4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

4 favorite recipes for my child's detox bath

After a full day of school, playing in the mud and sand, then kneading (almost) 100% natural slime at home plus baking and eating a carrot cake, my child deserves to end the day with a nice hot bath! All parents know that moment of calm and serenity that follows the bath: a clean little cutie who smells like soap, warm in his pajamas and ready for stories. And what if bath time could also be an opportunity to take care of our children’s health by offering them a gentle detox? Zoom on into my 4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath.

These 4 recipes I have come up with myself or found ideas on Pinterest and played with them.

They make falling asleep easier, provide quality sleep and gently cleanse the body of toxins accumulated during the day. What’s more, these recipes cost almost nothing. Why deprive yourself of them?

4 favorite recipes for my child’s detox bath

1 – Detoxifying bath salt with lemon


This detoxifying bath salt recipe is excellent for children with skin problems, irritations, eczema, dryness, etc… It helps to regain well-being when children are very tired from their day. Lemon essential oil is excellent for regaining a good mood and feeling soothed, it promotes a positive atmosphere and an optimistic attitude.

Mix a cup of Epsom salt and a cup of baking soda then add a drop of lemon essential oil. Then place under the faucet. I buy the Epsom salt at Holland & Barret.

Let your children soak for 30 minutes under supervision of course!

2 – Purifying Bentonite clay bath


The bentonite clay boosts general circulation and has been shown to act as a detoxifying agent.

Dissolve one cup of Epsom salt in hot water and add the tea tree essential oil.

Mix the clay with a small amount of water until all the pieces are removed (use a plastic spoon and a glass jar, no metal in contact with the clay!). Add the clay mixture to the saltwater and place it under the water jet.

It is also possible to make a clay paste that you can massage on your child’s body before bathing. Leave to dry for 5 minutes and let your child sit in the water and rinse.

3 – Detox bath with ginger


This bath is especially recommended for sick children! Small blocked noses, congested bronchial tubes, etc. can benefit from these two simple ingredients.

One cup of magnesium flakes and 1 tablespoon of organic ginger powder. Place the mixture under warm running bath water and let your child soak for 20 minutes.

I will be given my little Baba this bath tonight as he has been coughing profusely lately.

4 – Revitalizing bath with apple vinegar


This recipe is particularly suitable for children with skin problems. Apple vinegar helps to rebalance the pH of the skin and treat minor skin problems such as eczema, sunburn, itching, etc. It is a must to have at home but be careful, it is important that it always contains the mother of vinegar. I use the Bragg cider vinegar, but you can use any kind you like as long as it is raw and “with mother”.

Vinegar is also great as a conditioner for shiny and soft hair! If you don’t like the smell, add a drop of EO of real lavender to the mixture. The use of essential oils for children must be well thought out, and especially the oil must be of high quality!

Mix 500 ml of unpasteurized apple vinegar with the bathwater. Soak your child (or yourself!) for 30 minutes and dry thoroughly.

What’s the difference between Magnesium flakes and Epsom salts?

Magnesium flakes contain magnesium chloride and Epsom salts contain magnesium sulfate. Magnesium flakes are purer and actually safer to use on children. They also absorb into your skin much faster than Epsom salts and the effects last longer.

Keep in mind:

  • When I mention essential oils, I am referring to quality, therapeutic-grade oils. I’m not talking about using diluted and watered down oils.
  • Try to keep them in the bath for 20 minutes to get all the benefits of the bath.
  • Lather them up, if you wish, with a natural moisturizer like coconut oil. I add in a few drops of lavender and give my son a light massage as I’m putting on his clothes.
  • Give your child some water or leave some beside their bed. Detox baths can make you thirsty. We always have a full reusable water bottle next to the bed.
  • Cuddle on the couch or in bed and read a good book before kissing them goodnight! Magnesium promotes sleep so they should sleep very well! Good for you! 🖤

I hope you’ll enjoy these few recipes and that you little angels will have fun playing splash and help them to sleep well.

Life by Mim
Advertisements

To my child’s teacher

to my child's teacher

To you, my child’s teacher, to whom I entrusted my little one a little too early for my taste. You, who every morning when I arrive at the school, have a smile on your face. You confirm to me that I made the right choice. That even though my mother’s heart is heavy to carry when I walk through the door, the most precious thing in my eyes is in good hands.

To you, my child’s teacher, who marks every birthday with sensitivity and celebrates every celebration to the delight of the little ones. Who even goes so far as to push our participation in order to make each experience unforgettable for our babies.

To you, my child’s teacher who simply takes the time. The time to listen to him and me, to prepare with attention the activities of the next day in order to amaze the children, to cook recipes with love and by knowing the preferences of each one. To take the time to comfort one while you must also entertain the other. Taking the time to go outside to play, even if it means dressing them layer after layer or creaming them every ten minutes. At pick-up, take the time to tell each parent about the day in a hurry.

To my child’s teacher, to the one who raises my son, who binds up his scratches when he hurts himself on the playground. I am grateful for all your small attentions and for all your work. To the one who treats my son as if he were her own; thank you for everything.

You are in a profession that demands the best of yourself in order to pass it on to others. A profession that, unfortunately does not get the credit that it deserves. I have spent many hours in your classroom and just keep on being amazed by your abilities and calmness.

And to you, my child’s teacher, my son finds himself in you. I trust your passion, your interest, your skills and your love; thank you for everything.

Life by Mim

What is mild parenting?

