Joanna Anastasia

Parenting

Why you should go camping with kids

Here are ten important reasons why it's so important to go camping with kids, even if you don't really feel like it !

Believe it or not, I’m no camping lover. I’m a city girl, who loves her comfort and hates bugs and public washrooms. Between you and me, my definition of perfect family vacation is in the hotel by the sea! Why then I state that you should go camping with kids ? Because I believe that sometimes comfort is less important, especially when it comes to raising smart and sensitive children! And going camping will help you achieving that goal, here is how :

1. Reconnecting with each other.
When there is no distraction like house to clean, emails to be checked or a tv show to watch, we can actually concentrate on each other. I think it’s especially important for our children, that are born in the internet era to learn how to slow down and appreciate the presence of the close ones.

2. Respecting the resources.
When you have to get the water for cooking and washing the dishes in a pot that you carry all the way to your camp site, it makes you more careful when you use it. You don’t waste water when you know you need to go get it yourself. It’s also a great opportunity to talk to older kids about how many people in the world live with out fresh water at home, and how many children are responsible for fetching the water every day.

3. Learning to play with anything that’s not a toy.
Honestly I was tempted to buy a bunch of dollar store toys to keep my two and a half year old busy. But I decided to take only 3 of her stuffed animals and see if I can encourage her to play with natural elements found on the camp site. And guess what. On the first day she was turning around not really sure what to do. On the second she was playing alone with sticks pretending that they are her dolls, and that rocks where the food. Success!

4. Understanding the nature.
It’s great to show to kids the real habitat of animals, to watch birds and bugs going on with there lives, to teach your child to respect them all. In national parks you are asked not to pick any branches or flowers, and that’s a great opportunity to explain the delicate balance in nature that we tend too often to break.

5. Fighting your fears.
The fear of the dark woods, the fear of spiders or the fear of bugs. By being exposed to all of the above your children are less likely to develop these fears, as they will consider them as a normal part if everyday life.

6. Learning a healthy lifestyle.
I assume that while at camping you don’t eat fast food, but you cook simple dishes and you walk or bike. There is no TV or video games. I dare you to leave your iPad at home. Hike and enjoy the nature. Let city kids learn to spend all day outside. It will pay back in the future.

7. Being grateful for what we have.
It’s great to realize how comfortable our life is.
At home we have hot water, we have heating, comfortable beds, toilets, toys and many objects that make our lives easier. But in the end we can do without all of the objects that surround us in our everyday lives. Camping is a great reminder of that.

How to raise a bilingual child

How to raise a bilingual child

My daughter is two and a half years old, and she talks a lot! She talks, sings, screams, laughs and cries. Constantly. She gets quiet only when she eats or sleeps. I guess she started to talk using three word sentences when she had 18 months, and everyone kept telling me how amazing it was that she can speak that well for her age. Back then she knew all the farm animals, she could name any food she eat, her actions, people in our family, her toys etc..

But I was just anxious that she would never speak well my language! Because when she was saying simple phrases in French, she would be just saying words in my language. You see, I live in French speaking place, with a lot of English surrounding us as well. But my first language is Polish, and that’s how I usually dream, think and talk to my children and cats. So I worried that she would never be able to express herself in Polish as she could in French. Because as it was only me that spoke to her in Polish on a daily basis, French was everywhere else!

Now she’s three and a half years old and she talks equally well in French and Polish. It’s been a struggle, and I know that my work is not done any time soon, but I am so happy to see as she switches from one to another translating to her grandma what I’ve just told her. Here is what I’ve been doing, and what I’ll keep on doing to raise my bilingual children :

1. There is an important association: one parent, one language.
What it means is that you should always use one language while talking to your child, and never, ever switch! Children are smart creatures, and most likely they choose the easiest and most efficient way to get what they need. So if it’s easier to speak one language than the other, they won’t try particularly hard to find the word they forgot. They’ll use whatever word that comes first to mind, and if you’ll start responding to them with the other language, they’ll see that they can get what they need (communication with you) without trying to speak your language. So while speaking to your child use only one language !

2. Talk constantly, describe what you do, what is happening around you, comment on there actions and name their feelings.
Children learn to speak by listening to conversations and being a part of an exchange. So if there isn’t much conversation around, you need to make up for it! You may get crazy, and in the end of the day you may loose your voice, but keep on talking while you cut these carrots!

3. Sing!
Singing helps to memorize grammar structure and vocabulary, so sing when you dress them up, sing when you go outside, sing when you clean and bath! If you are sick and tired of songs that you know try inventing songs and rimes, use simple melodies and sing!

4. Use creative grammar!
Switch from : I do, to mommy is doing, you are doing, he is doing, we are .. And so on.. If your children don’t hear a lot of real life conversations, they won’t learn how to use grammar. So not only you need to constantly talk, but you also need to do a lot of role playing!

5. Read a lot of books. Every day.
Start early, as soon as they get interested in objects and can sit still for 3 minutes. If you don’t have baby books in your language just take any, and translate them. Look online for children books and rimes, there are plenty!

6. As soon as they start talking, respond to their requests and questions only if expressed in your language.
It’s hard, and requires a lot of patience on your part, but it’s really the only way to teach them, that when communicating with mummy we use only this language. Of course if your child is crying in the middle of the night you won’t wait until they use the right words! But when my daughter would ask me for juice in French, I would ask her if she could repeat because I didn’t understand well. At first she would slowly repeat in French, then she would almost spell it for me also in French, sometimes two or three times! It’s hard to resist laughing when your child clearly thinks that you are stupid, but you should stay calm and not give in. I assure you that finally she would come up with a Polish word!

