Category

Raising our TCKs

Saying “Goodbye” with My TCKs

I mentioned in Saying Goodbye: A Process about making sure that my kids’ needs were met when they said goodbye to Africa.  With our TCKs being so little–Bub 3 years and Honey-Bear 20 months–I didn’t know how much they would remember, but I wanted to make sure they had every opportunity to have full closure.  So we did four things that I think helped them process goodbyes and make leaving Africa a reality for them.

Giving Toys

It is amazing how many toys you accumulate in a year and half. It helped that we were given hand-me-downs from several family. So when it came time to get rid of things, I wanted to use the opportunity to help my kids learn (1) how they can bless people by giving and (2) how they can be blessed by giving.

So week by week, I asked them what toys they wanted to give away.  Some weeks they would choose two toys and other weeks they would choose ten toys, but it was always their decisions.  After choosing the toys, we would decide who to give them to.

For their closer friends, they gave specific and special toys to.  And the gift exchange made a sad goodbye experience turn into a happy goodbye…most of the time.

Speaking ‘Goodbye’

For Bub, specifically, speaking the word “goodbye” was an extremely emotional thing to do.  Even FaceTiming with family back home, he would get so upset when it was time to say goodbye and refuse to say the word.  After a while, he could say, “See you later,” but hardly ever a full, “Goodbye.”

Knowing this struggle of his, we started a couple months before we left Africa talking to him about how important it is for his heart and others’ hearts to speak the word “goodbye.”  When we started giving toys away with saying goodbye, it turned his negative emotional experiences into happy, fun experiences.

Saying goodbye to Si
Saying goodbye to Si

When he gave his dinosaurs to his best friend, Si was so happy to get new toys that Bub go really excited too.  In their happiness, they hugged and said goodbye with no negative emotions.  It was a blessing to Si, which in turn blessed Bub with a happy heart and happy goodbye.

Talking with Honey-Bear

At some point in the leaving process, I realized that we were talking a lot about goodbyes with Bub but not with Honey-Bear.  She was the same age Bub was when we left America and we talked a lot with him about goodbyes.  So I was more intentional with talking about goodbyes with her.  And I know it helped her realize the reality of leaving, and when the day came a good final goodbye (read that story here).  She did great with speaking, “Goodbye,” giving hugs and kisses.

Bub’s Party at School

And to solidify their goodbyes, they needed to end well in all areas of their lives and that included Bub’s school.  He went to a Preschool/Daycare 5-days a week in the mornings.  He attended for ten of the twelve months we lived in Work City.  So these kids were his friends.  Knowing my son, bad at goodbyes and loves to have fun,  I wanted him to have a great goodbye with his class…so we had a party.  I called his teacher two weeks before we left and asked if we could have a party to say goodbye to Bub and she was thrilled.

The morning of the party we came with snacks and a gift.  Bub had chosen to give his Noah’s Ark set of boat and animals to his classmates to remember him.  We had a lot of fun!  We explained we were leaving. Bub passed out snacks and drinks to all his classmates.  Then he showed them his Noah’s Ark set and presented it to the class.  Then 20 some kids 5 and under ran around like crazy, having fun!

Bub's Party at School
Bub and his BFF, Maria

It was a blessing to my heart to see him interacting with his friends and teachers.  It was a blessing to him because he was recognized and got to serve and love his class through snacks and a gift. His teacher snuck out and came back with gifts for Bub, which was so sweet of her!

As we left, he cried and I cried and the teacher cried.  And it was good.


Having fun goodbyes made a big difference for Bub and Honey-bear as we sought full closure for this chapter of their lives.  Being intentional in using “goodbye” words and knowing your kids can make all the difference in ending well.

 

Little Brother: Born July 07, 2016

Wednesday, July 6th was Honey-Bear’s 2nd birthday. I had my 38 week check up and the midwife stripped my membranes.  She told me, “If it works you’ll have the baby within 24 hours.” And I thought, Oh no! It’s Honey Bear’s birthday!

First high-heels!
First high-heels!

We had a “Dora” party at Nonna and Papa’s house.  During the day, while cooking, I  felt things moving around.  And as the party started at 6pm, I sat on the couch with my legs crossed because I knew my body was getting ready and had to wait 6 hours before he could be born on a different day.

