Just last week, I found myself in Paris, France. I was about to meet my niece, who was studying abroad, but I gave myself an extra first day on my own. I made plans with our contributor in Paris, Marie Kléber, whom I didn’t know very well, but whom I was so excited to meet!
She met me at my hotel, and we headed out by metro to the area of Saint Martin. She helped me navigate purchasing my travel card, and led me to a trendy, “oh so good!”, vegan place for lunch. We sat on high stools looking out toward the street. We talked and talked and talked! (Mostly in English, but later switched to French!) I wanted to know all about her life. What her life was like in Paris as a mom. About the French elections happening the next day. She was curious about how World Moms Network got started, and if I had met any of the other World Moms and who! (Lucky to say, yes, I have!)
It felt surreal. I traveled all this way, and all of a sudden I have a good friend here whom I had never met before. But, it’s not a unique feeling. It’s the same feeling when Purnima from India met Ecoziva in Brazil. When Tara from Canada met Nancy in Tanzania. When Martine from the Philippines met Ruth in Singapore. When I met Mama B. from Saudi Arabia in NYC. In our own efforts we are satisfying (or igniting more!) curiosities about the world through meeting women from around the world. Woman who we wouldn’t come across in our towns or cities at home. We found them through this network.
In France I had a feeling of complete comfort in a foreign city that had just been the site of a terrorist attack the night before. After lunch Marie took me to see the statue of Rèpublique, a piece of her French heritage. Then, I assumed I’d just find my way back to my hotel on my own. I had such a fantastic time with her!!
But no, Marie, rode the metro back toward my hotel with me, out of her way. And walked me back to my hotel. She was going to tell me how best to get to a friend’s place for later tonight. It turned out it was only 2 blocks from where she lived. What are the chances of that? So, Marie insisted that she take me to my friend’s doorstep. And I insisted that she come in and meet my friend!
World Moms Network reminds me that the world isn’t so big. That there are amazing people to meet in every culture. We just have to reach out and allow ourselves to be connected. Let go of what is familiar. We may be surprised.
Marie gave me more than just great conversation, a tour around her home city, and sight-seeing tips for me and my niece. I had been feeling burnt out lately. I had spent so many years straight working and squeezing hours as though squeezing the last of the toothpaste to work on World Moms Network since 2010. And this past 100 days, watching how my own country is trying to defund the very life-saving global health programs that I’ve been writing about and passionately advocating for. Calling my Senators and Congressman. Reading. Disappointed. And on top of all that, busier in my children’s lives in my new role this year as Girl Scout Leader. And finally making exercise a priority for my health.
World Moms Network has continued to deliver while I have been juggling other life stages because of the strength of the team of women behind me. Just in case you ever thought that this site was just me, it’s sooo never been just me. Thank you to the World Moms who carry the torch when other World Moms just cannot.
It’s amazing how a conversation with a new friend thousands of miles away can take you back to what you stand for. For what you fight for. For peace. For friendship. For understanding. For cultural appreciation. For respect. For maturity. To help you find your footing. Guide you back to writing. To restore you energy.
It’s been awhile since I wrote. Thank you, Marie. I’m back.
This is an original post to World Moms Network by founder, Jennifer Burden, of New Jersey, USA.
Photo credits to the author.
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.
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.
World Moms Network and the Heartfulness Institute have partnered to bring forth a series of online monthly webinar workshops for women called GLOW which stands for ‘Genuine Loving Outstanding Women’. This helps women everywhere to learn and practice Heartfulness meditation from the comfort of their homes or workplace. The aim is to help women integrate meditation into their daily lives to achieve a more peaceful and balanced life, and a better environment. Each webinar will also feature an expert speaker, chosen from women who are outstanding in their fields, and are influencers and change makers.
