Moms Give Yourself The Gift Of a Solo Getaway – Sharing My Experience From My Hiking Trip to Machu Picchu

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In my recent post My Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu & Solo Trip to Cusco, Peru: An Adventure of a Lifetime I shared with you all my three minute movie , lots of pictures and so many other details of my amazing SOLO trip. (Check it out if you haven’t) This post focuses on what this journey meant and how it has affected me personally . Also I am sharing a list of benefits of jet setting alone and going on a getaway by yourself.

Travelling Solo was one of my top goals for the year and I knew that this year for my birthday I wished to do something different, something special, something truly just for myself. I wanted to rediscover the girl I was, before spouse, before a kid, before all the parenting responsibilities. So, a few months before my 33rd birthday I decided to challenge myself, both physically and mentally with a Solo Trip to Cusco, Peru.

I have had several opportunities to travel around the world with and without my family and friends. Travelling alone for work to a new country or state has been a part of my lifestyle and something I am familiar with since I was sixteen years old.

However, planning a getaway on my own to a country where I have never been before, hiking for two days with a group of complete strangers or for that matter living in a hostel and meeting people of all age groups from different parts of the world…… truly made this trip an Experience of a Lifetime! This journey has given me one of the most valuable collection of moments and experiences that has added depth and value to my life and who I am.

“Traveling Alone is Radical Form of Self Care”

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On this solo trip not only did I get to discover the stunning landscapes of Machu Pichhu on my hike and enjoy the breathtaking architecture, lively artisan markets and the delicious local cuisine of the vibrant city of Cusco, I also got to spend time by myself — walking alone, eating alone, writing alone and sitting alone. And honestly, this was far from lonely. It was in fact restorative!

I can’t think of the last time I had been alone long enough to revel in my own thoughts without being interrupted by my child or the nagging to-do list that lives in the back of my mind. I could have conversations with people that didn’t revolve around my child or me being a mom. It was kind of strange and exhilarating. Radical Self-care is the assertion that you have the responsibility to take care of yourself first before attempting to take care of others.

There is endless list of benefits to jet setting alone and by sharing my experiences I hope to inspire others to try out a solo adventure too.

Makes you Independent and Empowered: One comes back with a new perspective. Solo travel represents independence, wanderlust and of course freedom. One gets to create their own When and How to do it list!

Self-Discovery: Through solo travel you get a chance to listen to your gut and control the direction you want to go to. You get to know you, be you and reflect upon yourself.

Self Confidence: Yes, solo travel is a brave endeavor. There is a lot of planning and preparations that one needs to go through, especially us moms. And as women we need to research more into topics like safety, cultural norms etc. By stepping out of your comfort zone and travelling anywhere new and unknown we learn to face various types of scenarios and gain much confidence.

Making new Friends and lifetime connections: One can always choose to be alone, but on a solo trip you get an opportunity to connect and make new friendships on your journey that could last a lifetime. Travel leads to exciting adventures and meaningful connections, it provides you an opportunity to meet like minded people in a new cultural setting devoid of digital distractions.

Your well-being gets healthier: Each one of us know spending time alone makes us release a lot of stressful toxins and travelling makes us happy. Research shows that travelling alone is such a healthy option as it makes you a happier person and cuts out your depression and stressful phases.

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Being a Mom is hard work! By taking time to focus on myself, recharge and relax a little, I have returned home more mindful. I can’t think of travelling alone as “Selfish” now, as this trip has nurtured my body and nourished my mind while giving me chance to follow my dreams and do what I love – Explore! Also, I want my son to see me as a person with interests, rather than the person who does everything

Have you taken a solo trip? What was your experience? 

Love

Arushi (2)

 

My Inca Trail Hike to Machu Picchu & Solo Trip to Cusco, Peru: An Adventure of a Lifetime

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“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take”

Travelling Solo was one of my top goals for this year and the timing to accomplish this goal couldn’t have been any better, since I got to experience this lifetime adventure on my birthday week! Hiking through brutal altitude and stunning panoramas towards an unmatched destination: the ancient Incan city of Machu Picchu.

The Inca Trail hike is one of the most iconic treks that I had been wanting to do for past many years. And finally, in February 2018 I booked my itinerary to Cusco, Peru in a single day without deliberating too much on where I should travel for my Solo Trip.

My fitness regimen for the strenuous hike was already in line with my 2018 fitness goals, with weekly 30-minute mountain climber sessions, Reformer Pilates on weekends and daily 3 mile runs on my trail. Thankfully I was right on track with my fitness.

