How to find a Kita for your child in Germany | Expat Guide

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Tender beginnings for the  little ones 

Guys, after almost 9 months of waiting, finally, we got a spot for my daughter in a Kita here in Germany!!! 

I know, I know, I heard you, you might say that this is such a normal thing,no big deal, but hey NO! not here in Germany. Believe me, once you got a spot in the Kindergarten or Kita for your child here, you’ve got to be jumping for joy and saying thanks all over again. Because I am telling you, It’s not EASY. It was never EASY.

Okay, maybe I am overreacting, but yes, it is quite a relief when we got the letter from the municipality informing us that my daughter was selected to join a Kita this coming September.It was a long wait and therefore we loooove this  news. A new chapter for my child’s life, and as well as for us parents. Finally,an end to long days and months of waiting.Of course, as a disclaimer, this is purely based on my experience. Maybe someone got so lucky that they immediately find a place for their child in Kita, a case to case basis. But I observed this phenomenon for long months now and therefore have established my opinion about the complicated system for childcare and Kindergarten schools especially here in our area in Bavaria, southern part of Germany.

So how did we got the spot? What techniques did we do?

If you are an Expat parent like me, I am so sure that the moment you moved into a new country and you’ve started to explore your new neighborhood for parks and playgrounds, the next thing you want to establish is joining a playgroup, Nursery, childcare or a Kita /Kindergarten for your little ones especially if you are a working Mama. It is very important to get a support group for your children. This is one of the natural ways in “re-potting the uprooted child”.

“So here’s the truth: Getting a spot in the Kita/Kindergarten for your child here in Germany REALLY ONLY depends on LUCK, or in logical terms-written in the stars, destiny, or some may call it fate, or your blessing!”

What you need to do as a parent ? Here are practical ways ( which I did!) on the course of our application for Kita in a span of almost 9 months;

  1. Do your research. –  I don’t speak German yet but I did a lot of research even prior to arriving here in Bavaria. I made a list from the schools which I saw online even while I was still in Kuwait and then mapped their location once we got here. Depending on the area where you live, find as many Kita that you can in your vicinity. If you apply for 2, the chance is almost zero, but if you apply for at least 8-10, then at least you can have a chance. For complete listings of Kita per area, you can always refer to the information provided online by your local municipality or ask from the Rathaus. For residents in Ingolstadt, there are so many information provided by Stadt Ingolstadt and there is a department who is really in charge of finding a space for every child to be put into a Kita/Kindergarten.There are persons there which main job is this; helping you get that slot for your child ( Freie Plätze in Kindertageseinrichtungen).

 

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My Pre-schooler tiny Goblin

2. Explore and visit the Kita/ Kindergarten in your Area – You need to be out and find the location of the school. As soon as we have the list, we started walking and exploring and visiting the school one by one. It is always good to personally inquire from the staff for any vacancy.

3. Write a formal “Anmeldebogen” ( Application) in Deutsch ( German) and send by post or email– This one is very effective, at least it works for me. Most of the staff I’ve talked via phone always told me that they don’t speak much English so when they read my letter and my inquiry written in Deutsch, I got concrete answers, even quick replies.

4. Follow Up. Every single Month. If you are forceful like me-make phonecalls  to ask for progress. Take time to follow-up. Sometimes, there might be a chance that someone left the Kita or moved away so a vacant space is available. The Kita that we’ve got is the one we’ve got on the opening day and not the first one we’ve applied or visited.Also, take note that depending on your area, you are most likely to get a spot on the place where your local address is linked to.

5.Attend the Opening Day – All Kitas and Kindergartens have an opening day held during the month of January where you can write the application once again for your child at the same time take a tour of the facilities of the school and their profile. This is very important. They have an announcement on this on their websites so pay attention for updates and changes of dates.

In the Kita, it compose normally of 2-3 groups, with around 25 children.During the opening day, I have asked the teachers what are their criteria in choosing a child to be in their Kita and here’s the information I’ve got :

  1. Parent’s status – If both parents are working, single mother/father .
  2. Location of residence, and if you work on certain companies ( like Audi , Schanzer etc.) then you can have some benefits or privileges.
  3. Language of the child/ spoken at home and the age of the child.
  4. Decision by the Municipality ( Department for Children and Families – Kitaplatzkoordinator)

With all these, all you can do is wait for a confirmation from any one of the school that you’ve applied, and nobody knows when will it be.They will give out confirmation around March and have the meeting with parents of the children who were chosen by month of June to prepare them for the  start of semester in September.

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Repotting the Uprooted child

So what are your options if you can’t find a place for your child?