Mom and son seperated by window

While pregnant with my last baby I had been reading many websites and books on parenting. Like most parents right? But at the time of my last pregnancy it had been 20 years since I had my first. I must have this parenting thing down…

Well, I did learn a lot while parenting my two first children who are now in their twenties, but I regret some parenting choices I then made and wished that I had better tools. I’m “mild” with myself. I mean, I was a teen mom, who’s parents did not do a great job themselves. Everyone was swarming me with their advice and I did what I thought that I had to do ( someone told me I was starving my child and that I needed to thicken my breast milk with sugar and cornflour). There was a lot of me getting angry and a lot of punishing , chore boards and stickers involved. Not that I was physical, but my eldest son had spent a lot of time in his room, broke.

I love my children so much. They are my world and I wanted to change the way I parent. I wanted peace in my home , in their hearts and mine.

Mild parenting is binding parenting. And in order to be able to do that, it is important to connect with yourself.

Then one day I went to a lecture given by this kick ass psychologist woman named Nina Mouton who comes from Ghent. (a kick ass town to visit too)

Nina came to talk about mild parenting, a term that I hadn’t heard before. Unconditional parenthood, attachment parenting, RIE parenting…on the other hand, these concepts have often been around our ears in recent years. Briefly until now, for me this only meant: wear your baby/child until your back breaks, breastfeed it until your nipples fall off and sleep together until the age of 16. I knew a lot. Nina made me look at this approach differently that afternoon.

Because there was Nina, with her obvious -and at the same time magical- vision to just be there for your child. Uh okay. And what after that? Nothing. After that, the rest usually comes naturally.

What is mild parenting?
Peter Gamlen

It seems simpler than being there for your child, isn’t just the physical presence. It’s mainly commitment to an emotional bond, and you do that by leaving space, naming emotions, and letting the child be who he or she is.

Any “awkward” behaviour usually has an underlying desire. The real underlying wish is the reason a child will show difficult behaviour (for us). This kind of behaviour is always a signal (“help me, I don’t know anymore”). There are very different wishes: affection, autonomy, closeness… It is up to you to find out what your child wants and to name it 🙂

Once you know the underlying wish, you can start naming what you see: what feeling do you think is behind the behaviour? Stick to the basic feelings: angry, scared, happy and sad. Other feelings are still too unclear for young children (e.g. jealousy).

Let the feeling be there, don’t neutralize it as soon as possible because it bothers you or someone else (“you shouldn’t cry”). “Children have a right to their injustice,” Wow, I understood that there for the first time.

Often a child already knows that certain emotions are not okay and they start looking for a way out. A very nice example of this is a child that hurts mom, gets a reaction to it and starts running away. Or the child that doesn’t want to sleep, starts crying very hard and after a while says it has a stomach ache. So that’s why it is crying and not because it doesn’t want to sleep.

This educational approach is really something of our time. In the fifties there was not much attention for parenthood. You sent your children out onto the field and hoped that just as many would come back in the evening.

When I was a first time mom the behavioural approach was the pinnacle: punishing and rewarding until your child is completely moulded the way you want it (in my opinion still a form of conditioning that brings little added value, they really don’t learn anything in the end because my eldest son just stopped doing chores for money because he started a student job). Even now, these theories are often proclaimed as “the” means of raising children, just think of the super nanny. Until the stickers came out of my ears and I didn’t know it at all.

Nina Mouton doesn’t like punishment either. A child will learn something if there is a “natural consequence” from certain behaviour. E.g.: don’t clean up, then there’s no time for a story. It is not a punishment if a child has a choice.

Mild parenting, all well and good. But how can you be a mild parent with sleep deprivation? That went right through my head. I sleep very badly, and when my son was still nursing, he was nursing sometimes every two hours. Nina devotes a chapter to that, too. Self-care is the code word. A few tips:

  • Be authentic, stay calm. Get out of the situation if you’re in danger of being overwhelmed. Then come back to what happened afterwards.
  • Find a mommy buddy. (check)
  • Don’t be a champ all the time, it only takes energy from you and they won’t learn anything from you (except for a child of the most aggressive age ever, of course).
  • Find out what gives you energy and what requires energy from you (energy guzzlers).
  • Do things you did before the birth of your first child. (for me that was playing with Barbies)
  • You can’t do everything, choose your battles. (That’s one I’ve already mastered!)
  • Define your own boundaries: e.g. safety and health is not an issue.
  • Determining a “higher goal” can help: what values and norms do you want to give when they are out of the house? Is that what you are doing right now important? Often what you want NOW, and what you want later, is very contradictory. A higher goal can be: I want a child who can stand up for his opinion. What do you do if that child doesn’t want vegetables in his spaghetti sauce… He stands up for his opinion, doesn’t he?

You see, there’s still a lot of work to be done for me but now that my youngest has turned 6 years old, I can already see the difference mainly in our home and in myself. I very much prefer the mom (and person) that I have become, calmer and milder *insert smugness here*

There is so much more peace and happiness in our house now that I just wish that I had known (and understood) then, what I know now. Many things would have probably been different.

Be milder.

Life by Mim

Happy 6th Birthday!-Born too soon.

Born too soon

My last child was born too soon. Things never could go easy it seems.

When your new baby is delivered, you anticipate it being the best day of your life. For me, that event on a cold, December day and was one of the worst days of my life.

My youngest son was born after I went into early labor. I had already been in hospital since week 24 with a placenta previa and inexplicable early contractions. To say I was scared is an understatement. He was going to be born way too soon.


