Be The Dragon And Rekindle Your Creativity

Be The Dragon And Rekindle Your Creativity

Looking back, I feel ashamed. What type of monster am I that I felt so much enjoyment and excitement out of such violence? They were innocent poor peasant farmers who had done nothing wrong. But, at the time, I didn’t care. I was a dragon, and I brought the fury.  Everyone knows that imagination-based play is a crucial element of childhood. It improves our children’s language development and their ability to process the outside world. Children can experiment with various approaches to problem-solving through play, and it’s a crucial element of growth and development.  Because of this, there are a lot of good articles out there right now about how to foster imagination-based play for kids, but not as many about how to increase parents’ interest in it.  Imaginary play is also a nice way to escape your troubles. I felt relaxed when I was pretending to be a dragon with my children. I no longer felt the weight of a million worries about...
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The Ridiculous Lies We Tell Our Children

The Ridiculous Lies We Tell Our Children

One of the negatives of not understanding 100% of the local language is that I often miss exchanges on the playground between the parents and their children. However, depending on the age of the children, my basic Swedish language skills are enough to help me limp along and follow most conversations. Yesterday, while at the playground, my son was playing with his classmate from preschool. Her mother was standing nearby when both kids started to climb the tree. That's when I heard it—a ridiculous lie. It was in Swedish, but there was no error in my translation. Both kids climbed and laughed in the tree when the other mother said in Swedish, "Don't climb that tree. There may be snakes." Now, to her credit, perhaps she had seen snakes in that tree before but it is highly unlikely due to two reasons: 1) there are only two kinds of snakes in Sweden, and neither one is particularly dangerous and 2) I have never...
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Parenting During Abrupt Transitions—Burkina Faso and Sundae Schneider-Bean

Parenting During Abrupt Transitions—Burkina Faso and Sundae Schneider-Bean

Sundae Schneider-Bean is an intercultural specialist from the US who has traveled the world and expatriated to Switzerland with her Swiss husband. They moved to Burkina Faso for two and a half years with their young children and, finding themselves on neutral ground (not the US or Switzerland), really jelled as a family unit. Happy memories and experiences were sometimes interrupted  by new challenges as a parent when the country underwent country-wide demonstrations, a political uprising, a transitional government, and a coup d’état. While not ever necessarily feeling that she or her family would be targeted directly in these events, the terrorist attack in Ouagadougou left a feeling of uncertainty that was hard to shake. Parenting during abrupt transitions is never easy and often times we look to others to see what they would do in our situation. [Tweet "Parenting during abrupt transitions is never easy."] How did Sundae and her husband ultimately decide how to make a very difficult decision for their family?...
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Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

Top 3 Reminders When Relocating With A Family

  There is a bold freedom when you move as a single person. The highway is open, and you are free to take any exit. Your destiny is unchartered, and the future is relatively carefree. In contrast, when you move your family, you need to be slightly more responsible. Those things that aren't priorities as a young single person are all of a sudden really important like researching daycares, schools, insurance, work visas, health care options, retirement plans—all of those issues become imminently important when coordinating a massive move as a parent. When we moved to Sweden, we fumbled around a bit and relied heavily on my husband's company to handle the logistics—that was a mistake. The woman organizing our relocation stopped answering our emails as soon as we set foot into the country. We were on our own and had not conducted any research prior to our rushed relocation—rookie mistake. Learning via trial by fire is never my preferred method, but it does burn certain...
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The Big V Gets Zero Sympathy From Me

The Big V Gets Zero Sympathy From Me

My husband is a sweet, generous, and caring man. He buys all of the groceries, cooks all of the meals and is an extremely hands-on father. He showers me with affection and love even when I'm feeling gross, unwashed, and unkempt. In my opinion, he's essentially the Gold Standard for husbands and fathers everywhere. "But, Lisa, if he's so great, why do you want to cut off his balls?" you might be asking. Indeed, he asked me the same thing. To which, I replied, "You don't have to if you don't want to but then you'll need to find another woman to bear your children because I. Am. Done." We discussed the Big V—as in, vasectomy—and mutually decided it was the best option for closing our reproductive cycle as a couple or for him to find another woman to bear his children. We concluded that I had served my time. I was a good soldier. I had altered my diet, abstained from alcohol, carried...
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If You Are Going To Be Me Tomorrow