Today, kindergartens here in Germany are an integral, yet voluntary, part of the early education system: Over 80% of all children between three and six years attend a kindergarten in Germany. The state supports parents with monetary incentives, such as tax reductions and child allowance (Kindergeld). The basic concept of Kitas and Kindergarten here are all “play based”, which is totally opposite from the American and English system which has more emphasis on academics. Now, I have written before how kid-friendly Germany is and how it is more AWESOME to be a kid living here. But then have a shortage of Kita really sucks!

Generally, in every area, there’s plenty of Kindergarten to choose from but it seems that it’s still not enough to accommodate the number of children who needs to be enrolled, add the fact the number of migrant’s children and the booming Expat population, especially in big cities like Berlin, Hamburg or in Munich.The staff have always told us that the waiting list is too much and “kein frei platz “( or no vacant space) .Even if there are many options for parents on where to put their child, the competition is still tight.

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Eager to learn..

Here are the childcare options for children ( 3 months up to 6 years old) here in Germany ;

Tagesmutter  ( or Day mother) – yes, you can hire a “Mother“in Germany. The Tagesmutter takes care of 3-5 children in her home, like a small daycare. Tagesmutter take care of your child in their home while you go to work. In most cases they care for additional children as well, so your child is guaranteed to have contact with peers.A Tagesmutter needs to be certified by the youth welfare office and most of them have a Pedagogy background and have a great experience with children.

Nannies-  are also an option in Germany. In contrast to in-home daycare providers, nannies come to your home to care for your child. In-home daycare providers and nannies are not required to be trained early childhood educators.  For a 20-hour week, in-home daycare providers charge an average of 300 to 600 euros per month.

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The long wait is over…

Here in Ingolstadt, in South Germany ( Bavaria) , you can contact the Mobile Familie e.V if you are interested for alternative options. There are equivalent of these services depending in the area where you live.They have the following services available all throughout Germany:

  1. Tagespflege (Daycare)
  2.  Kibeno ( Childcare Emergency Call)- supports parents in emergency situations where a caregiver is needed for the child / child at short notice.
  3. Kinderfrau – ( Childminder) -A childminder regularly takes care of the children in the parents’ household over a longer period of time. The Kinderfrau is employed by the parents.
  4. Au-Pair ( Nanny/Governess) – An au pair lives with a family, supports them mainly with the care of the children and helps in the household.
  5. Notmutter – (Emergency Mother) -An emergency mother takes care of the children of a family in emergency situations, especially when the mother is ill.
  6. Babysitters 

I hope the above information have helped you in a way to have an idea how it goes here when it comes to applying for a Kita/ Kindergarten for your child.

If you have more questions, please feel free to give comments or share your own experience for your child.

For Expat Mamas and Papas who are in this stage, good luck with your application !

 

One at A Time : Lesson from the Daffodils

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Yellow Daffodils from our garden

“She turned to the sunlight and shook her yellow head..and whisper to her neighbor, Winter is dead…”

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Dancing Daffodils : Standing yellow and proud. The brave soul who was not afraid to bloom despite the ugliness around her.

I know from the early signs of Spring that it can’t be far behind if there are Daffodils and today, my heart is filled with warm thoughts seeing the mass of Daffodils in our garden,  in full bloom. There are still so many bulbs sprouting from the other bed.This is a new sight for me, since its also my first time to experience Spring here in Germany. Excuse my delight, but yes,I love these pretty yellow thing! What about you?

Nature always have a way to remind me that I am now living in seasons. That just like any wild flower,I must allow myself to grow in all the places  that I never thought to be.My sight seems to have the ability to meet my every day need with effortless perfection. I find that when life gets to be too much heavy and everyday troubles bubble up and over, a time to relax the mind  is much-needed, accompanied by a walk in the fresh air, can in an instant, calm…no matter what the season.

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The first bloom of Daffodils from our garden  brighten up our home.

To tell you, I think there’s just something about Spring. I remember months ago, I planted some bulbs in the garden. I’m no experience gardener but I hoped that it will grow , and hopefully, bloom. After the snow melted from our garden and I saw the budding sprouts pushed themselves slowly, their baby leaves are winding up, greeting the warm sunshine.

I thought it will never come out. I almost give up.

But then one bulb sprout after one another, one at a time.

Two months ago,  I was heavily  burdened with anxiety, with a deep anguish. My feeling like the gloominess of cold winter.As a parent, I don’t know what to do. My daughter have a speech delay and did not say a thing or two in her 2.5 years. Whenever people would ask me if she is talking already, I don’t know anymore what to say. I was in the brink of having her checked-up and getting a professional opinion. She is one happy, very active fireball of energy, a tiny Goblin. She is so active and yet, when it comes to talking, she was lagging behind. The thing is, she perfectly understands English & Deutsch, follows instructions in both language, but no talking. My friends say that for children who were born with multiple languages surrounding them, speech can come late. I used to believe in this too.

But the anxiety continues.It robs my joy every single day. I kept on asking why…and When?