Access to the Inca Trail is strictly controlled — only 500 permits per day are issued (including guides and porters) and only authorized companies can receive permits. I was very lucky to find a spot with a group for my hiking experience so close to my birthday. The Inca Trail is among the most expensive and is undoubtedly the most exclusive hiking route to Machu Picchu; other options like the Salkantay or the Lares treks allow travelers to book mere days in advance and pay a fraction of the price. But I was fixated on the classic Inca Trail, that connected hauntingly beautiful archaeological sites, breathtaking views, and heart-pounding mountain peaks.

MY SOLO TRIP MOVIE 

Thousands of my followers on Instagram were present with me virtually on my IG stories daily and kept sending me their love, best wishes and all the motivation I needed to go on this journey all by myself. It is unfair to log all of this by simply putting it in words and pictures, so I made sure that I can share this Lifetime Experience with all my readers and followers through a short movie that I made through my Go pro Hero 5 camera (P.S This is my first attempt to creating a Travel movie, I hope you like it)

Cusco

I landed in Cusco, a vibrant city located in the heart of the Peruvian Andes Mountains, 2 days prior to my hike to acclimatize to the altitude. Cusco is located at an altitude of 3,400 meters (11,200ft), and I came from Houston’s altitude of 24 meters (80 ft.) ! Within hours of arriving I started to notice the difference in my breathing.

 

 

Once the capital of the ancient Inca Empire, this mountain city is steeped with Inca and Spanish history and overflowing with Peruvian culture. From the breathtaking architecture and lively artisanal markets to the friendly faces and delicious local cuisine, it didn’t take long before I fell in love with this city.

After checking into my hostel, I headed to get some breakfast, where I met with two young people who too were travelling solo like me from Germany and Mexico. It has always been easy for me to start up conversations and make friends with likeminded people. The three of us headed out in the morning for a day hiking trip around the city and exploring the streets and neighborhoods of Cusco. To my surprise and delight, I made it around the city, despite being ridiculously out of breath every time I attempted to climb upstairs. Other than a bad headache, I was in pretty good shape. I drank copious amounts of coca tea and tried to rest in the afternoon once I got my room keys at 2 pm, almost 6 hours after my arrival. Honestly, I was very exhausted from my travels as I first landed in Lima and had a 6-hour layover to Cusco starting at 12 am in the night, which meant I was travelling and had been awake for almost 14 hours.

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My headache had been bothering me a lot for the first 2 days and to keep my attention diverted from it, I continued exploring the city on my own by visiting the top attractions closer to my hostel like the Plaza de Armas, Cathedral of Santo Domingo and the San Pedro local market. I loved shopping around the cute souvenir shops for colorful hats, scarves, amongst other things. Also, I made sure to enjoy the authentic Inca vegetarian meals on the upper floor with a balcony seating of two different restaurants placed at ancient colonial buildings overlooking the gorgeous Plaza de Armas.

The next day I met my guide for the pre-trek briefing. He was funny, with smiling eyes he reassured me that the symptoms of altitude sickness would pass and that trekkers with a good level of fitness would have no problems once they were off trekking. At the back of mind, I couldn’t help the nagging of self-doubt that was creeping through me. However, I kept my calm and mingled with my lovely group members. I made sure I had enough snacks and water for my hike so I went shopping for some chocolate, cookies and chips, (comfort food at its best.) Of course, I had the healthy granola bars stocked too.

Inca Trail to Machu Picchu

My expedition company picked me from my hostel at 4 am and we took a bus to the train station to leave on the 6:10 a.m. train, from Ollantaytambo. This is one of the most magnificent train rides in the world, with its phenomenal views of the Urubamba River, the soaring snow-capped mountain peaks and cornfield farms.

 

 

After the train ride our group met with our porters and chef and enjoyed the breakfast before we prepared for our hike. Our hike was challenging but rewarding and honestly manageable as we were all coursing with energy and excitement.

Chachabamaba was the first ancient Incan checkpoint for entering to the Inca trail. While hiking I would stop and look around the breath-taking scenery and the stunning landscapes. I knew then that over the course of the next two days, I would never fail to be moved by the beauty of my surroundings. After the first three hours of climbing we reached the most famous Inca site along the trail, Wiñay Wayna.  This site was a teaser to what was coming at Machu Picchu and I couldn’t have been more excited. Wiñay Wayna consists of two constructions, one is located on the top, and the other is below that, united by a type of stairways, where you can see some of the terraces used for agricultural activities.

