A Travellerspoint blog

Entries about children

Packing Light

semi-overcast 78 °F

Another long trip from Hawaii to the mainland. First to the Bay, then a drive to Lake Tahoe. Another flight to Seattle, and then back home to Hawaii. Our son has become such an experienced traveler. I have heard not to travel with kids, that it is difficult for them. Actually, it doesn't seem to faze our son. It is my husband and I that appear worse for the wear. Sometimes we get less sleep staying in an unfamiliar bed. We are hot and sweaty from hauling many bags around. We have come to the conclusion based on our 9 (!) bags from this past trip, that somehow, someway, our packing strategy & our bag count has to change. We are currently traveling with two more bags than we took for our three month excursion through Italy. With five more bags than our joint trip round the world in 2003. Granted, a toddler needs many more items to keep them entertained than travel sans children, or even travel with infant. With infant, you need diapers, wipes, a rattle and possibly a monitor and you're good. With a toddler, you still need the diapers and wipes, but now you also need a ton of food and snacks, books, the trusty blankie or in our case 'wolfie' (the stuffed wolf Bodhi sleeps with), several key books, a few toys, an ipod and speaker, a video player... I could go on, but we realized between my husband and I, we bring about a full bag for each of us, the other 7 seem to all be essentials for Bodhi.

So...now I realize that the real deterrent to travel with children is the sheer volume of items that you need for them to be comfortable and entertained. We are going to go through some serious inventory work and some downsizing, much like corporate America has been assessing their work force and productivity. What items can we live without? What items are duplicates? What items can we possibly replace with newer more efficient (or smaller) versions?

We recently received a tiny Monster iClarity bluetooth speaker as a gift. This is perfect, because it is a wireless speaker, small and perfect for travel because you can 'stream' music from your computer, ipad or iphone = perfect travel device. No need for additional ipod used solely as a nighttime wave machine. Speaking of technology, the ipad has been the greatest travel invention of our time. OK, we still bring 'real books' along too, but we also have a virtual library of books, apps, videos, and hours of plane ride entertainment of one small device. It has easily been the best purchase and best travel device for our son. At first, I admit, I thought it was indulgent for a two year old to play with such a pricey machine. I thought it was overkill. After several long flights from Hawaii to the mainland, I can tell you that was some of the best money we spent, letting him have our old ipad, buying a new one for ourselves. Our two year old is blissfully entertained and able to sit in his car seat on the airplane for several hours without fussing. And this is the same child who refuses to sit in a stroller or sit still for more than several seconds: always, always on the move. Climbing, jumping, running, swimming, hiking, bouncing balls, moving from toy to toy, into everything and anything. This same child can be mesmerized by an Elmo app for an hour. AND it has taught him the alphabet, how to trace letters, and countless words. Pretty incredible stuff. This admitted techno-phobe is now a complete convert to the amazing world of the ipad.

But I digress...other things that we do to make travel easier are to always travel with small detergent packets, for washing on the go. I recommend if traveling with children to get a few items that are synthetic fibers (i.e. a fleece sweatshirt, instead of cotton) and that way, you can wash and easily drop it when it gets inevitably dirty on first wear. The amount of clothing you need to pack for a small child is ridiculous when you consider during half of their meals they spill something, they are still occasionally waking soaking wet from sleep, and jumping in mud puddles or climbing trees. They get dirty. It's best to have clothes you can wash and re-wear. We try to bring toys that have multiple functions or can provide different forms of entertainment. I like flashcards, and crayons or those invisible markers. We usually bring a soft ball, some type of bath or water toy, and a truck or train. Nothing annoyingly loud with batteries for the airplane. I like to bring toys that don't have small parts, and not ones that are favorites...ones that are dispensable, or at least can be easily replaced. I don't like to have to worry about finding small pieces or leaving something behind that will cause tears. Less travel stress = happier momma.

The essentials for me (to travel with less stress) are the sleep routine items. For us, that means 2 books, Wolfie his stuffed wolf, alternative milk, (soy or rice if we don't think we can get it where we are going), and his wave music that we put on when he sleeps. That way, he feels a sense of home no matter where we are. This seems to be a key component to our success with traveling. When Bodhi was younger, we traveled everywhere with our own crib. We literally hauled an extra bag that was his travel crib. He slept so much better that way than when we tried various cribs in different hotels. You know, they smell different, the sheets are different...you can't blame him really. I reasoned, better to have his own crib, even if we set that bed in a different place every night, he has a comfort, a piece of home. Like the calm in the center of a storm, if you provide an anchor for children to feel secure, than I think they have no problem adjusting to external fluctuations of time and place. Plus, it made us more flexible to stay in pensions, rental houses and other places where sometimes cribs are not available. Now that he's older, he does OK sleeping on other beds and cribs as long as we are with him and he has his bedtime routine. And when your child/infant sleeps better on a trip, I don't think I have to tell you how much better that is for everyone... to us, it's the most important thing of all when traveling with your child, to bring the items they need to sleep well.