Two weeks ago, she surprised me and my husband when all of a sudden, she just blurted out “Mama“! I couldn’t believe it! Did she just say whaaattt? Then “Papa“follows, and many other words, she sings and reads the alphabet now bilingually, recites the numbers, even perfected the spelling for her favorite animals and colors. Her favorite word so far is “Rot” ( German for Red) . Her vocabulary has grown so much in a span of 2 weeks. I find it so great when she replies now whenever I am asking her simple questions.

I have learned so much from this experience.As a parent, it humbled me knowing that I almost lost my faith in my child.That I need to wait patiently. Raising a child indeed comes One at a time.

Happiness came in when I witnessed this milestone in my daughter’s life.There have been millions of times we have sung the same song, read dozens of books, and talking day after day. But then,milestones doesn’t come in an instant. It’s always One at a Time, one baby steps at A Time.

Spring will come and so will Happiness.

So I’m holding on. I know life will get warmer. The yellow Daffodils in my garden  reminded me to keep the faith. Just as their petals turned up towards the sun, I need to move toward my goal and desires one step at a time-often just baby steps and learning to use the accumulation of time.That when we multiply tiny pieces of time with small increments of daily effort, we too will find we can accomplish magnificent things.

My daughter is talking now. Talking too much. It’s music to my ears.

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The Daffodils in my garden are dancing. Swinging when the wind blows.

Fresh beginnings.

New life.

Rebirth.

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Who could ever imagine that out of these wild flower comes a great wisdom.

The Daffodils and other wild flowers, the delicate, intricate, unassuming flowers. Especially the early spring flowers who find themselves among the first to brave the unstable elements. The ones who have the quiet strength to weather the cold winds and last few spits of icy snow as they tenderly open themselves for all to admire.

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No matter what you ask of the Daffodil, it will still wait until Spring to bloom. From this I learned we all open up when the time is right…

Do you like Daffodils?

What do you look forward this coming Spring? Share your comments below.

 

 

Postcards from Kuwait | Atop

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The cityscape of Kuwait on a clear ( dust-free) day .

Before we left Kuwait last year, we were fortunate enough to visit the Kuwait towers.This is a must-thing to do  for us since we don’t know if we would ever set our foot back in this place ever again.It’s several times already for me, a first time for my husband and my daughter. Luckily, it’s just in time for its re-opening after long years of being closed for renovation.This time, I’m more excited for my daughter to be on top of the towers and enjoy the cityscape of Kuwait.

Did I ever feel the heat up in the Kuwait Towers? No, not really. The temperature was good from this altitude and there’s Air Conditioning of course!

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On top of the 2nd spherical dome of Kuwait.

Now a 2-year old have no idea of what’s up there on top.If she love the views, I don’t know but obviously,she’s more interested in walking through the revolving deck and licking the railings.At this point, she doesn’t have any remembrance of this experience yet,but once she grow up, she can see her photos of herself being on top of the most important landmark in Kuwait, her birthplace.A place that she spent her first year of life. This place would always be special for all of us,  and to her.

The view of the Arabian Gulf from above is stunning, the promising skyline of the skyscrapers in Kuwait namely the Al Hamra Tower, the Kipco, Al Tijaria,Central Bank of Kuwait (CBK) and others provides a fascinating vista on a clear, haze-free day. The typical  beige urban areas, the nature-less landscape, the tempting Aqua park beneath the towers, and the hustle and bustle of the Gulf road. These things make this area very prominent and touristic attraction.

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Up above, there’s a reflective wall where you can see yourself in a twisted panoramic view. We had fun playing with photos. It looks surreal, like a myriad of reflective glass. This is one of my favorite photos taken here. For me, It’s so different to see this place because my focus is on my daughter. I felt like it had a different meaning for me , regardless of the same scenic views I’m seeing. Like a tower, we’ve managed to overcome our struggles here, sandstorms, the heat and all. We’ve been through ups and downs in our life spent here but in the end, we surpassed it all.Now, these views are all nostalgic memories, a beautiful postcard.

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It’s not hot up in here, Mama !

As for my little Goblin, she’s only 2 but she have collected so many postcards from the top countless times already.She love all the fast elevators and steep views from all her journeys.From hanging out in the highest Rock museum in theMunich Olympic Tower, climbing the Austrian Alps, even napping through the cable cars above and marveled the beauty of the Zugspitze-Arena in Austria, enjoyed the fairy tale journey into the steep magical Burg Eltz castle, making a mess inside the Windmills, learned to step in the steep, claustrophobic Cubic houses and exploring the old ruins of castles along the river Moselle.

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Looking up to the three dominant features of this Tower.

She’s not even three and she have these views already! She have been to places before she even learned how to talk…

As for us, we continue to collect postcards, be it from the top or seen from the grounds.

 

Loved this post? If so, please follow me on Instagram to see more photos like this.