Inspiration through Travels:
GLOW: #Heartfulness Webinar: Inspiration through Travels
A wanderlust heart is an indication of the soul’s urge to embark on an inner revelatory spiritual journey. Ms. Naiana Maximo is going to speak about her inspiration to travel and to jump into the unknown with a lot of faith; to experience the goodness of people; to face situations and challenges, to navigate them and perceive the beauty of a destination. Her travels, even though fleeting moments in time, have led her inwards in an adventure, into her heart.
Keynote Speaker – Ms. Naiana Maximo:
Ms. Naiana Maximo
Ms. Naiana Maximo is a trained Naturotherapist who works in Sao Paulo, Brazil. She is also a certified Heartfulness trainer and a keen traveler. Her love of travel and her aspiration to find meaning to her life, led her to the gates of the Heartfulness Center in the little town of Satkhol, high up in the Himalayas, where she knocked on the door and asked the manager to teach her how to meditate. And the rest, as they say, is history…!
In her spare time she plays the flute, writes poetry, sings Portuguese songs and also conducts concerts across Sao Paulo. She is a talented, versatile, inspirational and multi-faceted woman!
- An experience of Heartfulness Relaxation and Meditation
- Inspiration for participants to be ‘women of purpose and intent’, and to believe in the ‘goodness of the heart’.
- Learning how to follow one’s intuition, and to follow it, without giving up.
Date Time: Dec 20, 2016 7:00 PM IST, 8:30 AM EST, 2:30 PM CET (Calculate local time):
Who should attend:
All women across the globe who would love a hot cup of inspiration and who seek guidance to listen to the true calling of their heart! Please share the attached Social Media Promotional images in your circles, encouraging women to join.
For further information write to: GLOW@heartfulness.org
Please like and share the Social Media – Facebook Page – Heartfulness for Women for periodic updates and resources for women.
Like an increasing number of families in Japan, my children are being raised in a bilingual environment. We started this saga back in the days before the Internet took over the world, and I had to actually buy and read books to fill my mind with anxiety-inducing conflicting opinions. Now I can meet my anxiety quotient with a few clicks each day, much more efficient.
I found then, and now, that there is a lot of information geared towards young children and parents who still have their hair, having not yet ripped it all out in frustration when confronted by relatives or educators who don’t understand bilingualism, or worse, are prejudiced against it.
My kids are now 9 and 11, in 3rd and 6th grade at local Japanese schools. All of their education has been in Japanese. Our home life is basically in English, though the kids speak Japanese with Dad. He just isn’t around as much due to long working hours.
Some friends and I started an English school that focuses on literacy for already bilingual kids. We meet three times a month on Saturday. This is their only “formal” English training. Everything else has been left to me.
Which is every bit as hard as it sounds.
I thought I would share with you today my top tips for raising bilingual kids without losing your sanity. Please bear in mind that mine are 9 and 11 years old. I would love to hear top tips for teenagers, so please share your ideas on the comments!
1) Input input input. I have an unwritten rule that all media in the house should be in the minority language. (In our case, that’s English.) But we all know how much kids love rules…so I make sure to have a plethora of attractive English options, while keeping the Japanese options limited to network TV.
2) Encourage siblings to speak the minority language to each other. I know that this one is hard. Siblings have their own relationship with each other separate from their parents, and we don’t want to be up in there and intruding. Some things like school or homework, is just be easier to discussed in the majority language and I try not to get too worried about that.
Having games, puzzles, something they can do together that uses the minority language is one way to encourage them to use it with each other without having to get in their face about it. “Operation,” for example, is funnier in English. Mad Libs or other word puzzles are great! They keep talking about it, in the same language, for quite a while afterwards.
3)Read- We all know that reading to your children is important, but perhaps even more so for bilingual children. Even when you think your kids should be reading to themselves, keep reading to them. This will help emphasize good grammar structure (sometimes strange patterns can get kind of fossilized within a family.) Also through reading you can expose your children to situations they would ‘t normally have a chance to encounter, and all the vocabulary that comes with that.
