Slow down and smell your kids

Every milestone, every change in a child’s life forces a mother to sit back and see a whole life flash before her eyes. 

“But it seemed like just last week she was crawling…”

Yeah, they grow up so fast, don’t they? And you’re left just grabbing pieces of them as they fly past you.

FZ had a ceremony in school marking the kids’ completion of learning how to read and write Farsi. She was so proud of all she was able to read and now write. Often I’ll find her curled up with a book, either in English or Farsi.

Where does the time go? I always want to just curl up with her and read – I love reading. I used to read by nightlight and wouldn’t stop until I heard my parents’ yelling full of fears of me losing my eyesight. 

But I can’t just sit with her. Because I’ve got other kids who crave my attention. Other household duties that need tending to. I hate this feeling, really. Because I turn around and they’re another year older and I’m another year full of more regrets. 

As they get older, I’m constantly finding myself just wishing time would stop so I could soak it all in for a little bit longer.

I’ve started to slow down and be more attentive of my kids’ individual needs. Too often as a parent you’re surrounded by the common needs – food, baths, potty, that you forget to slow down and be in the moment. 
Slow down and smell your kids! Slow down and let them get dirty! Slow down and let them make a mess! Let them tell you their fears, share their excitement, repeat their jokes…

I’m praying to get better at this, and I hope God gives me more of these beautiful moments that make me want to try harder to be a better parent.

Top 10 tips when traveling with kids

Summertime is fast approaching, and that means vacation! It’s nice to look forward to a break, especially when you have kids.

But that variable is also what makes travel difficult – kids. 

Here is a list I’ve culminated over 8 years of traveling with children:

1. Pack lightly – A big mistake I used to make early on is packing like tomorrow was the end. Make sure to pack things you specifically need like medication, training pants, favorite toys, etc. Otherwise you can always buy stuff at airports, at rest stops, etc.

2. Backpacks are a lifesaver – After years of hauling around diaper bags, I bought a backpack and it changed the way I travel. No more falling off the shoulder bags, aching arms, or tipping strollers. 

3. Stock up on candy/sweets – I can’t tell you how many times I’ve prevented a potential tantrum by just whipping out a lollipop or bag of fruit snacks. I save these treats for travel time, and that just makes it all the more sweeter.

4. Dress kids in clothes you don’t mind tossing – While I’m not a fan of just throwing away perfectly good things, I certainly don’t want to hang on to a pair of pants covered in vomit. Things happen during travel, and it’s one less thing to worry about when you can just toss a shirt or pair of pants. Diarrhea happens. Vomit happens.  Leaks happen. Sometimes they  happen together. I keep things they are about to outgrow, little faded, maybe has a tiny, itty bitty hole – basically stuff I can’t pass on to anyone. 

5. Purchase a few new things for the trip – A coloring book, a small toy, a puzzle. Kids love being surprised with something new while traveling. 

6. Let kids have their own luggage – Now my husband is not a big fan of this because he’s had to lug around 2 kids suitcases because our girls were tired, but on the whole they were a good buy. Kids love copying parents with their own personal things. And they enjoy rolling them around – makes them feel important. Plus I pack a change of clothes, underwear, snacks and toys in each kid’s suitcase so I end up carrying less, too. 

I personally am a big fan of the Skiphop Zoo rolling suitcases. They’re roomy, light, and have a convenient strap on the back that I can swing over my shoulder or a stroller handle if my kids get tired. Plus if you search around, you can often get them for less than $25.

7. Be flexible – When you have too many expectations, it ruins your trip. Layovers happen. Delays happen. Make room for flexibility. Plan your layovers/rest stops wisely. Let kids run around. Keep a few portable food items so just in case they get picky, at least they’ll eat something. I often make a batch of French toast to keep in my bag. Pack a few juice or milk boxes. The last thing you need is a cranky, sleep deprived, hungry kid. 

8. Don’t forget the wipes – Perhaps one of the most essential items to pack when traveling. They can clean hands, refresh your face, wipe gunk from clothes. 

9. Invest in a DVD player/tablet/electronic kids toy – And don’t forget the headphones. When all else fails, these things help divert children from going over the edge. Remember to break it out ONLY when you need it. Otherwise it loses its “new” factor. 

10. Remember to rest – If you’re like most parents, you forget to take care of yourself. Get a good night’s sleep before the day of travel. That way if you’re on the road, you’re able to focus. And if you’re flying, you don’t get cranky or frustrated. 

Most importantly, remember to have fun!