Amsterdam for Kids, Why Not?

Have you’ve been to Amsterdam? I mean, with a toddler toddling with you?

Amsterdam is a wonderful city. Full of vibrant and definitely a top Family destination.Whether you are travelling with babies, toddlers or children, this major European city is a hub for adventure and family-friendly sights that would make your stay worthwhile. Now before anyone raised their eyebrows and rant about this city’s tag for lascivious scenic spots , coffee shops & brothels, let me get this straight. We went there not for those reasons.

As for me, Amsterdam is a sure winner for travel destination for kids.Besides that this is my husband’s home country, I can’t argue anymore why this city stands out. Its up to you to discover its charm. You as the parent is the sole responsible for your trip to make it or break it. Period.

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Little Miss N in front of her favorite Ninjtje 

 

On our recent trip to the Netherlands, my daughter had a blast and we can’t wait to be back soon this summer. I want to share with you what I’ve learned from this trip especially from our visit to the newly renovated  Rijksmuseum , but this time with my daughter.

Both me & my husband are excited to explore the Rijksmuseum .We are both lovers of Architecture and Arts  so we thought that this should not be missed from our trip.We booked our tickets online & we managed to squeeze ourselves quickly away  from the rain and morning frenzy in the tram. Finally  we’re at Rijksmuseum. We are excited. My daughter was not. She preferred Ninjtje over Rembrandt.Am I a bad Mama dragging this little toddler to admire the works of Van Gogh & Rembrandt?

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Sculpture at the reception Hall of Rijksmuseum

On the contrary, Rijksmuseum was striking & beautiful . It really exceeded my expectation. But not the busyness inside! It is something that I did not expect since we were  there early. After depositing our things at the baggage deposit counter, we headed to see the Grand Hall. We take our time to adore the famous “Night Watch Galleryin the grand hall of the Great Masters. For the first time in over twenty years, the Rijksmuseum again organized a Rembrandt exhibition, giving every generation the chance to renew its acquaintance with the great Master of the Golden Age.This is something that we don’t wanna miss. We don’t see this everyday so we wanted to make the most of it but unfortunately, it did not happen that easily.

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Shooters district XI under Captain Reynier Reael, known as “Lean Company” Frans Hals and Pieter Codde, 1637

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Shooters district II, led by Captain Frans Banninck Cocq, known as the Night Watch, Rembrandt Harmensz. van Rijn, 1642

 

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My daughter was busy biting the leaflet and looking at the crowd. Maybe she was wondering why there is no Winnie the Pooh ? Soon I have noticed that there were quite  a number of visitors with babies tagged along with them, but most of them looks older than her. I felt unsure though that soon she might get bored and start to whine since she doesn’t like to stay in one place.She likes to roam around so we move on. I skipped the crowded areas, especially with so many people coughing! I was really surprised to see so many Koreans inside Rijksmuseum.

One thing that I find difficult is accessing the elevators. They were centrally located but then it was so busy,  its difficult to navigate with a stroller.I find the size so tiny compared to the ample sizes of elevators here in Kuwait.

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Beautiful tainted windows inside Rijksmuseum

Knowing that my daughter is super active, I give her a treat and let her loose in the adjacent hall. She loved the tainted windows, and she had some wooden benches where she climbed on.The sight was new to her. This was also my personal favorite. There were interesting patterns in the floor that kept her occupied, but not that long. Its almost lunchtime so we decided to check out the Museum’s cafe, but as I expected, there was already a long line waiting for a table. Its obvious that we can’t wait that long to be seated. I was not even sure if they have a high chair. I personally needed a breath of fresh air. So we decided to head out and check out Ninjtje Parade in the Museumplein.  

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Museumplein with the Rijksmuseum in the background.

She loved this, who doesn’t? She was actually mesmerized by each sculpture. I just let her ogle on each sculpture. She climbed them, touch them, maybe they had a quick téte-a-téte! Then we let her climb over the I am Amsterdam Letters with delight. She was so thrilled by the huge letters to climbed on. After she got exhausted, we decided to have a picnic , rest for a while and watch the ducks in the pond. Now that’s what I called “We time “.

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Can I take you home Miffy?

So what have I learned from this trip?

I don’t blame my daughter for the short-cut of our visit in Rijksmuseum, in fact, I was grateful to her. She have taught me to take it easy by slowing down & paying attention to what really matters, Afterall, a happy child equals happy parents.