We left Bub and Honey-Bear at my in-laws’ for the night and went home because I was quite sure baby was coming tonight.  I slept about two hours and at midnight I woke up and couldn’t sleep.  I felt labor coming.  I had three contractions 10 mins apart, so I woke up My Love and told him, “It’s time.”

Thursday, July 07, 2016 we checked in to the hospital around 1:30am. The nurse didn’t think I was in labor–coming in with lite contractions only 10 mins apart. But she admitted me and quickly got things ready after talking to the midwife! 🙂 (Honey-Bear was born at home because she came within an hour of my contractions starting! Surprise!)

Around 5:15am, I was in hard labor.  And after a couple pushes, Little Brother was born at 5:58am.  I was so thankful to have him naturally, no epidural! He came out crying; I held him right away and My Love cut the cord.  He measured 6lbs 6.6oz and was 19.5 inches long.

Little Brother #1
He’s here!

I held him after measurements and he latched right on–trying to eat!  When My Love was holding him, the nurse thought his grunting noises didn’t sound right. When we transferred rooms, they took him into the nursery and I didn’t see him for another 2 or 3 hours.  The doctor wanted to run some tests to see what was causing the strange breathing.

Bub and Honey-Bear came with family and saw him through the nursery windows.  They were so excited!  Bub kept saying, “He popped out!”

Bub was looking for Little Brother.
Bub looking for Little Brother.

Around 9:30am, a doctor came in and told us she wanted to take him to the NICU for x-rays and other testing because his breathing was getting worse.  She said, “We’ll bring him by to see you before he goes back.” And immediately they wheeled him into the room plugged into all these cords. They picked him up for me to kiss and left!!

I bursted into tears–it was a dramatic entrance and too quick of an exit.  A friend was there and she came over and prayed with me! We were thankful that we made it to the hospital and that we weren’t still in Africa.  Later we were told by the doctor that Little Brother was admitted into the NICU and would be there for a minimum of four days.  I cried some more.

At 1:30pm we got to see him in the NICU.  It was a bit scary to see him with so many cords attached.  But once they explained what the cords were for, I was so thankful for them!

First visit in the NICU
Daddy with Little Brother.

He had Respiratory Distress Syndrome (RDS). He did not have enough surfactant, which keeps the small air sacs in the lungs from collapsing.  So he was over working himself to keep breathing!  The doctors put an oxygen tube in him to give him a break and gave him medicine to produce more surfactant in his lungs. By 4 or 5pm they took the tube out and put him back on nasal oxygen.

Family and friends were able to come

see him in the NICU that afternoon and evening.  I went in to see him at 9pm and got to hold him! The nurse was so sweet and let me hold him for an hour!!  And his breathing was the most consistent it had been all day. <3 My heard was filled with love and mommy pride!

All Friday, we were just watching and waiting for Little Brother to improve.  The kids came by to visit and Bub was so upset he wasn’t allowed to see/hold his brother  yet.  He cried and cried, sweet boy!

Daddy holding him for the first time!
Daddy holding him for the first time in the NICU.

Saturday, I got to nurse him for the first time! Before, they had fed him through a feeding tube.  In the afternoon, they took out his nasal oxygen.  They also turned off the heating lamp above him to see if he could maintain his body heat. I was discharged Saturday, so the next two nights I stayed at a friend’s house close to the hospital so I could drive in and feed Little Brother every three hours. Bub and Honey-Bear got to ‘meet’ him for the first time, through the NICU window.

Our first family-of-5 picture!
Our first family-of-5 picture!

Sunday morning, he failed at maintaining his body temperature so he went back under the heat lamp.  He also became jaundice, so he spent the next 24 hours under a UV light.  And we were only allowed to hold him twice that day.

Monday, his jaundice levels were down.  His feeding tube was taken out and his IV was ready to come out! After the doctor’s rounds, he said they would keep him for observations just to make sure he’s healthy, then he could go home Tuesday around 1pm.

Little Brother
A little smile!

Monday night, I got to ‘room in’ in the NICU with Little Brother.  It’s basically a mock night at home.  He was totally unplugged and in my room.  And the doctors are there just in case I or he needed anything–so great! He did fabulous and cried just to be held! I think he was surprised to find mom was there to get him when he cried!