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Wiñay Wayna.

We took a break near the site and were served delicious buffet style Inca meal by our chef and porters. The variety of vegetarian options had blown my mind and I was pleasantly surprised by the local recipes.

We headed towards the Sun Gate for another round of an uphill and downhill hike. (The Sun Gate was used by Incas to observe the sunrise from Machu Picchu during the summer solstice.) It started to rain on our way. Now, I always end up forgetting to pack something or the other during my trips and this time it turned out to be Poncho! However, I had my rain jacket that gave some protection in a rain forest. (some)

 

 

We stopped on our hike a few times to spot the beautiful orchids and plants, click some pictures, grab a breath and just like that on one of our stops, an Andean Bear also known as Spectacled Bear jumped out in front on our trail a few feet away from us and ran away into the forest. We got just a brief glance of the animal. While most of us initially thought it was a big black dog, our guide confirmed that it was a BEAR! This was one the most exciting episodes of my hike and was just adding up to this once in a lifetime experience.

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My amazing group , with whom I met as a stranger and we ended the hike as friends!

Once we reached the Sun Gate I got to experience the climax of our hike with the dramatic dusk and the stunning views of the Ruins of Machu Picchu! The air had retained all the grandeur and mystery around this gorgeous site. The elegant Sun Temple, the surreal Royal Mausoleum, the monolithic shrines of the Sacred Plaza and the mysteriously carved Intihuatana stone. I was in awe of this wonder and proud of my journey. Never again would I recapture that feeling, the pure wonder and elation at being there. My moment, alone, on the mountainside, feeling like I had discovered Machu Picchu for myself.(This ancient city was never revealed to the conquering Spaniards and was virtually forgotten until the early part of the 20th century)

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The next day we hiked back at 6 am from our camp site to Machu Picchu, this time to explore the site with a guided tour and know all about its fascinating history and see the sun rising from the site. I can’t effectively describe what I saw before me. I’d seen it on so many websites, in guidebooks and on countless social media pictures, but nothing prepared me for that view. I breathed in the fresh morning air and gazed at the 600-year-old citadel. Gradually the sky grew lighter and I gasped as the first rays of sunshine touched the tips of the ruins. This was it, my magic moment – sunrise at Machu Picchu. I explored the ruins for few hours with my group, got some great pictures and selfies with the Llamas and then headed for a short hike to the Inca Bridge. The Inca bridge, which is constructed of a few narrow logs perched above a sheer vertical drop – is believed to have served as a secret entrance to Machu Picchu. The trail to the Inca Bridge wraps around the backside of Machu Picchu Mountain in the opposite direction of the Inca citadel.

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After exploring the ruins for from 6 am to 1pm we headed back to Cusco in our private van, it was a long journey with beautiful views of the Andes and the countryside. This time I choose to stay in a traditional boutique hotel with a bigger bed and an attached bathroom! I had been wet, cold, hot, sweaty and exhausted from the hike and needed some extra comfort. I was travelling back home the next day and after stuffing everything in my back pack, I headed to a spa for the best 90-minute massage and some last-minute shopping.

Truly, what an amazing experience this has been! What a fantastic gift I gave myself. This Solo journey to Cuzco, Peru and trek to Machu Picchu is one of the most valuable collection of moments and experiences that has added depth and value to my life and who I am. I have realized to live a fulfilled and meaningful life, you must live it yourself. I finally found the courage and willpower to go on this trip by myself. This adventure was impossible without the support of my amazing husband as he watched our toddler for 7 days while I was gone! (Parent of the Year)  Thanks to my family and friends who supported me and sent me all their love and best wishes to do my dream hike.

I hope this inspires you to do your dream trip by yourself when you are ready! If you are planning a trip to South America, you must stop at this world wonder and see it with your own eyes. I can’t wait to get back there sometime soon.

( In my next post I will be sharing more details on my trip details , recommendations, logistics etc with links)

XOXO

Arushi (2)

5 Fun Ways to Celebrate Holi at Home With Your Kids. Free Holi Banner Included

Among the many festivals we celebrate, HOLI has always been my favorite since childhood. This year I am so excited about being able to share my love for Holi with my son . Although he is very young to understand the culture and its essence in our lives, I cannot wait for him to sprinkle colored powder on me and enjoy the water balloons and water pistol battles with his friends and siblings in the years to come.

