Author Archives: mummyinprovence

Why I will never post my daughter’s face online

Just over 2 and a half years ago I became a mother, a mummy blogger, and I have never posted my daughter’s face (or her name) online. Here is why.

Before I get into my reasons, actually our reasons, I just want to clarify that our daughter is (thankfully) happy, healthy, and doesn’t have any facial abnormalities – yes, that has been suggested on numerous occasions when I continually refuse to publish her face.

The fundamental reason you will never see our daughter’s face or name online is because we feel that SHE has the right to choose her online identity when the time is right.

Our stance may seem extreme but as cute as she looks with food all over her face she is quite likely to be embarrassed by some of her photos later in life – why would I compound that by publishing them for the world to see, and refer to forever?

I am know I am not alone in this stance to keep BiP out of the public eye; Carla Bruni, when her daughter was born stated “No Photos“.

BiP (Baby in Provence) obviously has a name. A proper name but I don’t know if she’ll like it when she grows up. Again, this is our choice.

Some have said I can’t be a real “mummy blogger” without publishing my child’s picture. After all, this blog is all about our journey through breastfeeding, EC and BLW. It does include hilarious stories of BiP pooping in a car park and times she’s dined out in Provence.

But mostly the stories are shared from MY point of view and all you get are pictures of me, the back of BiP’s head or an arm.

BiPs second birthdayBiP lunchingMummy and Bipmummyinprovencea





We live abroad with family and friends flung at all corners of the world – sometimes the easiest way would be to post her latest picture to Facebook but then how many others, who don’t know us, will see it?

Do you know everyone personally on Facebook? I know I don’t.

I have a hard enough time managing my own social media presence and have no desire to get on top of BiPs.

In addition, I do have a pretty strong stance when it comes to the use of children in advertising but I’ve written enough about that.

Obviously there are concerns with safety but they are minor at this stage as she’s too young to read but I would hate for someone else to use BiP’s face without me knowing (and yes, I have friends who have had their baby’s images in Picassa used for company newsletter).

Yes, it is challenging to keep BiP’s face offline.

BiP is adorable, an extension of us, our love, and wow, it is tempting to post those pictures online to get all the compliments that you get everyday which just make you want to burst with pride but NO.

It’s our duty to protect our daughter and the digital world we live in we feel that it’s our right to keep some aspects of our life private.

What are you thoughts on this subject?

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: AUSTRALIA

Having a baby abroad AustraliaThis week I talk to Tasmin, an American who had her baby daughter in Australia as part of the series The Global Differences of Baby-Making. She talks about the benefits of being raised as a dual citizen, the challenge of getting affordable baby stuff and the importance of getting professional baby photo’s done. Here is her story:


Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

I’m Tasmin and I grew up in Texas, but my dad is from New Zealand so I was raised a little cross culturally (eating lamb, loving to travel). I had visited family in Sydney before and always wanted to live here since it is a big city, but clean with heaps of friendly people and things to do on beautiful beaches. I married another American and we moved around the U.S. a bit after University (where we met studying abroad in New Zealand) and I finally convinced him to sell everything and hop on a plane to Sydney 4 years ago. My daughter is four months old and she was born here.

Why did you have your daughter abroad?

Being raised as a dual citizen allowed me lots of opportunities like studying abroad at a non-international tuition cost in New Zealand, sometimes travelling under the radar in developing nations, and being able to live abroad in Commonwealth countries without prolonged visa applications.  I’ve always wanted my children to have those same opportunities.  Growing up in a small Texas town it made me feel special to have a connection to another country since so many of the people around me didn’t even have passports.  I think it gave me more of an open view of the world and its possibilities from a young age.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

The U.S. has a certain way of doing things, and when it comes to birthing and raising babies, it’s not usually my personal preference.  Australia is very family friendly and the work arrangements especially appealed to me.  It is very common, if not expected, that you will take a full year off for each child.  Provided you return within 52 weeks, you have full job security at the same position with the same pay. In addition to your employer’s leave payment (averaging 8-12 weeks full pay), you also get 18 weeks paid from the government at minimum wage (replacing the old baby bonus scheme this year).  It means you do not derail your career by spending the first year of their life with your child full time.






Pregnant Tasmin

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I was just fine.  To be fair, I had been here for 3 years before getting pregnant, so we had established a solid network of friends, plus I have cousins that live in town along with other extended family in New Zealand.

Our parents back in the U.S. of course would have liked to be more a part of it all, but Facebook status updates daily, photo posts, and Skype calls weekly have made staying in touch very easy.

