Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Dramatic Play is Therapeutic For Your Child

Kids recreate the world how they see it through dramatic play. Shouting is emanating from behind the closed door of my daughter's room. "No, Mama, don't go!" "I have to go to work. You have to stay here." My three-year-old is playing in her room by herself. I slowly open the door. Her back is facing me as she sits on the bed with her dolls. We've had this exact exchange numerous times, and apparently, my daughter knows it so well that she is re-enacting our daily ritual of school drop-off with her Elsa dolls. I enter the room and sit on the edge of the bed. "How does the little girl feel when her mama has to leave for work?" I ask but I already know the answer. "Sad." "Yes, but she gets to play with her friends at school." "Yeah, but she misses her Mama sooooo much." Her head is down. Knife in my heart.   Play is a form of therapy My daughter is using play to work out scenarios that affect her...
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Can it ever be enough?

Can it ever be enough?

  I've been there for every moment. Every smile, every laugh, every wobbly step—every everything—and yet it feels like I am still missing out on so much. How is it not enough? I look back at baby pictures taken years ago, and I see that squishy face. I can see hints of who you will become hidden around your smile wrinkles, arm folds, and fuzzy hair.     You and I were different back then. Through the long nights with multiple wake ups, the constant changing of sheets, and endless laundry, I was too mired in the hour-to-hour chaos to reflect on anything meaningful. Back then I couldn't see the sweet, crazy kid you would become. Back then your happy moments were constantly interrupted with fussy ones. Your smiles turned into cries, and I'd quickly have to intervene. It felt like we were on this emotional roller coaster together, but the ride was taking too long. I was tired, and the ride kept on going and...
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Nudity in preschool? Why not?

Nudity in preschool? Why not?

The notification from my children's preschool app lit up the front screen of my phone. "You have an important message," the text said in Swedish. I logged in with my email and password and opened up the "important message" that contained photos of my five-year-old son's preschool field trip. From the photos, it looked like the kids were in someone's yard enjoying the beautiful sunny day, eating grilled hot dogs and hamburgers, and running through the sprinkler. Most notable was that the kids were running through the sprinkler completely nude or with only underwear on. I didn't even know he was heading on a field trip that day but none of that shocked me. The fact that I didn't know that my son was going on a field trip that day? Pfft, whatever. The fact that there were nude photos of my child on this preschool app shared with the other parents in his class? Not an issue. The fact that they went to a...
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Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

Why a Simple Vacation Beats a Luxurious One

  Maybe I'm just a simple gal who enjoys the simpler things in life but in all of our travels, my favorite vacations have been the ones in which I can let go of all of my stress. I'm a casual jeans and T-shirt, comfort over style, laid back type of person and my most favorite vacations are the simple ones. Don't get me wrong. I've been incredibly fortunate and privileged to have seen the gilded ceilings of the Vatican museum, ridden in a private boat on the sparkling blue waters of Lake Como pretending I was Amal Clooney, and relaxed beachside at an all-inclusive resort in Puerto Vallarta. Those were all amazing experiences and I am so grateful to have experienced them. However, my favorite, most special moments occurred after everything went "wrong" and all of our planning didn't match reality. I think back on our trip to Tuscany and my heart aches to be "stranded" again in the middle of a tiny Italian...
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When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

When The Exciting Life Feels Normal

  When we first moved to Sweden (five years ago, ahh!), the newness of everything was overwhelming. Every day we jumped into the unknown with glee. It was thrilling to have a clean slate. We could be whoever we wanted to be in this new place. I spent the first few weeks converting everything into measurements that I could understand and then again into USD to get a sense of the cost. Everything felt expensive (it was). But it was okay because this was all new and exciting. Snow on April 1? Not depressing. Let's play! Get incredibly lost while trying to find a particular restaurant only to discover that they are closed on Sundays? It's alright. We'll get pizza from around the corner. Spend hours in line to get a national ID card, fill out forms, and hope that you've done everything correctly in a language you don't understand? Kind of scary, yes, but we're hanging in there. Everything we did felt like a strange but wonderful adventure....
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Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

Make Your Corner Of The World A Better Place For Our Children

My mom used to tell me, "Always leave the world a little better than how you found it." That meant everything from picking up litter on the street to being a kind and generous person in daily life. Positive contributions were the measure of a good life. I gaze at the two tiny blonde heads that are watching a cartoon in the living room. I hear my son inform his sister that, "This is the last show, okay?" as he sets a self-imposed TV limit for them both. They have no idea what is happening in the news around the world. They don't know that prayers for love and peace have gone unanswered and that hate and violence are dominating the headlines, hashtags, and hearts worldwide. The innocence of childhood will protect them from those horrific realities for a bit longer. Our job isn't to shield them from the evils of the world but give them the tools and knowledge to combat the...
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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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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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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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