Recently an acquaintance and now friend of mine had her baby delivered six weeks early and was terrified of what she was going through. I told her my story and she found such comfort in hearing the emotional similarities. Though everyone’s singular situation is different, I believe we all take solace in knowing the commonality of the emotional pain, trauma, and uncertainty that we’ve endured.

Way to soon

I was filled with emotions finding that my son was about to be delivered almost three months early.
When I first arrived at the hospital at 24 weeks with heaving bleeding I was being prepared for the birth right there, right then. I’d never heard of such a thing. I couldn’t imagine a newborn baby could survive outside the womb four months before he was scheduled to be born, but I soon learned today’s neonatal medicine is amazing. An army of specially skilled doctors, nurses, anesthesiologists and surgeons, saved my son’s life. But not on that day yet.

I did not give birth at the 24th week when first arriving. No, I was kept in hospital, on bed rest for 7 weeks, given a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop. Eventually, the contractions stopped as did the bleeding and I was sent home for further bed rest…
However, 6 days later I was sitting in the front seat of my in-law’s car with the window down in mid-December because my mother-in-law was chain-smoking. I couldn’t blame her.
I left the hospital almost a week before with the warning to come back in ASAP if I began bleeding, or we both could die. And yes, I started to bleed again.
My worried (ex)husband was still at work across the border in the Netherlands, wondering if he should come to the hospital. The hospital was eerily quiet as I waited nervously for the diagnosis. I was told I would get another a dose of magnesium and a steroid shot to help the baby’s brain and lungs develop and that they needed to do an emergency c-section.
Overwhelmed, I was terrified of what was about to happen.

My husband arrived, worried something was wrong with so much commotion. I was brought to the operation room and my husband needed to wait in the waiting room while they would prep me as they promised to get him once I was ready.

The birth

Born too soon

I remember sitting at the edge of the operating table, waiting for the doctor to give me an epidural. The whole time I was praying and feeling incredibly guilty that my body was not able to care for my baby anymore.

That it could not keep the baby safe and that my baby now had to be brought into this world…way too early. I could not protect him anymore. I had failed.


The first epidural did not work for some reason, at least not as quickly as was needed. They gave me a second one, trying to convince me that the pain I was feeling was not real. When the first incision went into my belly, the pain was indescribable. I screamed and my heart and blood pressure went off the chart and so they had to put me fully under. The anesthesiologist grabbed my throat, told me that they needed to do this and that everything will be ok, she put the oxygen mask on and out I went.

The next thing I remember was waking up from a dark fog, just realizing what had happened and I started asking, no yelling, begging for my baby.
Again, I feel this dark fog coming back upon me.

I hear the nurse or was it a doctor, calling for help because there was blood everywhere, I pass out again.
I come by once more, again calling for my child and I hear them asking for my husband.

That he might be able to calm me down.

He came. I don’t remember what he said first, but when I asked if our son was alright, he answered that he didn’t know. That he was still waiting for the nurse to come and get him when they wheeled out a baby in an incubator and that he knew that it was our son.

They rushed our son off to the NICU (neonatal intensive care unit), he wasn’t breathing.

I faintly recall a conversation with one of many doctors during the weeks leading up to my son’s birth, about the survival rates and complications likely with a baby being born this early.

To prepare us they even showed us books on how babies looked like at each week. They even gave us a tour of the NICU. We were well prepared, but you never truly can be.

As I lay in a hospital bed in the recovery unit, praying for my son. I negotiated with God. Don’t we all do that in dire circumstances?

“God, if you do this for me, I PROMISE I won’t let you down, I will dedicate my life and his to You Lord”

I just wanted this baby to be OK.

Our baby


They told us that he weighed 2140kg and that he was 47 cm long, he was big for a 31-week-old baby.

I had no idea what this meant. Would he survive then? Could he even breathe? Could I see him? Hold him?

That evening they brought us to the NICU to meet our little man. My Lord was he ever so gorgeous. He didn’t look like the pictures we had seen of preemies. Yes, his tiny, fragile body was poked and prodded with tubes, he could not breathe and was wearing a c-pap so we could not fully see his face.

But gosh, he was beautiful. His body had a rosy red color to it, plump and he still had fuzz all over. We couldn’t see his hair color yet, as he was wearing a bonnet to keep all the cords in place.

Life in the hospital

I stayed in the hospital for 8 days, and even though I was not supposed to walk around yet, I was walking up to the NICU a few times per day, staying for hours.

Starring at this wonderful child. But he was struggling. He still could not breathe on his own, could not eat of course and he had a condition that we didn’t know about until after he left the hospital. Baby apnea, making him suddenly for no reason stop breathing. Something common amongst preemies.

Even though he looked stable, the first 48 hours were crucial and it’s horrible, that feeling of not knowing what’s going to happen. His alarms went off, a lot. They had to nudge him and poke him, a lot.

I spent hours, days crying. I thought I’d run out of tears, but I didn’t.
After my youngest son’s birth, we spent 65 days living in the hospital fighting for life.

I say WE because I (we) was with my son every step of the way as were our family and friends, caring for our other children at home, bringing diners, praying for us and for loving us even though I did not feel lovable at that point.

born too soon
Baby Wearing really helped us to bond once he was able to leave the hospital. As I could not hold him as much as was needed from the start, we made up by carriers/wraps, skin on skin and breastfeeding.


And today — as he’s on the verge of turning 6 years old when I am writing this.