Our first night TOGETHER!
Our first night TOGETHER!

Tuesday morning, the nurses had a couple tests to run. An hour long carseat test was done because he had respiratory issues.  He passed all of them.  Around 1:15pm, the doctor came in for one more evaluation and said, “Sign your release papers and you are free to go home!!”  So we did!  My Love had brought the kids to pick us up so they could meet him for the first time!  It was such a SWEET moment when they got to see and touch him!

Bud holding him for the first time!
Bud holding him back at home!
Honey-Bear holding him!
Honey-Bear holding him!
Kids made a "Welcome Home" cake with an aunt!
Kids made a “Welcome Home” cake with an aunt!

 

 

 

We are so thankful for all the prayers offered up on Little Brother’s behalf and for our family!! God is good!  As I finish this blog post, he is already a month old and healthy as can be.  At his 2 week check up, he was 7lbs 1oz! We joke that he might have medically enhances lungs because…man, that boy can CRY! 🙂  We love his SO much! Can you tell–all these pictures?! haha

1 Month Old
1 Month Old

Homestay: Fun & Fighting

 

Our Homestay was a good experience. It helped that the African family had kids; it also hurt the experience some too. Well, I wouldn’t say hurt exactly…it was a real look into a family’s life and how they raise their kids differently.

We had fun times, and we had hard times. Some of the fun parts were Bub being able to play with local kids. The family’s son is a year older than Bub, so they played together. They would run up and down the hallway, ‘hit’ their heads on the door, fall down ‘dead’, and do it over again! They would play cars, until the older one would take them all away.

Bub & the Prince Running
The boys running!!

The daughters loved to hold and love on Honey-Bear. Which was a good break for me. The girls also liked to help us with homework and how to say the words correctly! They were sweet.

But there were hard times. The oldest girl seemed ‘too old’ for the parents to tell her what to do. The youngest was ‘still too little’ to know better. And the middle girl seemed to be the Cinderella of the family. The girls would fight, yell, and cry like most sisters would.

Girls & I had some fun with the Ipad!
Girls & I had some fun with the Ipad!

In this culture the boy of the family is Prince of The House. He can’t do anything wrong in the parents’ eyes.

We saw this Prince cut up a sister’s homework with scissors and not get in trouble. We saw him hit his mom and dad, and they just laughed it off. We saw him take a permanent marker to walls. We saw him demand by SCREAMING until he was pacified with his wishes.

That…that was hard.

And how to teach a 1.5-year-old little boy, it’s not okay to scream and hit, when he sees it day in and day out by the other kids?

Our answer became, “In our family we don’t hit, scream…fill in the blank.” When the Prince would do his damage we would ask Bub, “Uh oh. Was that good or bad,” to help him filter what he was seeing. We also tried our best to be consistent in disciplining him when he broke a family rule. Bub did a good job, considering the elements he was in.

HA! My favorite!
HA! My Favorite!

 

We look back at our Homestay time with fond memories of fun and fighting!

They’ve Gone Through So Much

 

I was warned from an experienced TCK mom about how hard life can seem for a little TCK. But in all the hard, stress & difficulty it may be, to NOT let up on your discipline. Don’t let him get away with hitting now if he wasn’t allowed to before…that kind of consistency in discipline.

I was advised from another experienced TCK mom to consider re-directing than giving a harsh consequence during the initial transition period. If a child is acting out because of the stress or because they are tired, a swat would only escalate their feelings. Maybe re-directing them to play alone or read a book would a constructive way to change their attitudes.

These are both great pieces of advice; thank you ladies for your wisdom! Here are some of my conclusions after reading more books, the Book, and a year of experience of living overseas.

 

  1. Discipline defined

When I talk about discipline, it come from the root word to disciple, to train. That is what we, as parents, are doing—we are training our children. But there are times when giving a punishment is necessary and just. Our family has defined those actions worthy of punishments as: hitting, pushing, doing something he/she knows is wrong (from our training), and defiance (saying with words or actions “no” to authority). I actually made a chart for Bub; I’ll put up a pictures later.

