If you loved to travel pre-kids, you probably got a big shock the first time you traveled with kids. Goodbye vacation, hello stressful multi-tasking of the whereabouts, safety, and happiness of little people amidst canceled flights, busy airports, and a foreign place where you don’t speak the language.
Traveling with kids, especially young ones, is not glamorous. There are the long flights, canceled connections, missed naps, heavy car seats, and sometimes, hefty expenses. Top that with some whining, lack of motivation to get up and go, and the rogue fever or ear infection, and travel with kids can be just plain exhausting. So, why put yourself – and your family – through the hassle?
Travel is an exceptional gift for your children, and in many more ways than one. In fact, I can think of eight, which I have listed below.
- Travel will introduce them to the beautiful diversity of our world. It opens them up to an array of cultures, languages, landscapes, and religions. They experience different holidays, traditions, types of food (kimchi, anyone?), varying styles of art and architecture. It awakens their senses and shows them that this is a big, wide world. That the world is bigger than their cul-de-sac. That the other kids in it might dress differently, speak differently, or even live very differently. Celebrating Loi Krathong by sending floats into the water in Thailand, helping on working farms in western Australia, listening to our gondolier explain how he came to inherit his profession as we glided down the small canals of Venice; these experiences and many more are what have taught our children that diversity exists, that it is good, and that it should not be feared, but instead explored and celebrated.
- Travel may help them grow into understanding and compassionate people. When we have the chance to see that people adopt different habits, customs, and traditions, it can create a sense of understanding, and even compassion in us. Just as we learn that the world is a diverse place, we learn to accept that people look, dress, and do things differently. When we see people in situations less fortunate than ourselves, we may also become compassionate. We may grow and develop a sense of wanting to make the world a better place – whether that is through helping humanity or the environment.
- Travel will teach them the importance of flexibility. Whether they like it or not, travel will teach kids to be more flexible; because, let’s face it – not all travel goes smoothly. When you were supposed to take a beautiful hike around the cliffs of Mohr, but the weather went awry. When you were supposed to have a 45-minute connection in Chicago, but your flight was delayed, you missed your connection, and now you have four hours to spend in the airport. When you ordered something off a dim sum cart in Hong Kong, but it just was not what you were expecting. Yes, travel will begin to teach children the fine art of flexibility. And as a parent, you will be thankful for that.
- Travel will awaken their sense of adventure. For some children, a sense of adventure is ingrained; but others are more cautious. By exposing children to new things beyond their day-to-day experiences, you are showing them that it is okay – and even good – to try new things. They might discover that “taking risks” will pay off. Perhaps they were hesitant to jump off the boat in the middle of the ocean, but when they look down to see a beautiful ecosystem of fish and coral below, their fear will fade away. Just a few weeks ago, we visited the Tatra Mountains in Strbske Pleso, Slovakia. There was an activity called “snow rafting” in which you jump in a white-water raft with a guide and go barreling down a snow tube to the level ground below. Even I was nervous to do it. But my children? They had no fear. They have learned to embrace new things (only ones we deem as safe, of course) and it wonderful to watch the joy and exhilaration on their faces when they find something new that they love.
- Travel will create wonderful memories for the whole family. This is the primary reason we travel – to create memories. Some will argue that it is not worth it to travel with young children because they won’t remember anything. I politely disagree. Okay, if the child is 18 months, he or she will not remember that walk through the rice paddies in Bali. But you will. Instead of allowing your family to keep you from traveling, let it do the opposite. Let it be your escape from the long days or sleep-deprived nights at home. Be sleep deprived in beautiful villa on Mallorca, with a beach nearby . . . or in Paris, with a view of the Eiffel Tower from your room. My nearly seven-year old remembers our nature walks in the Margaret River Valley where we spotted kangaroos when we he was only three. And my nearly five-year old remembers indulging in chai tea lattes on the side streets of Bangkok when she was only three. They do remember earlier than you think, so don’t sell yourself (or them) short.
- Travel will bring you closer together as a family. This probably goes without saying, but sharing new experiences in amazing places around the world will certainly bring you closer together as a family. You learn to be flexible together (see point 2), navigate new places together, try new food together. There is certainly a lot of bonding that goes on. And the bonding doesn’t only happen in the times when things are new and exotic. It happens in the moments of downtime as well. That card game around the table, that picture-taking lesson in the airBNB, that journaling about the best part of your day at the end of the day. Cherish the moments of no distraction just as much as the ones that are glamorous and exciting. Your family can grow together in those moments just as much or more.
