rest and just the need for more vacation after these trips.  

So instead of meeting for long period time where everyone at the end of it is stressed and wants an out, we decided to do something different.

We asked both of our parents to go on a trip with us and the kids to London. They had never seen the city before and we had not either. It was also a perfect central spot for all of us to meet (midway between India and US – West Coast).

Our kids were younger then, one was 2 and half and one was almost 5. The 5 year old is a great traveler but 2 and half was frankly not an age to travel with anyone long distance. But we bravely did anyway!

Besides the first couple of hours, where all the toddler wanted to do was walk in the flight, it went pretty smooth. We reached London in 8 hours.

We got through the immigration and customs and out on prepaid taxi to our AirBNB close to the Shoreditch area. It was a fun little house, tiny in size compared to what we are used to in America but it worked. It had 3 bedrooms, a kitchen and a living room.

It was well maintained. The owner had left a few basic things in the kitchen. Grocery stores were walking distance and so were a lot of restaurants.

To our amazement, we had amazing curry (which apparently Britishers call British food) all along in the trip and did not miss being in India for this vacation.

The plus points throughout this London trip were:

  1. We never felt out of place because of the kids. We always felt welcome everywhere we walked.
  2. It was easy to push strollers all around through subways and on the sidewalks.
  3. We were even helped with the strollers  by complete strangers.
  4. We could Uber if we wanted to and our T-mobile service with free international roaming was useful all the time (I am not getting paid to say this from either companies I promise)

Some negative points:

  1. It was raining most of the time (which is expected) but the cold in the summer was a little hard to take some days.
  2. We had to pay for bathrooms or ask for keys to the bathroom after having bought something. We are clearly not used to that in America. (We are not used to having too many public restrooms in India…that is a different story for a different day)
  3. I don’t live there… and  Now I wish I could move.

How to Rock A Trip to London With Two Little Kids | Travelling to London With 2 little kids under 4 with grandparents | Family goals | Parenting Tips | Travel

Day 1

On our first day, as it was raining we first decided to get in a covered boat and just ride on the Thames river cruise for an hour and admire all the tourist spots from the boat itself. Some that I remember are the London Eye, Big Ben, Tower Bridge, The Tower of London, Westminster Abbey. This was also perfect for the grandkids to get time to mingle with the grandparents. It was less stressful about seeing and admiring things and more about just enjoying the time together.

 Photo credit: Sneha  Jhanb

After the cruise, it was not raining anymore. We decided it was time to visit the Tower of London. The kids loved this place. There was a lot of space for them to run around outside and inside the exhibition they were amazed to look at the armours, and coins and crowned jewels.

The Crown Jewels At Tower Of London (Photo Credit: Sneha Jhanb)

We had more curry and fish and chips at the cafe at the Tower of London. After our quick lunch, we also saw some monkeys on the tree. Ironically, the Tower of London at some point used to be a zoo and held a lot of animals gifted to the kings and queens. You can read all about the history everywhere online but for me what was amazing was again the fact that it was so family friendly and yet so rich and historical of a place.

 We ended the itinerary for the day by climbing up the Tower Bridge and taking in the beautiful view of the city from the top. We were all tired after this and headed back to our beautiful house for the night to take rest. Kids watched some TV, slept and read some books. The house was well stocked with kids books to our relief.

Day 2

I would probably change Day 2 if I ever go back again. We went with a popular guided bus tour to Windsor Castle, Bath and Stonehenge.

We got up early in the morning and took prepaid taxi to a hotel that gave us a shuttle to go to the bus depot from where we met with our tour people. We saw the queen’s residence at Windsor Castle. Our kids did not want to be indoors that day so we actually decided to not to do too much of exhibition but walked through the queen’s garden. We walked through flowers and green lush.

Windsor Castle (Photo credit: Sneha Jhanb)

Roman Bath (Photo Credit: Sneha Jhanb)

Our next stop was Bath. We saw a beautiful Roman bath and the timeless architecture in the city.

I wish we spent a whole day here. The time was too short. We had to eat something along with sightseeing. The pizza took an hour, we almost missed the bus. It would have been a disaster if we did because it was also super cold. I would really go visit Bath by itself next time to really immerse in the city.

Final stop was Stonehenge. Frankly, I wanted this to be the best part of the tour. I was looking forward to it. But by the time we went there, we were all tired, and it was super cold. And there is no sense of calm and beauty as it has become a very touristy spot.