Post inspired by DP Photo Challenge | Atop

Fasching and Kinderball

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My daughter in her first experience of Kinderball 

Did you know that Germany has a version of Mardi Gras?

It’s called Fasching, Karneval, or Fastnacht  which all refer to the pre-Lent season, locally known as Faschingzeit and also referred to as the Fifth Season, mostly in German-speaking countries.  These celebrations date back hundreds of years, rooted in both Catholic and early Germanic traditions.

I notice this from mid- January, when all shops changed their displays from Christmas theme  into a wide, colorful arrays of costumes for young and old, masks, and various kinds of dress-up materials. And no– this is not Halloween.

Although there are carnival observances all across Bavaria, it should be noted that Fasching customs vary from place to place. Franconia (northern Bavaria) is where most of the action happens, but the capital city of Munich (München) has one of the largest Fasching fests in Bavaria – although the Sunday Fasching parade in Würzburg is Bavaria’s biggest. After the crowning of the Fasching prince and princess (das Faschingsprinzenpaar) in mid-January, everyone prepares for the start of carnival in the week before Ash Wednesday.

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Faschingzeit in Germany

Here, Fasching is not that big compared to the ones in the neighboring regions. Most clubs have a Fasching party but I don’t know how does it looked like since I have never been into one. We don’t have those big parades and street party. But they have this big event for the Little ones, where kids and the kids at heart enjoy the festive and cozy dress-up celebration. Kinderball is an event organized by Narrwalla, where kids and their parents are all dressed up in all different costumes. Most of them also have a Fasching event in their Kita and Kindergartens.

 

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Kinderball 2017

If you’re a parent, this kind of event is something that you would want to bring your child to enjoy hours of concert, singing, dancing, entertainment, and socializing. The kids jumped happily and more, interested to see the tricks played by the clowns, the light show, and of course there’s the Fasching songs that makes it so exciting. My Little Pumpkin surely loved this event.

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My Little Pumpkin 

The locals dressed up seriously and it’s obvious that they really enjoy it. Fortunately, it falls on Sunday so most families are there. I originally planned to dress up my daughter in a princess but she keeps on eating the sleeves so I decided to changed it into a Pumpkin where she personally choose. There was a service from the restaurant so Fasching food and drinks flooded the tables.There were cold cuts, sandwiches, different cakes, ice cream, potatoes, sausages and much more.

There’s a nice gallery posted online about this event. You can check it out Here.

What is your favorite costume to dress-up?

 

Light & Shadow play

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My daughter enjoying her shadows  and experimenting with Light and Shadow play

When you have a toddler to entertain, you just got to be creative. And when you have enough sunlight even indoors, you’ve got to soak your toddler in it! That is why I love Light & Shadow play concept for kids. It is just a great tool for creative learning for young, curious minds like my daughter.

One of the things that we have an abundance back then  in Kuwait is the SUN.Yes, too much sun that when I came here in Europe, I find that the skies are always gray and I get a mood boost when I see its sunny. In Kuwait, we were lucky enough to have a bedroom with a sea view. The big windows allows some great amount of sun to penetrates into our room and many times, I would put my daughter to enjoy the sun and  let it create playful shadows on her. She loves it! One of my favorite captures of her is when she was playing inside a laundry basket and the shadows from the sun creates a mask of circular golden tan on her baby skin. She was just  about 7 months here. So young, so free, so playful, and so curious.

 

One of toddler’s fears are their shadows. I have heard of stories where in young children are terrified when they have learned about their shadows. The moment I put my daughter inside the basket, it was amazing! She become so engrossed with the patterns in her skin, pinching it, touching it while it changes when she moves.

In summer in Kuwait, where in the temperature could reached up to 50+ degrees C, there is no way  your babies can enjoy the outdoors. The sun can already be scorching at around 5 am so we go to the beach at early mornings or late in the afternoon in weekends. I guess when you’ve lived in the middle east, you would have a fair share of knowledge why people wear the Abaya & the Dishdasha. It is really for functional reasons. Instead of agonizing with the heat and the sun, why not embrace the fun you can get from it, plus, nobody complains that you can actually dry your laundry within 5 minutes!

 

This post is in response in this week’s DP Photo Challenge |Shadow

Active toddlers : Taming the tiny Goblin

 

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My 2-year-old daughter is a  hyper-active Goblin.

Let me define to you what hyper active means in a toddler-friendly vocabulary.

Not that she’s medically diagnosed with hyper activity disorder type— NO, she’s just super active.She has this thing like a green-blue-yellow-purple goblin inside her that makes her moves so fast, so lithe, always on the go and full of energy. She’s a picture of  curiosity,touching, exploring, wiggling, running, climbing hyper-type of toddler. An active fireball monkey disguised in an angelic face. I remember so well that when I was pregnant with her, I always hide my bump in my desk at work because she makes my bump looks like there is an alien about to pop.  She gets hard numerous times in a day and my bump looks scary. Maybe that’s the reason why she’s in transverse position and  did not rotate even though I was induced for labor for almost 3 days!

