Growing Up the Saban Way

Growing Up the Saban Way

By Kelsi Folsom "The practice of gratitude and fortitude will never be an unfruitful one, and is, I think, one of the greatest gifts of living abroad."         Ask anyone if they have ever heard of Saba, and most likely you will hear, “No, where is that?” To which I reply, “Well, it’s a five-square mile volcanic island of fewer than 1,800 people located in the Dutch Caribbean. It's home to the shortest commercial runway in the world, one of the most difficult medical schools, and the highest geographical point in the Netherlands. Want to grab lunch?” Saba is a charming mix of cultures. Although currently a Dutch protectorate, the language spoken is primarily English (with Dutch, Saba English, and a sprinkling of Spanish). There are the “expat locals” (American, Canadian, Scandinavian, European, Filipino, and others I have yet to interact with) and the “born and raised locals” (descendants of great sea-captains, pirates, shipbuilders, fishermen, and slaves) in addition to the 500 or so...
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Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Lådbilslandet—Heaven on earth for kids

Imagine an amusement park where only kids are allowed to ride and they receive endless rides on the tea cups, carousel, and trains. Where kids drive cars, motorcycles, and tractors. All. By. Themselves. The 1980s are alive and well at Lådbilslandet—or Soap Box Car Land—an amusement park in Sweden with soap box cars, "motorcycles" (they have three wheels so they are more like tricycles with engines), tractors, and river rafts. Lådbilslandet is a place where your kids can feel like grown ups. Kids Only It's a "kids only" type of place and adults aren't allowed on any of the rides. Not one. If your kid doesn't want to ride alone then you'll need to find a willing child (or sibling) to ride along with them. Honestly, that shouldn't be hard at all to find since every kid I saw was dying for extra rides. The kids are really in charge at this amusement park and parents have no choice but to relinquish all pretenses of being...
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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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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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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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Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

Breaking the Mom-Guilt Cycle

"Please, Lucy. Mama went to six different stores to find that costume. Can you please wear it?" My heart crushed, my ears burning, and my inner self, the mother who promised never resort to guilt-trips, is disgusted that I am practically begging my daughter to wear this ridiculous outfit. Why do I care so much that she doesn't want to wear a costume? Why am I behaving like the type of mother I swore I would never become? Because Mom-guilt is a potent force and it takes an even stronger person to recognize it before it poisons your motherly influence. Don't ask me why, but Easter witches are part of Swedish culture and every spring, little children dress as witches and warlocks to hand out handmade Easter cards in exchange for candy. (It's basically like trick or treating, but no Swede would ever admit that.) After spending two days driving around town and frantically searching through six (or was it seven?) different stores, the...
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