Posted by globalmomma 05:21 Archived in USA Tagged children travel well with light sleep packing change time beds clothing toddler adjusting essentials cribs Comments (0)

Those people...

sunny 82 °F

Utoh, honey...don't look now but we have turned into those people that we slightly sidestepped while we were a couple without children. Those people who gushed about how their child was a genius, and spent the first half hour of dinner babbling on about the latest news of their child's life...how he is being potty trained, and how amazing it is to watch him swim. Not that we weren't interested in kids, it's just that... Let's be honest - our kids are the most interesting part of our world, but not necessarily in everyone else's lives.

I remember what it was like before I had a child, to not understand why they became the center of a mother's or a father's universe. Yet now here I am knowing this, and meeting up with a couple friend of ours last night, I still could not keep myself from going on and on with stories and revelations about my son. I had no idea how much I would love my son, and I also had no idea how all-consuming it would be for me, even though I saw it become that for so many other women before me. I thought I was different, thought I could relate, thought I would still be trendy and talk about my own interests and ideas like book clubs and running marathons. Little did I know that most moms are just trying to button their jeans properly after a rough night without sleep, or are spending the better part of their days at the park watching their child conquer something new. They ARE the best part of our days, they are the most interesting thing in our lives - THIS is our new frontier, our new hobby, our new obsession: our children.

Posted by globalmomma 15:53 Archived in USA Tagged children park work obsession hobbies conversation Comments (0)

School shootings

A moment of long pause and reflection comes over me as I watch the words scroll across the small video screen imbedded in the airplane seat: Shooting in Ohio school. Another shooting in an American high school.

I find this so hard to take. Not just because I have my own child to think about, but because the whole concept is so unthinkable. Children killing children. I want to scream. I wish I could rewind it and stop the words from coming, wish I could stop this pain and this loss of innocence. It is very hard to find the words to write because I am sick down to the core of myself with despair. Maybe it should not come as a shock - there have been at least a dozen shooting in the past decade, but each one, no matter where they occur, is like a dagger to the heart of every parent.

How could this happen to our kids? Why? I am afraid to think of the answers.

I read an excerpt from a book called The Bully Society, and I wonder if that is a concept we are teaching our children, that bullying and teasing is a natural part of growing up. I wonder if the promotion of individualism sometimes leaves community and socialization behind. In all our strivings to create the perfect life for our children - perfect neighborhoods, good schools, nice things...sometimes we lose track of the most important thing of all - spending time with our children. Reminding them of their intrinsic worth. Loving our children as if they are all that matters in the universe, because they are. They all are. I worry about an infection of cultural unhappiness that I see around me, and I wonder if it contributes to the unhappiness rampant in children.

As I struggle to make sense of this situation, I worry about where I will send my son to school. Or how I will drop him off at school knowing these things. And I worry about children who are not feeling loved at home, and who are not being accepted at school. I don't know how to affect each and every one of them, but I wish that I could. I wish I could wrap my arms around the hearts of every child in the world and let them all be loved. I hope in some small way, we can all contribute to this mission, and we can all reverse this epidemic, bringing safety and kindness and acceptance back into our schools and our kids' lives.

Posted by globalmomma 09:07 Archived in USA Tagged children school love violence shootings Comments (0)

Big Shoes to Fill

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Each day I am amazed at how quickly children grow, and how much they absorb. It is a constant struggle to keep present and aware, so that I don't miss a thing. Last week, Bodhi came out of our room yelling momma! momma! and I rushed over to see him grinning ear to ear. Momma shoes. He was walking around in my shoes. Since then, he has been pulling every pair of our shoes out of the closet, walking around the house in them, so pleased with himself.

Cutest thing ever. And a reminder of how much he watches what we do, who we are. He wants to follow what his parents do, a natural process of a kid, and an incredible responsibility for the parents. Since I was pregnant with Bodhi I felt this concentrated desire to be a better person, not for me, but for him. Now as he grows, I feel this even more. I hope to be the person that I want him to see, to aspire to become, to know in his life. It is absolutely baffling what children will inspire within you.

Posted by globalmomma 04:17 Archived in USA Tagged children up shoes growing inspire Comments (0)

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