She started cruising early , learned to walk at 10.5 months I think, and already attempting to run. She climb out of her crib and fell once so we immediately switched her crib  into a bed. Back then in Kuwait, we live in the 7th floor, she loves to climb the flight of stairs by herself automatically. I know that she’s a climber when at 11 months,she mastered climbing the steep Dutch stairs.

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I thought only boys are active. I am mistaken. What I read online was a LIE.

My little girl has the stamina, speed and enthusiasm of a toddler-athlete. Always on the go.She runs everywhere.She can’t sit still for longer than a minute especially during feeding so a high chair for us is a must, but not too long.Later on, I saw her standing on her chair, she managed to remove the strap, I don’t know how, but she did it. She runs like crazy the moment I let go of her hand and start looking into my purse for my keys. I dropped my iphone three times already and changed the screen because of panic that she might be ran-over by a car or that she bump into something. She can dance and jump in muddy puddles the entire day and still jumps around once we get inside the house.

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Whenever we are out, I am always doing ‘the check’.  I  look out for doors that can she can open, handles that she can turn, open stairs, glass doors, and especially breakable, fragile items she can run into. As of this stage, it would be a disaster if I go grocery shopping without a stroller, alone. I am afraid that I might pay for damages for broken things. In a restaurant, my eyes scanned the area for any possible  danger zones, or things that she might find ‘interesting’, like a table already set-up with knives and cutlery. She can easily get loose if nobody’s watching her. One time I caught her licking the knife!

 

My real definition of horror: She managed to run so fast while I am closing the door while we need to get into the elevator in our building. She’s on  top of the stairs, scaring the horror  out of her already-half-traumatized mother. I screamed so loud and  cut my lips when I tripped myself running like amok  to grab her before she make the next move. I was shaking after that incident and never leave her loose in the hallways. EVER. Not again!

The moment you take a walk with her, she zoom like a fireball, cruising like a maniac and touching everything that goes on her way.  Leaves, walls, garage doors, trees, plants–anything.We have a garden but when I let her play there, she  climbs the gate leading to the main side street and crawl to the holes in the hedges where the cats go. She’s a pure genius! She can even roll the lawnmower If i will just let her. She loves anything that wiggles, ran after a dog, and count all the cars in our neighborhood plus I need to say the color of each cars.

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Breaking-Free!!!

She climbed out from her crib at around 9 months, you see that photo above, yes, that’s her trying to do acrobat stunts, testing how sturdy her crib was, or was she looking for her Poo bear that fell out. She has a very strong grip of things that she stayed in this position for a minute I think. One time  that I let her be alone, she’s already on top of the table, dancing, and playing with the roller shutters.

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Going into a friend’s house can be a daunting experience, especially if they don’t have kids like her or they don’t know my daughter’s personality. Our decors and furniture now were set to minimal. Nowadays, we can only eat in peace out in a restaurant if there is a play area nearby. Nearby means it’s beside our table–that is why we love dining out in our local restaurant here that has a play area, like for example in Dinea in Galleria, or doing some shopping in DM where in they have a play area right inside the shop. Total lifesaver!

Honestly, I love to but I don’t really feel comfortable leaving her to be watched (even for a short time) by anyone who doesn’t know her REALLY  well. Even friends who we regularly see don’t necessarily realize the speed at which my daughter can do, and how quickly she can get herself into precarious situations due to attempts at climbing,  investigating, or get herself drowned because she wanted to dive right into every fountain she sees.

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We’ve enrolled her in a dancing class and guess who becomes famous the very first day? Yup! She doesn’t need introduction because everyone knows her name in an instant. We became the center of attention from other parents and kids because we ‘make the best  moves ‘ all the time!

Does this sounds like your kid too ?

If this looks like your tot,  here are some practical things we do to handle the worries and anxieties and embracing the energy of my  hyper attached tiny Goblin. I realized that not all mothers do the “check”as I did, only those parents with an active child. So here it is:

  1. Treat your child like a dog! – We  make it a point that she goes out at least an hour everyday and let her loose in a place where in she can climb, run like crazy and just burn her energy. This way, she can sleep fast because her energy is depleted.
  2. Avoid putting yourself and your child to uncomfortable situations– Make playgroups outdoors, as much as possible in places where your child can have more freedom of spaces where she can be herself without damaging yourself and your child be branded as ‘misbehaving’. I try not to bring her to functions where in there is limited activity or crowded places that she might easily get bored and create scenes. I am so thankful that here in Germany, we have play grounds ( Spielplatz )  in almost every corner. We avoid libraries and crowded malls.
  3. Choose activities which feeds her curiosity and the ones you can comfortably handle – We are engaging in Creative Dancing Class or Tanzmaus. Here in Germany, there are so many activities that are suitable for active kids to satisfy their energy such as gymnastics, swimming etc.Find one that suits your schedule best.
  4. Embrace the positive side of being an active child – Her hyper activity makes her personality so different, so unique and special.She is the perfect companion in my Wandertags. She loves nature and being out so you can count on her being out for longer hours. Give her a box of Duplos, Legos , wooden blocks, and books and even by that she can still rock! I can’t count numerous times that we got comments from strangers on her being so friendly and sweet, she could be active, but she’s not the annoying-agressive type.
  5. Remind yourself that toddler stage is temporary – Every child will outgrow toddlerhood . Eventually, you won’t be running after your child anymore. You will realize that time flies so fast that your adorable munchkin no longer asks for your company and becomes independent. I know things will change for her this year that she’ll be in Kindergarten soon and she’ll have more educational  and social interactions.

My life with my active toddler had been a roller-coaster ride for the past 2 years. Our long haul flights together are as unforgettable as it could be and she is such a jet-setter! I know that it’s still early years of her toddler life, but the wisdom of just being around such a positive energy  is both challenging, yet the most fascinating joys of motherhood.

Have you ever been around with active kids?

 

Photos in this post are from my Instagram feed. If you’re on Instagram, follow me for more Expat life stories ! Thank you and see you there!

 

 

Throwing stones and your worries

Why is it so fun throwing stones into the water?

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The water glistened like diamonds against the sun.

Throwing stones into the river – a toddler’s perfect, guilt free way of destruction. A harmless way of destroying something without any permanence…

Yesterday was another lovely, peaceful day, of course its ruhetag (rest day) here in Germany so naturally, everything comes in a slow pace. So unlikely from the routine that I got used to in Kuwait that Sunday is the start of the week. I love Sundays here because If I am lucky, my daughter lets me sleep in a bit, at least until 7 am. After breakfast and doing some much-needed chores, we decided to take the toddler a spin and have a walk. In Germany, all shops are closed on Sundays so the only place to go is nature. The weather was nice, and the sky is clear  so we walked into the woods. The snow have melted and the paths are all muddy-ice and it was really difficult to push the stroller, good thing I wore my hiking boots. We came to the river banks and have a pit-stop. The view was so beautiful and refreshing. The calm waters, glistening like diamonds, the silhouette of winter flowers and moss-filled branches of bare trees against the sun, almost kissing the waters. I gather some stones and started throwing it into the river. My husband followed along and brought my daughter. For the first time, she was able to start throwing stones into the water. It’s like magic, her laughter filled the air. The splash of waters, her fidgety moves while gripping the stones from her bulky mittens, she was having so much fun!

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Choose the block, a heavy burden or stone in your life that you want to throw away.

‘Seems like we  never outgrown the habit of throwing stones into any bodies of water…’

I am an adult and I still love throwing stones into the river, ponds, beaches, creeks, and even to any body of water that is near to me. The urge is there, as always. It’s automatic once I see any water. I find it very entertaining.

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The art of throwing stones into the water , the art of letting go.

Throwing stones is perfect, soul saving interaction with nature. Pattern making is built into the human psyche. If we see something beautiful, we want to participate in it without tearing it down. Ripples from rocks skipped across the water are reaffirmation of our existence in the world, without doing the world any harm. This urge would stay with us for life if we do not turn away from it in our cynical self-absorption. Nature is out there, and out there includes us.

But why water?

I guess throwing rocks into water is relaxing because there’s no pressure trying to hit the target, and the splash and ripples satisfy our need for sensing predictable causal effects.This is so true with kids, my daughter is a perfect example who enjoy this. From splashing in the tub during bath times, up to making messes in the sand pit, even playing with water during painting time.

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A toddler’s fun of throwing stones into the water

People don’t often think about it, but we are not so far removed from our primal instincts as we like to think. “Modern Man” is but a thin veneer, and a fragile one at that. Have you ever watched a toddler destroy a tower of duplos and Legos after you’ve just built something? My daughter always do this, she just love to tear down anything that I am trying to build. At a young age, we have been inclined to disrupt something, knowing that no harm is done, permanently.

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Stones in the water

You might not realize it but throwing stones can be therapeutic. When you pick up a stone, you release your  worries and throw them as well into the water.I felt all kinds of emotions that I wasn’t expecting as I launched more and more rocks into the river. There were a few moments of sadness, of anxiety in the mix but they didn’t last. Most of the time, I felt really joyful.

If you have the chance, try doing it and watch how your mood changes. I was not even aware how time flies, as I keep on picking up stones, and at the same time taking some photos, time was on my side. My husband said that it’s also one of his favorite thing to do when He was a kid.We never never outgrown these things. It’s in us all along.