Simply defined HOLI is the celebration of the vibrancy of spring, fertility, love and the triumph of good over evil. The festival is usually celebrated in March and signals the coming of spring in India. It’s the start of new hopes and relationships, signified through the burst of colors everywhere. Holi is also about warmer weather, sweet delicacies and of course, special Holi crafts and activities for kids.

In this post I am sharing some fun ideas to enjoy the festival of colors with some easy to do colorful play for toddlers. Also, I made this

PRINT THIS BANNER FOR 

Pre and  Post Holi picture memories. 

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THE HOLI BANNER by thesnazzymom.com

I got the print out from Office depot on four A4 sheets. You can get them laminated so that they are sturdy and can be reused later. Note you will have to cut them into circles and can use tape to attach them to a thread. I used white wool.

DIY,  TWO INGREDIENT EDIBLE PAINT FOR BABIES.

Last year during Holi, our son was only 7 months old. We celebrated the festival with him with these simple and safe DIY water colors in our bath tub. It’s a great activity for babies and note the paints are edible too.

Click here for the post and make your own paints

 FLOWER HOLI

We also played Holi outside with some rose petals. Our son  wasn’t interested earlier but later tried to throw the rose petals and joined in the fun. Playing with rose petals will also make great photo opportunities with your baby. Try it out and let me know.

RAINBOW FOAM BUBBLES PARTY

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Picture by Funathomewithkids.com

Rainbow Foam bubbles is a great sensory activity for kids to play and learn colors and celebrate Holi in a fun and easy way.  Note this will be good for older kids as younger kids might eat the foam and the soap could also get in their eyes.

Click here for the post and learn to make the colored foam bubbles.

COLORED TOASTS FOR TREATS

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Picture by HelloWonderful.co

Rainbow toasts is a must try! You can remove the sprinkles and just get your little one to eat his/her toast when they are fussy. It is also a great kids party snack idea and healthier than cake, cookies or donuts. The frosting is actually cream cheese and not frosting!

Click here for full recipe.

FUNFETTI MALAI KULFI IN EDIBLE SPRINKLE BOWLS

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Picture by LoveLaughMirch.com

A modern and colorful take on traditional malai kulfi. This frozen desert is a staple on Indian festivals and this twist of sprinkles will add some more fun to your Holi celebrations ! Also a great way to involve older kids in the festivities of making fun, delicious and colorful dessert while making memories. Check out this latest blog post on making this delicious desert . Sprinkle some colors on my Kulfi !!

I wish you a fun filled HOLI with your friends and family and these ideas can add to the celebration !!

HAPPY HOLI !! XOXO

Arushi (2)

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How My Toddler is Learning Basic Life Skills Through Age Appropriate Chores

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Few months back I observed my little guy wanted to lend a hand in our daily home chores. He insisted on holding the mop or putting the clothes in the washing machine to feeding our pet. I thought it would just be a temporary phase and he would soon be bored of it. However, to my surprise my 20-month-old loves to be busy with these daily tasks and now it has become more of a daily fun routine for us. ( #momwin )

There are many benefits of house chore for kids. First and foremost, it is some Help after all !

But one of the main benefits is that giving my son his own special chores has made him more confident of his still developing skills. He feels valued and appreciated with the plenty of praise we offer him after he completed his chore. Also, he can concentrate longer and his sense of coordination has improved too. I have also used this opportunity to teach him the concept of responsibility from an early age by reminding him about the tasks he need to complete like cleaning up after play and feeding our pet a treat after a walk.

Before I share my list of chores I want to say that we should take the advantage of our child’s desire to imitate whatever we as parent work on at home. Children are natural imitators they learn everything by watching us. Therefore, it is so important to allow them to watch you work from the time they are born. Modeling how work should be done and assisting your child can be tough. Sometimes it can even be painful. But by asking them to leave you alone when you are doing a chore, might send an idea that they are not good enough or they don’t need to help, since mom will do everything for them.

I have realized young children love to feel useful and want to help around the house. I had read somewhere that

“Allowing them to help, even when it makes it harder for us, encourages this aspect of their nature. When we discourage them from helping, we eliminate this natural tendency.”

This left an impact on me and I worked with my son on this thought.

Below are few steps I recommend to engage your kid or toddler in your household chores. You can also make a chore chart for older kids. At the end of this post I have one image that you can save or Pin.

Simply invite and allow your child to help. If your child is not interested… no problem. No pushing, forcing, or shaming. The kid will usually find something else to do, which is a win win situation.