On different issues of whining or acting out, we treat those on an individual basis. And when there are factors when our kids are tired, pushed beyond comfort zones, peopled-out, etc. those are times when re-directing is a better tool. In those types of situations, the child hasn’t done anything wrong. They’ve just hit an emotional limit. As part of training, we encourage our kids to get away (bed, book, bathtub sometimes) to relax and change their attitudes.

  1. Children need consistency

All children thrive on consistency and knowing expectations, not just TCKs. When a child knows what is typically going to happen in a day, at home, and with punishments, they can prepare themselves to meet those expectations. This gives them comfort and security; and this gives you their love and trust.

When we are training our two year old not to hit, we have to be consistent in that teaching. He won’t learn hitting is wrong if sometimes its ok to hit and other times its not. He’ll be more confused than ever and not know if he can trust my word.

Living in a place where no two Tuesdays look alike, it is hard for our kids (and for mom!) to know how to meet the day. We have adapted and are learning to be flexible. But we also try to have some basic structured meals, naps, snack, playtime, and bed routine each day.

  1. Children are resilient

It is hard on a mom’s emotions to know your kids are having a hard time. But their Creator made them resilient! (that’s a fun word!) Elastic…pliable…resistant…flexible are all synonyms of resilient. Children were made in such a way as to go through hard times and be just fine. I also think that because they don’t have another life to compare Africa to (like I do) they have transitioned quicker and easier than I. They handle stress lighter than I do. They spring back from sickness faster than I do. Children are made strong, courageous & meant for adventure.

And I still take care of my kids. 🙂 We are training them how to handle their emotions. What to do when a kid at school pulls his hair. They won’t come out of this un-wounded, but that’s life for ya. No one will. So we are training them.

  1. Training them “in the way they should go.”

Our main purpose as parents is to train our children to…replace us. The proverb says, “Train a child in the way he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it.” That is our family’s goal in training our children. Life is hard, but we are doing our best to train our TCKs how to respond when life does ‘pull your hair.’

Training your child

We are training so they know they can control their bodies, attitudes and thoughts. We are training them to obey, respect & listen to authority and wisdom. We are training them to know there are consequences when wrong is done. These are all life skills our kids need to learn and they are learning them from day one.

  1. My regrets

I have some regrets from when we first came. The first major regret was lack of consistency. We were so tired from all the stresses of culture shock that we let Bub disobey and say “no” to us many times. I am sorry and give myself some grace, but it has been an upwards climb to reclaim the training ground we lost during that time. It has instilled in him a strong will: that if he pushes just a little more than he can get his way. He likes to walk the line on obedience, and that is scary to us. We are training him to respond before he comes close to the line. He is doing well, a year later, but its still a struggle.

The second regret would be with Honey-Bear’s sleeping. She started sleeping through the night at five weeks. But when we moved into our Homestay, she slept five inches from my head and I felt bad about letting her cry in the families home. So I would get her up rather than letting her readjust and fall back to sleep. Because I didn’t let her re-learn to sleep through the night, she didn’t sleep through the night till she was 10 months old. She also got accustomed to calling her servant (mom) by crying. I regret those sleepless nights and being slave to the cry. If I would have just stuck through one, maybe two, hard weeks, I would have had eight months of peaceful nights with more energy for the days


There are some thoughts on discipline, training, and regrets from my experience raising our TCKs. What are yours?

Products I Love: Baby Bed Ed.

I spent a lot of time online shopping around for travel beds for our kids.  There are many to be had out there, but I had a criteria:

  • light weight
  • easy to take with us
  • fit newborn to toddler
  • reasonable price

I knew we would be traveling every three months for visa renewals so our top criteria were: weight and travel easy.  After hours of shopping online and a couple recommendations for other expat moms, I chose the KidCo Peapod.

Our KidCo Peapod

We LOVE our KidCo Peapod.  Bub slept in it a couple months as a toddler.  We moved Honey-Bear into it when she started rolling around.  It’s an easy-clean material that simply wipes off everything: ice cream, leak from a diaper, dirt. It comes with an thicker clip-on pad for extra padding. We have taken it on every trip we’ve been on.  It’s been to five countries and countless train floors.

Our KidCo Peapod at the beach

We have used it many time on the beach for a shady play spot for Honey-Bear.  She’ll sleep in it too.  After we’re finished, we just shake it off and it’s clean.  The mesh keeps the baby cool, but the small space also helps keep baby warm in the cold winter.