Getting a hold of quality, inexpensive baby items has been really challenging since Australia is such a small place.  We have been getting most of our essentials from Amazon, sent to parents’ houses, consolidated and then mailed over to us in care packages.  Not ideal, but saves us ridiculous amounts of money.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Prior to getting pregnant, I would not have considered myself ‘crunchy’ but as I researched my options for everything on childbirth to child rearing, I kept leaning that way with my preferences.  Australia generally advocates everything that it part of my parenting philosophy, in contrast with the U.S.. Not to say you can’t fight for it there, but you would have to.

Here we have public and private hospital options and it was confusing for me to sort out, but I opted to go public  through Midwifery group care.  It was great because I saw one midwife for all my prenatal appointments (if any issues had showed up making me high-risk I would have automatically seen an OB as well).  She was also part of a small team of awesome midwives who would be there when I actually delivered the baby.  The rooms all had big tubs if you wanted a waterbirth, along with all sorts of other things (ball, mat) for the active birthing they advocated. They tried to keep you on a natural, intervention-free path if possible, but of course if you wanted an epidural, etc. it was available.  Since the birthing centre was within the hospital, any emergency situations could be immediately dealt with.  And it was all free.

The hospitals are also “baby friendly” in that they do not take a healthy baby away from you, they are not put in a nursery, never given formula unless that is something you have chosen (then you have to mix it yourself), and they don’t advocate pacifiers at the beginning as they can interfere with establishing breastfeeding.

Here it is expected that you will breastfeed for a year.  There is a lot of support in the hospital to get you going in the right direction, there are lactation nurses available at the early childhood centres twice a week for drop in help (they will watch you and show you how to improve your issue whatever it might be), and the Australian Breastfeeding Association has a 24hr hotline you can ring along with weekly meetings and coffee mornings with related discussion topics.  Inevitably there are some people who cannot or will not breastfeed, but formula use is definitely frowned upon.

There is great Community support as well.  After I left the hospital a midwife visited me 3 times over the next week to help me settle in, answer questions about bathing, pumping, whatever.  Then there is the Early Childhood centre who you have your well-baby appointments with for 4wks (they come to the house), 8wks, 3mths…etc.  You can attend an organised mothers group for the first 8 weeks hosted there, and then branch out and organise yourselves.  This has been one of the best things for me – weekly lunches with other women who have babies the exact same age to compare notes and commiserate.  It’s a fantastic support network especially for first time mums.  Karitane and Tresillian are also great non-profit organisations of nurses who answer a 24hr hotline on behavioural/sleep issues and you can be referred to them for day or week stays where the nurses actually show you how to fix an issue.  It’s mostly free as well.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Decide what you would like and find a carer that shares that philosophy, then as things unfold on the day of your birth, trust their recommendations.  It will never go as planned and you need to be flexible for your own safety and the health of your baby while still feeling engaged and empowered.  Really take advantage of the resources available to you whether they are hotlines to ask questions or mothers groups.  It helps you stay connected (not isolated in a foreign country with a screaming new baby) and realise what is normal and what is not so you can seek out help.  And take lots of pictures of the baby for your family back “home” including a proper family portrait session – you won’t regret it.

Tasmin is a photographer here is her site: Connect with Tasmin on facebook for “lots of mommy related musings”


Want to share your story? Get in touch:

Family skiing holidays: Things to think about

Thinking of a family ski holiday?

Children often start skiing quite early in France, as early as 3-4 years old, they can start skiing in small groups or in private lessons.


But planning a ski holiday with a family with young children can be very challenging especially if you plan to have any kind of holiday for yourself in the process!

Hotels can be a really comfortable and practical option for families, especially as other après-ski options such as indoor pools and games areas are readily available – not to mention babysitting! However, the costs of a hotel can be prohibitively expensive which is why chalet holidays are a great option.

Why a chalet holiday?

Chalet holidays are often a more authentic way to enjoy alpine life. They often have more space for the family to enjoy when they are not on the slopes. In addition they often help you save a lot of money as you will able to prepare meals vs. eating in a restaurant (which are usually super expensive) every meal.  Not to mention the flexibility for meal times for families with younger children who don’t want to wait for the restaurants to open or for children who still need their afternoon naps.

Chalet holidays are also a lot of fun (if you have the right friends) to share on a ski holiday with families – kinder on the budget, you can share the baby-sitting and the children can often entertain themselves.

Many resorts offer chalets with saunas, indoor pools and hot tubs, some even offer in room DVD players and MP3 players. Naturally the more frills the bigger the expense but chalets are often much more affordable than staying in a hotel.

High season for ski holidays is usually very expensive and availability is limited as most places are booked well in advance.

Have you been on a ski holiday with little children? What was your experience?