Stonehenge (Photo Credit: Sneha Jhanb)

So I did not really enjoy it. Also you cannot go near the stones. You have to see them from a distance. It does not bring any joy whatsoever to see this place with the whole family. I would skip this completely next time. The beauty though was in the surrounding miles and miles of countryside and greenery. I live close to countryside in America but England’s countryside I feel (with my limited travel so far) feels very unique to that area. I had never seen miles and miles of greenery until the sky meets the green ever before.

Day 3

We used our strollers all around London on Day 3. We walked a lot and used some subway and went to see the Buckingham palace from outside. Walked in the beautiful garden across from the palace. Shopped a little. Ate at Chinatown. We saw the royal courts of justice, embassy area, etc.

 Photo credit: Sneha Jhanb

Remaining part of the day, we took advantage that day of the grandparents and for the evening took ourselves on a date and left behind the kids to bond with our parents.

We went up the Shard for tea time and had the most beautiful view, tea time sandwiches and scones and pastries. It was so worth it!

Date Night at The Shard – English Tea Time (Photo Credit: Sneha Jhanb)

Day 4

Day 4 was a little bit repeat of Day 3 except we went to Westminster Abbey and saw the tombs of royalty and well known poets, writers, scientists. For the kids this was not that much of an attraction because they wanted to make noise in the church (It was huge and it echoed!) but they were not really allowed to do that. But it was really a very beautiful church. We could have taken turn as adults possibly if we ever do this again to keep kids out of the misery of being silent and not kid like.

We met with my husband’s friend in the evening and had dinner at one of the most popular Indian restaurants called Dishoom. I have never seen such a long line outside of an Indian restaurant ever before in my life! And it was huge from inside and really had good ambiance and food.

Day 5

Sheffield Countryside (Photo credit: Sneha Jhanb)

It was time to say bye to London. We took a train to see my cousin in Sheffield this day. Kids loved the train ride through the countryside. We spent a night with them. Even had Alphonso mangoes (popular mangoes in India and the most expensive ones and very very tasty).

Our kids got along well and played. We caught up on a lot of our memories and made some new. Most of all loved to hear the yorkshire accent of my nephew.

Day 6

It was time for our final destination for this trip. Edinburgh, Scotland. We were back on the train and in 3 hours we were there. The AirBNB here was good but the entrance to the building was horrible and quite shabby. The street did not look as safe though it probably was. For some reason the fire engines went off every 15 minutes throughout our 2 days here.

Photo credit: Sneha Jhanb

The distinguishing part of being in Scotland was that the night never felt like night. It always felt like evening. It never got really pitch dark. My then 4 year old and now 6 year old still remembers these two things from this part. The fire engines and the night not being like night.

We took the time off to unwind frankly because we were tired of our busy trip. We ate food at a local restaurant and then rested.

Day 7

We walked around the city. The slopes of the city made it a little difficult to keep walking for the grandparents and for kids. We decided to then use the open bus tours. We went through the Edinburgh Park, the Palace of Holyroodhouse and more local spots.

By the time we reached the queen’s castle it was too late. I was a little disappointed to not be able to tour it. We had ice cream outside this castle as a consolation and headed back.

Photocredit: Sneha Jhanb

If I think about it now, I would have not done the Scotland part of our trip in this short period of time. I would have extended our stay in Sheffield by a day and returned to London and spent more time there.

Day 8

It was our time to say goodbye to UK and grandparents and return to our house in the US and get back to normal life. The kids were tired and slept most of the flight.

Our 2 and half year old was a little cranky on one flight but for most of the part it was all very much alright.

Our Family At The Tower of London. Photo Credit: Sneha Jhanb

What made the trip truly enjoyable with 2 kids under 5 was really the grandparents, who make anything much better really. The extra set of eyes, hands and legs we had to keep everyone from getting worked up. If I get a chance, I would do more international trips like that with our parents, hands down.

So, I for one strongly suggest taking grandparents on ALL international travel trips! 