4) Identify vocabulary holes. Bilingual people often have greater vocabulary in one language about a particular topic than the other. My children probably don’t know words like “ladle” or “whisk” in Japanese because they aren’t exposed to those terms outside of the home. Conversely, there are lots of words related to school life that they will not learn in English unless I make an effort to imagine where those holes will be and prevent them. I find often that when talking to each other, they fill that space with the Japanese word This phenomenon is called code-switching.
5)Don’t panic over code switching. According to most experts, code switching isn’t really a problem; But as a parent, it can be disconcerting! Personally, I repeat what the child has said with the correct English term, if there is one. I don’t usually make them repeat it in English or point out they have said something incorrect.
6) Use background music. I find that if the background music is in English, pretty soon everyone is speaking English!
7) Routine is your friend. Getting the children to do their English reading and writing was a huge battle in the beginning, but we built it into their morning routine. There are some days when we don’t get to it, and even more when not as much gets done as I would like, but because we have a routine in place and an expectation that it will get done, it’s easier to get back on track and stay there.
8) Keep a sense of humor. Raising kids is hard work, full stop. Adding another language to the mix adds another layer of difficulty. But it also adds another layer of cute mistakes and funny memories. Just now I asked my son to come back by a decent hour, and he exploded that he would come home an hour early. Um, that was “decent hour,” not “descent hour,” which is not even a thing.
Do you have any tips to add? Any insight into bilingual teens? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
“You are an immigrant Mommy…is that mean you can’t come to America?”
There’s a concern in his tone. A frown showed up as he tries to make sense of his new elected president.
“Well…technically I am no longer an immigrant, Alex. I once was when we were still living there until you were 2 years old.”
He searched my face for more answer.
“But right now, for the time being, we will not be living in America. We are living here in Indonesia. Of course, one day if we want to, we may come there for a visit to see your Grandparents, your Uncle Greg, and his family also your brothers.”
“But Trump won’t let you come because you are not American!”
“I’m sure it will all be alright when the time comes. Let’s not worry until then ok? With the right paper works, of course, I can still come with you. I will need a visa first.”
“What’s a visa, Mommy? How come you don’t have one?”
“A visa is like a permit to visit a country. Every country has different rules when it comes to visa. I don’t have one after my conditional resident permit ended.”
Then I went on to explain what a green card is, how I got one in the first place many years ago while I was still married to his father. Of how I returned the card post-divorce.
My almost 10 year old boy was worried that his mother, a non-US citizen may not be able to go to America with him one day. He overheard the news while I watched the whole campaign and how Trump has been voted in as president of the United States.
“Why is he so angry all the time?” was his first question when he asked who Trump is.
Being a mother to a dual citizenship child, I have been following the whole election period. Why? Because my son is an American citizen. Whoever won the election will have a lasting impact on his future in one way or another.
Yes, we are living thousands of miles away from America but trust me, being a third world country citizen what happens in America will greatly impact everyone. I still vividly remember how scary it was post the September 11 tragedy. I was working in a hotel in Jakarta and an emergency plan was set in place because a hardline Muslim group was sweeping hotels looking for American citizens after the attack.
Being of the minority religion in Indonesia (I am a Christian) any time there’s a religious uproar going on in my country, we are living in danger to say the least. So Trump’s anti-Muslim propaganda will greatly impact everyone. With Indonesia being the most Muslim populated country, declaring war on my Muslim friends will cause scary consequences.
Not all Muslim are terrorists so it is truly unfair how Trump is making his blanket statements. I have Muslim friends living in America who have received discriminations ever since he ran his campaign and I fear for their safety too.
There’s little that I could do other than telling my son that hatred will not help anyone, that what the world desperately needs at the moment is more love, more compassion towards one another regardless of race, the color of peoples’ skin, religious beliefs and sexual orientations. I can only pray that my son will grow up with great respect and kindness to the many differences we all have as human beings.
How do you explain the American election result to your children?