Posts tagged top 10

My holiday house survival guide

Kids on the beach

Holiday heaven awaits you

Yippeeeee. Holiday time. The chance to settle into your family for more than a snatched half-hour. Time to play and explore together. Time to experience true moments of joy and remember why it is that you had a family and how much you all love each other. Awwww, don’t the kids look cute down on the beach! You just went exploring and here they are, after being soaked by a couple of waves, down to their undies frolicking. Soon, they’ll resemble sand schnitzels and soon after that the whinging and crying will begin… ‘I’m cold’ ‘the sand won’t get off’ etc. You get the idea. Like all of life, holidays are just as full of good and bad, perhaps we’re just a little more aware and focused than usual.

Family holidays are more fun now than they used to be. Remember those early trips, when you were still having to do all of the tasks of baby wrangling, but without all your stuff? So much hard work that you wondered why you bothered. Now though, it’s almost smooth sailing. But even today, I have a list of things that (if I remember to pack them) will make my holiday house or caravan cabin experience much easier.

Ten things to take on your next holiday.

1. A big sharp knife. Holiday rentals only ever have crap knives. Just pack one nice big one that can do everything. If you are particularly devoted to BBQs, pack steak knifes. Whilst talking sharp things, a good peeler and a pair of scissors that actually cut is handy.

2. Zip lock bags. Or a roll of cling wrap. Or IKEAs best ever product, the Bevara clip. So that you can do something with all that half eaten stuff.

3. While we’re at it, take a couple of plastic containers, which can store stuff and double as salad bowls and seashell storage.

4. A roll of paper towel. Use as napkins, for draining bacon and mopping up wee, when lovely child has been too preoccupied in the sand to make it to the toilet in time.

5. Olive oil. The frying pans are never non-stick. Or if they are, they have been scratched raw, which is a pretty good example of why frustrated landlords give up on supplying anything decent (see number 1).

6. Kids plastic bowls/plates/cups and cutlery. Because they WILL smash anything else.

7. Stove top cafetiere. Most Australian coastal towns have decent coffee somewhere. But it might be a walk, or slow service. Just take your own.

8. Salt & pepper. Because your prawn roll needs seasoning. And if you forget them, you’ll be forced up to the IGA to buy a picnic set that costs a fortune and when back home will gather dust along with the other 6 sets that you’ve bought on your 6 previous trips away. Tomato sauce falls into this category too.

9. Tea towel and face washer (wrap the knife in them). Mozzie spray. Bandaids and panadol for everyone. A spare roll of loo paper to keep in the car.

10. Two-use stuff. Pesto can be smeared on toast with tomato, stirred through pasta or dolloped on meat. Antipasto for nibbles and the oil works as salad dressing. Peanut butter can go on bread without margarine and also used to make a basic satay sauce.

And while we’re at it, beer coolers work as ice block holders and ice blocks work as ice packs. Towels and bunks make cubbies and champagne corks and a texta make cool little people. Yoghurt containers can be used as sand toys and cocktail umbrellas make everyone happy for so many reasons.

So with that I must go. It’s after wine o’clock and the front deck is calling.

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My top 10 tips to smuggle vegies into kids…

Sadly, I’ve had to spend way too much of my time thinking about this. Miss Fruitarian (age 5) and Mr Meat-&-Potatoes (age 3) used to make most mealtimes about as joyous as stabbing myself in the eye. However after many mealtime disasters and much trial and error, I think I’m almost there with them reasonably able to consume most ingredients in moderate amounts. So I’m in a position to provide a helpful list of ways to get your children eating healthy food without complaint….

TIP 1:
Hiding healthy food in yummy meals

Some people are anti hiding food, thinking kids just need to learn to eat their vegetables. This is true. But my logic also states that once the kids are eating healthy food that’s hidden, their palates become used to the flavours and you can gradually reduce the amount you have to hide things until they will happily munch down anything.

TIP 2
Chop things small

Once food is grated or chopped finely, kids are much less able to identify and pick out foreign items. If it’s all mixed together in a yummy delicious meal that their tastebuds approve of, the battle is won. Use a grater, learn knife skills and invest in a mini food processor to make blitzing food quick and easy.

TIP 3
Keep it colourful

There’s a reason why kid’s toys are all bright. They love it! It attracts them and it looks fun. Use this logic in your mealtimes and you’ll have kids thinking ‘yum’ as soon as the plate is put down.

TIP 4
Kids love flavour

At some point around 8-12 months, both my kids went from loving bland, to needing much more challenging flavours. Don’t dumb food down thinking that they will prefer it. Sure, leave out the chili and olives, but experiment a little and you may be pleasantly surprised by how much the kids like interesting foods.

TIP 5
Variety

A British study found that 1 in 4 families ate the same meal on the same night of each week. If this works for you, fine. But my kids get really bored and uncooperative when being fed sausage rolls every Thursday night (I found this out the hard way). They like the surprise of ‘what’s for dinner’. It keeps it interesting and more playful.

TIP 6
Patience

Understand the current stage of your kid’s development and realise that it doesn’t matter if they don’t eat every meal. Perhaps it stems from the early frantic days when you shove as much milk into your kiddie as possible in the hope that they will sleep all night, but some days they are not hungry and do not need to eat. Maybe freeze their dinner, to avoid the frustration of scraping a whole bowl of food into the bin.

TIP 7
Plan Ahead

Yes, it’s boring. But it’s also a key to success. Know what’s for dinner before they ask you. It doesn’t mean you have to cook every night. When you do feel like cooking, make double batches and freeze portions so that even on hellish nights you have something good to give them.

TIP 8
You get what you get and you don’t get upset

This wonderful mantra is from Australian chef Bill Grainger. Visit him at www.bills.com.au. It sums up a couple of important things – 1. What you see in front of you is dinner. I WILL NOT go and make you toast or open a tin of beans. 2. You must TRY what is in front of you. You don’t have to like it, but you must try it.

However, if you kids are visibly gagging over something, or even you concede that perhaps things didn’t go so well in the kitchen tonight, then offer them a banana or a bowl of cereal. No interesting specials like spaghetti in the tin or cheese on toast. Please don’t prepare food twice in a night – they will sniff food victory.

TIP 9
Look at your own diet

Kids copy you. Assess what you eat and make modifications so that you are setting a good example. Quit crappy snacks. Start eating fruit again. Include more vegies in your cooking and rediscover how good fresh food can be. Perhaps your mum wasn’t’ so great in the kitchen and perhaps you didn’t have a good introduction, but now is your chance to eat well.

TIP 10:
Distract yourself

I’ve taken up knitting. Truly. So that I can sit at the dinner table, am present and can participate in dinnertime talk without having to actually watch the carnage. I breathe deeply, remember lessons learnt from the Buddhism for Mothers book and remind myself that food flying around everywhere, being smeared on chairs, spat out and pushed aside is part of children being children. If I watch them my blood pressure rises and I start yelling. Knitting seems to be more of a positive activity than guzzling wine which incidentally does also distract me quite nicely.

So there you have it, they’re the top tips that I’ve discovered. But what are yours?…

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