7. Make them repeat after you and give them ready to use phrases.
When I see that my daughter clearly has no clue how to put it in words in Polish, I give her a phrase to repeat after me. I tell her that when she wants juice she should say it like this. Or if she comes to me saying something in French I will repeat after her in Polish, and usually then she repeats after me.

8. Establish a clear rule on watching children’s show at home: only in the language that needs improvement.
There are plenty of all kinds of TV shows and cartoons on YouTube in all possible languages.

9. Let your child listen to real conversations :use Skype to connect with people that can speak your language, call your family on face time. Reconnect with old friends, and ask family members to call you and to baby sit through Skype while you are in the kitchen.

10. Engage in as many social situations possible. Try finding a grocery store, a weekend school or a shop where your child may engage in a conversation in your language. Find them playmates with whom they could communicate only using your language .

Most important, stay persistent, and it will pay of !

More information at multilingualchildren.

And if you’d like to find out more about living a bilingual life check out this great book:Bilingual: Life and Reality !

10 things You didn’t know about breastfeeding

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I’m nursing my second baby right now, my first was breastfed for over a year, and it was her who decided that she was done with it. So no wonder I’m quite interested with the subject :). And since most information that we hear talks about the general health benefits for the baby, and extra cuddle time with mummy, well I wanted to go a bit beyond that, and look into the advantages for both woman and child. So here are some cool facts, some from research and some from my personal experience, that you might have not known about breastfeeding :

1. It is linked to prevent breast cancer , so basically the longer you nurse the lower are your chances to get breast cancer.
(more info : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/articles/264796.php
And, http://www.cancerresearchuk.org/cancer-help/about-cancer/cancer-questions/how-is-breast-feeding-related-to-breast-cancer)

2. Poop of a baby exclusively breastfed does not really stink.

3. Exclusive breastfeeding is associated with less colic .
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22205210)

4. Breastfeeding is also associated with baby’s longer nocturnal sleep thanks to melatonin that is present in mothers milk .
(http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22205210)

5. Each time you nurse your body is giving you a gift; a feel good hormone (oxytocin) is being released. As an effect you feel content, satisfied and happy as if you would have had chocolate or been kissing a lot !:)
(http://www.livescience.com/35219-11-effects-of-oxytocin.html)

6. If you are nursing at night lying in bed on the side:
you almost don’t need to wake up, so you sleep better.

7. It can be more difficult than you thought it would be. You might need help of a lactation consultant, who actually will help you solve your breastfeeding problems.

8. Research shows the link between breastfeeding and lower risk of allergies.
(http://www.unicef.org.uk/BabyFriendly/News-and-Research/Research/Allergy/Breastfeeding-reduces-risk-of-five-types-of-allergic-disease/)

9. There is no pattern, if you were struggling with your first child, second one can pleasantly surprise you. You might have more milk and your child might latch better.

10. Breastfeeding is associated with better cognitive development of children.
(More info : http://www.medicalnewstoday.com/releases/106317.php)

And if you ever wondered  why do people get offended when you nurse in public, click here.

How to travel with a toddler

Best tried and tested tips and tricks for travelling with toddlers- how to get organized and have fun!

When we first travelled overseas with our daughter Lili, she was almost two years old – 21 months to be exact. We went to visit my family in Poland, we stopped by Paris to see our friends, and we went to Croatia for a week.

Honestly I imagined it would be extremely difficult, and I anticipated that we would be managing tantrums on the plane, struggling to put her to sleep in the hotel and generally dealing with her out of balance behaviour. But there where no tantrums on the planes – and we took 5- nor buses nor boat. She was easy. Surprisingly easy, and happy.

And here are the five strategies that helped us travel :

1. Sticking to routine :
Yes, even on vacation, going from one place to another, sightseeing and visiting family and friends we stuck to our normal routine.

Lunch at her usual time, whenever we where, and nap just after lunch: in the hotel room, on the bus, in the stroller, or on the plane. What was important , was to give her a clear sign that now she can relax, drink her milk, cuddle her favourite toy and sleep.

Then diner at her usual time. And bath ( or shower) followed by night time just like at home.
Sure we didn’t go much at night, and where a bit less spontaneous then usual on vacation, but in the end we had an easygoing, happy and relaxed toddler, so I think sticking to routine was really worth it.

2. Carrying toys around :
We where always carrying around her little backpack with crayons, puzzles, Elmo colouring pages and little dollar store toys and stickers, so she would be patient at the table in the restaurant.

We never let her play with these stuff outside the restaurants or plane so she always fund them interesting. If you would like to get some Sesame Street colouring pages for free, you can get them here : http://pbskids.org/sesame/art/

3. Dealing without changing tables and high chairs:
Although places we went where generally children friendly, a lot of times there where no high chairs or changing tables. So we carried only the slip-on dippers, to facilitate the changing process.

And to deal with a lack of high chairs I asked my aunt to make me a slip on carry-on chair slip cover (you can also find them in Etsy), that we would use all the time to keep her attached to normal chair. Coupled with these giant, genus IKEA bibs :http://www.ikea.com/ca/en/catalog/products/70179754/ that cover everything, meal time was easy, no fuss and no mess.

4. Finding time to run and play:
After time spend attached, or sitting on the plane/bus/stroller we always give her time to run and play, either on a playground, beach or just by simply finding safe pedestrian streets or squares and telling her to run. One of us would be then running with her till she had no more energy.

5. Medicaments :
Just in case, I had some stuff for temperature, diarrhea, and cough. It made me feel safe. But what really helped us was the medicament for sea sickness: Gravol for kids, so every time we would be taking a longer drive in the bus/car or on the boat she would get some, and then not only there was no stress of her vomiting all over the place, but she would also had a nice long nap.

 

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