Even today when I talk about how life started for my 6-year-old son, many times I cry. It’s real trauma that I didn’t recognize as post-traumatic stress. I discovered this recently after having started therapy this past year…
The trauma didn’t end when our son left the hospital.

We still had spent many days in and out of the hospital due to his being a preemie. Hospitals almost felt like a second home for the first few years. I was terrified each time that I would lose him. Even if we were there for a simple check-up.

It must have been a week after he arrived home that my eldest son noticed that his baby brother wasn’t breathing in his cot.

We rushed him to the ER and he stayed again with an infection, but we also had to do a sleep test and we found out that he had baby apnea (meaning that he would just stop breathing) and we got to take home a monitor that our son needed to wear all of the time.

It gave a false sense of security and every time that it went off my heart raced and I would rub his little tummy asking him to breathe.

And now?

born too soon

But today he is 6 years old and the last time we spent a night in the hospital has been 3 years ago.

When you see him now, you would never even think that he had such a hard time starting life. He was born big, and he still is a very tall boy, towering over other children his age.

He does very well in school even though he needed to redo this past year of kindergarten due to some delays in his developmental milestones.

But now he is eager to read and write, and his favorite things are the arts (crafting and performing) and building towers and houses for his action figures and stuffed animals. His lego building skills continue to impress me.

He loves playing with our two Dachshunds and cat and just loves all animals. It’s a love that he and his big sister share and he even recently got to sit on her horse for the first time.

When picking him up from school he runs into my arms and covers me with kisses, wherever we are he will cuddle up to me and give me kisses and I hope that he agrees with me that when he is older that you can still be cool and love your parents. 😁

Sometimes he sleeps in his bed, but he still mostly snuggles up to me in mine. Then I think of the first days of his life when we couldn’t snuggle. So, I will take all the snuggling that I can get.

He is kind, creative, loving and mischievous as all children are.

I look forward to this coming year, the year of six, and I can’t wait to see the things that he will learn to do.

And I am looking forward to watching him grow up and one day seeing the man that he will become. My heart is so full.

My son, my miracle. Our blessing. Happy 6th Birthday dear Baba.

Life by Mim

BTW, I highly recommend this book, “Hold your prem” written by Jill Bergman that was given to me by a friend.

It helped me to prepare for the early birth and gave me tools on how to bond with my child despite the traumatic first moments of an early birth.

I always recommend it and gift it to parents who could benefit from it.

Longtail (cargo) bikes- Should I make the switch?

Longtail (cargo) bikes- Should I make the switch?

I am not a bicycle specialist or a child development expert. I’m a mom and cyclist. Talk to your pediatrician about when biking with your baby is appropriate and take your time at finding the right (Longtail cargo) bicycle for you and your family.

A Longtail bike what? And should I make the switch?

When a friend of mine posted a picture of their new longtail bike on Facebook I was instantly fascinated by it. I had never heard of it and quickly giving it a google I found that this has already been a big thing in the States. Weird that in a country where people bike a lot I hadn’t seen one already, but after doing some research it’s obvious that it is becoming quite popular.

What did I find out?

FROM WHAT AGE CAN YOUR CHILDREN RIDE ALONG?

The age at which you can start carrying your child on a bike is a contested issue. Basically your child needs to have the neck strength to comfortably sit-up on their seat. Usually, this is a skill that they learn between six and twelve months. Please note this does not mean that a child can sit up for hours at a time. If you are planning a cycling holiday with longer trips, stop regularly. Parents who are eager to start cycling with children this young can find themselves in a quandary as to what is safe, legal, and practical!

PROS AND CONS

PROS:

  • Depending on the model, a load capacity of +100 kg to +200 kg.
  • Possibility of comfortably transporting several children.
  • Possibility of mounting two bicycle seats at the rear.
  • Large bicycle bags so you can take a lot with you.
  • Light, narrow and maneuverable like an ordinary bicycle.
  • Your child (ren) is (are) close. That is a nice idea and also cozy.
  • Possibility to carry other bikes. This way, your child can cycle until he/she is tired and then take a seat at the back.
  • Many different options for accessorizing the bike.


CONS:

  • Although limited, this bike requires just a little more storage space.
  • Your child (ren) are also subject to the weather elements.
  • The children sit behind you, which makes communicating a bit more difficult than in the case of a bicycle seat in the front or a cargo bike, for example. But I still find it hard to converse with my while he is in the front carrying cargo bike and the top is on.
  • Most models have a high step.
  • Equipping the bike as required requires extra investment.
  • Choosing the right Longtail.

CHOOSING THE RIGHT LONGTAIL

There are different types of longtail bikes. What should you pay attention to during your purchase?

Weight

What do you want to use the bike for? How much weight do you plan to carry? Depending on the model you can carry more (+200 kg) or less (+100 kg) weight. Attention extra weight also requires extra pedaling power. Try to be realistic about this. Carrying 200 kg without extra support is a challenge anyway.

Small wheels

A number of models use smaller wheels in the front and / or rear. This is to lower the center of gravity and thus create a more stable driving experience. A lower luggage rack also makes it more accessible for children to step on their own. A disadvantage is that your load space becomes proportionally smaller.

Electric drive

Are you a mileage eater or do you have another reason why you can use extra pedal assistance? In the case of a longtail cargo bike, the extra weight that you can carry provides an extra reason to consider electrical support. But just like with other bicycles, electric drive is accompanied by an extra financial investment.