Expat Mama Travel Tip!

  1. Be flexible and make it simple – Don’t complicate your itinerary. You know your child better. You know what makes them cranky. Bring them to destinations where both you & your children can be flexible and relax as much as possible . Amsterdam is surrounded with beautiful green landscapes and sceneries , make the most of the clean oxygen. The best memories are made outdoors! If your child doesn’t like being in crowded indoors, search for the nearby garden or take a stroll in the park.
  2. Don’t forget to have fun-Make sure you are enjoying yourself. If you become stressed out, your child will definitely catch it. Take time to talk to your child while you admire the scenery. Your tone can either set the mood  & soothe her and helps her to calm down.
  3. Do it together- If you are travelling with a family, then allow other members to interact with your child. This can ease the child-overdose you are feeling if your child is constantly clinging on you.

Don’t forget to make lots of memories of your trip!

If you like this post, then maybe you would be interested to know what are the top free things you can enjoy in Amsterdam as a family. Do you have 24hours in Amsterdam? Then click this Link Here to know more.

How about you,what is the unforgettable part of your trip with your children?  Do you enjoy travelling with kids? how do you handle the impromptu changes ?

Safe travels!

 

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Should you splurge on your kid’s birthday party?

What’s your plan for your child’s first birthday celebration ? Are you going to throw a big party or not ?

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Natalie’s Hungry caterpillar cake

My daughter just turned the Big 1 (ONE)  and just like you, I was in the same boat of this dilemma. I was looking forward to it …months away !! I have everything thought of . I have it all in my mind . But this post is not about party planning. This is actually the post-birthday lessons. Very important lessons that  I wanna share with you especially for the first time & eager mamas. Her 1st Birthday was an awesome experience for all of us  but I have thing or two to ponder. Maybe your parenting style is different, or your preferences are totally not same as mine.It’s Okay.  But I know in the end, you, as the parent will eventually  reflect on how swift the childhood days went off and evaluate your own actions on parenthood.

Here are the 5 things I have learned about my Daughter’s 1st Birthday Party :

1.Take it Easy 

I have learned to Really Take it Easy .

With the ever present social media  trends nowadays , parents always faced this dilemma. Everyone knows that we  we always want the best for our children . If you check Pinterest you will see these  jaw-dropping , almost perfect birthday party ideas that could leave you in a trance . You will hear yourself saying “I want this for my child “or “How much would it cost to throw a party as good as this ?” It’s very common to see parents nowadays  doing the ever merry-go-round hustle and bustle of giving a lavish party for their kids, especially for their child’s 1st Birthday . It is so special that starting  from your child’s themed party invitations & outfits , children’s snacks,  party favors, giant cakes, balloons & confettis, Venue and decors, plus the sound systems, games,  photoshoots, clowns & programs and things such as these could leave parents totally exhausted &  overwhelmed.  Even stressed out completely. I knew this feeling. I was feeling like this.

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My daughter’s Hungry Caterpillar Smash Cake

But Hey guys , Take it Easy ! Slow down , this is not a wedding! I mean , your one year old doesn’t even know  if you scored it all from a Bargain shop or that her cake is made with white fondant  with marzipan filling and that her smash cake is sugar-free! My daughter doesn’t care about it! She was too busy playing with the ceramic frog in the garden and splashing herself in the fountain to notice how pretty she look in her Tutu dress. She just fiddling on it,playing, eating it. She kinda love the feel of it her mouth. Who feels the satisfaction ? Isn’t it you Mama ?

I wanted to have a great “Smash Cake moment ” captured on video.

The sugar-free pink cake is scattered all over her, on her hair, on her face. Her nose is almost full of it that she screamed and get cranky. Did I have a nice video out of it ?The answer is NO. I was constantly wiping her nose. She doesn’t want to sit in her high chair  anymore. Maybe she was overwhelmed by the size of the smash cake in front of her …or we haven’t taught her how to smash the cake eh ? Who ate the rest of the smash cake ? It was hibernating in our fridge for 2 weeks .

2.Family First 

I have learned that 1st Birthdays should be Family  thing.

I am not against Birthday party celebrations, in fact,  I LOVE Birthday parties. When I had my daughter, I appreciate it even more. Birthdays are all time Family First thing. It should be like that . It should be an occasion that family bonds, and celebrate. The time when your child turns one becomes an important milestone , both for your child & you as the parent .It’s like, Yeeeaahh !!! we survive the first year!  With all the sacrifices & hardwork involved. This is the time you reflect on the past year as a swift ride where in you managed to adjust from sleep deprivation, work, career, family life and parenthood. It’s about you, your child’s happiness & your spouse that really matters in the end.