Using kind works like please, thank you, very good … etc. matters. As all our kids want is to be like us and to please us

Guide your child on what he or she is doing. Help them help you.

Unless there is a safety issue, allow your child struggle and figure things out on their own whenever possible. Don’t help your child unless they absolutely need it.

And always praise their effort not their ability. I try to use phrased like “Thankyou Vir, you are doing a great job. I really appreciate the help” I know he will not understand all of it now, but he knows he is being appreciated and will associate the words as positive reinforcement.

Below are a few home chores ideas we introduced to our son in past few months-

  1. Toys Clean Up – Once my son is done playing with his mega blocks or the plastic dinner wear in my kitchen’s pantry closet, I start repeating “Clean Up, Let’s Clean Up” and picking up the blocks, toys and putting them in their place. He follows along and once it’s all done we clap!
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My little Helper ! Time to unload the dishwasher

  1. Unload the Dish washer – I take out all the sharp knives and dangerous items, then ask my toddler to pass me the plates , spoons, spatulas from the dishwasher and sort them too. This way he is also learning the different kitchen items
  2. Sweep Up– With the swiffer and small broom, our son likes to brush up old cereal pieces and make a pile. He has seen me using our handheld vacuum cleaner and is also now reaching to hold it and to clean up the dirt we collected.
  3. Helping with laundry–I ask my son to get his dirty clothes from his laundry bin and place them one by one in the washing machine. Post which I put in the detergent and let him finally slam the door shut and press the button of the washing cycle.  It’s obvious he likes the slamming most.
  4. Cleaning the high chair – I spray with water he wipes down the table Or vica-versa.
  5. Putting books away– We do a lot of reading in our family and mainly I like to read on the couch or the bed, so by the end of the day, there are usually several piles of books scattered around the house. He helps collect the books and bring them back to the right shelves or baskets.
  6. Throwing diapers and plastic wrappers– This is simple and self-explanatory. Also, now my son has started getting me all plastic wrappers and any bits and pieces of paper on the floor to throw away in the trash. Yesterday I saw him open the trash and throw his juice box after he was done.
  7. Watering the house plant – We recently started to do this. He likes to pour water and balance the cup so the water doesn’t spill. I give him a small plastic cup to water our house plant. This way he knows to care for the plant too.
  8. Fill the Pet’s dish– My son loves his furry brother “Rio”, he cares for him a lot and loves to share his toys and food with him every day. Once we are back from our daily walks he offers Rio a bone and fills in a fist full of kibbles in his dish for dinner.
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Too much fun with the Swiffer

Home life is one of the developmental domains of childhood along with language (reading), math, science, art, music, gross motor, fine motor, sensory, and social-emotional learning. The primary lesson of home life is learning how to help around the house and learn to become independent. Are you raising a Helper? Do share your thoughts in the comment below.

Arushi (2)

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My Top 2018 GOALS – Finding the Right Balance

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December is coming to an end and holiday festivities are winding down and pretty soon we’ll have a fresh start for “resolutions” or “promises” for 2018. Honestly I don’t believe in New Year’s resolutions, as in the past I have typically bitten off more than I could chew, which led to disappointment. Have you been there before? I certainly have.

I started to work on making goals few years back that are realistic and logical. I try to work on goals that can be accomplished in a calendar year. As goals force you to look at the big picture and work towards something, instead of just working. I want my goals to be doable and also enjoyable and eventually become second-nature. They should contribute towards a happier life and a healthier body and brain. I followed below simple steps to work on them-

How to make Goal?

Start with some categories like Personal, Health, Family, Financial etc and focus on just a few.

Classify the Goals

Big Goals (Mostly Yearly Goals) , Smaller Goals ( Quarterly Goals) and Tasks (Monthly Goals). In my opinion, the best actionable way to meet goals is to have a mix of the three and then break each down into clear achievable monthly objectives. Remember the saying -“How do you eat an elephant ? One bite at a time”.

Prioritize

We need to set priorities and reminders for our goals. A good way is to maintain a Planner, or simply set reminders on your phone and email calendar that sends you alerts weekly or monthly. I also like to put notes on my refrigerator on a white board or sticky notes.

So before the start of 2018 I took out sometime from my schedule to set my 2018 goals that will help me find a better balance.