I would highly recommend the KidCo Peapod to anyone looking for a travel bed for baby to toddler.  It is sold at Target.com. (I do earn commission on clicks and sales through Target’s affiliate program.)

There was an old original Graco pack-n-play for us to use when we arrived.  That has been a blessing to have a bed for each kid.  We definitely don’t travel with it, because it’s a hunker.  But this summer when it was boiling outside, it was boiling inside the kids’ room.  We had had Honey-Bear in the Peapod. But after a couple naps of her waking up after 10 minutes, in a pool of sweat, we moved her to the pack-n-play for better ventilation.

Playing in the Pack-N-Play

It says it in it’s name “pack-n-play.”  Having a pack-n-play is fun for the kids. They love to fill it with toys, throw them out and re-fill it.  It is also fun for mom to put the kids in so she can sweep, read or go to the bathroom uninterrupted. I weekly us it to set Honey-Bear in while I run up to the roof to do laundry.


I know there are many travel baby beds but these are the two we have, and we like ’em!! 🙂  Do you have any favorites?

Family Fall Extravaganza

I remember the first Holiday Season after we were married (2009) telling My Love I wanted to make some Family Traditions. His answer was, “We can start that when we have kids.” Ha! So I have been patiently scheming in my head for a couple years of Family Traditions! To my surprise, two weeks ago My Love announced to me, “We should do a Family Fall Extravaganza.” 😀 In sheer joy I yelled, “YES!”

Fall is probably my favorite season: the change in weather, trees, school activities, sports, pumpkin everything, etc. But in Africa the trees don’t change colors, I’m not in school activities, Futball is the sport here, and they don’t even have orange pumpkins!! The weather does change—thank goodness—so we can escape the heat. And they do have pumpkins, they are just green on the outside.

So we compiled our list and this is what we did last weekend!

First Family Fall Extravaganza

Applesauce/cider

We can’t find applesauce here so it has to be homemade and luckily 2 kilos of apples are only $4.  My Love found a great recipe here. We didn’t have enough juice left over this time for apple cider, oh well.

Cut out colored leaves

Fall leaf cut outs

My Love cut out leaves from colored paper.  Bub picked out what kind of leaf he wanted.  To our disappointment they weren’t too interested in coloring on them, but oh well, they’re always next year!  We hung them up on our door.

S’mores

S'more supplies     Roasting Marshmallows

S’mores are My Love’s FAVORITE!!  This is what we found.  The marshmallows were not marshmallows, but it worked. You had to burn it to make is swell! HA!

Bub with s'mores               Honey-Bear with s'mores

Bub didn’t like that his hands were sticky, but Honey-Bear didn’t seem to mind!

Cinnamon Rolls

My mom used to bake a ton when we were little and I always loved her Cinnamon Rolls.  I couldn’t find her recipe but I found this one and let me tell you…they are AMAZING! The original recipe is from The Pioneer Woman. And the icing is killer!

Cinnamon Rolls--makes 48

This recipe makes 48 rolls, so I made half and froze the other half for a later date.

Bub helping with the icing.

Bub wanted to help! So he poured the icing over the rolls!

Yummy Dinners

Over the weekend, we made two fall meals (did you notice most of the things on our list are food?!).

Bacon Wrapped Chicken

Saturday Night we made some Bacon Wrapped Chicken (a recipe from my sister-in-law) and mashed potatoes.  It was SO yummy!! Bacon is real treat here so we made the most of it.

And on Sunday night, we had a traditional Pumpkin Soup.  It was my first time to make Pumpkin Soup, and it was pretty good.  A spoon full of plain yogurt on top added some good favor.

Fall Movies

Curious George--A Halloween Boo Fest

We found “Curious George: a Halloween Boo Fest” in Amazon and in Netflix for the kids to watch.  Bub is a fan of Curious George.  I’ll have to look into some more fall movies for kids next year.  Any ideas?

When I thought of fall movies I could only think of football!  So…

Amazon--Remember the Titans

“Remember the Titans” was a must and we found it in Amazon too.  And with some investigating I found…

Amazon--You've Got Mail

“You’ve Got Mail” in Amazon. Which was great! They have beautiful fall and festive scenes that help ‘make the moment.’ What great movies, and CLEAN!