If you are an Expat parent like me, then it would be crazy to throw a big party. We live in Kuwait & I don’t have much family or friends living in the same area as we are . You can still enjoy this day with the people that really matters with you and wants to share the memories with your child .You don’t need to invite your whole neighborhood .

3.Image and Perception is really Nothing

I have learned that Thinking about what others think about you is a total waste of time.

Parents should be very careful not to be driven with the sole purpose of throwing a party because of what we perceived as Show- Off Syndrome . This is so true . It’s the  underlying factor that led parents to throw a “Better “or ” More Grand “party  to create an impression of being ” well-off,”  or “ living the good life” image . This is one of the reasons why children have the notion of anticipating that they can have the same  as others. They tend to ask for more from their parents based on  what they have seen from  their friends , classmates , and media influences . Its so easy to succumb to the consumer mentality of our society . For parents, we should make sure not to neglect this. Other than your child’s happiness , you should not even do things just to impress others . Remember ,every penny that you spent splurging on your child’s birthday party is spent only for yourself & pleasing your guests , your one-year old child doesn’t know anything nor she will  remember it .

4.Lifestyle Check

I have learned to Live within your means and be wise .

If you have the money to spend on a lavish birthday party for your child , Yeah Ok , You go Mama! Some parents think that their child will only turn 1 once, so splurging is never a problem .Sky is the limit. I think then its fine , I don’t see any problem on this .It’s your own personal choice. But on  lifestyle check,  would you rather splurge on a grand Birthday party knowing you have debts to pay ? or that your other kid’s tuition fees are due, or worse , you have arrears from your credit card bill ?  Does it really make sense to have a loan just to impress your whole clan & your guests ? Really , nobody cares ! At the end of the day , your child ‘s well being will be your priority . Had she been stressed out from that hours of noisy party , or that she was too exhausted to smile on photo shoots with her cute tutu dress that you wore her ? Parents should be  very careful in how they go about these birthday bashes , especially on the expenses involved . We should be thinking of alternative and cheaper ways to celebrate birthdays without smashing our  budget . A growing child is expensive and we need to be practical and save more for bigger things  like her Education , Travel etc . These savings can then be used to reward your child further down the track, when they are able to enjoy it.

5.Get over the guilt 

Finally , I have learned to just let go of guilt feelings .

Get over the guilt and try to have FUN even without a big party . As parents , remind yourself that you are not ruining your child’s life  and the memories for years to come with the decision you have made. Stick to the best choices for your family and in the end, everything else will fall into place. Provide your child with the best gift you could ever give  that nobody could ever question you ,let alone your conscience.

What makes a 1st Birthday a day to remember ? If you ask any child about her memories of a birthday party ,what’s the first thing she could recall ?

For me , I should say  :  Stress-free and happy parents , lots of Love , and of course , A CAKE !!! because Hey , It’s a cake !

I wish you all the best on your child’s  1st birthday .

 I am hoping that through this post you got some inspiration. To learn to become wise parents that sets as a good example to your child .

Have fun & don’t forget to smile in the camera !

How about you, how do you celebrate Birthdays in your country?

What to pack for your Baby travel Bag?

The moment you knew that you’re going to have a trip with your Little one , you’re all smiles & looking forward to spending great moments with her. But all journey starts from packing your baggage. Packing for your Baby Travel bag can be tricky. Depending on your destination , choosing the things to stuff your Baby bag should be carefully done . For newbie Mamas like me , I was really excited to pack my daughter’s things for our first trip to Europe together. Let me share with you the essential things to pack for your child’s first trip. Here it is ;

