If I had to change mothers and re-do my childhood, I might choose to be the child of Alexi Felty (@SageandRowan on the gram) due to the incredibly loving and detailed birthday parties she puts together. A reoccurring theme seems to be all things Disney. With Summer fast approaching, many of you may have Disney vacations in the works. However, if you can not make it to the Magical Kingdom (or, like me, can not face those crowds) here is some celebration inspiration for you.
Traveling with children, especially small children, can seem daunting. When travel involves long plane rides and/or car rides, it can seem terrifying! Over the past 6 years I have traveled in planes with my children to places like Peru, Hawaii, Japan, Alaska, and Iceland. Also, we do many quick, but long distance car rides. People say I’m crazy, but it is actually quite amazing. With traveling holidays approaching, I wanted to share a few thing that I always take with me for entertaining children on planes, trains, automobiles, and in hotels….
I have tried lots of different plans of attack to this regard, but have decided a few open ended toys and crafts go far and don’t take up too much space. Here are my favorite go-tos and why:
- Magnetic tiles like these wooden ones from Big Future Toys. These might be my favorite hands on toys for travel, home, restaurants, you name it. They never fail to quietly entertain for long periods of time. Not only do my children love them, I love them – because they intrigue the mind. They help foster creativity and problem solving and wonder. “How can I make this a certain way, what else can I do with these, what if I did this….” They keep those little wheels turning, and those faces smiling. Also, I love the natural material option of wood, as I always strive to rid my life of plastic and waste and bring in more natural options.
- Play Silks. Throw in a couple play silks, they compact to nearly nothing and weigh about the same. However, they can provide SO much entertainment. For babies, a simple peek a boo game or cuddle blankie. For toddlers and older kids there are an unending number of imaginative play ideas from babydoll carriers to puppet shows. Throw in a couple wooden clips and build some forts on the airplane seats.
- just a few small figurines and/or cars. A couple wooden peg dolls or animal figurines can lead into so many imaginative play sessions. Pretend they are going to where you are traveling at, what do they see and do? use the play silks to make a scene for them.
- Sketchbook and washable crayons or markers. Instead of stocking up on different coloring books and ‘travel’ art supplies, make it easy on yourself. A blank sketchbook and a pack of WASHABLE (because it’s not our plane or bedspread were staying on haha) crayons, pencils, or markers can lead to travel journaling, drawing, games, and more.
- Crafts. There are so many options for crafts out there. I have found once again that going with an open ended approach is better than bring specific kits and crafts. a few balls of yarn and a small loom will provide a craft for preschoolers and up that will last much longer than 5 minutes. You can also try learning or teaching a new skill and throw in a crochet hook. Young kids may like weaving found objects into the loom for fun. The yarn can also be used as string for cats cradle or fort building or anything else you may dream up.
- Bees wax wraps. Obviously, bringing lots of snacks is a great idea. However, It can also become an activity. I love how my friend’s son used our handmade beeswax wraps to do origami! What a great idea for once the snack inside is gone!
- Lastly you will see a small pick up stix game. This was a new addition for me and turned out wonderfully. My 3 and 6 year old loved the game and we could also use the different colored sticks for sorting and counting activities.
If your looking for a break from the heat of summer, then grab a seat (or 5) on the discounted Icelandic airline, WOW, and give your fall wardrobe a trial run as you circle the magical isle of Iceland.
Day 1: Adjust in Reykjavik
Day 2: head out of town! Spend some time exploring the Snæfellsnes Peninsula.
Day 3:head to northern Iceland. Make a stop at the Skagafjordur tourist information center to explore the earth sheltered building and have a pic-nic. We also found Icelandic poppies growing across the street. If you aren’t familiar with seals, you could stop at the seal center.
Day 4: Akureyri Take today easy, maybe go horseback riding and grab a milk shake at Kaffi Ku-a local dairy farm. Definitely explore Kjarnaskogur -a large city park in Akureyri with multiple play grounds, trials and streams.
Day 5: Akureyri You have options- explore lake Mývatn or the small coastal towns around the area.
Day 6: head East making sure to stop at the smelly and vibrant geothermal fields. It is well worth the side trip to Borgarfjardarhreppur to look for puffins!
Day 7: Egilsstaðir. Have another low key day at a farm stay. Build some fairy houses and throw rocks in streams. Grab some delicious food at the nearby organic farm.
Day 8: Make your way South. This is a long drive with few accommodations. Prepare yourself and plan lodging early. A camper van would come in handy here. Everywhere in Iceland is so beautiful that anywhere you can turn off is a great place to stop and break up the journey. However, the glacier lagoon is a must see!
Day 9: explore the South of Iceland. Top picks: The beach at Vik and the waterfall Seljalandsfoss that you can walk under.
Day 10: Golden Circle. The geysers and the hot rivers are favorites among children. Grab a place with a hot tub for some low key unwinding.
Day 11: Reykjavik. Take a day to explore the city. My children wanted to walk through the ice cave at Perlan multiple times!
Day 12: Say your goodbyes and grab some food for the plane.
If you have a couple extra days try getting to the wilderness center thats a bit inland from east Iceland, or you could try to fit in the arctic fox center in the west fjords.