Image credit SkiTotal



Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: HONG KONG

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Nicole who is a New Zealander, who grew up in Australia, and had her daughter in Hong Kong. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

unnamed-6Ni Hao! Sorry, I’m currently learning Chinese after living in Hong Kong for almost four years, so I’m a tad excited about spreading the oriental love!

So! I am Nicole and I was born in the ‘Land of the Long White Cloud’ (aka New Zealand) but have lived in Australia for most of my life…

A journalist, I’d been working as a television news reader at 24 hour news channel Sky News for the best part of a decade when we decided to do that thing called “live life on the edge” …and make the move to the cosmopolitan capital, Hong Kong.

My husband is a Hotel Manager and when the opportunity came up to move to the so-called ‘City that Never Sleeps,’ we (nervously) jumped at the chance.

Why did you have your children abroad?

Well, funny you should ask – turns out I wasn’t going to get much sleep either! In a twist of fate, that very same week we also found out we were expecting our first baby. Talk about a double whammy!

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

expat baby hong kongNot having had a child in my home country, having Ava (who’s now 3.5) overseas is all I know, but naturally in the lead up to her birth, I was apprehensive about being so far away from home, without family help and support.…

Of course everyone would say “You’re not really having the baby in HK are you, ringing massive alarm bells in my head, but once we arrived in Hong Kong I realized everything was very westernized and the doctors are on an equal par with any in Australia. I had nothing to worry about and it was relatively smooth sailing all the way.

My family were (thankfully) able to come over as soon as Ava was born and that made things much easier.

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Certainly did! Locals tend to have quite differing views on giving birth in Asia, so I was met with a few unsettling comments in those early days, particularly being so new to the city, I was still so unaware of the culture (which stems back thousands of years)!

In China, it’s status quo to have a month’s confinement when you give birth which basically means bed rest for four weeks and staying indoors, away from cool air and wind, not bathing or washing your hair and eating specific (often medicinal) food, just to name a few things.

Consequently, I would get some strange looks when I had Ava out at the shops at just two weeks old. I started telling people she was older to avoid the wrath! Locals here are not ones to hold back and were always extremely forthcoming about just how I should be holding/feeding and dressing my new baby. I look back and laugh now, but then as a new (very sensitive) mum it was pretty harrowing at times.

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

unnamed-4Ava’s still young so it’s hard to pinpoint what benefits there are for her, but I am sure all of the traveling she’s doing can only be beneficial and she has partially slotted into Hong Kong’s international schooling system which allows her to meet children from all different backgrounds and cultures. Her class is also bilingual with an English teacher and a Chinese teacher.

For me, in Hong Kong I’m very lucky to have a ‘Domestic Helper’ which certainly eases the load! Life here is relatively easy, with a great public transport system to get around and everything you need at your finger tips. There’s also a great bunch of like minded expats which always helps when you’ve got friends to travel your journey with.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Try to take it all with a grain of salt if you are somewhere where the culture is very different. The locals mean well, but always trust your own instinct and do it your way.

Make sure you research well before you choose your doctor and hospital. There should be plenty of forums and online groups to help, if in doubt.

It’s not easy being away from home and family and having a child only highlights that. Make sure you’re prepared and if you can, do regular trips home. (Mind you flying is not easy until they are about three, so deep breaths!)

Hook up with other expat mums in the same boat. They’ll be your life savers.


Want to share your story? Get in touch


About Nicole:

ZbcT71eHNicole Webb is a former News Reader with 24 hour news channel Sky News Australia. Three and a half years ago she took a whole lot of deep breaths and relocated from Sydney with her hotelier husband (and bump) to the city that never sleeps, Hong Kong. The trio has survived and thrived on expat life and as well as being mum to a hyped-up toddler, Nicole works as a freelance writer, presenter, MC, media consultant and blogger.

Find her expat musings on her blog.

Follow her on Twitter and join her Facebook page.



My top 5 tips for traveling abroad with kids for the holidays!

As an Adult Third Culture Kid (ATCK), meaning I was born to parents of different nationalities and different country, traveling is just a part of life. I will admit that traveling before BiP was a different thing altogether! I could take my time, leisurely rock up to the airport, check in, browse the duty free and spend time selecting the magazines I wanted to read – but that was another life!!!

Now it’s about packing “special new” toys, snacks, changes of clothes for BiP (and me) and learning circus acts to keep BiP entertained!

278932_10150248335123895_2027473_oHere are my top 10 tips for traveling abroad with kids for the holidays!

1. Plan where you are going to stay!

If you’re going to visit family it’s probable that you’ll stay with them or nearby. Reach out to friends in the area who have kids if you can’t stay with family – more often than not the welcome the entertainment for their kids and yours will be blissfully entertained! Plus you’ll have the home creature comforts. If that’s not an option, look into renting an apartment vs a hotel – I know that hotels were off limits when I started traveling with BiP – I needed my own space when she went to bed at 7pm!