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Throw your stress into the waters

I am happy to find wisdom such as this in ordinary circumstances.When I look at the vase full of the stones that I gathered from the river, I remember not much of the walk through the river, but the fun that my daughter had, and mine as well.

I guess we’ll be frequenting to do this again especially in summer.

How about you,do you like throwing stones into the water?

How was your experience?

 

If you enjoyed reading this post and got time to kill, you might want to waste more time checking out what I recently discovered as fun thing to do when the weather drops here in Bavaria. Check out these posts  in my Sunday Wandertags;

Walking on a Frozen Lake

Enjoying Solace in Neues Schloss

Chasing the Fog

 

 

 

 

 

Too beautiful to Smash | Names

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My daughter’s beautiful  Hungry caterpillar Smash Cake, too beautiful to smash!

Thinking of what to name your child is probably one of the most memorable part of Parenthood. After all, the name that you will give to your child will be something that your child will bear forever. So when we thought of a name to give to my daughter, we have chosen “Natalie”.  Although it literally means “Christmas Day” while she was born on a hot August afternoon in Kuwait, her name is special for us. So on her first birthday, we made sure that her name is written on her  first Birthday smash cake.

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar Smash Cake for my daughter Natalie

My daughter loved the books by Eric Carle’s The very Hungry Caterpillar and she was so delighted when she saw her cake. Her eyes showed so much excitement all the more when she was able to touch it, poked it, and eventually smash it .I chose this theme because she is totally in love with the caterpillar character and by now, she even memorize the whole story. She had a caterpillar Tutu dress,a huge Hungry caterpillar cake made by a Dutch Artisan baker,and a garden of Oma & Opa decorated with the caterpillar balloons and buntings. We even had a giant strawberry Pinata to complete this theme.

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A Very Hungry Caterpillar 1 JAAR Birthday Cake

Someday, when she is old enough to see the photos of her birthday, she will learned that out of millions of kids named “Natalie”, for once, she had a special Cake and a smash cake with her name in colorful yummy fondant letters celebrating her wonderful milestone of her first 1 year of life.

A beautiful cake, a smash cake too pretty to smash, a special name, one milestone, and a yummiest cake for her 12 amazing months, 365 Delightful Days, and 8,760 Adorable Hours and 1 Perfect Year!

This post is in response to this week’s  Photo Challenge |Names

Walking in the Red Light District with a Baby

Now who among you parents out there would bring out your little ones in the Red Light District or locally known as “De Wallen ” in Amsterdam?

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Red Light District in Amsterdam or locally known as De Wallen

Nope, it’s not the Disneyland of Amsterdam, and if its your first time to see Amsterdam sure thing it has many attractions  that might catch you off guard! I have written before how to enjoy the free things in Amsterdam but this one is totally different. Different in a way that the Netherlands is a country more than sex & drugs! You really need to see the country for you to have an impression since what you read in the internet is not always true. This country is totally laid back and relaxed, highly tolerant and the Dutch people are very liberal. No wonder that Dutch Teen pregnancy rates the lowest in world standing, and as what the experts and studies shows,  Dutch kids are the happiest kids in the world.

Okay, I’m sure most of you who have traveled in the Netherlands specifically in Amsterdam knows the “Red Light District “that I am talking about. But for those of you who are clueless, here’s a brief description of what Red Light District is all about. Before I had our trip, my vision of the Netherlands is mainly of Tulips, clogs, cheese, canals, and beautiful architecture of the leaning gabled houses. Even the taste of Poffertjes and Stroofwafels are unknown to my taste buds so imagine my surprise when my husband & I with our 1 year -old daughter took a walk along the streets near the Zeedijk up to the Oudekerksplein.My husband is Dutch and visited Amsterdam frequently but He rarely went to the Red Light District. So for people who think that Dutch people are fond of taking drugs and fooling around in the RLD, on any given day, then you are completely  wrong!  I noticed that this place really thrives on tourists and visitors and not the locals!

We decided to pass by the streets of the Red Light District in the morning, where there are less crowds. We had previously explored the city and thought of having a break from the Museums since my daughter easily gets bored and in dire need of playtime.So then we found ourselves strolling through the alleys where its best known to be a public display of prostitutes and marijuana! Yes, prostitution and drugs is legal in the Netherlands! It is also came as a surprise to me knowing that the Netherlands is the first country to legalize gay marriages. The red-light district in Amsterdam  consists of a network of alleys containing approximately  three hundred one-room cabins rented by prostitutes who display their goods and offer their services from behind a window or glass door, typically illuminated with red lights. These “kamers” are the most visible and typical kind of red light district sex work in Amsterdam and are a large tourist attraction. I have read about it but seeing these girls , totally made up as early as 10am in the morning  still gives me a different experience. In the broad daylight,they all looked bored and there’s so much in their stares, some are just playing with their phones and fidgeting with their shiny underwear.

