Forest Preschools—What, Where, Why, and How?

Forest Preschools—What, Where, Why, and How?

Forest preschools—a potential solution for whiny kids   My kids are super sweet but the annoyingly high level of whining that occurs after I pick them up from their Swedish preschool is shocking. I'm always amazed how they can go from an environment of nearly seven hours of loosely-structured-mostly-free play time to totally free play time at home and still be unhappy. It was only after we detoured to a playground directly after school pick-up when I connected the dots. They weren't miserable leaving school but they needed more time transitioning between activities. The immediate removal from the preschool play environment and straight into the home environment was too much for them to handle. I had no idea because they get at least two hours of outside play every day at their preschool. I thought it was enough. It wasn't. [Tweet "Forest Preschools—A potential solution for whiny kids"] Necessary outdoor time Since the eight-minute walk between preschool and our house wasn't enough time for a smooth transition,...
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12 Strange Truths In A Snowy Climate

12 Strange Truths In A Snowy Climate

  Living in a snowy climate can be fun if you like snow, but it can result in some strange lifestyle adaptations. For instance, you discover that gloves don't keep your fingers warm and you double up on mittens, and you end up owning an excessive, yet completely justifiable, number of hats. These truths were inspired by my morning haul of the kids to school in a sled. What can you add?   1. You carry kitty litter or crushed gravel wherever you go   http://gph.is/2hQU9KP   2. Adding skis or sleds to everything becomes a necessary form of transportation http://gph.is/1NlUNON   3. You have a hat for every type of weather http://gph.is/1Zt2TX7 4. Like socks, you have orphaned mittens but you keep these orphans in vain hope that someday it's pair is discovered in another storage bag and they can finally be reunited. However, by then, your child's hands have outgrown the mittens, and they end up in the donate pile. Surprise! http://gph.is/195IEsW 5. Your bed never feels as cozy as it does in the winter http://gph.is/Vx8ZaB 6. You don't want to...
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My Kids Will Never Be “American as Apple Pie”

My Kids Will Never Be “American as Apple Pie”

Cultural Identity Identity changes occur often throughout all of our lives. Changes in growth and development, family structure, education, and career all result in remarkably complex personal transitions. Far and away, the shift in our cultural identity—who we identify ourselves as and how we label ourselves—is a challenge for many people to handle on a daily basis. Identity changes happen to everyone—children, teenagers, college students, stay-at-home moms, moms who work in an office, dads, military families, retirees—basically anyone who has ever lived a life where things change—everyone. But since I am a person living abroad and raising her children in a foreign country, I will speak from my perspective. "American as Apple Pie" I read an article written by a mother who has taken her children to 30 different countries and considers her family to be serial expats. And while I agreed with her goal of raising global citizens who are adept at handling the challenges of a global world, I disagreed with her on her last...
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Top Baby Names Around The World 2017

Top Baby Names Around The World 2017

Choosing your baby's name is an incredibly difficult task. Will it suit their personality? Will it be easy to pronounce? Spell? Nicknames? Yes or no? Will they hate us for the name we choose and decide to go by their middle name? Finding a name that you and your partner can agree on is the first task but then finding a name that provides your child as many options as possible is equally important. The book, Freakonomics, has an entire baby name chapter that terrified me into choosing a name that was easy to pronounce and spell. Statistically, employers have been known to cast aside resumes with uniquely spelled names and I didn't want my children discriminated against later on in life as adults. When we were choosing names for our children we wanted uncommon but not unusual names. I read all of the books and scrolled through endless websites but lightning never struck. It was important to me that my children's names would fit their personalities as...
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5 Reasons Why Stroller Naps Are The Best Naps

5 Reasons Why Stroller Naps Are The Best Naps

When we moved to Stockholm, Sweden from the US, I noticed that there was a line of strollers parked outside of the cafes during the daytime. I heard the faint sound of a baby making noise tucked under a bundle of blankets. The movement of little feet indicated that the baby was waking up. What was the protocol here? Should I let the mother inside the cafe know? It wasn't long as I stood frozen in moral dilemma than I saw a beautiful Swedish woman zip out of the cafe and head straight to her impeccably chic bassinet stroller—the source of the baby noises. She scooped up her baby and went back inside to sit with the other mothers enjoying their coffees. She had been keeping a watchful eye on her baby through the cafe window and was completely relaxed about the entire situation.   Why are stroller naps the best? Babies sleep outside in all types of weather in Sweden, Denmark, Norway, and Finland...
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Raising a Viking Child

