Travelling with kids in a slow intentional way

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When holidays are approaching, parents that are not used to spend entire days with their children might see their anxiety rising as the longer days of summer breeze in. Maybe you’re one of them and you don’t know how to occupy your kids during holidays. You’re afraid that they get bored or that you will be doomed to entertain them all day long… and most of all their teacher said that they have to read books and review some math and grammar points. What?! During holidays? How will you manage to make them do that?

I totally understand that. And you know what? It seems that kids learn more during their holiday time than during the school year.
For us holiday time rhyme with “Slowing Down”.

LEARNING DOESN’T STOP DURING SUMMER BREAK
Learning doesn’t hold its breath during the summer break. In fact it might be the opposite. I’m sure you already witnessed that you kid has grown and learnt so much during holidays, without any adult assistance. That true, summer is a beneficial period for child’s development, because they can spend a lot of time outside, playing, in contact with natural elements. They can leave their stress behind. There are no more evaluations, no more expectations, no more assignments. 

Holidays are synonyms of freedom for their mind; a freedom that allows them to grow in a more natural way.
So don’t worry with the school stuff, they will learn anyway!

 
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For our summer holidays, we love to mix two types of destinations to have a balance between freedom and nature, and culture and learning : Holidays in a wild natural place and Holidays in a cultural place.

 
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HOLIDAYS IN A NATURAL PLACE
I love to choose one destination where my daughters can enjoy nature all day long, a place that allows them to be completely free. Children learn a lot when they’re in nature, without any schedule so they can play endlessly from dawn to dark. They can imagine, create, investigate, find solutions to build a fort, follow animals tracks or wait with binoculars in hands to spot a deer.

Where to stay?
It doesn’t have to be far from home, but it has to be a remote place, in the middle of the countryside, where we can encounter wild animals and observe nature. I look for tree houses or that kind of memorable accommodations which are a delight for kids. 
Here some example of the places we’ve been the last few years. They are cosy and confortables hidden places, cloistered in a magical landscape.

What to do?
While you are there, take the time to enjoy the present, slow down and be intentional with you kids. Go outside with them, encourage them to play with elements, to create with bits and pieces. You can:

  • Discover the art of whittling,

  • Play with flowers, leaves, sticks and rocks to create land art and mandalas,

  • Build forts in the forest,

  • Have your lunches outside, in different places,

  • Enjoy a night walk, and admire the milky way,

  • Wake up at dawn to admire the sunrise,

  • Take the time to cook together nice treats to eat outside,

  • Discover the pleasure of doing nature journaling with your kids,

  • Lay a plaid and enjoy a long read aloud all together,

  • Let your kids explore the surrounding of the house and go as far as you can handle. If they are old enough, they need to be out of sight sometimes

Nature enriches us and connectes us as a family if we slow down and take time to enjoy these simple moments together. 


What to bring?

  • DIY books that can foster your children’ creativity (and yours) like Easy wood carving for Children, Wild Things, Forest crafts,

  • Nature books about insects, birds, flowers, constellations…

  • A good book to real aloud. It’s a real pleasure to take the time to read to our children during summer, to share an adventure that can give them an impulse to have imaginary play in nature. They can be Tom Swayer and Huck Finn, or Calpurnia Tate, or travel to the center of the Earth with Jules Verne.

  • Tools, like pocket knife, rope, scissors… (to use for their creations)

  • Binoculars

  • Insect box and magnifying glass

  • Drawing material to do nature journaling (Watercolour, pencils and a nature journal or paper)

  • And a book for you to read alone: Forest Therapy or How to raise a wild child

 
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HOLIDAYS IN A CULTURAL PLACE
As you may know, we are homeschoolers, so when summer is coming I’m not bothered by the idea of spending days and days with my girls, because it won’t be different from the rest of the year! But I try to find places that can give to our family a memorable learning experience, as in a kids-friendly city or an important historical place. I want it to be different from the rest of the year.
For example we love Amsterdam where we can go around by bike or London with all its free Museums and its huge parks.

I love to involve my daughters in the investigation for cool things to do. As they are now 12 and 9, they can use the computer on their own and do their researches. They take notes and make me a report of their findings. With this process they are more concerned and engaged in our holidays’ planning. And once we are there, they are more willing to participate in the visits and activities because they chose many of them.

A cultural place is not necessarily a city. You can even marry culture and nature.
In August 2018, we went on the Jurassic Coast. With two fossils lovers in my home, this coast in Dorset caught my attention while I was looking for a place to visit in the UK. It thought it might be a very special gem with a name like this! And indeed it is. If you love wild scenery and want to travel through time, it’s the perfect spot to visit with your family. You can go on a fossil hunting walk on the beach and you can visit many museums along the coast (in Bridport, Beamisnter, Kimmeridge, and Lyme Regis). While we were there, we were reading aloud a book about May Anning’s life (Remarkable creatures, by Tracy Chevalier). It’s a perfect way to feel connected with the place and discover this fascinating history, stretching back to the 8th century.

 Mary Anning discovered the first complete ichthyosaur to be found in England, and she was just 12-years-old at the time. She never stopped looking for fossils and she became one of history’s most important fossil collectors and palaeontologists.
Lyme Regis, her birthplace, is in the heart of the Jurassic Coast. The town and the surrounding area are also renowned for their natural beauty; it’s perfect place for walks along the coastal path and do birds watching.


Where to stay?
When we travel in a city, we general use Homexchange to find a family home to share.
We love to travel this way because it offers us the possibility to discover the place a little bit like a native as the family shares with us their spots and hidden gem, and fun things to do with kids.
When we don’t find an accommodation to share we rent something. On the Jurassic Coast we were in this little cottage in Lulworth Cove, a place of magnificent beauty.


What to do?
It really depends on the place you choose. 

  • In a city, there are of course a lot of museums that have generally fun activities for kids.

  • We love to see a show, to have a very special experience. Last February in London we went to see a wonderful show at the Natural History Museum about Darwin and his travel on the Beagle. When on the Jurassic coast we went to Corfe Castle for an historical event (They set up a Medieval village in the Castle, with disguises, food and games), and to the Abostbury Summer Family Festival.

  • Visit the parks and their wonderful playgrounds

  • Have a good book to read aloud and share moments of connexion with your kids. It will offer you some respiration in busy holidays.

  • Begin a travel journal (glue Museum entry tickets, bus tickets… draw and write what you did). A city is a cool place to begin with this tradition because there are numerous things to do and record in the journal.

  • In a city, don’t plan to much. One cultural visit (like a museum) + one fun activity (like a cool playground) per day. Kids need extra time to stay at home, play family games, read books and relax.


What to bring?
When we are travelling to a city we don’t bring much because there are already lots of attractions and things to do. And as it’s easy to find a home to exchange with a family in a city, we know we will have everything we need in the house. We don’t need extra stuff.

  • Bring (or buy when you arrive) a notebook for you and each of your kids to do a travel journal and take a quiet time at the end of the day to fill the journal.

  • One book to read aloud and one book for you. For example: Simplicity Parenting

 
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Summer time is the perfect season to discover how to be intentional.
But summer is over now, school is nearly at the corner… I hope you will begin this new school year with a positive energy and lots of ideas!


Thanks for reading,
Eve