  • Find more ME Time – Honestly I have been stretched too thin and have overextended myself this year with my full time job, running behind my toddler, managing my home and all my official and personal travels. So this year I am going to take out more time for myself. Personal space is very important for my sanity and I am going to start by organizing my home, binge watching my favorite shows in my bed and going on a SOLO trip this year (I need to plan this out and it will definitely be somewhere close to nature! )
  • Mixing up my workouts- This year I have focused only on running to maintain a healthy lifestyle and I definitely need to switch it up and start going to the gym. Running has been convenient because my son also joins me in the stroller and I don’t have to worry about leaving him for my workouts right after I finish work. However, this year my goal is to workout at least 4 times a week in the morning instead of evening.
  • Plan a Special Activity every weekend with my kid- Being a busy working mom I end up being away from my kid for a solid chunk of the day while he is in daycare. So my goal is to make sure that every week or weekend we do fun activities together like going out to a Library, children’s museum, the zoo, botanical gardens, open gym etc. I will be making a list of all age appropriate events happening in our city and plan to attend them too.
  • Set Long Term and Short Term financial goals –It’s important to look household finances squarely in the eye, because that’s the only way to control them. It is very important I sit down with my husband and set a family budget. By watching our income and expenses, we can better plan for our vacations, activities, big purchases and plan for future. As distasteful as the task is, it really is important to map out our expenses and purchases so we can see just where our money is going.
  • Learn to cook 1 new healthy recipe weekly – This is definitely something I can accomplish in a calendar year. I am hoping to find new recipes I love, and that I can incorporate into our weekly menu. I want my son to enjoy different types of meals and get introduced to new flavors too. Definitely will be bookmarking many healthy recipes on Pinterest . While my life may be busy, I have found that making the time to learn something new – and eat at least one good meal a week – is always worthwhile.
  • Concentrate on my Relationships– As moms we tend to put our energy into kids and that doesn’t leave much time for anyone else. I want to make sure I am planning Girl’s Night with my gal pals once a month. Find a good babysitter so that I can plan date nights with my husband. Nurture my relationship with distant family members by calling them more regularly. Making these relationships a priority is good for the soul.

I will be giving you updates on my progress on my workout goals, the new recipes I am trying, plus more as the year progresses!

What are YOUR goals for 2018? I’d love to hear! Let me know in the comments!

Arushi (2)

Airplane Busy Bag Must Haves + Tips on Flying Internationally with a Baby or Toddler

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A recent pic from our Portugal travel diaries. (Pena Palace,Sintra)

Me and my husband love to embrace adventure and explore new places. The idea of exploring this big beautiful world with our toddler is exciting.  Yes it takes a lot of work, time, patience and planning and no doubt it gets difficult sometimes too. But, then anything difficult has the opportunity to help you grow. I have realized after travelling to 4 countries and total of 6 destinations this year with my son,  that each trip comes with new challenges and learnings.

In this post I will be sharing all the different techniques l learned from our past travels for not just surviving but thriving with a growing toddler on our travels.

In April we travelled to Switzerland & Amsterdam for 2 weeks,(Post here with our travel pics and more tips) Our son was 10 months old at that time . His major food source was formula, he was crawling and standing with support and was understanding just a few words. This is a good age to travel as they sleeping comfortably in the stroller.

My learnings from that trip was –

  1. Always carry at least 2 days worth of formula or milk in the carryon luggage, to avoid shopping for your baby’s food in a foreign land (with packaging in foreign language) since they are chances your baggage can be delayed
  2. Try to take only red eye flights so your baby can sleep in your lap and not be awake throughout your ten hour journey
  3. Every country is not baby bathroom friendly (We faced this issue in Amsterdam). It was almost impossible to find a restroom that had a changing table in the city.

In July we travelled to Los Cabos, Mexico (Our Vacay pics are here ) for a 3 day getaway when our son was 13 months, almost walking,  drinking cow’s milk and eating real food.

My learnings from this trip was-

  1. Always carry extra food on the flight or places you visit at your destination -like bread, cheese, fruit or any other snacks, as you will run out of them especially if your kid throws everything on the floor. Be prepared if you have a picky eater at this age.
  2. Plan your day trips around the kid’s nap schedule so they can be happy when you plan to step out, since a tired kid and cranky kid can cause stress if you are miles or hours away from your hotel.

In September we travelled to Seattle for a 4 day trip, where Vir was walking, eating well and understanding many words and communicating with us.