Lots of dishes
There were so many dishes, but it was worth it!

It was a fun weekend for our family to stop, enjoy intentional time with each other, and the wonderful gifts fall brings! Making Family Traditions is really fun!! What does your family do?

Monkey Say, Monkey Do

I love the stage in baby/toddler-hood when my kids start to mimic! It is so funny the things you can get them to do and say! They are so silly. The truth is that kids not only mimic the actions and words of their parents, but they mimic the emotions and attitudes too.

We all know how hard it is to keep our cool during stress. My experience of living in Africa has proven many stressful times. I have seen how my positive reactions and negative reactions affect our kids’ own reactions. As TCKs they have their own struggles and stresses to go through and I don’t want to add to their weight by my bad attitudes.   Here are three steps I try to take when we find ourselves in a stressful time: Aware, Care and Grace.

  1. Be aware of your reactions to stress. When you feel your buttons are being pushed, be aware of how you are reacting. If you make negatives remarks towards your new culture and new people, your TCKs will harbor those in their minds. With younger TCKs, they will sense your emotions on the rise and react to them. Often this leads to them acting out, being over emotional, and making you even more upset. Train yourself how to react to stress in healthy ways: exercise, quiet time, journal (my story), etc.
  1. By taking care of your stresses, you can decrease those negative mimicking risks. By “taking care” I mean be proactive in having stress releases build in to your lives to help you and your TCKs. Every family is different and your releases will be different too. *Moms—this is key for you!! Find healthy ways for you to de-stress, because you set the tone for your family every day!  For our family with two babies, our releases have been in playing outside: walks, park, grass, climbing hills, football (not the American kind). Helping Africa feel more like “home” for us has lead us to discovering things and places we love about her.   And the more like “home” we feel the less stress we feel.
  1. Give grace to your TCKs when they are acting out. Don’t let them disobey, but be proactive in giving them good things to play with and think about to redirect their negative feelings towards something good. There are so many stresses that can come into our TCKs’ world we can’t even see, so cut them a break when they’ve hit their limit and train them how to channel those emotions correctly. And if your little monkey said & did what they saw you do, give yourself some grace and do better next time!!

It is so important that we train our children how to deal with their emotions and attitudes in healthy ways, TCKs or not. Hard times will come, feeling will get hurt and they need to know how to react when those times come. We have the privilege and obligation to teach our children how to become emotionally healthy adults in a world that is sure to bring hard times.  And it starts with you, mom & dad. How do you deal with stress, disappointments or anger? They are watching us; we need to show them out to live healthy lives–Monkey say, Monkey do!


Do you having any tips in teaching kids (or moms) to be emotionally healthy?

 

What is a TCK? Meet ours!

A TCK is a Third Culture Kid. They are kids who do not grow up in their parents’ culture, yet they are not fully from the culture they are living in.Bub and Honey-Bear will be TCKs. They are American, but they will also be part African. So they make their own ‘Third Culture.’

Knowing we wanted to live cross-culturally in college, we spent year with Internationals students and TCKs. We watched their lives. Listened to their stories of what their parents did well and what they could have done better. We took many mental notes because we wanted to do parenting right.

In one class we read Dave C. Pollock’s “Third Culture Kids” which has a new edition out on Amazon.com. Check it out! My Love reread it when we were in Lang City, because it truly applies to our lives now that we have our own TCKs. One of the main thought he came away with was that we, as parents, cannot assume that the way we were raised (foods, traditions, etc.) is best or will even fit for our kids. One example: He thinks of childhood as playing at the playground, riding bikes on the sidewalk to school, playing is grass. But those things aren’t in Africa. That doesn’t make our kids’ childhood doomed; it just means that they will have their own entirely different version of childhood.

A second main thought from Pollock’s book is that parenting a TCK isn’t just ‘one more obstacle’ in parenting. No, it makes parenting your TCK a whole other dimension. Rather than simply adding to your child’s character, being a TCK redefines their whole being, heart & mind. Which is a fantastic thing! So our parenting to our TCKs is going to be totally different than if we had stayed in America.


Enough about that stuff—meet our TCKs!!
Our TCKs at first

 

>>>Here are Bub and Honey-Bear before coming. He was 21 months old and she was 2 months when we came to Africa.