MY ULTIMATE BABY HANDCARRY-TRAVEL BAG LIST 

  1.  Baby’s Formula and Extra Bottles .
  2. Diapers.Loads of it.Depending on type & availability in your destination.
  3. Hygenic Wipes.And more wipes.
  4. Baby Food or Cereals (2-3 bottles or pouches )
  5. Set of clothes (at least 2 onesies with long sleeves,pyjama,jacket,socks,Hats,plus clothes for her once you arrived )
  6. Small blanket (Could be used as a shield in the Bassinet & stroller)
  7. Favorite Toys,Books and Lovey if your child has one.
  8. Important Medications,including pocket Thermometer,medical prescriptions included.
  9. Pacifier with sling if your child uses one.(Take Extra just in case!)
  10. Baby Carrier or Sling.
  11. Snacks for your Baby like crackers,biscuits or any of her favorite food.
  12. Shoes or Sandals for your child.
  13. Sippy cups.(Extra sippy cup with water or her favorite drink )
  14. Bibs ( washable one is great!)
  15. Baby’s Toiletries (Pocket-sized diaper cream,small soap,lotion )
  16. Changing Pad
  17. Eating Utencils.
  18. Car Seat.
  19. Travel Crib/Cot/Stroller if you wish to bring one.
  20. Your iPad with her favorite nursery rhymes or songs.

I used to travel so light ,but when I had my daughter , it’s totally different . Having her own stuff in a separate luggage especially the bulky ones could totally keep up your sanity . Depending on the length of your travel and destination then you can gauge how much you bring for your child , but starting with the basics are always a good start .

Travel Tip!

  • Babies are different from one another , so what works for me may not always work for you , but it always saves the day when we took extra care about the needs of our Little One. I am so glad that I have brought enough diaper s, milk & our own Baby food because although Emirates gave us baby food , i found out that my daughter doesn’t like to eat it. I brought a small can of formula with complete packaging to saves time in Customs check .The medical prescriptions were placed in ziploc bags,these made easy during our Customs check at AMS where they asked you to take out the medications from the bag.
  • Make sure you have extra ziploc bags kept on side pockets to put on soiled clothings & dirty stuff. I recommend to invest in a good , durable bag with lots of space to fill up, with a wide straps for not to hurt your shoulders when you carry it and could withstand quick movements especially during x-ray scans in Airport.

I have flown with Emirates before and the new experience of flying with my Baby with them did not dissappoint me. With the A380 plane ,my daughter was mesmerized to see her favorite movie in ICE. It’s really a great feature to help entertain toddlers while on board.  They are one  Baby-Friendly airline and i was happy with the Bassinet, Changing tables and Baby stuff & Assistance they have provided to me during our Flight. It was an enjoyable flight.

How was your first trip with your baby?  what’s in your Travel Baby bag?

Hope this helps, Enjoy the trip, Have fun & Safe Travels!

Thank you for reading !

 

10 Things every Mother should know when travelling with Infants & Babies.

I have never imagined  in my whole life that I will be that woman in a plane travelling with a baby. During flights , i never took notice of it , I just brushed it off  , ignored it , especially when i saw that there’s a screaming baby on board .When you are single , you never really care about Kids and stuff.But when you have a child of your own , it is an eye opener , an overwhelming experience.

This becomes a surprising truth to me when I realized that I would be spending almost 10 hours flight with my 11 month old daughter from Kuwait to Amsterdam.Yes,for the first time flight with a baby!The truth is,it scares me.What if she cry all the way?What if she can’t sleep? What if the pressure really hurt her ears? So many questions, besides I would never want to put any  inconvenience on other passengers,or at least received those        bat-eyed stares. Ughh!

So How did I manage to survived it? Remember that it’s only temporary , you will reach your destination in a matter of time.You won’t even see those fellow passengers again in your life. I wanna share to you Mamas out there who will go on your first adventure of flying  these 10 things every Mothers should know while Travelling with Infants & Babies and how to enjoy the experience of flying with your child on board. Here it is;

1.Do your Homework

Start by looking for child Friendly Airlines & Airports ahead of your intended travel date .Choose your flight schedules , timings and seat plan wisely .If possible, get the early morning flights to avoid crowds during Airport check-ins,lines,and weekdays.We choose this schedule because it gives my daughter a chance to nap or sleep through the night even travelling.It always gives you that extra leg room to get the Bulk head seats just in case your toddler wants playtime. Be familiar with the bathrooms , changing rooms locations and play areas inside the terminal.

2.Request and avail of the Bassinet offers from your Airline.

We fly through an Emirates A380 plane from Dubai to AMS so we expected that it’s going to be a full flight , and unfortunately its summer so it’s tourist season in Netherlands and yet we made sure that we reserved & requested the Bassinet functions of each flight .Check with your Airline for this features.Get this done while booking.Emirates Bassinets measure approximately 75 x 33 x 22.3cm (29.5 x 13 x 8.8 inches , l x w x d) and are for babies who weigh up to 11kg (24.2lbs). Emirates even have a complimentary Stroller which you can use during your stop over and transit from gate to gate through the spacious Terminal in Dubai. You need to take out your child from the Bassinet during Take-offs & Landings.

