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Posts Tagged ‘personal’

Surviving Road Trips with KidsBack in the day we did a lot of road trips across this beautiful, big continent. Australia is a large place and our Corolla has seen a lot of it. When the babies arrived, we started flying for most of our trips and experienced all the ups and downs associated with that! This past Christmas we agreed that the kids, aged 3 and 5, were the right age to undertake their first big car trip from Sydney to Adelaide and return. That’s approximately 3,000 kms there and back or 28 hours driving in total. We spent some time planning the trip, took our time and had a really enjoyable experience. Road trips are not for everyone, but if you’re considering a big journey with little kids I would love to offer these 10 tips:

1) Pack plenty of snacks

Pack SnacksMy children seem to be perpetually grazing. Pack a variety of healthy (and some not so healthy) snacks in advance. Have the esky accessible and distribute these as the need arises. With a little planning there’s no need to rely on petrol stations and roadhouses for your food fix.

2) Prepare meals in advance

Planning MealsOn the road we usually have lunch at a cafe and prepare the evening meals in advance. Pre-cook your meals at home, freeze them and then let them slowly defrost in the car esky on the way to your destination. This way I know that we’ll have at least one decent healthy meal a day and it also helps to maintain your regular night-time routine. Good meals to freeze are those that are sauce based eg bolognaise, curry etc. You can take the dry rice or pasta with you to cook fresh on the stove top, but most of the grunt work has already been done.

3) Stay in Caravan Parks

Caravan Park FunFor the same price as a motel, you can stay in a fully self-contained two bedroom cabin…usually with a playground and swimming pool at your doorstep. Unlike a motel room, you can put the children to bed early in their own bedroom and still enjoy your own time in the living area. We’ve stayed at many Big 4 Caravan Parks over the past five years (if only they offered loyalty cards!) and they’re renowned for being child-friendly. I can’t recommend them enough.

4) Prepare car activities

Car ActivitiesPrepare activities to be introduced at strategic points on the journey. These days there are so many little art/craft activities you can by at dollar stores which include all the items you need such as stickers/pencils/paper/glitter/glue etc. Buy some little portable clipboards that double as lap desks and make an event of it. Activities include colouring in, drawing, join the dots, mazes, crafts etc.

5) Create your own Spot It game

Spot It GameBefore your trip give some thought to they types of things you are likely to see out the car window such as road signs, animals, wind farms, trucks, roadworks, traffic lights etc. Put these images into an activity sheet that the children can mark off when they see them. My children loved this Spot It activity more than any other activity on the trip. They completed their two sheets on the first half day of driving and next time I will create a series of Spot It activity sheets for each leg of the journey.

6) Keep a travel diary

Travel DiariesGive the children a small scrapbook each so that they can keep a travel diary. Things you include in a travel diary are photographs, thoughts about the trip, drawings of things seen throughout the day, spellings of town names, the craft activities done on the trip etc. At the end of each day, the children can ‘complete’ pages of the diary. Interview them and record their responses.

Here’s what my son saw from his car window on day one:Travel Diary DrawingsThis is what my daughter saw from her car window:

Travel Diary Drawings

7) Travel music and car audio books

MusicPlay music that is fun to listen to, it doesn’t have to be children’s music, it can be Beatles, Abba etc. The sky’s the limit. Sing along and teach the children the lyrics or let the music be a backdrop to watching the world go by. I also discovered that Target stock a whole selection of 10-15 minute children’s audio books. Pop in a CD and the children can follow the storyline in the book and turn the pages when they hear a chime.

8) Create a map for the journey

Sydney to Adelaide MapInvolve your kids with a map of the journey. Maps give children a sense of where they’re going and they can circle or mark off towns that they pass through. Scan a map from your road atlas or download a good online map and put it in a child friendly format. Even if your children can’t read, maps are valuable in helping them appreciate geography and a sense of time and distance covered.

9) Bring an iPad stocked with kids’ programs

Shaun the SheepThis is not necessary but it’s a great tool when everyone needs an hour or two of down time on the road. Load up some good kids movies or programs beforehand. A favourite program in our house is Shaun the Sheep. It’s funny and suitable for all ages.

10) Plan each travel day

Plan It

Let’s face it…spontaneity with small children is overrated. Plan where you will be stopping in advance, research the playgrounds in the towns where you will stop. Prepare some running / stretching games to do on the grass to get them moving in the breaks. The last thing you want the kids to do is sit down during a entire rest stop.

Inside the car we structure the travel day with a mix of activities like this:

  • Looking out the window and watching the world
  • Craft Activities
  • Sleep
  • Snacks
  • Movie on the iPad
  • Music / singalong

In closing…

Happy New Year from Outback NSWI want to say how much fun it was to do this big journey with my children. We live in a great big world with so much to see and do and traversing it by car created some amazing memories and experiences that we would not have had in airports or on an airplane. On the way back home we went off road a little a stayed in a cattle station in the middle of the Hay Plains and saw so many wonderful things such as emus running along next to our car and a sunset to die for. It’s often not practical to travel like this on a regular basis, but it makes something pretty extraordinary out of the ordinary if you do.

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Around Here

These past six months I’ve been studying graphic design as well as juggling parenting and work. It’s been intense. However it’s also been wonderful learning new skills and being around other creative like-minded people. I love being in a place where we can have in depth discussions about the finer points of printing on gloss v semi-gloss paper. I guess you could call it crack for crafty people.