- Travel with your family also allows you to travel. If you were an avid traveler pre-kids, but stopped traveling when the kids were born, don’t you feel like something is missing? Why not share your passion for travel with your children? Sure, it will require more time, patience, energy (and money!), but taking them along with you on new journeys not only enriches them (see all points above), it nourishes you. It allows you to continue doing something you love and enjoy. Finding that balance of providing and caring for your children, as well as taking care of yourself, is critical when you become a parent. Don’t let something you enjoy so much slip off the table; just learn how to adapt and do it in new ways.
- Travel is a wonderful form of education, enrichment, and exploration. For all of the reasons I have listed above, nothing packs as much of an educational punch as traveling does. Have I rested my case? Get out there and explore. Bring your loved ones. Let new experiences in foreign places teach them about the world and themselves. Travel is a wonderful gift. It is always worth “the hassle.”
Do you travel with your kids?
This is an original post written by Loren Braunohler for World Moms Network.
I worry about you.
I worry about not being the best mother for you.
About not giving you what you need.
I don’t have a manual.
All I have are my instincts, my feelings and my love for you.
No one tells me that I am doing a good job.
But there are plenty of hints and questionable looks suggesting that I am not.
So I worry.
My mind floods with fear that you might need more.
Something, someone to help you flourish.
And I worry that my love for you is not enough.
I carry this load and observe you daily, in silence.
I sigh of relief when I see you smiling and enjoying yourself.
My heart cringes when I see you struggling.
I’m afraid to share my thoughts, my worries.
To speak out about my growing sense of trouble.
About the signs that I see.
Am I seeing signs?
Or am I overthinking?
I struggle with acceptance.
Not because I can’t accept you for who you are.
Their silent question marks,
weigh on me like judgement.
And I have a hard time shaking that off.
I battle with misconceptions and harsh opinions of strangers.
But when I look at you,
I can tell every little aspect of you that makes you so precious.
I see your infinite worth.
You are like that one flower in the flower bed.
The flower that keeps drawing my eye
Uniquely shaped yet oddly colored.
The flower that I admire the most.
This piece is a combination of my own struggles and the struggles of the mothers that I face around me.
Mothers who have a child that is struggling or going through a rough time;
Mothers who have a child that is developing differently;
Mothers who have a child that has special needs.
I would like to ask you to withhold your judgment or quick advice.
Just see her, and respect her process.
After all she is just like you.
She loves and wants the best for her child.
Do you ever worry about your child’s development?
How do you cope? What are strategies that help you?
This is an original post written by Mirjam for World Moms Network
Earlier this week I wrote a gratitude post to share on my personal blog and I was really struck by a tweet someone sent me in response. It said “what an inspirational post, I need to do more good in the world” and it really got me thinking. We all need to do more good in the world. You only have to watch the news to realize there is a lot that needs doing but I think I might be preaching to the converted here as the crux of World Moms Network has always been to pull together mothers from around the world to share their experiences of parenthood and fighting for social good and human rights.
You never know though, there could be a mother reading this who has a real passion for the poor, is gifted at befriending or wants to ensure equality for all people but hasn’t yet had the opportunity or confidence to step out and do something practical. So this post is for you, to challenge you and to encourage you. Becoming a volunteer might not be the easiest thing you have ever done but I am totally sure it will be one of the most worthwhile.
This last week I have worked on a voluntary basis six days out of seven for four different charities. I’ve worked in reception and bookings for a Christian conference centre, sorted food at a warehouse and packed bags of supplies at the local Food Bank, coached a young boy who is on the cusp of exclusion from school and cooked breakfast at the homeless shelter. How many of these things are related to my day job or the work I trained to do? Very few but here I am doing them anyway.
It’s not usual for me to do quite so much voluntary work in one week and I’m certainly not advocating that you start out doing so much, it is just the way it worked out this week and they all fitted around my children being at school or my husband being home with them. That is one of the big benefits of volunteering, it is so flexible. I don’t have to give a full day, it was enough to do two hours at the night shelter this morning, that meant twenty men and women had a hot breakfast before they went back out into the freezing cold today.
A sense of satisfaction
“But why?” You might ask. “You have three school-aged children, paid writing work to complete, two blogs to manage, church responsibilities to take care of, friends to see and a house to upkeep Michelle, why do you need more?” The simple answer would be that I don’t, there is lots in my life but I love to be busy and I have a very strong work ethic. It is totally the right thing (for my family) for me to be available for the kids out of school but forgive me, it doesn’t always stretch or fulfill me in the way that paid out-of-the-home work used to so this was the initial reason I got into volunteering.
I’m giving back
Also since becoming a Christian fifteen years ago I have a heightened awareness of just how blessed I am to live in the UK and to have a comfortable life with great family and friends. I truly believe that all people are equal and therefore it goes without saying that I just can’t stand the inequality we see in the world.