View this post on Instagram

#ebike #cargobikes #bike43 #longtailbike #bike43

A post shared by Bike43 (@bike43com) on

Extra accessories

Most longtail bikes are equipped as standard for transporting additional luggage. If you want to dress them up for the safe transport of children, then you are obliged to install additional accessories, which entails an additional cost. An advantage is that many different combinations are possible: Monkey Bars, two bicycle seats, one cushion, and one bicycle seat, an extra handlebar and footrests, and so on.

Gears

The different models available have a different range of gears. You need to be aware of the environment you will be biking in. If you cycle regularly through hilly terrain or over bridges, more gears can be useful. The more bicycle gears, the more cycling comfort.

Length

Measure well in advance how much space you have available to park your bike. The length of the different models can vary considerably.

Balanced

Be aware that the bicycle has a sound standard. The bicycle is intended to accumulate a reasonable amount of weight. For ease of use, it is therefore essential that the standard bears this weight when stationary.

Frame

Some models have a ‘one size fits all’ frame, others have different options. If it is intended that you and your partner both use the bicycle, this can help determine your choice.

 THE LAST TIP …

Always try the longtail bike! A round at the bicycle repair shop in front of the door is really insufficient. A serious bicycle mechanic will always give you the opportunity to take a test drive. If you are going to test, take your children with you. So you know what it feels like when the bike is loaded. By testing different bikes, you notice the differences in weight, stability, ease of use, etc. Is the distance between the handlebars and saddle comfortable for you? Can your children get on it easily? Is the bike stable?

WHAT WILL I DO?

Well, I’m still busy with my driver’s license and that will take at least another 10 months. But even if I would have one, I would still ride a bike most of the time as I believe that it is better for the environment and I just enjoy this time together with my son.

Whether I would buy a Longtail, I have to say that I am inclined to. I have been riding a ‘normal’ bike with my son on the back (because of a flat tire on my cargo bike) for the past week and it does ride easier than a cargo bike, it’s just a bit too small at the back for my almost 6-year-old. Easier to handle. I have testdrived a Yuba already and would like to try out a few others and so who knows.

LOOKING TO TEST DRIVE A LONGTAIL IN FLANDERS?

Fietsenwinkel de Geus / Marnixplaats 4, 2000 Antwerpen | Grote Steenweg 95, 2600 Berchem

Bakfiets & cargo bikes-festival./ ANTWERP- This is only once a year (next one is on the 14th of March 2020) but it’s a great way to see what’s out there, hear testimonials and have some great truck food. 😀

Up-Cycling bikeshop / GHENT

Life by Mim

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35

The history

I first became a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences.

I have been blessed with three beautiful children with three completely different personalities and with one big age gap between them…I had my two eldest children in my teens (15 going on 16 years old, and then at 18 years old), my third and last child came almost twenty years after my first. That’s why I like to use the relatively new hashtags #gapmom or #agegapmom.

It was never my intention to have an age gap but it was just the cards we were dealt. I grew up an only child, not yet knowing that I had a biological sister and brother out there. We also have a +- 10 year age gap. So I grew up a bit lonely and I decided that I wanted more than one child.

So then life happens and sometimes (well most of the time for us) life doesn’t go as planned. I became a single mother almost from the start and when I did meet and marry my (ex) husband ten years later, we could not conceive easily and needed help in the form of in-vitro. The whole IVF thing was for me a knightmare, the hormones, the shots, the touching and probing by doctors, the egg harvesting, the disappointing phone calls and then the miscarriage.

I had almost given up. So much so thTat we adopted a beautiful sweet doxie, Toby, from the pound, thinking that he will help me deal with the heartache and emptiness.

But as life would have it, we got the surprise that we were pregnant in May 2013. My children were 19 and 17 and that time so I knew there would be the inevitable age gap, nonetheless, we were so excited.

The differences

Well besides the obvious, becoming pregnant at 15 was unplanned. I have no regrets at all. I would not want to live in a world without my two eldest children, but parenting was hard. It was sometimes feeling like I had hit rock bottom hard and it’s only by God’s grace that I made my way up again each time. Funny thing is, I only became a born again Christian when I was 26-27. Ten years after having my two first children. It’s only then when looking abck, I could see God’s work and help in our lives.

I was young and immature. People felt like they needed to give me advice all-of-the-time. I also had no network then around me, something I really have this time around.

As a teen mother, the only expectancy that most people have of you is that of failure. Poor education, poor finances, and poor choices.

I tried to break free from that stereotype. But I have to be honest, that expectancy was true for the first few years of my motherhood. Thankfully I did manage to turn it all around on time. Or at least I tried.

So for me, the main diffence I feel is the people’s perceptions of me as a mother. When I was a teen, it was assumed that I was a bad mother. When I had my last baby at 35, I was treated as “normal”.

The con’s

I have not really experienced any besides that it’s a pity that I hadn’t kept any of my eldest children’s baby clothing. I would have been the hippest mom around as retro clothing and wool is very “in”.

I’m sure if I think hard enough I could find some, but while writing this none come to mind, maybe when I will re-read my post in the future I will have some to add. But for now, I see it as the greatest blessing in my life, my children, age gap and all.

