The Truth About Travelling with Kids

img_7206Here are the details: we took our 4 year old son (Ollie) and our 15 month old daughter (Jaime) to Europe for two weeks. We flew from Toronto to Paris to Stockholm, stayed for a week and then flew from Stockholm to Paris, to Bordeaux. Yes, there are hundreds of posts out there about “the truth” about traveling with kids, so I’ll do my best to not be repetitive and really just lay out the facts. If you want the cole’s notes, read right below, if you want the long version, keep reading.

  1. Don’t expect anything.
  2. Give up on following any kind of routine.
  3. Even the crappy moments have silver lining.img_7153

Don’t Expect Anything

Prior to leaving I had all these silly expectations about how I would keep my children on Canadian time, we could go out for late dinners, not be on the bedtime clock, blah, blah. You just can’t have any expectations about what it will be like, not one. There were moments when I thought what are we doing? Traveling around Europe with small children could actually be used as a form of torture. They could really start doing that. Putting people on an 8 hour plane ride with a bunch of toddlers, people would start talking fast. Trying to get my hyper-active 4 year old to stop kicking the seat in front of him is like trying to jam a square peg into a round hole.

img_7295Having any expectations that you’ll tour around castles and see historic sites is just silly. I tried to take Ollie to an old castle in France, first of all it was a guided tour, second of all it was in French and third (most importantly) you were not meant to touch anything. Truth was, I had no idea about any of this until we were on the tour, we lasted 10 minutes of a 3 hour tour, not bad, not bad at all. Oliver just wanted to touch everything and despite my numerous requests to go to the bathroom before we went into the castle he decided 10 minutes in that he needed to pee desperately and that was the end of that.

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Give up on following any routine

Yes – that’s right, nap times and routines and schedules just throw all that stuff out the window cause there’s no point in trying. Some days we had naps at 6pm and we went to bed at midnight, all of us. Some days we slept late and more than once we were wandering the streets in Strangas (a small town in Sweden) at 3am with everyone in tow. Here’s something I’ve learned about travelling with kids, stop judging other parents. Sometimes, I see kids out and about in Toronto at late hours and think about the parenting skills being used, who lets their kids go to bed that late, what are they thinking? Seriously, what am I thinking? You just never know what’s really happening.

img_7244Even the crappy moments have silver lining.

We got lost in France, very, very lost. We were on very little sleep, had a flight at 6am (from Stockholm to Paris), which meant we were up at 4am. Then another flight from Paris to Bordeaux and then we were meant to drive from Bordeaux to the rental house which was in a small town about 2 hours outside of Bordeaux. Instead though, we drove in the complete opposite direction, as a point of reference (for Canadians) it would be like if you were trying to get to London, Ontario and you ended up in Kingston instead. This was a true moment of #wtf – whose idea was it to come to Europe with kids. We’re somewhere in the middle of France, hungry, tired and longing for sleep. There were two ways we could have looked at this crappy moment, we could have started to blame one another for getting us lost (there was about 5 minutes of this) or we could look at it like an adventure and make the most of it. Always look for the silver lining. We hung out in this small town, had dinner, walked around and then got back in the car and drove for 3 hours. Our children were remarkably well behaved.

Trick of the trade – “who can be the quietest the longest” is the greatest game on earth. I will cry when both my kids learn the truth behind this wonderful game of silence.

img_7177Truth:

There were also moments, when I loved my family, my children and my husband ferociously. When I was over the moon with happiness, where I truly was in the moment I was in and not worrying about other moments that have passed or ones that were to come. I wasn’t worrying about laundry, cooking, dishes, vacuuming or any other boring household chore that enter my mind when I’m trying to play superheroes and I’m simultaneously too busy trying to actually be one. I could just play with my kids, be in their little worlds and enjoy the wonderment of childhood.

Would I do this trip again? In a heartbeat. It would be helpful if I could win the lottery before the next one though, I would bring a full staff with me.

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Small and big choices

we are our choices

Bed time routine is starting and your child needs a bath, they’re oozing dirt out of their little fingernails and you can smell the summer dust all over them. You’re having a super, hard time getting them to get into the bath. You’ve tried your whole arsenal of tricks and nothing is working, so now what? We like to call this, “the small and big choices”. Getting into the bath is a small choice, choosing to sleep at grandma’s house (big choice), picking pj’s (small choice), picking skating over swimming for Fall (big choice). Each choice, big or small has a result. Learning about “choices and results” is a very important step some of us sometimes leap past. 

The other night Ollie wanted to sleep at his grandmother’s house (she had given the ok, the ball was left in our court). We passed the choice onto the O-man, and told him that’s an example of a big choice he got to make.