Our TCKs in Sept 2015

 

 

 

 

<<< Here they are a year later! Big kids
brushing their teeth!

 

 

 

They are GREAT!  And we can already see their lives molding into TCKs.  They have been to five countries, lived in three homes, slept in 15 different houses all in one year.  They are speaking both English and the national language, with a tribal word thrown in here and there from Bub.  We love watching them grow and learn.  They are great learners, travelers, and most importantly love people!!

We are blessed beyond belief to have them journey with us through live and Africa!

Jet Lag & Time Changes with Kids

We are seven hours ahead of our family in the States. When we landed in Africa, we stayed a week in a house before going down to Lang City (for that story click here). That gave us a week to get Bub & Honey-Bear adjusted to the time change and over jet lag. I had talked to a couple Expat Moms before coming and gleaned advice from them. And this is how our family did it.

Start—Don’t wait another second! As soon as you land, it is time to start changing your family’s internal time clocks. I may take up to a month, so start right away.

Meals—Meals are key in adjusting a body’s time clock. We pushed our kids to eat full meals in African time. And if we had to give them a snack, then it would be a small one with lots of liquids.

Awake Time—In order to reset our bodies’ clocks we had to push our kids to only nap a couples hours during the day so they would stay awake most of the day and be tired enough to sleep at night (up till 1pm Africa time is night time in America). Keep them busy until it’s time to sleep.

Sleep Time—We tried to calm the kids down before bedtime by taking a bath, reading a book, and being quiet. We let our kids cry for ten minutes before we interfered. Sometimes they would fall back to sleep. When Bub, 21 month old, would wake up in the night, we would play a quiet Baby Einstein movie for him then put him back down. We would try to make sleep time interruptions as minimal and quiet as possible.

Another piece of advice an Expat Mom gave me was with toddlers: “Don’t let up on your discipline.  Once you lower your standards of obedience,  it’s a hard climb to get your child back up to them again.”


What has your family done? Do you have any tips to share?!

Preparing Your Children for Goodbyes

Goodbyes are so hard!! Saying goodbye with two babies is hard, but probably not as hard as some of you with older children. When we left, Bub was 21 months and Honey-Bear was 2 months old. On their parts, they don’t remember much about goodbyes. But no matter their ages, we want to do a good job of taking care of our children and their hearts.  Here are 4 tips for saying goodbyes with children.

4 Tips for Preparing your Children to Say Goodbye

First—Know your children

How do your children cope with goodbyes & changes? Do they cry, do they act out behaviorally, do they need comfort? It is important to know how your child handles their emotions so you can take care of their sweet hearts.

Bub is a sensitive boy. He can read emotions better than a book. As we got closer to leaving, Bub would act out when he felt our emotions escalate. So in taking care of his heart, we tried to be as calm as we could.

Second—Tell them in good time

As a one year old ‘tomorrow’ was the same as ‘next week’ or ‘next month.’ With no sense of time, we would tell him the morning of when we were going to do something. When we took down the crib to send off, we told him the morning of. He didn’t need lots of time to process his bed leaving.

If you have an older child, the morning of would not work for them. You have to know your children’s understanding of time and their need to process the emotions that come with that change.

Third—Make goodbyes meaningful & happy

Children are very emotional creatures. When they say goodbye to someone/something we can help them by making those last moments happy and short. The meaningfulness of a goodbye will depend on the person and your child. Our most meaningful goodbyes were with family and best friends.

The Sunday before we left, we had a picnic with both sides of our families. We did it at a park so all the kids could play and we were out there for hours. It was enough time that Bub got time to play with each uncle, aunt, cousin, and grandparent. And those were fun memories for him and the family.

**This part is just as much for taking care of your children as it is the family you are leaving behind!!

Fourth—Make the final goodbye short

Because children are so emotionally in tune, it’s best that the final words and hugs of a goodbye are short. Each child processes emotions differently. But one thing is sure, that after 40 goodbyes of sad, crying people any child would be exhausted!

If you have a lot of goodbyes to make, maybe schedule them out so their not all at once. If you do an event (party, dinner, etc.) wait till they are walking out the door to have the final goodbye words and hugs so it doesn’t drag on for another 10 minutes.


Do you have any tips that were helpful to your children?