Favorites among the children:
- Getting an up close look at the puffins at Borgarfjardarhreppur
- Walking around in patches of snow along the road
- Building fairy homes
- Throwing rocks in streams
- River Swimming
- Exploring Kjarnaskogur -a large city park in Akureyri
- Climbing on top of earth sheltered buildings
- Ice cave at Perlan
- Getting splashed as you walk behind the waterfall
- Hestaleiga in Akureyri has an excellent horseback riding option for very young children.
Things I’d skip:
- Borgarnes: the cultural center is expensive and the audio guide will not hold the attention of small children. If you are really interested in the viking past and traveling with 2 adults then try checking it out while the other adult walks down the nearby boardwalk with the children.
- The “Farmers Market” in Borgarnes is more just a storefront with local items and local meat. Nothing that caught my attention.
- Looking for puffins in coastal N. Iceland. Its a long drive out of the way to the puffin spots, and the location on the east gets you much closer to them with safer viewing points.
I always opt for 1 or 2 locally made artisan goods rather than gobs of imported kitschy stuff.
- Crafting wool
- Sweater or other knitted goods
- Wooden animals
- Felted animals
- Sheep skin
Restaurants are very expensive. Book lodging with kitchenettes and cook at home or make picnic lunches whenever possible. Opt for skyr (Icelandic yogurt) at breakfasts and maybe some sheep cheese for meals to still get that local food excitement.
Though we did not rent a camper van, there are some larger options available that would make a memorable and enjoyable experience.
I think Airbnb is a game changer for traveling families and I usually book all my stays this way. Utilize smaller places with sofa beds rather than multiple bedrooms to save money. Sometimes you owners are even able to put in a port a crib for you. Here were a few of the airbnbs we stayed at:
- Top pick: Ellen’s farm stay in Gíslastaðir (East Iceland). A very relaxing farm with a creek, horses, and friendly pup. Ellen was very accommodating, especially in regards to our baby. She brought in a port-a-crib, a high chair, and put away in small hazardous items through out the home. There were toys for our other children and an art table with paints, canvases, and brushes. ( https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/2611203 )
- Top pick: Siggi’s apartment in reykjavik that my children still talk about! There were 3 bedrooms in addition to the family room and kitchen. There was also a nice size yard with a trampoline, plenty of free parking on the street, and a child’s room with fun bunk beds, toys, and a swinging chair. Close to Perlan in a quiet, family friendly neighborhood ( https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/23284671 )
When planning our trip to Iceland I knew I needed to keep my kids warm and still look good for the crazy load of photos! Luckily, I found Chasing Windmills Kids, a company that makes merino wool (not so) basics. The mustard patched long johns worked perfectly with Iceland’s geography. Pair the shirt with bright rainbow fringe leggings from Indi Scout as well as a couple selected hand knitted items and I have a child that perfectly matches the wonderful geo-thermal mud pits of Iceland. Thankfully she smells a bit better than they did though!
This year my eldest child started kindergarten at a Waldorf charter school. Here are my biggest take aways from this first year.
- Simplicity. Keep life simple. The simpler the toys, the better the imagination and creativity. The simpler the home, the easier the chores. The simpler a choice is, the easier it is to make it. The simpler a daily rhythm, the easier it is to keep. Too many choices, too many things to do, and too much stuff can lead to over stimulation and frustration. I love this simple, soft, and versatile shirt from Paulinka. It can be dressy, it can be casual, it can go along with any imaginative play a child might have. Simple, yet versatile options like this make mornings happier.
- Childhood is not a race. We so often rush children through the journey of childhood in order to accomplish goals. The magic of childhood is so often lost in the rat race of academics, running from one activity to another, and maturing beyond ones years. Childhood is so fleeting, it should be cherished and protected. Children will learn in their own time and in their own way if we allow them to first be themselves.
- Embrace and honor the changing of seasons. I really love this, and it is a big part of the Waldorf curriculum. Keeping your life seasonal helps to establish a yearly rhythm, keeps you grounded and present, and helps you be more observant in daily life. Embracing seasons also allows you to draw parallels between the ebbs and flows of the earth to the ups and downs of life. There are many rituals and festivals that go along with the changing of seasons and become fun traditions to look forward too.
- Children are capable of entertaining themselves for long lengths of time without media, if given the chance to learn how. The first month of school was a media fast- 0 screens for an entire month. It was hard, I wont lie. The kids asked daily to watch a show and when the answer was no, quite a scene followed. Fast forward 10 months and my children never watch TV. On the rare occasion they ask to, and the answer is no, they move onto something else. We even went on a 7 hour road trip not too long ago with no screens and no fighting. Whats the key? Like everything else in life – it takes time, practice and patience.
I understand a Waldorf curriculum and these choices are not for everyone. The beauty of life is that we are all different and we are all in this together. I am only stating the lessons I have learned and philosophies I have come to love through my first years journey at a Waldorf school. Please leave me a comment if you would love to hear more on any of these areas.
A picture is worth a thousand words. I could sit here and tell you how Randi Mooney of Grow Lovely Photography has a knack for capturing the care free and fun loving spirit of children. As well as how her models always seem to be having the time of their lives and making wonderful memories. However, I think her photos will do a far better job of spreading that message.
Indi Scout dresses them for their great adventure of childhood with clothing that’s practical, fun, and sustainable.