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Street sightings in Amsterdam

De Wallen, together with the prostitution areas Singelgebied and Ruysdaelkade, form the Rosse Buurt (red light areas) of Amsterdam. Of these, De Wallen is the oldest and largest area.The area also has a number of sex shops, sex theatres, peep shows, a sex museum,brothels, a cannabis museum, and a number of coffee shops that sell marijuana, legally. My 1-year-old  certainly had no idea what these are all about and doesn’t pick up anything about what is in the billboards and signage. Taking photos of the ladies is highly prohibited and the whole area is on surveillance of camera so every visitor is expected to be discreet.

So, am I a bad mother for dragging my innocent daughter into this place?

After we’ve seen the Miffy  (or Nijntje ) exhibition in Museumplein, then we took her into a place full of things she doesn’t even have an idea of what it is. Well, as shocking as it may look to the world that a toddler can have a glimpse of ladies parading their almost naked bodies, I find the whole experience normal.Just like in other cities. Of course we didn’t get inside of those Sex museums or lounge in the Coffee shops, we merely passed by to take a look. Strolling around the Red Light District with a toddler was peaceful, calm, and safe. The only disturbance we’ve had is my toddler’s whining and wanting to run all over the place.

Although the Red Light District is for adults, its  only after dark that there are throngs of people just walking around to soak up the atmosphere, I too, as a visiting tourist have spent some good times just watching the world go by.Most of the tourists there are actually not there to indulge in those activities,they’re just there simply to watch. I found it a very  relaxed friendly place. Although I don’t recommend to go in there at night , and yes, not even with a baby with me.

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Street art in Amsterdam

Amsterdam city centre has a romantic image. I truly enjoyed the cozy strolls along the city center and now I know why Amsterdam is such a vibrant city. The city is gorgeous and a place for kids to enjoy. Sure it has its seedy and naughty parts of the city but its a beautiful place to explore and I am even grateful that my daughter experience the benefits of traveling at such a young age. The neighborhood is full of interesting shops, pubs, fantastic restaurants, leaning gabled houses and the city’s most charming canals. It is the same location of the Nieuwmarktsquare, the gothic Oude Kerk  and just a stones throw away,you will be in Amsterdam’s Chinatown, the Zeedijk (also home to an impressive Buddhist temple). It is unbelievable that after a few minutes strolling along the RLD, you will be in another place, a totally different atmosphere.

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Dutch Gezelligheid

Our trip to Amsterdam became a memorable one, and not because of the things we’ve seen in the Red Light District, but because, it is a beautiful city that is rich in culture. More than the bike culture, Amsterdam will always be special for us. It was our first trip as a family and I am sure, I can tell stories to my little girl that during the first year of her life, she had been there…through the secrets of the Red Light District!

If you want to visit Amsterdam and have a look in the RLD, this page might give you some interesting information.

Would you stroll along the Red Light District with your baby if given the chance?

 

 

My tiny human’s Little feet

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My Tiny human’s footprint in the shores of Arabian Gulf

One of the things I missed from living near the beach is having  lazy early morning beach walks. Unhurried, calm, serene and the most special thing, barefoot. Away from the chaos, and free from the hustle and bustle of the city.With the wonderful backdrop of the beach, my thoughts oftentimes drifts away and going places as the gentle wind touches my cheeks while holding my daughter’s hand.

There’s something so therapeutic and calming whenever I step on the soft, ticklish sandy shores along Arabian Gulf.  I’ve always been a beach girl  and you can imagine my glee when the day comes that my tiny human finally put her tiny toes in the shores and feel the waves and sand…for the first time. She loved every second of it. It was such a precious moment. She left her footprint, a precious mark —unscaled and raw . This tiny foot mark that I have excitedly captured in photo before the waves swept it away . Looking at her tiny feet made me realize that she had a big world ahead, waiting for her to explore, and that she had to stand firmly on a big feet in order to thrive.

But right now, she’s still so tiny, her feet still so fragile, yet so special.

That once in her life back in Kuwait, she had walked baby steps there, watched the sunsets, and sunrises too, played  barefoot, and waddled her tiny  feet in the shores…making memories.We  made thousands of  footprints in the beach… a beautiful chapter in our Expat life.

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My tiny human’s little  feet over mine.

With the beach front far from where we live right now, she now walks on different grounds. She’s stomping happily on pebbles & cobbled stone pavements and running though the lush grass fields. She’s making her own stride,taking her time to feel the ground,and walking confidently in her own feet. She even learned to jump into muddy puddles and walked on the crispy autumn leaves. She’s still making foot prints, leaving traces of her childhood-in her own tiny world.

As I’ve said before; the Littlest feet makes the greatest footprints in our hearts.

Do you like walking in the beach with your little ones? How was the experience?

This post is in response to this week’s Daily Post- Photo Challenge |Tiny