Holiday Journals for Kids — July 21, 2015

Holiday Journals for Kids

I have just spent the last few holidaying with my 3 kids in India and Dubai. One of the things that we have always encouraged (and enforced) is for the children to keep a holiday journal while traveling. Every morning, no matter where we are, after breakfast, the kids sit down for 30 mins and write about the previous day. Given the difference in ages, expectations are quite different. My eldest, almost 11, is a writer and a thinker. He comes up with a different theme each holiday. Last year, he did a journal in the theme of the “Diary of a Wimpy Kid”, however called his “Diary of an Awesome Kid”. This holiday, he wrote it all in third person, like a novel. He even used some creative license and expanded on his experiences each day to write a compelling tale.

With my younger son (7 years) we usually get a travel diary or create sheets for him to fill in. He finds it easier to answer questions, rather than write from scratch. During the last holiday, we create a sheet which asked about his favourite experience, meal, quote and laugh for each day.

My youngest, who is almost 3, started her journalling as well. However in her case it was merely a notebook and a bunch of colouring pencils. To her credit, she sat every morning with her brothers and scribbled while the others wrote – needless to say she is getting into the habit.

What is particularly pleasing is going back after a while and reading what they have written, and what they see and notice. Sometimes it is very different from us adults, however is a great perspective of the holiday. Moreover, for the kids it is a great timeline of holidays and an insight into how they experienced each day. Sometimes specifics from an holiday can be forgotten, however a journal is timeless and can be revisited, re-read and, in a way, the holiday re-enjoyed.

An ode to my WiFi (Wife) — December 24, 2014
Travelling with kids … 2 … The Destination — November 20, 2014

Travelling with kids … 2 … The Destination

As a follow up to my previous post on some tips on travelling with kids, this time I focus on some tips on how to deal with kids at the destination. These are some of the things we always try to do when travelling with our 3 little kids and it seems to work well for us

  1. Have a Home Base: The first time my wife and I travelled with our son (3 years old then), we planned out trip as if it were just the two of us. We travelled across the breadth of Switzerland, starting in St Moritz and ending in Geneva, spending one night in each location and sightseeing/travelling during the day. This was a terrible idea and we haven’t done it since. Now when we travel we usually stay a few days in one hotel and one location. We then do day trips or tours from here. This means the kids have a “home base” to come back to every night. It also provides some consistency during the trip.
  2. Plan for Down Days: While there is always the desire to plan as many activities as possible on every day of the holiday, plan to have some “down days”. Days when you don’t have any tour or activity planned and you can have a lazy breakfast, go to the park or just wander and recover.
  3. Find parks: Research your destination before you get there and find parks or play areas that might exist near your hotel. Some shopping centres have kids play areas too. This is a great activity to do during the down days, when the kids can just be kids and run around.
  4. Themed Restaurants: Try and find a couple of themed restaurants in every city you visit. These are great experiences and also allows you to have a unique dining restaurant. Some of the themed restaurants we have visited include Alices Teacup (New York), Charlie Brown Cafe (Hong Kong), Dragon Feast (Macau) etc.
  5. Kid Friendly Tours: Research the tours that you want to go on and find ones that are accommodating of kids. There are tour companies (like Paris Muse) that run kid themed tours, and their tour of Louvre was a highlight of our visit to Paris. Also look for tours that the kids will enjoy doing – like activity tours, themed tours etc. In our recent trip to Hong Kong we went to see Pink Dolphins, a food tour visiting various restaurants/cafes and a harbour boat cruise.
  6. Travel kids: Get the kids to keep a travel journal. This is a great way for them to spend a few minutes each morning to write about their highlights of the previous day. Our kids have started writing a journal from when they turn 5 and can write. There are travel diaries for little kids that you can buy from book stores that have questions and activities for each day and place to draw pictures etc. The older kids usually take a blank journal and write what they liked and enjoyed about each day. In our last trip, my 9 year old, who is obsessed with the “Diary of a Wimpy kid” series, wrote his journal titled “Diary of an Awesome Kid” with himself as the main character. It is a great memento of the trip and makes a great keepsake of the trip.
  7. Buffet Breakfast: Invest in a buffet breakfast for the family in whichever hotel you are staying in. Buffet breakfasts around the world have consistent foods like cereal, porridge, toast etc. Especially if you are travelling to exotic locations where the food is quite different, the breakfast buffet serves as comfort food. It is also handy to use the buffet to pack some snacks for the rest of the day – especially for little ones. In our last trip we would make a ham/cheese sandwich and take a boiled egg for the little one for a mid morning snack as we were out and about.
  8. Use Public Transport: Kids love buses, trains, trams, ferries, etc etc. Whereever possible use public transport, they will be entertained, and it will save you a lot of money than having to use a taxi/hire car everywhere.

The final tip is to always travel with baby wipes and a small towel – you just never know when you might need it. And anyone who has travelled with kids will tell you – you need it more than you realise 🙂

Happy Travels….

Random Musings — October 20, 2014

Random Musings

They say kids live in the moment and with 3 kids under 10, I find myself living in their moments as well. Each day is a random collection of memories, experiences and learnings. I like the word “learnings” over “mistakes” as I hope I learn something new everyday as much as my kids. As much as I have tried to organise, categorise and strategise to ensure each morning and afternoon is a simplified “template” that is repeatable, reality is very much different. I know my kids will be home from school in a few hours and I know they will have afternoon tea, followed by a play, followed by dinner, bath and bed. However, I also know that while the schedule and framework will remain the same, the moments and instances in between will be new, random and unique.

This is what I enjoy most about fatherhood. It is the spontaneity of each experience. It is the uniqueness of each moment. It is the randomness of each interaction. It is what makes me wake up each morning looking forward to the day. It is what puts a smile on my face when I go to bed each night. It is what makes me proud, annoyed, happy and angry throughout the day.

This blog is an attempt to document and share some of my experiences in living my life with my kids. I don’t have any aspirations from this blog and it is a way for me to preserve the moments…..

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