In other news, we have been growing beetroot and kale in our garden. Kale is robust and plentiful but quickly takes over the garden. Beetroot are low-maintenance, well behaved vegetables that sit nicely in the soil until you’re ready to eat them. We tried growing cabbage, but it didn’t fare so well as it seemed to attract the entire insect population of our neighbourhood.BeetrootWe had our first visit from the tooth fairy, twice in two days in fact. Surely there’s nothing more gorgeous than a gap toothed smile. Our tooth fairy gives $2 a tooth. I’m not sure what the going rate is, but I’ve tried to factor in inflation since I was a child.Gappy TeethMy children are now suddenly big, independent creatures that are quite good company. To all the parents out there struggling with babies and toddlers…IT GETS EASIER. They seem to spend much of their days swimming, fighting, lego-making, snacking, fighting, crafting, cycling and fighting.Cheeky ChopsI’m really looking forward to the Christmas break and to celebrate the upcoming festivities, have some Christmas posts coming your way.

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Blanket I discovered this crocheted blanket at a little church run op-shop. It’s one of those op-shops that’s only open one morning a week and only the locals know about it. I was told that the lady who made this blanket passed away peacefully at home two weeks ago at the age of 83. She had kept active with her crochet and was quite renowned for her handiwork in her church community. It’s nice to know the story behind a blanket. Lego My son keeps producing the most extraordinary lego creations. For some time he followed the instructions meticulously…but like every great artist has kept his style evolving. The past few months have been an era of unbridled creativity. His vehicular creations have extraordinary names like “The Flying Audiologist” in a homage to a recent medical check-up. MintOur mint plant was on death’s door so I gave it a generous scoop from our compost and a good watering. There’s obviously something magical in our compost, because here it is a few days later completely reinvented with a new lease on life. Kitty My daughter has become quite attached to this stuffed cat and sleeps with it every night. It’s called “Kitty” and is getting pretty worn and smelly…but I love this thing.Homemade Golden Rough

This is a wholefood version of a Golden Rough. It’s completely natural, raw, organic and vegan. But don’t let that put you off…it tastes amazing. I will be posting the recipe soon. BooksThese past few weeks I have been quietly amassing a little stash of books and get a ridiculous amount of pleasure at the thought of reading these. There’s nothing more decadent than ignoring the 1001 things that need to be done and reading a novel in bed.

Vintage sheets

And finally…watching vintage sheets hanging on the line in the sunlight. And how do you know that a gorgeous little floral number is vintage?

Vintage Sheet Tag

Check the tag. Made in Australia’s the giveaway.

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Muddy Puddles

MP1We’ve just emerged from two weeks of torrential downpour in Sydney and the worst cabin fever I’ve ever seen in my children. This week the sun is back and the only evidence of rain is in the form of irresistible muddy puddles.

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On the weekend we went bush walking…our first bush walk together as a family. The Wolli Creek Regional Park is one of the inner west’s best kept secrets. A little pocket of native vegetation in the middle of suburbia. It’s a special place to us, because it’s where we got married several years ago (in the time I recall fondly as “the before”). It was strange being back with two small children in tow…the incessant chatter and rumble of little toddler feet sending nervous Eastern Water Skinks scurrying for cover. We were amazed at how excited the children were to be in the bush. It’s nature’s playground…with so much to see, hear, smell and touch. Whisper thin dragon flies floating in the air, cockatoos squawking over head, interesting rocks and tree branches to navigate and scented wild flowers fragrancing the air. It was a great afternoon…and much more fun without a white frock on.

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In Robin Barker’s book The Mighty Toddler she describes the transition of a 2-yr old into a 3-yr old like that of a frog into a prince. I quietly cherished these words and looked forward with much anticipation to my son’s 3rd birthday. Well, a few months in and it seems that we’re still living with a frog most of the time. Our little frog has dropped his day nap which may have something to do with his tired, less than prince-like behaviour in the evenings. We’ve decided not to sweat the small stuff and instead focus on his good behaviour by rewarding it with a star. Ten stars earns a surprise gift.

I had trouble finding a toddler Star Chart template so decided to design my own and include it here as a free printable. The chart is very visual and the concept of the stars leading to a gift is clear to a 2-3 year old.

Who would have thought that the idea of being swept off my feet by a prince would have a whole new meaning to me as a mother!

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Two kids, two cats, countless boxes and we finally made the move from a two bedroom flat to a three bedroom house. Only a few blocks away, it may as well have been to the moon. It’s the first time I’ve moved since I’ve had children and it was a crazy, exhausting experience. At the end of moving day I realised I’d worn sneakers with jeans all day in my own personal homage to Jerry Seinfeld. A defining fashion moment in my life. My husband now has a beard for the first time because he hasn’t been able to find his razors for a month. At some point we’ve just had to embrace the chaos.

We’ve been in our new home for two weeks and things are starting to settle into place. The house is gaining some semblance of order and cleanliness, there’s food in the fridge and I’m not thinking twice about where the the bread or sugar or nappies or big saucepan with the lid or spatula or scissors or cat food is.

I haven’t looked at my Reader for a month so am looking forward to catching up on all the news in the blogosphere.

Now if only I could just find my glasses…

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The older my babies get, the harder it is to photograph them together. I mean…really hard. They never sit still. This was my effort to take a nice photograph for Fathers Day. We ended up with a handmade card and a box of chocolates.

Any advice, tips or sneaky tricks would be gratefully appreciated.

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Today was the local government elections in NSW. When we turned up at our local school to cast our vote there was a sausage sizzle, jumping castle and a second-hand stall. I scored this gorgeous vintage Gartrell-White Ltd Australian cake tin for $2.

I love democracy.

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