Essentially the little choices we make easily, without whining, complaining, crying, swearing (oh yes, the O-man has mastered the F word – we’ll save that for another post) – little choices lead us to making big choices, all by our very selves! 

A lot of toddler/preschooler temper tantrums result from them feeling like they have no control over their own lives because so many decisions are made for them. Offering your child choices, big or small, whenever possible helps them to feel like they have more control. Letting them pick their own outfits in the morning, making choices for breakfast (within reason), picking the order of morning chores, etc – lets them feel like they have control of their life. If they’re part of making both, small and big decisions they begin to understand the concept of consequences. Life is about a series of choice and results and if we could all learn that from an earlier age we may have fewer regrets in our lives.

Popsicle

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I’m sure there could be plenty of puns I could have used for the title, but I’m pretty tired in all honesty and my writing fingers are sleeping at the keys. It would have been really easy if Oliver’s name was Peter instead. I think I had a pretty decent capacity for intelligence until I got pregnant with my first child.

Currently, this first child of mine, is really into Popsicles. We got a Popsicle maker as a gift last Christmas and upgraded the model this past summer to a larger one. It comes from a company called Zoku, they make some pretty cool gadgets, worth checking out. The whole popsicle making experience buys you about 20 minutes of entertainment, to me, that makes it a worthwhile endeavor. Even better is that we can sneak in one of those baby squeeze pouches made out of veggies. Oliver will have two Popsicles in a row, without a doubt, think about all those little veggies that are sneaking into his mouth and he doesn’t even know. This is the Popsicle (sneaky veggie machine):

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Food Fit For a King!

ImageThere were so many things I said I would never do as a parent and then I became one. I swore my baby would be on a schedule, I would not give him a soother, I would never have him in our bed, the list goes on and on. However, there was one thing I said I would do and have so far stuck to it and that’s making my own baby food. This way I know what’s going into his little tummy and since he’s well into solids now it’s actually pretty fun concocting new recipes and experimenting with all the purees! My biggest issue (and I’m sure many others) is that there’s never enough time in a day. Being a working mom and having others watch your baby means you don’t always get a say about what goes in their tummies. Plus, since I enjoy food so much I’m not really into basing our meals around his simplistic tastes. So, I was only really left with one option: a 3 hour cook fest that results in enough food for Ollie’s little tummy for 2 weeks! Here’s how to make food fit for a King!

You can buy all vegetables and meat/fish from your local market, it’s worth the extra expense to buy everything organic (especially some fruits and veggies) and to make sure your meat/fish are antibiotic/hormone free. I use coconut oil instead of olive oil as it’s a healthier alternative when you’re heating the oil up to high temperatures.

You will need to have small containers to store all your food. You can use ice cube trays however, I find that the little cubes tend to get freezer burn. There are so many great little containers out there for making your own baby food, they’re worth the purchase as they keep the food air tight.

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Ingredients:

  • Sweet Potato
  • Butternut Squash
  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Zucchini
  • Broccoli
  • Basil (a handful)
  • Oregano (a handful)
  • Green Onions (1 bunch)
  • Mushrooms (1 pint)

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  • Steak
  • Salmon
  • Chicken

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  • Apple
  • Pear
  • Butter 2 tbsp
  • Coconut Oil
  • Boiled water approximately 1 L (you can just boil the kettle and use that water, it’s easy to pour it that way).

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Step 1: Squash

  • Preheat the oven to 350 F. Bake all the squash first as it usually takes the longest. Use a baking pan and put about an inch of water in it. Cut the squashes in half and take out all the seeds. Depending on your oven the length of time will vary, expect about an hour. You can tell when your squash is done by pushing a fork into it, it should slide in very easily. Peel off the skin of the sweet potato with a peeler and place in blender of your choice. For the butternut and spaghetti squash you can use a fork to get the squash out and then use a blender of your choice. Once each squash has been blended you can dole them out into your little containers.

Step 2: Mushroom Pesto

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The trick here is to make a lot of this as it’s absolutely delicious and you can mix it with some rice pasta and presto you’ve made dinner for yourself at the same time! Chop up all your ingredients. Heat 2 tbsp of butter and 1 tbsp of coconut oil in a frying pan, add your chopped veggies and cook until mushrooms are browned. Place in your blender and add some boiled water, puree until it reaches your desired consistency.

Step 3: Pear, Apple

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cut the fruit in half and place in a baking pan with about an inch of water. Bake until fruit is very soft to touch. Peel off skin and remove cores, place fruit in blender, you may need to add just a bit of boiled water to get your desired consistency.