The pro’s

  • Babysitting: My eldest daughter told me at the start that she would not have it! We decided to have another baby, then we should not expect any help from her…Well, that was her stance at the beginning, and now she is my youngest child’s biggest fan. I don’t really need a babysitter, other than for visiting the doctor or for a school meeting, but I can always count on her. Even if she pouts for a bit. *insert smiley face*
  • Having parented for almost twenty years when I had my youngest, I knew what kind of parent I wanted to be. I’m sorry to my eldest children, but they helped me to see the good and bad things I did in parenting them. And so while pregnant with my last, I devoured all books on parenting and I had a very good idea of the things I wanted to do differently. A do-over let’s call it.
  • The 16-year-old me would never admit to it, but I truly see the difference the maturity that age brings with itself. I see things now that I could not see then. I also did not feel confident enough to step up for my beliefs. People giving me advice on breastfeeding that felt wrong. People telling me how I should discipline my child. People telling me how children should act. I dare think for myself now and I trust my motherly instinct more.
  • Taking it more slowly. I know how fast it all will pass. Sleepless nights will pass. Diapers will pass. Tantrums (should) pass. Yelling “Mommy, mommy, mommy, look at me” will pass. I can even enjoy those moments now, knowing that one day, my job will be done and that I have (hopefully) created a well-balanced adult.
  • Even though I have been a mom for two decades, it feels like I’m a brand new mom again because of the gap. Thank God for the better breastfeeding advice and thank God for the Facebook mom groups that have helped me as well. I wish I had them then.

The big age gap between my children has been very interesting and the truth is, parenting will always be challenging, no matter what age or what age gap. But it is a blessed, wonderful and beautiful adventure. It’s just such a blessing to experience it again, even if it took almost twenty years.

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35 is my greatest blessing.

Becoming a mom at 15 and at 35, these were the differences

How to pack healthy school lunch

How to pack a healthy school lunch

Packing lunchboxes are not only a time-consuming part of the morning rush, but it is also a true headache for many parents. I’m trying this year my ultimate best at makingng the best lunch possible for my little grazer. How to pack a healthy school lunch? What needs to be put in that lunchbox nowadays? What is not done?

Nutella, jam, or sprinkles have been blacklisted in many schools here in Belgium. And recently the WHO (World Health Organization) also blacklisted ham, salami, and other cold cuts. 

So much has changed over the years. I used to just slap on some salami or baloney onto my eldest children’s sandwiches. Now that the salami is also banned, we are totally lost. You can’t send your children to school every day with a slice of cheese on their sandwich? Anyway, we can, but not without loud protest from those involved. 

So I did my research. I have followed nutritionists and health conscience mom’s on Pinterest and Instagram to see what they do and advise.

START AT THE BEGIN: THE RIGHT BREAD BOX

It all starts with finding the right lunchbox. It’s better to get the non-plastic ones (better for health and the environment), and one with different compartments (Bento). I have a stainless steel one for me, but my 5 year old has a hard time opening it so in the meantime he uses the Yumbox original. It’s completely leak free and has just the right amount of compartments for my little grazer. Follow this link if you would like some tips on how to find the right lunchbox. 

THINK IN GROUPS

Just like us, children need carbohydrates, proteins and healthy fats and that on a daily basis. Each one of these food groups is important for a proper development. However, especially proteins and fats are often missing in the lunch box. For the lunchbox I always recommend thinking in 4 groups.

  • Proteins, animal or vegetable: for example, a hard-boiled egg, bouncer, leftover chicken, mozzarella, feta, gouda, tuna or other canned fish, leftover meatballs, lentil salad, hummus, whole yogurt, or tofu.
  • Vegetables:raw vegetables (tomatoes on the vine, cucumber, carrot, bell pepper, celery, lettuce …), cooked beans, vegetable leftovers from the night before, or soup in a separate thermos.
  • Whole grain cereal products:whole meal bread, wholegrain rice cake, wholegrain pita or wrap, wholegrain pasta, or whole rice.
  • Healthy fats:olives, avocado, nuts, seeds, and olive oil.

Whether you effectively divide these groups into sections or throw them all into one large salad or wrap, does not matter. As long as you take something from each group, and the ingredients are unprocessed, it will be fine.

https://www.instagram.com/p/B2ODgDBIV4J/?utm_source=ig_web_copy_link

HOW MUCH IS ENOUGH?

Ah! Let your child indicate how much he wants to eat. He will feel perfectly full if you fill the lunchbox with fiber-rich, protein-rich and fat-rich food. That is not the case with Nutella sandwiches. Those children seem insatiable. That is completely normal, because white bread with chocolate does not contain any fibers or nutritional values. That is why you can eat a lot of them, but you also get hungry again very quickly.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

My 5 New School Year resolutions

I don’t do New Year’s resolutions. The coming of the New Year does not give me the sense of a new beginning like September does. School life has been part of my life non-stop since I was 5 years old. If it was not my own school life it was that of my children. This September I decided that I wanted to switch things up for my 5 year old, hence my 5 new school year resolutions.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