Raising a Viking Child

  A while back, I wrote an article for ParentCo called, "5 Steps to Raising a Viking Child" and it was by far my most popular article to date. The folks at ParentCo contacted me and asked me if they could transform the tips in the article into a shareable video and I absolutely love the end result. I think the video turned out great and even our dog makes a brief cameo. The kids laughed when they saw Bessie's rumpa walking away. It's nice to have a few snippets of their childhood turned into a cohesive video. I hope it inspires more parents to take their kids outside for some adventure and fun.   Here are five steps to help you raise your own little Viking through outdoor play: 1. Be creative and the world becomes magical Even the most familiar and mundane playground can become an entryway to another world if you encourage your child’s creativity. That’s not a slide, it’s an elephant’s trunk. That swing is...
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I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

I Can Admit It—My Husband Has More Fun With Our Kids

  "Let's go down there and play," my husband grabs our daughter's hand and leads her down the bleachers of the gymnasium. Our son is playing on the other side of the gym with his classmates. I watch them as he leads her gently down the steep stairs and he instructs her to run back and forth on a painted line in her socked feet. She loves it and instantly transforms from an I'm-patiently-waiting-for-this-practice-to-end sibling into an I'm-having-so-much-fun-and-I-want-to-stay little kid. I mentally kick myself. Why didn't I think of that? It's not that I'm a wet blanket type of a mother, but I'm a rule follower, and that means that I don't always think about bending the rules. Couple my rule-following personality (which is a great cultural fit for Sweden) with a language barrier and the end result is a slightly hesitant parent. In a lot of ways, my husband reminds me of my own dad (insert your own psychological studies and "daddy complex"...
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I Know Who I Am As A Parent Regardless Of Politics

I Know Who I Am As A Parent Regardless Of Politics

For the past few days, I've been discussing, reading, processing all that has happened and what it might mean and I have left every conversation muttering, "I don't know..." And that's just it. I don't know a lot of things. I don't know what will happen to children of immigrants. I don't know what people of color will face regarding continued racism in their communities. I don't know what economic impact this change in power will have on our country and on the world. I don't know if a wall will be built or if people will be removed from the country. I don't know if the small incremental changes in healthcare policies will be undone. I don't know if any campaign promises were made in earnest or were made to gain power. I don't know. But I do know a few things: I know that I will raise my children to be tolerant, kind, and generous with their love and understanding of others different from us. I know that...
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Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

Getting Everyone On Board When Uprooting Your Family

This is the first in a series of Global Women Discuss Love, Loss, and Family Abroad articles between the two groups of women where they share their questions, fears, and possible anxieties about some of the challenges of creating a family abroad. Great things happen when women come together. Great things, therefore, happen when women collaborate to learn from each others' experiences with motherhood, love, and loss. This series brings together women from Expat Coffee Club who are near or far away from having children with the contributors to the anthology, Knocked Up Abroad Again who became mothers while living in a foreign country. Erin: There's a strange transition time in between referring to the family you grew up in as your "family" and forging a new family of your own. My new family is small, my husband and I, which makes big decisions a bit easier. Only the two of us have to be on board, which made moving away easy...
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Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Parenting Abroad: Freedom To Discard Unwanted Holidays

Most days, I feel all alone. Geographically isolated from all that is familiar and linguistically isolated from what I know. The foreign language around me is easily tuned out and processed as white noise. It's soothing and I am alone with my thoughts. Parenting in cultural isolation can provide a new type of freedom in many ways. I have gladly discarded holidays and traditions that I never enjoyed. Without the cultural pressure to honor them, they quickly disappear. Anything that I am not willing to import myself will not get passed down to my children. It requires a lot of work to celebrate a holiday that isn't observed locally. Sorry kids, but Valentine's Day isn't going to be that important for our family. You'll survive. Some traditions, only the ones I hold near and dear to my heart, are kept. Celebrating holidays abroad is a bit like moving abroad—you discover that not so many things are important and you only take the...
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