Step 4: Salmon, Chicken and Steak

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Use the coconut oil to cook all 3. Simply melt some coconut oil and pour about a tbsp over the chicken, fish and steak. Bake in the oven at 350 for approximately 30 minutes (depending on your oven and the size of fish/meat). Once the meat/fish have been cooked you can put the salmon and chicken separately, in the blender using some boiled water to reach your desired consistency. For the steak, you can chop it up into very fine pieces and once it’s mixed with other purees you reduce the choking hazard.

Step 5: Broccoli

Steam the broccoli, steaming is one of the better choices to cook any food as it helps to keep a lot of the nutrients in.

Step 6: Creating your meals!

ImageThis is the fun part (as if you weren’t already having fun)! You can make as many different combinations as your heart desires. Here are some suggestions (which seem to work well with the O-man but every baby is different).

  1. Chicken, mushroom pesto, tiny bit of applesauce, sweet potato
  2. Salmon, broccoli, pear, spaghetti squash
  3. Steak, sweet potato, mushroom puree
  4. Chicken, apple, sweet potato, broccoli
  5. Sweet Potato, broccoli, pear, spaghetti and butternut squash

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The sky is really the limit! Just make sure you know your child’s allergies and make sure they’ve tried all the foods you use before combining them as otherwise you’ll have no idea what caused the tummy upset. If you’re interested feel free to join us for our exciting Baby Nutrition Workshop next weekend!

Baby Nutritrion Workshop!

LoblawsJust wanted to let you know that we’ve partnered up with Loblaws and will be offering a very fun and informative Sunday afternoon.

We will be meeting a nutritionist/dietician at Loblaws at 3pm, her name is Melanie Byland (you can read her bio on our Staff page).

She will be focusing her interactive talk on the nutritional value of different fruits and vegetables and will help us plan meals/diets for our babies.

We will be returning to Seasons just before 4pm where we will spend an hour making food for our babies for the week! You are welcome to bring containers or we can supply (for an extra charge) to bring your food home. We will be making a variety of fruits and vegetables.

There will be staff(s) onsite to watch the babies (in the studio downstairs) so that we can focus in the kitchen.

If you would like to partake in this fun afternoon please let us know, spaces are limited! If your babies has any allergies please notify us.

When: Sunday, April 7th
Time: 3-5pm
Loblaws: 3pm
Seasons 4-5pm
Cost: $45 (plus HST)
Materials: containers (supplied by Seasons for an extra cost or supplied by you for free 🙂
Food: Supplied by Seasons!

Dads Group

On January 12th, 2013 Seasons will host its first Dads Group. The group will run on Saturdays from 10-11am and all Dads are welcome! Come for a coffee/tea and join the chat, hear from guest speakers and share your stories with other Dads. Give your wives/partners a little break on Saturday mornings and get to spend some quality time with your baby! If you have any questions or would like some more information please feel free to contact us at info@seasonsfamilycentre.com 

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Our Kids Private School Expo

To preschool or not. What kind of preschool. What’s the difference between Montessori and Waldorf? Should I send my children to private school for the long-term? How do I pick a private school? Can I afford private school? These are all questions that you can have answered at the Our Kids Private School Expo.

There are so many school choices available to parents , and now you can see them all under one roof. The Toronto Private School Expo is the place to meet private and independent school leaders, find out about the admission process, learn about scholarships and more.

If you’re thinking about picking a school for your child you should attend your event. Seasons Family Centre is pleased to offer our community free admission when you pre-register. See the details below.

http://www.ourkids.net/expo/email/2012/General/ourkids-toronto-seasons.html

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Seasons Spooky Haunted House is Back!

We are hosting our annual Spooky Hanuted House on Sunday, October 28th from 4-6pm. Come join us for some yummy treats, crafts and of course a good ol’ fashion scare in our haunted house. Suitable for ages 3+ up (don’t worry, we turn the lights on for the wee little ones)! For those under 3 we do have yummy treats and crafts they are welcome to participate in! If you have any questions please email us at info@seasonsfamilycentre.com 

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Butternut Squash Soup

One of the great things about Fall is all the delicious recipes out there! What we love most about this butternut squash soup recipe is that it’s so easy and only takes about 30 minutes!

 

Ingredients

1 Butternut squash (2-3 pounds) peeled and seeded

2 tbsp of unsalted butter

1 medium yellow onion chopped

6 cups of chicken stock

Salt and freshly ground pepper

 

Directions

1. Cut squash into 1-inch chunks

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2. In large pot melt butter

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3. Add onion and cook until translucent, about 8 minutes

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4. Add squash and stock

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5. Bring to a simmer and cook until squash is tender, about 15-20 minutes

6. Remove squash chunks with a slotted spoon and place in blender and puree

7. Return to  blended squash to pot

8. Stir and seasons with salt and pepper and serve warm.

 

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