I desperately want to change things and be able to feed all those starving across the world but actually I don’t have the skills to do that so I have to make sure I am taking my small footsteps and joining together with other generous and compassionate people to make ripples that can longer term become waves of change.
It challenges me
Not just change elsewhere in the county or world though, there has been change in me too, both in terms of my skills and also my mind-set. I’m ashamed to say that before I started volunteering with the Food Bank a few years back I had no idea just how difficult life is for some people. It is easy to assume that those living off our British benefits system want to be doing so and might even be milking the situation. Over the last couple of years I have learnt that I cannot judge anyone, we all have different journeys and you are only qualified to comment when you have been there.
If you, like me are a mother taking time out of your career right now to be more family orientated then volunteering is a wonderful way to continue with your personal development. Most industries now want to see evidence at interview that you have been keeping up to date and developing your skills. Through my volunteering at the food bank and night shelter I have increased my compassion, ability to talk to anyone and my willingness to do the grotty jobs. Then my work at the conference centre has helped with my patience and working with characters who may not share the same views as me and my volunteering as the coach coaching a vulnerable child has helped with my own parenting in regards to having fun together, really listening and setting boundaries.
I’m sure you can tell I love my voluntary work and there is so much out there that you can do. My heart is for the poor and that is the reason I undertake most of my voluntary roles but you might be passionate about animals, wanting to help those you are bereaved or on fire for protecting the environment. I just urge you today to take ten minutes on your computer and see what local volunteering opportunities there are that might suit you.
Go on, I think You’ll enjoy it! Mich x
Do you volunteer?
This is an original post to World Moms Blog by Michelle Pannell who can normally be found writing at Mummy from the Heart and Progress Not Perfection.
Last week a family member answered one of my questions by « you are such a dreamer! ». This was not a compliment. This was a statement saying something like this “you are so naïve” – “you’re 36, wake up”. I heard this before. I’ve heard it since I took the first step into adulthood.
It made me think.
What’s wrong about being a dreamer? What’s right about not being one?
Should I stop dreaming now? Why? Why should I stop being who I am? Why should I follow the crowd?
Big things happened in this world because at some stage people thought these things were possible.
Everything starts with an idea. Everything is set into motion because people have a dream and believe in it. They make it happen. They have faith.
Do narrow-minded people have dreams?
They don’t. They accept things as they are. Even if these things don’t please them. And if they have some, they don’t follow them, surely thinking it’s not worth it.
Back to the conversation we were having. The family member who said that is old enough to be a grand-dad. Maybe he’s just fed up with life. I am sure he had dreams at some stage (all kids have dreams!) but these dreams vanished. And he’s now left with nothing else but regrets and resentment towards life.
I don’t want to become like him. I hold on tight to my dreams. I dream of a better world. I see life as a wonderful opportunity to share love and light, to learn tolerance and respect, to help one another and to build step by step, all together, a peaceful planet.
If people stop dreaming, what our world is going to be like? What will we get if we don’t imagine tomorrow’s world? What will happen is we stop creating and just accept violence, greed, injustice?
I am a Dreamer and I am proud of it. I’d like to dream till the end and pass it on to my son. I am a Dreamer and I invite you to dream with me. The toughest battles and the most wonderful victories have been achieved by people with, what others thought were, “impossible” dreams!
Are you a dreamer or a realist?
This is an original post written fro World Moms Network by MarieV in France.
Today is my birthday.
It also marks the day that I’ll start to remain vague about my age.
A few years ago I turned 40,(No, I won’t give you specifics.)
And I remember a slight panicky feeling in my chest the night before.
I thought I was officially old.
But there was a life after 40 and it was a good one.
Some of my friends are approaching 50,
and they are making me feel pretty darn good about my age.
I have come to terms with myself and who I am.
The 40 something version of me is more outspoken and less anxious.
I feel older, wiser, and more at peace with myself.
Life has shown me that it is ever changing.
When I become too comfortable everything shifts and a new process begins.
The perfectionist in me has learned that there is no endgame, no specific goal to achieve.
I am an ever continuing work in progress.
But I do have the urge to be hopeful, helpful.
To spread kindness and positivity.
I want to fulfill my hopes and dreams.
I want to love and to be loved back.
Never stop learning and continue to grow.
My birthday is always at the same time of the year,
that I start to reflect and set my goals for the next year.
Oh, and what a crazy year it was.
This year I will just take a moment to count my blessings.
I have no specific birthday wishes or wishes for 2017,
only to be extended the grace to enjoy a fulfilling life.
I want to live my live to the fullest,
and not being held back by fear at trying to fulfill my hopes and dreams.