If You Are Going To Be Me Tomorrow

If you're going to be me tomorrow, you'll need to know the following: You will be woken up by the sound of your door opening, and you'll be able to tell, without opening your eyes, which child is coming through the door to crawl into bed with you. The boy will have sure, confident steps and will run and leap onto the bed—landing on your right side. The girl will stumble in an uneven stride, still wiping the sleep from her eyes, come to your left side and pull on the sheets because she still needs help getting up onto your bed. She'll demand cuddles but won't tolerate kisses this early in the morning. They'll all be wiped off, and she'll yell, "Stoppy!" at you if you persist. For her, everything has a -y attached at the moment so the translation of her toddler-speak will take a minute. Dogg-y, stopp-y, hund-y—except for "Mama." That one is the same. (more…)...
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They Don’t Need You Anymore

They Don’t Need You Anymore

Two of the neighborhood girls zoomed past me on their bikes with a cheery, "God morgon!" Good morning! from both of them. Their mother followed behind a solid distance away at a relaxed pace. No pace could keep up with those excited children riding their bikes. "They don't need you anymore," I told her with a smile on my face. She proudly replied, "Nope! I'm only here to carry the backpacks." For the past few weeks, I have been watching my neighbor run behind her daughter's bike holding onto the long broomstick handle jammed into the bike's frame to help her daughter balance as she pedaled. The fruits of their efforts had ripened, and now both of her daughters were zooming along independently. They were—on a small scale—launched into the world. And that's the entire point of parenting. We put in years of hard work, effort, and energy to send out these self-sufficient children to positively contribute to our world. We parent, we love,...
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5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

5 Steps To Raising A Viking Child

This article originally appeared at Parent.co, "5 Tips For Raising A Viking Child" in their Analog Life section that has other great articles for helping parents venture outdoors with their children.   I just returned from an exhilarating dragon expedition. After picking up my children from their Swedish preschool, my son frantically dragged me to the woods they had explored earlier in the day, eager to show me what they had discovered. We came upon the “dragon” quickly enough and to my eyes it was an old felled tree but to my five-year-old son and two-year-old daughter, it was a massive, dangerous, and scaly sleeping dragon. In Sweden, according to a study, 80% of children between the ages of one to five years, attend Swedish daycare which promotes play, napping and eating meals outdoors. There are also some preschools that have no physical building as all of their learning occurs outdoors—in nature’s classroom. Conversely, in a recent cross-sectional study with a U.S. nationally representative sample, 44% of...
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A mother’s quilt

A mother’s quilt

I didn't feel the change at first. When I first held my baby, I thought I would know what to do, but I felt the same. The love was overwhelming, but the fulfillment of the massive role of "mother" didn't come right away.   My role as mother slowly became stitched into my soul in pieces like a patchwork quilt. Some stitches caused pain, but others resulted in the most amazing experiences beyond compare. Each and every stitch is placed with love and care. I knew that I was making something unique, and the bittersweet journey would be worthwhile.   The first stitch pierced my heart and broke it into a million pieces—some of which are still healing—when I left behind my 12-week-old son with a stranger when I returned to work. The struggle to produce enough breast milk while pumping at work—a severe ache and tender swelling—the physical difficulty unmatched only by the emotional strain.  The second stitch was ongoing sleep deprivation. The...
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5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

5 Tips For An Enjoyable Field Trip With Young Children

Not many people would volunteer to chaperone twenty-two children between the ages of four and six when you don't speak the language, but that is exactly what I did. My main goal for the trip was completely selfish. I have been seeking out intensive language immersion opportunities and Swedish children don't understand English. My basic Swedish was going to get a workout and I figured, at the very least, that I could provide an extra pair of hands and eyes to help out the teachers. I'm pretty sure the kids thought I was a crazy lady because I accidentally switched the Swedish words for "gloves" and "wait." Luckily for me, shouting, "Gloves a little bit! Gloves a little bit!" while waiting for the bus did still get their attention, so I wasn't completely ineffective. While on the trip, I observed how Swedish daycare teachers fearlessly manage large groups of kindergarten-age children. Without a doubt, corralling that number of kids while venturing out in the big...
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