  1. Getting to school 15 minutes earlier: I used to get to school just on time by the end of the last school year. I drive my son in our cargo bike when he could easily bike himself, but I always seem pressed for time and that’s a pity. I’m resolved to leaving earlier and to hopefully get him to bike himself more regularly and arrive earlier at school so he can fit in some playing time before school starts.
  2. Less screen time after school: My son has just spent a whole day at school and it’s easy to simply let him sit down in front of his iPad and unwind, but by doing this we don’t really connect and get to do fun stuff together. So I want to do more activities together after school. If it’s a short walk with the dogs, board games or crafts. Those things should not be only done during the weekends, but after school, I want to re-connect.
  3. Add more diversity to my son’s lunchbox: We do bento lunches (we use the Yumbox), but my son has somehow reduced the things that he likes to eat to sandwiches with cheese and jam (it’s a Belgian thing), cucumbers, grapes, Ikea chicken meatballs, and nuts. This year I’m going to sneak in something new each week. Hopefully, this will broaden his very limited taste.
  4. Getting my son to help with dinner: Again, it’s easy to just flip on the Ipad so I can get some cooking done, but I want more quality time with my son right? And I want him to start appreciating different kinds of food more, so instead of heading for the kitchen myself, I will encourage my son to help me out with dinner. He loves making pancakes with me on weekends so why not dinner from time to time. We will make this time together fun.
  5. I won’t let guilt grip me: All of us mom’s/parents feel the guilt from time to time. Certainly when you see on social media all the things other parents do (In fact, according to a recent study by UK charity Scope, of 1500 Facebook and Twitter users surveyed, 62% reported feeling inadequate and 60% reported feelings of jealousy from comparing themselves to other users.). I need to remember that my good intentions are there. But I have my limitations too. Last school year I was just trying to survive a brutal divorce, I am chronically ill and need to take care of myself if I want to take care of others. So I will try to keep that in mind this year and if I had a bad day, I will try to do better the next.

Motherhood is a hard, lonely journey. Maybe, just maybe, we can find it in our hearts to be kind to ourselves and remember that fact. But that doesn’t mean that we can’t try to do better the next day and that, by God’s grace is what I will try to do.

So here were my 5 New School Year resolutions. Have you made any? Am I being too ambitious? I would love to hear from you.

My 5 New School Year resolutions

“Free” things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Free things to do this summer with kids in Antwerp

Looking for free things to do with kids in Antwerp?

The summer is almost halfway done. Some of you are having a blast, others are struggling with keeping their kids occupied. If you are like me, a single mom on a budget, you want to keep the vacation costs low. So here are a few of my favorite places to go in Antwerp with my 5 1/2-year-old son.

So what free things can you do in Antwerp with kids?

SUMMER BARS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.
Zomerbar -Sloepenweg Antwerpen

One of my favorite things to do with my girlfriends and kids is visiting a child-friendly summer bar. And “Antwerpen” has a lot of them. For all types of people. The family people, the hipsters, the fancy pants …and so on.

We have been to the “Zomerbar” at the Sloepenweg for a few years now, just because my son loves it so much, heck even my 25 year old and her boyfriend love it.

You have an open-air library and there is even a volunteer who will read a story to the children twice a day.

This year they built this awesome a boathouse with slide up in a tree.

And when it is really hot outside, they put out puddle baths for the kiddos to cool off in.

Coming by electrical bike? Great, you can even charge your battery there.

Have some spending money? Book a circus show. Or order some great food from the food trucs there. Believe me, you will love the Zomerbar, or you will find another one that suits your needs better. Give them a try.

Check out this LINK to see if there is a Summer bar near you.

PETTING ZOO’s (kinderboerderijen)

You have many of those here in Belgium. Most of them also have a tavern and/or a playground in the vicinity. For us, in Brasschaat we love going to the Mikerf Farm. It is situated in the ‘De Mik” domain where they also have a real castle and towers. You can picknick at the lake before or after visiting the farm animals. It is a magical place.

You can even order a “fairytale walk” (sprookjespad) for your child’s birthday. Have a look here, and use google translate.

Other farms that we have visited:

PLAYGROUNDS

But you already knew this idea right?

Our favourite playgrounds?

If you are planning a trip to Bokrijk or would not mind driving out a bit further, we highly recommend the playground next to the open-air museum. IT IS HUGE! You can pack a picknick and easily stay there all day. Read about my review of our day trip to Bokrijk HERE.

BAREFOOT TRAILS

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

They offer the opportunity to walk barefoot for some distance and to feel the natural ground and various materials with bare feet soles.

In addition, visitors can enjoy balancing or climbing and walk through brooks or even rivers. Some barefoot parks include playground sections designed for bare feet. These healthy combinations of barefoot hiking and playing have become popular tourist attractions.

I’m including a few small free ones, but if you don’t mind spending a bit of money on a memorable trail, then I would strongly recommend the barefoot trail in Zutendaal. (google translate if needed).

We absolutely loved it there. We went there when my son was a toddler and I carried him half way on my back in the carrier and will never forget walking through a deep thrench with water up to above my belly button, with a sleeping toddler on my back. Going back with my 5 year old again for payback time. Ha!

LIBRARIES

Some of them have air conditioning, some organize workshops. Ours in Brasschaat even has a play area. So go look online and make a morning of it.

I like going on Monday’s because you also have the weekly market going on and my son loves to then get the waffle on a stick. Yep, it’s a real thing. And delicious.

Most towns have their own library.

PUBLIC FOUNTAINS

Some towns have play fountains. Just check online or ask in your local towns Facebook group .

The ones we have tried out:

ROOFTOP OF THE MAS MUSEUM

What a great piece of architecture and design. The MAS has free admission. There is only an entrance fee for the permanent and tempory exhibitions.

Located in the trendy “Eilandje” neighbourhood this eye popping museum is a must to do. You have to keep in mind that you do need to take the escalator up 8 flights, but the view is totaly worth it.

Keep an eye on their website, they organize many child activities and workshops like treasure hunts. And this during most school holidays for all ages.

Where?

MAS | Museum aan de Stroom

Hanzestedenplaats 1
2000 Antwerp
tel. +32 3 338 44 00
mas@antwerpen.be

BOEKENBERG SWIMMING LAKE

The swimming facility in the Boekenbergpark in Deurne is an ecological swimming pond. Plants purify the water in a natural way, so the pool contains no chemicals. There is a large pond of 73 m long with a depth between 1.80 and 2.50 m. There is also a small play pool with a depth of 50 cm and a large lawn area to sit and lie on.