And I want to dance be silly and artistic.
Now excuse me while I go and eat some cake!
What are your birthday wishes?
Have you set your goals for 2017?
This is an original post written for World Moms Network by Mirjam in the Netherlands.
I am Portuguese. My parents and grandparents are Portuguese. My partner is Portuguese and his parents and grandparents are Portuguese. Both my children are Portuguese. Yet, I do not fit in my own country, Portugal, especially as a mother.
Despite being Portuguese, my childhood years were spent abroad and at international schools. I celebrated Halloween when it wasn’t popular here yet, and I loved Thanksgiving dinners. My views of the world have always been interwoven with different cultures and customs. I expected to fall in love with a foreigner and have a multicultural family and lifestyle. Fate gifted me instead with a Portuguese man with a huge heart and an incredible open-mindedness. That combination steers me away even further from the traditional mindset of the Portuguese. Being 100% Portuguese, I am somewhat labelled “alternative” or “hippie”.
To start with, my children have unusual names – Giani and Noah. My partner and I had to browse a 400-page list of authorised names until we found Giani. In Portugal, names have to be authorised by the state, so you either pick one from the list or you submit a request. We did not opt for a traditional Portuguese name like Martim or Francisco or a trendier one like Benjamim. When asked about my children’s names, the second question is “So, your husband is… Italian? British, perhaps?”. No, my partner is Portuguese and we just decided on a different name. That’s a strange concept in this country, so I am automatically labelled as an “alternative mother”. In fact, names represent the social or economic status of the parents.
When my son was six months old and started eating solid food, I went the usual, traditional route recommended by the paediatrician: pureed fruits and veggies. My super calm and laid-back child turned into a monster as soon as he would see the spoon approaching his mouth. I dreaded mealtimes. The paediatrician’s suggestion was to force it in him because he needed the nutrients. That did not sit well with me so I stopped feeding him, offering him breastmilk exclusively while searching online for an answer. Baby-led weaning was the answer and it seemed very natural to me. My son soon began to devour steamed broccoli, potatoes and carrots. I also began potty training him at eight months old. These options were completely frowned upon by the paediatrician and my more traditional friends thought it was strange. Some thought I was endangering my child. Some thought I was crazy. At the time, I didn’t have so-called hippie friends so I really had no one other than my partner to truly support me.
Until my son was about six months old, I felt insanely lonely. All my friends were either single or had no children. By chance I ran into a friend from one of the international schools I attended in Lisbon and she introduced me to a weekly playgroup organised by international, expat mothers. I started attending with my son and it was delightful to be around so many different mothers who were all naturally open to different views towards child-rearing.
Socialising in Portugal the standard way is extremely hard and frustrating for me. Most of our couple friends with children have a very busy schedule during the weekend, shuffling between in-laws. We see them at birthday parties. If the couple has one child, we will socialize with them once a year, if they have two, we will socialize twice and so forth. I miss the spontaneity and openness of my international friends when I lived abroad. I miss sharing cultures (celebrating Thanksgiving, Halloween, Easter, etc.) and creating a community with friends.
I feel this sense of being foreign in my own country almost on a daily basis. I leave the park when the Portuguese mothers arrive, my children’s mealtimes are almost at the same time as their afternoon snack, and my children go to bed much earlier than the standard time.
The more traditional friends find my views strange and consider me a hippie and I find the views of my “alternative” friends a bit too extreme for me. So, I sit in the middle, on a tiny island. Fortunately, I found a group of international mothers and fathers, all with different backgrounds and origins, where I fit in perfectly. I am able to enjoy my “Portuguese-ness” subtly without any pressure. I take comfort in knowing that I am now part of a community, a small family. We meet up regularly and I am accepted without labels. I am not a hippie, I am not Portuguese – I am just the mother of two sons with non-Portuguese names who speaks Portuguese perfectly.
If you’re an expat, have you ever felt this way when coming home?
This is an original post for World Moms Network written by guest poster, Sofia Caessa, in Portugal.
Sofia Caessa grew up by the canals of Overschie, the Netherlands, the skyscrapers of São Paulo, Brazil and the beachs of Cascais, Portugal. Her love for Theatre took her to New York City, where she intended to pursue a career in Theatre. Instead, she became involved in Film and writing. After a few years in the USA, Sofia decided to move back to Europe. In Brussels she worked for Violeta Lab, a cultural organisation she founded, and in film production. There, she founded the Little Film Academy. Now living in Portugal, Sofia is the mother of two boys and works at Lêleh Land, a creative space that fosters imagination, free play, exploration and discovery. She also has a blog, Mami Coração, where she shares homemade activities for children, and homemade natural products.