   Sneha is a mom of two boys, mom blogger focused on mindfulness, minimalism and conscious relationships, mindset and confidence coach (NLP) , tarot enthusiast and Master Reiki practioner. I was also an Industrial Engineee for 10 plus years. I am excited to be here and learn from everyone here.
Teaching Diversity To Our Kids

Teaching Diversity To Our Kids

The Pew research center published an article last year about diversity pointing out 10 important demographic trends last year. One of the statistics stood out for me. It said” By 2055, the U.S. will not have a single racial or ethnic majority.”

We are raising our children in increasingly diverse society with representations from so many different cultures. The electorate, the work force, our education system are all going to be impacted. We will see people around with different ways of speaking, dressing, eating, praying and living. It is a massive opportunity to learn about each other and grow. We will essentially witness a rainbow of cultures, but we have to be ready to open our windows and step outside. What are some things we can do to make diversity an important part of our households?

Celebrate together

Festivals are important. Other than celebrating with our family and friends, we should raise awareness in our schools about each other’s festivals. For example, I realized fall is chock full of festivals from different cultures. It would be great to do a showcase of different cultures in school. Maybe a culture day to celebrate different festivals Rosh Hasanah, Diwali, Onam, Eid, Ashura, Thanksgiving to name a few. Check the calendar and stop by the school and see if you can talk to the classroom about your festival. Encourage other families from different ethnic groups to do the same.

Read together

Children are constantly looking at the books they read to form world opinions. Let’s give our children diverse material. There is no need to be pedantic about cultural topics. Sometimes simple books are the best conversation starters. If you have read ‘Last stop on Market Street’ by Matt De La Pena, you will know what I mean. The book teaches empathy and love in a way that is so easy and even fun for the children to understand. Ask your library to stock up with diverse books be it from your culture or other cultures you have been curious about.

Bond together

Make an effort to build connections with families from different cultures. We are always comfortable with the familiar, but we learn and grow by exposing ourselves to the new. Call your neighbors over be it for Chai and samosas or Coffee and Cake. Arrange for playdates with children from different communities. Just stop by and say hello to that person who just moved here from a different country. Let your friendships expand.

Travel wide

What better way to learn about different ways of living than actually seeing and experiencing it. Travel far and travel wide. Make it a cultural learning experience. Observe the trees, the houses, the churches, the temples and talk about similarities and differences. Try different foods, speak to the local people. Let your child always be curious.

Learn more languages

Keep your mother tongue alive. If you are a multilingual household, speak to your child in different languages. Don’t worry, children’s minds are like little sponges. They will have no problems communicating using multiple languages. Teach numbers in different languages, use basic words for food, colors and slowly build up. I need serious effort on this one myself!

What other ideas do you have to teach diversity to your kids?

How To Teach Kids About Diversity | Raising World Children | Learning | Children | Peace

 

Sandhya Acharya grew up in Mumbai, India and now lives in the Bay Area. Her articles and short stories have featured in NPR (KQED), India Currents, Peacock Journal, and Aaduna. She won the third prize in Katha 2017, a short story contest by India Currents and Wellstone Center. Her first children’s book Children’s book: Big Red Firetruck!: Children’s ebook, Beginner reader, bedtime story about 2 brothers and Fire Trucks. Children’s book ages 2-5. was well received with a rating of 4/5 and 29 reviews on Amazon. Her new children’s book is titled “10 Gulab Jamuns – Counting with an Indian sweet treat” and promises to warm your heart and tantalize your taste buds. The book also includes basic lessons in counting, models positive parenting and highlights sibling love.

BOOKS BY SANDHYA ACHARYA 

 

 

7 Tips To Make a Road Trip Tantrum Free with Kids

7 Tips To Make a Road Trip Tantrum Free with Kids

” You are so brave! “

” Will the kids sit for so long? “

” It is going to be so hard with little kids. “

These are just some of the comments of disbelief we heard when we announced our cross country trip by car with our 6 and 3 year old kids. But we were adamant. With flight + baggage prices super inflated and every destination needing at least one stop over, it just made practical sense. Also, we had always wanted to see USA by road. Real people along real roads.

The experience was an outstanding one. We saw almost half of America’s beautiful vistas. Traveling from Virginia to Colorado to Chicago and Back. A little sight seeing, mountains and lots of indoor kids activities like Lego land, Ball Factory etc. We tried many different foods. We met a lot of old friends too.

The impromptu trip taught us to connect as a family and just Be!  On a personal level I learned how hard I was driving myself to achieve too much without focus. A new experience enriches our soul like no other.