3.Pack that Baby Bag.

We all know that Babies carries a lot of stuff.You can start making a list on what to pack depending on how long is your holiday,duration of the flight & itinerary.I recommend packing as early as 2 weeks before your flight for you to see how much stuff needs to be in that bag.On the last minute,you can just double check for what is missing.This bag should be one of your hand carry luggage.Most airlines allows baggage allowance for babies.Invest in a good bag that could contain your Little one’s essential and won’t be too bulky for you to carry.

See my post   for What to Pack for your Baby Travel Bag  for  essential things to pack for your baby’s Handcarry luggage.

4.Expect the Unexpected.

This is the very reason why we prepare.Expect the unexpected.Sometimes,no matter how we prepared,things doesn’st work out the way we wanted it to be.Delayed flights.Long stop overs.Your Baby cannot sleep and refuse to drink milk.Anything could happen,even losing your cool.This is where you need your mind to be active.When you are under stress,your child will surely catch it so try to maintain your sanity  even when you are sleep-deprived,tired & exhausted .In short word,Expect to be Busy.Really Busy.

5.Have a Buddy-System.

If you are travelling with your Spouse,relative,or partner,then the load can be done easily once shared.It is much more stressful for others who are travelling alone with a child.If possible,having someone to travel with you could give you that assurance that things are manageable and you get the support you need.Having a Buddy System works wonders like alternate holding  the baby while the other goes to bathroom ,eating, going though long lines , pushes the stroller,taking stroll with your child while in the terminal.Believe me,you need each other.On our first trip , I’m so grateful my husband is with me to give a hand. Plus, the memories of your first family trip together makes it all worthwhile.

6.Make sure your child is ready.

Your child doesn’t have any idea what is going on.But the moment she cries and becomes unsettled , you know that she needs to be comforted. New surroundings could either make her hyper or break her.Make sure that you prepare your child in a way that she had a good rest , dressed comfortably , and well-fed on hours before and during your flight.If you are travelling on the same time that disrupts her nap routines,try to get her tired enough to sleep.I let my daughter play along the chairs in the waiting area ,the bright airport lights amuses her.My daughter sits on my lap the whole flight and she becomes cranky during take-offs , I prepared her by offering something to drink, her favourite toy,and lots & lots of cuddles. Parents, protect her ears.

7.Wear your child.

Bringing your sling and wearing your Baby around you works wonders for me.From the moment we check-in her stroller in the gate,i put her in the sling.It always good for your hands to be free while your baby is  snug as a bug in your arms.This is great for walking her through the aisle or when you need to get her to sleep.For going through spacious and far end side of the terminal that we literally need to run after to get there on time,wearing your baby is a smart move. This will prevent any injury or bumping your child’s head or back that might happen inside the aircraft.I really don’t know How could i ever do things without a Sling I highly recommend it.

8.Think Safety.

You must ensure that your child travel with appropriate (CRS) Child Restraint System that enhances flight safety.If your baby is  over 14 days old and under two (2) years of age, not occupying a separate seat,She may be carried free of charge when traveling with an adult (12 years of age or older,with only taxes to be paid). Make sure to ask for the Seatbelt extension for Infants & Babies provided by your aircarft. Most flight attendants will show to you how to put it on with your baby.If you purchased a seat for her,you must make sure that you bring along an FAA- Approved car seat.

9.Take the fine print with you.

Depending on your destination, I recommend to always bring along your child’s Fine printed documents such as copy of Birth Certificate,Medical Prescriptions,Permission to travel/Custody letter from your spouse if you are travelling alone and other related documents that you might need during the course of your trip. I have these documents on the side pockets of my bag so its easily accessible.

10.Create Memories of your First flight

This would be one of the exciting stories you would be telling your kids once they get older.No matter how long the flight,You will reach your destination. It’s the memory of it that will last.For Mamas out there,make sure you smile when you took pictures with your Little One.My daughter became the center of attention by the Flight Attendants, they carried her & she gamely posed for the Polaroid shots given by the staff.We have made friends in the flight and we even met one in the airport lounge . The key-She recognized my baby!

Thank you for reading & Safe Travels !