My learnings from this trip was

  1. Even though kids are tiny and can fit in your lap easily, it is a good choice to get their own seat for more comfort. (I carried a pillow with me on the flight on which our son comfortably laid across me and my husband )
  2. Once they learn to walk, it will be hard to have them seated in a stroller for long periods of time, so be prepared to carry them in a baby/toddler carrier or in your arms half of the time when you are sightseeing or shopping.
  3. The best way to keep them excited about visiting new locations is to allow them to explore it by running around in a safe place and burn all that energy. Once they are tired they eat peacefully and want to sit in the stroller.

 Post these travels I started to plan ahead of time on what I need to do for our recent vacation to Portugal. We were now aware of all possible scenarios   – covering in flight entertainment, meal preps at destinations, planning the day trip around the toddler’s schedule, dealing with jetlag , expected crankiness  and meltdowns at public spaces etc.

However my biggest concern this time around was to handle the 14 hour journey with an extremely active and energetic 18 month toddler.  Unfortunately we didn’t get a red eye flight from Houston to Lisbon and for that reason I worked on my BUSY BAG solution to keep my little guy occupied with the least amount of screen time possible.

Below are the items I used in the busy bag that was a huge success in keeping my little one entertained.  Honestly, I was so happy my tricks worked and we had a smooth journey.  Also as expected my son didn’t sleep the entire flight, which means I had to keep him engaged for over 14 hours.

15 Dinner Ideas for You and Your DadToys

I only pack items that are small and can be sorted, stacked, or otherwise moved from place to place. My son’s favorite are his pull back Cars from My B toys  (good for play at the airport ) Finger puppets, legos , a musical remote,  wooden activity board were a huge hit too. The buckle toywas a new toy we introduced on the plane, it’s great for learning basic skills and kept Vir busy for over 15 minutes.

Books

Small board books with flaps are great to engage also try getting new books so it keeps them interested , I really like this Water coloring On the Go book

Craft Play

Play Dough is low mess and easy to pack , my son tries to eat it but he enjoys cutting it and pressing it too. You can also get felt activity books.

Games

Flashcards are fun and also cheap, easy to find at the dollar store or at Target dollar bin, I never feel sad about losing half the cards by the end of the trip). (They’re great for quizzing her on words and sounds, and making piles to stack and counting the cards as we put them back in the box (that’s a game, right?)

SNACKS

Anything bite-sized is perfect for little fingers…plus, it stretches out the snacking time twice as long. YOU CAN NEVER HAVE TOO MANY SNACKS. I probably pack twice as many snacks as toys, because snacks double as entertainment. When it doubt, get out the snacks. I always carry the Oat bars from Happy Baby, raisins, fruit, cheerios , yogurt and for long haul flights even get homemade pasta, veggie sandwich or  veggie muffins(Recipe here)  and very importantly Horizon organic low fat milk. Always carry extra milk and yes these packs are allowed in flight in carry on luggage along with any other baby food.

Random Things like

Glow stick was very helpful to divert his attention if he was cranky and great play when it got dark on the flight. Stickers are fun to carry too.

Screen time (And yes the ace in your bag of tricks when everything fails )

Let’s face it. As much as I try to avoid giving our toddler the tablet, it’s going to happen on travel days. We expect a lot out of our little guy and we definitely push our limits of what a little body can handle, so I find that bending the rules and treating him to the Amazon Fire HD tablet and his favorite snacks is the least we can do to help ease the stress for everyone involved.

Downloads Shows  from  Amazon Prime or Netflix, Little Baby Bum, Super Simple Songs, Word Party, and Sesame Street are a few of our favorites.

Fun and educational Apps like Peekaboo Barn, PBS kids, Happy Valley Friends and Sago Mini Truck and Diggers are few of our favorites.

I completely forgot to carry headphones for my kid , so definitely going to carry them on our trips moving  forward .

Here is more information and tips on travelling with kids.

A pediatrician’s advice on caring for your child’s health while travelling

How I survived a long haul flight with a lap child

How I prepare to leave my Breastfed baby for a work trip

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Vir wanted to stand for sometime and play on his ping board in the flight

Hope this post was helpful, please do share any tricks or tips you have on travelling with kids. Please feel free to leave me your questions and I will get back to them as early as I can .

XOXO

Arushi (2)

 

 

Tricks to Get Your Kids to Eat Vegetables

fruits that you need to try

As a parent, sometimes getting your toddler to eat anything, let alone eat healthy can be very stressful! There are sick days, moody days, fussy days, some really happy and hungry days and this list could go on and on.