As far as the kids were concerned, the 2 week trip, 12-15 hour long drives were tantrum free and thankfully, uneventful. They enjoyed every moment and I can see their growth. The first step of course is being completely prepared. Download our checklist of everything you will need for your road trip.

Road Trip With Kids Ultimate Pack Along List

No Preparation for Distractions 

The magic of something new fades pretty quickly these days. This trip was the first time I did not buy any little toys before leaving to shine in front of the eyes.

Instead, every second or third stop we got the kids candy/toys which served as both souvenirs and distractions. The car ride was spent exploring new vistas with their new play things. We even bought the kids tiny bags that they cherished carrying around with them.

Make The Itinerary An Activity 

We kept the kids pretty much in suspense the whole trip. So when leaving we told them of all the sights we would see in  St. Louis. At St. Louis, we told them all the fun things planned for them in Colorado.  In essence, the discussion of the destination becomes an activity in itself. This had a two pronged effect.

  1. They got super excited and asked questions along the way.
  2. They got involved in the planning on the way.

Food/Potty Breaks at Scenic Routes

You may be surprised how happy kids get seeing beautiful spots and exploring a lovely place even in the middle of no where. And they if they are kids like mine who love posing, they get a kick out of memorable clicks !

Breaks Every 2-4 Hours

Even if the kids are sitting and not asking to go to potty, take a break. It gives them a chance to stretch their legs, have some fun running around while breaks the monotony of the ride. It is a preemptive strike against boredom!

Stay Screen Free For Longer Periods

The temptation to keep the kids pacified aside, ensure to stay screen free for long periods of time. Gadgets can be used when you need to catch a nap or the kids truly get antsy.

  • Classic games are I Spy, License Plate, I’m Going on a Picnic, What Am I Thinking of.
  • Try to work learning into road-trip games. I love making games up on the fly!
  • Another favorite is making robots, letters from things at the table at the restaurants.

Download New Shows/Apps On  The Go 

Every spot that had free Wifi got utilized to give the kids hope for exciting new fun to come! Make sure to keep their Most Loved app/show a secret  for when you hit a traffic jam !

CDs Of The Kids’ Favorite Shows/Movies

This tip is for those who have a movie player installed in the car. Target has a great selection of $5 movies. Also, since we were only going to be gone 2 weeks, we borrowed a lot of CDs of the kids’ favorite shows/movies from the local library. With the two week return policy it was a God sent. Also, Redbox is a great option with it’s many locations.

Rare Snacks 

This trip, I made sure to keep snacks they love but haven’t had in a long time and have been banned at home. They relished the fact that they could enjoy rare treats on the mini vacation. A Happy Meal which is a rare treat in our home was a great way to appease them.

Include Strangers Into the Trip 

My kids and I love people watching and talking to strangers. Strangers are after all friends we haven’t met yet! Simple conversations lead to enriched experiences. Also, the kids I believe learn to accept different people and their view points. Remember to stay safe though.

  1. Ensure the little ones know not to talk about your home, routine life or destination.
  2. Write the kids’ name, address and phone number and keep them in their pockets.

Bonus Mindset Trip –

As I worried about how they would do on the trip after our first 4 hours of drive, my husband responded. ” Kids are resilient. Remember that all year round, your life revolves around them. If they do get antsy or cranky, it’s okay. It’s a phase and it shall pass. They will learn a lot from the experience. ” And they did !!!

Have you taken a road trip? What would you add to our complete list of items to take on your trip ?  What are your tips for keep the trip comfortable and tantrum free?

Tips to have a memorable trip with kids tantrumfree www.raisingworldchildren.com | Travel | Travel with Kids | Road Trip | Memorable Travel | Tantrumfree

Aditi Wardhan Singh is a mom of two, living it up in Richmond Virginia in USA. Raised in Kuwait, being Indian by birth she has often felt out of place. A computer engineer by profession, she is now a freelance writer and entrepreneur having founded Raising World Children. Impromptu dance parties with her little one are her ultimate picker upper. She provides tools to open minded parents to empower their children to raise positive, gracious, global thought leaders. She currently writes for the Huffington Post, Thrive Global, Richmondmomsblog, Desh Videsh Magazine and is author in an upcoming Anthology 100+MomsOneJourney as well.

