Posts Tagged ‘Children’

The Hostess with the Mostess: Three tips for entertaining kids at your expat home

Tuesday, July 13th, 2010

By: Cherrye Moore

I just wrapped up a five-week trip to my native Texas and as always, I returned to bella Calabria with a load of American goodies, but this time I had a couple of new additions to my pack … two real-life all-American adolescent boys!

Expat Life with Kids

Yep … that’s right.

I came back with not one, but two tag-alongs-my nine-year-old nephew, Cole and my friend’s 14-year-old son, Jake. The idea was born more than a year ago, when Jake’s mom asked if he could visit us for part of a summer to “work at our B&B and practice Italian.”

Now, to be perfectly fair, I believe his mother did, indeed, plan for him to help at the B&B and pick up new Italian phrases, however, even then, I knew “work at our B&B and practice Italian” was 14-year-old kid talk for “go to the beach and check out hot Italian chicks.”

And that he has done.

Happily.

Still, it took us about a week to find our groove and settle into a routine. For other expats who are considering hosting their friends’ children in their adopted countries, here are three tips to help you ease into a routine.

1. Establish Realistic Expectations

My husband and I own a B&B and I’m a full-time freelance writer and travel consultant-so we are a busy work-from-home couple. Other expats have time-consuming jobs or even work more than one job. Many American kids might not be used to this and won’t fully understand the demands of your expat job.

Talk honestly about the amount of free time you’ll have to entertain them BEFORE they come, so you will all be on the same page about day trips, excursions and free time.

2. Set Boundaries

For the most part, homes in southern Italy, and throughout Europe, are much smaller than homes we are accustomed to in the states. Tell the kids who are visiting you if any part of the property is off-limits-such as don’t go the B&B without shoes on!-and be sure they know your house rules, such as “rinse off at the beach before you come home,” or “help yourself to as much gelato as you can handle from the freezer.”

3. Get a Schedule

Depending on how much time your tiny tenants will be with you, you might be tempted to postpone certain events or trips with the thought “there’s plenty of time.”

Time, my friend, has a way of getting away.

Print a calendar of the time you’ll have with the kids and schedule important events in advance. This will also help you look at the days, weeks or months and plan when you can work or take care of important personal errands that can’t wait. It will help you feel less stress about taking time off to be with them and will give them something fun to anticipate.

Have you hosted friends’ or family’s children at your expat home? What other suggestions would you add to help get everyone prepared for an awesome summer vacation the kids will never forget?

Cherrye Moore is an American freelance writer and Calabria travel consultant living in Catanzaro, Italy. She writes about expat life on Affordable Calling Cards and about traveling in Calabria on her site, My Bella Vita. You can also visit her at her bed and breakfast in Catanzaro, Il Cedro B&B … and by all means, ignore any and all children you see shoe-less.

Día del niño

Tuesday, August 11th, 2009

Sunday was día del niño or children’s day here in Chile. While spending 20 minutes waiting for an ice cream along with what seemed like every child in Santiago – hey, I was killing time waiting for someone, and it’s a really good ice cream place – I started thinking more about what the day means.

Let me say off the bat that the whole idea is crazy to me – isn’t every day children’s day? I mean, it seems like if you’re doing the whole parenting thing right, then for the most part your chidren are wandering around in self-centered bliss, happily enjoying their childhoods with the occasional after school ice cream and unexpected new toy. The idea behind mothers and fathers each having a day is that kids learn to take time out and appreciate all the good things their parents are doing for them.

If this were a day highlighting the plight of children who don’t have such exemplar families or the rights of children, then I could get behind it. According to Wikipedia, that oh-so-scientific of sources, children’s day was originally related with the World Conference for the Well-Being of Children held in Geneva in 1925. Universal Children’s Day, proclaimed by the UN in 1954, is celebrated on November 20 and aims to promote understanding among children as well as children’s welfare. The UN Declaration of the Rights of the Child and later the Convention on the Rights of the Child were both adopted on November 20.

Source: <div xmlns:cc="http://creativecommons.org/ns#" about="http://www.flickr.com/photos/26636506@N00/375433945/"><a rel="cc:attributionURL" href=

Source: http://www.flickr.com/photos/26636506@N00/ / CC BY 2.0

Now, have you ever heard of anything being celebrated on November 20? If you live in the US probably not – I certainly haven’t. Although there is a history of national children’s day dating back to the 1800s, and Presidents Clinton and Bush Jr. both declared specific children’s days, the US hasn’t ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The only other country not to have ratified it is Somalia. No comment.

I doubt many Chileans have ever done anything on November 20 either. Here, día del niño is celebrated the second Sunday in August, and it mostly seems to promote consumerism. Between the fast food lunch, day out at the park, afternoon ice cream and the crash that  comes after the sugar rush accompanied by a tantrum thrown because it’s time to go home, I don’t see a whole lot of welfare promotion. I did, however, see a child no more than two years old being gifted cotton candy literally half her height. Happy children’s day, your parents got you the gift that keeps on giving – diabetes!

Source: D Sharon Pruitt

Source: D Sharon Pruitt, http://www.flickr.com/photos/pinksherbet/ / CC BY 2.0

I remain a bit mystified by the whole thing, honestly. Christmas and birthdays sound like enough time to spoil any future kids; I’m not sure that another day where every child in the country descends upon all open spaces and sweet things is strictly necessary. But hey, I’m not a parent yet, so you never know.

Is children’s day celebrated where you live? I’d be interested to hear about more traditions around the world!

Emily Williams is a US gringa living in Santiago, Chile. She writes about expat life at AffordableCallingCards.net and on her personal blog, Don’t Call Me Gringa, and loves hearing from readers!

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