For me it is all about teaching my kid to love healthy foods especially fruits and vegetables, and some days we all need to have a backup plan. On my Instagram stories you will see regular updates of my morning latte cups and some days meals, recipes and food pictures of what I am offering my son.

I have been getting several questions from moms on my email and DMs on what I am cooking for Vir requesting for recipes of my favorite spinach and veggie loaded toddler meals. So in this post I am listing out few of my recipes that have worked for us and some great ideas for back up plans on feeding your picky eater.

Also you can check out my previous post that has a list of food items I offered my child as he started solids and a Free Printable with all nutrient information for different food types with nutrients information. Click Here 

My son is 18 months old, and is still figuring out his taste buds, so I try to provide a balanced meal while including veggies in his favorite Pancakes, Pasta, Muffin , Stuffed tortilla and Soup. My tip if your toddler refuses to eat any veggies – SNEAK THEM IN !!! Some might think it’s sending a wrong message, but for us it’s a work in progress. There is ample time to develop my kid’s understanding of his food and I will like take as it goes. However, I am doing this to make sure he has a balance diet.

To sneak in veggies especially on those fussy days :  Boil Spinach, carrot, some kale and blend it. (You can add veggies of your choice depending on how you plan to use them.) Replace water with this mix in all the dishes like Pancakes, Pasta, Muffin , Stuffed tortilla and Soup

Toddler Approved Recipes!

Spinach And Banana Pancakes– Add boiled and blended spinach and carrot mix with Banana, oat flour and 1 egg to make healthy Spinach breakfast.

Veggies loaded Mac and Cheese/ Pasta– Sauté diced pieces of carrot, peas with onion and spinach in butter or olive oil. Add boiled pasta with desired pasta sauce. I add cheese slices in the pasta too, it never hurts to add more. Offering really small pieces of veggies is a good start and later moving to bigger pieces.

Veggie mix Roti/Tortilla-  My son is not a big fan of stuffed breads , so I have started mixing the boiled veggies directly to the flour or you can use the blended mix as an alternative to water while making the dough. I recommend including beets and sweet potatoes too as they look colorful and are nutrient dense.

Veggie and Fruit Muffins- Fruit and veggie muffins have all of the elements to basically be a complete meal!  I recently came across this great recipe on Pinterest and it has been a great success. It is loaded with lots of vitamins and minerals and fiber . Click here for Power Packed Fruit Muffin Recipe from Super Healthy Kids.com

Make a Dip Bar

veggie dip tray

In Dr Sears’ book, The Portable Pediatrician, he suggests serving all types of chopped vegetables and foods in an ice tray, with some yummy dipping sauces on the ends. Making it fun, colorful and full of variety can encourage little ones to eat more vegetables. Marinara sauce, ranch, Parmesan cheese, Coriander chutney are great to start with. I am currently offering steamed carrots , broccoli with Marinara sauce to Vir

 

Cook Veggies in different ways

Raw, Roasted, or Steamed has been a hit in our house.  We all vote for baked and boiled as my son loves grabbing small pieces of sweet potatoes, carrots and peas. Seasoning the veggies is a winner in my friend’s house and I will be starting that soon too. Let me know what seasoning you use.

Beat the Veggies (Smoothies for the WIN )

smoothieSmoothies are a great (and easy) way to get nutrient dense fruits and vegetables into your kids without them really knowing it! Spinach, Kale, Beets and Fruit of course! The best part is that toddlers and kids think that smoothies are the equivalent of having a milkshake.We love the Banana+ Peanut butter+ Spinach+ Kale+ Milk smoothie. Tip : Start adding veggies slowly in the smoothie and get to the right amount of sweetness and taste. I started with small quantities of spinach and kale at first and once my son got used to the taste we added more.Check out this Toddler Approved Smoothie from one of my favorite blogger mom Ashley. I love the Jamba juice cup idea.

Butter them up

Young tongues are particularly sensitive to bitterness, and kids may instinctively repel from bitter foods. Masking the bitterness with butter especially for broccoli is working for us so far . “Everything tastes better with butter, especially vegetables. Try adding 1 tablespoon of butter per half cup of mashed sweet potatoes, green beans, broccoli, and cooked spinach to temper the bitterness.

 

Hope this post helps you get some veggies in your fussy toddler’s meal !! Please do share your tips and tricks and any great recipe .

Now, go get some broccoli and LOVE it

Arushi (2)

Get Your KIDSto LOVE Veggies (1)