 

8 Amazing Things About Travel in Cuba

8 Amazing Things About Travel in Cuba

Havana has been on the hot list ever since tourism opened for Americans. As someone who blogs about travel to Cuba and has gone five times in the past year, I get the question all the time: is it safe for kids?

Short answer: YES! Long answer: Some cities are just better than others.

The Most Kid-Friendly City In Cuba

The city of Havana is just like every other major city. The underbellies of society put out on front street: trash, crumbling buildings, and massive amounts of pollution. Don’t get me wrong, there are great things about Havana. But when I think of children, my number one suggestion would be the city of Viñales.

Why Is Viñales Safe?

Viñales is a town 2 hours west of Havana and can be accessed by taxi for $60 from the airport. While Cubans in general are very family and community-oriented people who incorporate children in every aspect of life, the city of Viñales itself is especially community-oriented.

With only one main road, and houses of every color lining the street, you immediately feel safe and secure. It’s a town where children can walk the streets alone, run in and out of each others houses, and play together in the town square. You better believe you can’t get lost or in trouble without a neighbor or two knowing about it.

[bctt tweet=”8 Amazing Things About Travel in Cuba with Kids” username=”contactrwc”]

Salsa Lessons for Kids

Speaking of the town square, there is always live music. Whether it be at a restaurant or the Casa del Cultura, music is sure to follow. Children and adults alike can take salsa lessons for $10/hour at the casa del cultura or booked through their casa particular. And at night at the Casa de la Musica, there is a nightly cultural dance show that starts at 9PM.

Stay With A Cuban Family

Accommodations in Cuba are fairly inexpensive at around $25-$30/night. But it is best to stay in a casa particular. These are either separate apartments or guest bedrooms where a Cuban family will rent out their extra space. To be in community with the locals is the best way to travel and the best way to have your children’s accommodations met. But please also be respectful! This is someone’s home, not a concierge service.

My personal favorite is Casa El Cactus. They will arrange everything from your salsa lesson, to your taxi transfer, to your tobacco tour, and will even cook you breakfast, lunch, or dinner in house.

Go On A Horse Ride Through The Tobacco Farms

Travel in Cuba

There are two options for touring through the tobacco farm: the walking option or the horse option. The guides have trained their horses to handle people of all ages from birth to the elderly. There’s no greater feeling than going on a slow walk through the tobacco farms by horse with your little one sitting in front of you. These tours only cost $25/person for touring with a personal guide through caves, lakes, coffee plantations, and tobacco farms.

The tobacco farmers walk you through the entire process of growing, preserving, and rolling the cigars, and even give adults a complimentary cigar to enjoy. These are the authentic Cuban cigars that John F. Kennedy loved so much. Viñales Valley is the only place where you can purchase cigars and the profits will go directly to the farmer as opposed to the Cuban government.

Snorkel and Swim at Cayo Jutias

A trip to the Caribbean just isn’t complete without a beach day. Daily trips to the nearest beach of Cayo Jutias are made from 9AM and return at 5PM. Upon arriving on the beach, you’re greeted with the most crystal clear blues and greens that you’ve ever seen.

It’s hard to grasp how perfect the water glitters and how calm the sea is. Palm trees offer shade on the white sand, coconuts filled with rum are served at the bar, and fresh lobster is sold on the sea. In addition, if you walk far enough, you can find starfish hidden in the shallow waters. You just can’t get a better beach day than this.

Bike Rides To The Mogotes

If your kids are old enough, I highly recommend doing a bike ride through the Mogotes to see the huge limestone cliffs that are signature of the Viñales Valley. If that is not an option, you can take a taxi to Hotel Jazmines and see the incredible view poolside. The landscape is so beautiful it doesn’t even look real.

travel in cuba

Other Tips for Kid-Friendly Travel in Cuba:

  • The water is not safe to drink.
  • Bottled water is available at every store for mixing formula.
  • Pack lots of sunscreen.
  • Bring a mosquito net.
  • Be flexible because Cuba is about laughs and going with the flow and not for the uptight.

8 Amazing Things About Travel in Cuba www.raisingworldchildren.com #travel #cuba #kids #traveltips

Kiona, Ph.D., is an advocate for women, minority populations, and being self-aware and accepting when cultures mix. She believes that if more people traveled, the more humans would have mutual respect for each other and a greater appreciation for the things they have at home; making the world more about love and less about hate. Her blog partners travelers with the best recommendations on how to conquer a country with minimal hassle and on a budget. You can find her website here.
3 Must-See Destinations in Oklahoma City

3 Must-See Destinations in Oklahoma City

Oklahoma City is a wonderful place to have a great vacation with plenty of local eateries, sites to see, history and shopping.