Yes, also this place is FREE!

What do you need to bring then?

  • Fitted swimsuit, bathingsuit or bikini.
  • An elastic band to tie long hairs together.
  • A 2 euro coin for the lockers.

Where?

Zwemvijver Boekenberg
Van Baurscheitlaan ter hoogte van nr. 68
2100 Deurne
tel. 03 411 19 95 
zwembad.boekenberg@stad.antwerpen.be

PLAYDATES

I’m going to end this post with the cheapest and for me one of the nicest free activities, and those are playdates.

When it comes to playdates, I choose to keep it simple. I am not winning any “hostess of the year” awards—but I am totally okay with that. I keep the food and fanfare minimal these days, but I like to think that both the adult and child guests enjoy themselves while in our home. The kids get to play with other toys (kids love our dress-up rack) and mom’s get to relax, talk and enjoy some good coffee or tea. As simple as that. When you invite, you get invited back, especially useful in the summertime when in need of a pool. 🙂

Am I missing something you LOVE? Just let me know in the comments below.

"Free" things to do with kids in Antwerp this summer.

Bokrijk with kids

Bokrijk day trip with kids

Bokrijk with kids. It is more than just an open-air museum! At the Bokrijk open-air museum, history is brought to life in these traditional buildings thanks to talented craftsmen and actors.

If you love history like me, this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G! But even if you don’t love history, still this place is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G!

Bokrijk with kids? What’s it about?

Well, it’s a park and and open-air museum which displays more than 148 historical authentic buildings dating back from the 17th century right up until 1950.

There are three main clusters at the museum:

-The Kempen

-“East and West Flanders”

-“Haspengouw and the Maasland”

There is also an area dedicated to the sixties but we did not have time to do it as we promised the kids that they could play in the wonderful playground before going home.

We went in near the parking number 1 parking lot. We were greeted by this wonderfully recently restored windmill. It pretty much showed us what to expect from the rest of the museum.

We started in the Kempen and spent the first 1,5 hour there. I thought that was it until my companion said that we didn’t even do a third of the parc yet. Oops! We spent so much time there because of the “Speelschuur” translate: “The games barn”. The kids had a hoot trying out all the different types of “olden day games”.

Next time we visit we will not start there as it was hard to get the children to move on. But it was a fun experience. It kind of made me want to do more of the simple game and life stuff.

You can walk back in time along a path that winds its way through the different parts of the museum site and step into historical buildings that line the pathway, see the traditional working farms and even see people (actors) cooking their meals.

We wandered along the pathway past hedgerows, wildflowers and goats grazing on the lush green grass. The Bokrijk Open Air Museum has a quirky charm. But watch out for the herd of sheep that are being led to another field by their shepherd and the sheepdogs. It was quite unexpected thing to see happening on our path.

Top tips for visiting Bokrijk

THE TRADITIONAL GAMES BARN IN THE MOL – ZELM BARN

Stilt walking, shuffleboard, mast climbing, bowling and much more! This is the place to hone your skills on the Flemish folk games of yore, an experience for the whole family that mustn’t be missed! But do not start here otherwise you will have a hard time getting the kids to move on.

WORKSHOPS

Currently, there is a ‘from grain to bread’ workshop route. Along this workshop route different aspects of the production process come into play. Every day museum visitors can become acquainted with bread dough in the Wortel workshop barn.

THE CHURCH AND SCHOOL IN WAASLAND

Visit the little church and hear the pastor preach from the pulpit and you can even attend a class in the tiny schoolhouse and hear about how children lived in those days. When we attended class, it was 1913, the year before the school became compulsory in Belgium for children from 6 to 12 years old. Not many farmers were happy with this new regulation as children were a cheap help force in the home and on the farm.

One of our children even demonstrates a punishment that was given in class besides wearing the donkey ears. She had to sit with her knees into wooden clogs and hold up two bricks. It looked painful but she thought it was cool. I wouldn’t want to go to school in those days and my son was less than impressed, seeking solace in my arms.

THE PLAYGROUND

This was really what my son was looking forward to at the end of the day. I haven’t ever seen a playground like this before to be honest, it’s quite impressive. You could even sit there for the entire day and still the children will not want to go home.

Mega slides, swings, a climbing net, mini-cars, miniature golf and even a real toddler town with a HOPLA corner! The outdoor playground in Bokrijk is not only enormous, but it was also great fun. There is a zone for every age, and it is fully fenced. For children with disabilities, there are special playthings.

The restrooms are not what you would expect from a public playground. They are new, fancy and clean. There is a first aid post for if anything happens to your little one (or yourself). There is also a food and drink stand and picknick tables all around. Shaded under a tent or not.

To see some pictures of the playground go and visit the “Seeing beautiful places” blog.

We will go back!

There’s still so much to explore and so much that we haven’t seen yet. We will definitely be coming back. Bringing my picknick blanket for sure!

Our group?

We were four adults with 5 children between the ages of 8 and 5 years old.

I noticed that this is one of the few museums where you could bring your dog with you, but dogs are NOT allowed in the playground. Just so you know.

Now go on, plan a visit and let me know what you enjoyed most!

For more information on prices and opening hours follow THIS link.

You might also enjoy this day out at the Museum of Natural Science (the Dino museum) in Brussels!

Bokrijk with kids