As a native Oklahoman, I have seen many changes to the city over the course of my life. Since I know that everyone has different tastes and likes, I wanted to share some of my favorite “must-see” destinations.

Raising World Children Oklahoma City

ARTS AND FOOD

Are you interested in the arts? The Arts district in Oklahoma City is called Paseo. This little area gives the feeling that you slipped away from the hustle & bustle of the city and into another time and space. In this area, you will find shopping, dining and history.

On the first Friday of each month, you can enjoy the Paseo art walk. All stores and restaurants remain open during this time and you are able to stroll through this neighborhood hot spot and check out the works of local artists.  When I need to get away, I head to the Picasso Cafe.  This is a cool little place that has indoor and outdoor seating.  They treat food like art here and I love the energy (and the food!) of this favorite little hot spot.

A LIGHTHOUSE ON THE WATER

If you have found yourself in this “land-locked” state and are a water lover like me, you might just enjoy this next favorite spot. The Hefner Grill is located at Lake Hefner. Ask to be seated on the patio. Enjoying the patio on a nice Oklahoma evening or on a beautiful Sunday morning for brunch while looking out at Lake Hefner, gives a spectacular feeling of a full belly and the tranquility of watching the waves of the lake.

If you time it just right, the sunsets are spectacular.  While enjoying the view at Hefner lake, you might also see my personal favorite, the Lighthouse.  As a Practitioner, I often serve as a lighthouse for people who are navigating a life storm.  That Lighthouse is always a reminder to me, that no matter how dark things may seem, look for the light.

OKLAHOMA CITY NATIONAL MEMORIAL AND MUSEUM

Raising World Children Oklahoma

My third favorite spot is breathtaking and surreal. The Oklahoma City National Memorial and Museum is a must-see in this great state. This particular spot marks a devastating day in Oklahoma history. The memorial is a place for reflecting.

You enter the memorial at 9:01, which is the moment just before the blast and you leave the memorial at 9:03, which is the moment just after the blast. In the middle, you will find the reflecting pool and lighted chairs of the 168 men, women and children we lost that day. This area represents 9:02 and the moment that changed nearly every Oklahoman on April 19, 1995, we lost many friends and family in this bombing. As you spend time at the memorial, you can feel the stillness that honors each and every person we lost that day.

Personally, I lost 3 close friends in this tragedy along with the daughter/granddaughter of dear family friends. I was actually one of the signatures on the petition to add the daycare. The building was where my mom first started her federal career.  It is the place she worked when I learned I was pregnant with my first child and gave her the news in that building.  Later, my mom and I worked across the street together in the Federal Courthouse.  My credit union was in that building and I knew all of those people, too.  Several years after the bombing, I had my first date with my later husband at one of their dinners.  This event changed my life.

BONUS FOR SPORTS FANS

As a bonus, I wanted to throw in a few other great spots.  Consider checking out the local museums, Cattleman’s restaurant (a local favorite!).  While I am proud to say that I graduated with two degrees from the University of Oklahoma, I am one of the rare Oklahomans who are not sport fans.

Oklahomans are avid sports fans which can be see all over town as people where the Crimson and Cream colors of the University of Oklahoma or the Orange and Black colors of Oklahoma State University.  If you are a basketball fan, come and learn how to THUNDER UP! at a Oklahoma City Thunder Basketball game.  I hear it’s a great time!

In conclusion, Oklahoma City is an interesting place to visit.  Culturally, we have improved greatly over the past several years.  Oklahoma City is a bigger city with a small town feel.

Have you ever visited? What is your favorite place to visit ?

3 Must See Destinations in Oklahoma www.raisingworldchildren.com #

Tammy Coin is a Mind-Body Wellness Practitioner, Teacher and Speaker. She holds sacred space & helps you locate the unhealed emotions leftover from Childhood Abuse & Trauma that block the door to your authentic self. She then partners with you, using the pieces of her own life, to empower, motivate and inspire you to fully uncover your Soul Purpose. You can find her http://thedoorsofwellness.com