2. Check your travel times

Getting up at 3am to catch the 5:30am flight was cool when you were free and childless but what will that translate into if you do it with your little one? I’ve done a midnight flight with BiP and she slept most of it but I know I was lucky – I know too many parents who’ve had a terrible time with their kids on flights that have been at crazy time. Oh, and think you’ll sleep too? I doubt it!

3. Make sure you have money

Make sure you withdraw some cash before you travel – you never know when you’ll need it. If need be, try to have some local currency for your destination already exchanged before you go – nothing worse than arriving at your destination tired with a cranky tired little one and not having money to pay for a taxi!

Do check with your bank that your credit card works abroad before you go. I’ve had my cards blocked more often than care to admit when I travel abroad. Look online for the best credit card deals, I know that for my last trip abroad I got a new credit card which made my trip so much easier.

4. Prep the little ones in advance

Talk to them about the trip including the travel arrangements – explain that there are exciting things to come but boring things in between! Get them to pack a bag of goodies for the flight but also have your own reserve of cool things to pull out when you need them.

5. Prep yourself

Grab a change of top for you (if you don’t take it you’ll wished you had!)! Know that you’ll be busy most of the time keeping the little one entertained. Prepare yourself for the worst and hope for the best! From my own experience BiP decided that a long haul flight from France to Dubai was a great time to go diaper free  (for the first time)- she flatly refused to wear a diaper  (when EC backfires or not) and with good reason but it could have been catastrophic!

If you’re worried about how you’re kids will do on the flight you can always do what this family did (they gave candy bribes to fellow passengers with a note!).


Those are my 5 top tips on traveling abroad with kids, what are yours?

Tried and Tested: Naturino Shoe Review

If there is one thing in BiP’s wardrobe that I have always spent a lot of time researching, it’s her shoes.

Every 2-3 months I invest in a really good pair (or 2) of shoes for BiP and she’s always loved getting new shoes.
My criteria for her shoes is often hard to come by; great orthopedic support, soft leather, flexible soles, easy to clean and super cute.

When Naturino contacted me to try a pair of shoes for BiP I was ridiculously excited (and I know BiP would be too)!

The Mummy in Provence and BiP Naturino Shoe Review

naturino shoes 1.jpg

I usually order shoes online so when they arrived BiP said “Mummy? Is it for me?”

“Yes” I replied, “Can you guess what it is?”

“SHOES!! It’s shoes! For me! Open it please, Mummy, pleeassssse!”

{sound of opening the packaging}

“Oh look Mummy, they are sparkly and they have jewelry on them! Can I put them on NOW?”

My first impression was “WOW!” They were not only gorgeous to look at but the leather was so soft that I immediately made a mental note to check if I could get them in MY size!

naturino 2.jpgI helped BiP put them on and was delighted to see that they had an easy to close zip on the side with a velcro strap to secure it closed.

Once BiP had them on she started skipping around the room.

“Are they comfy?” I asked BiP

“Yes Mummy! They are bouncy! Look at me jump!”

Without a doubt, Naturino shoes will be part of BiP’s shoe collection in the years to come.

BiP did wear her new shoes for a long day out and found them really comfy (and no blisters or red spots!)

What makes Naturino shoes special?

  • The bouncy feeling BiP had when she put the shoes on was because Naturino soles have a technology called “The Sand Effect“. Their insoles recreate the feeling of walking barefoot on the beach by moulding to your child’s foot without pinching their feet or restricting movement.
  • You can take the insoles out and wash them!! Fantastic for when BiP jumps into muddy puddles!
  • Naturino also collaborates with pediatricians and orthopedists to ensure that their shoes are always innovative and technically advanced.
  • They look great! I know from personal experience that the words orthopedic shoes + style didn’t go hand in hand when I was growing up!

Naturino shoes, tried and tested by MiP and BiP, get our vote!


Note: Everything expressed in this review is my own opinion (and BiP’s). BiP was compensated with a pair of shoes resulting in big smiles (and who says NO to shoes?!)

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: FRANCE

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Kathleen who is Canadian and had her son in France. Here is her story:

having a baby abroad in FranceTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

My name is Kathleen. I’m 45 years old and I’m from Canada, although I spent part of my childhood in Japan. My husband is French. Our two children are 5 and 3 years old. We currently live in Toronto, Canada.

My husband and I met in Kuwait in 2003 and after getting married in 2005, we moved to Algeria, then the next summer to Vietnam with plans to stay for a couple of years. However, after about 7 months there, I got pregnant with our daughter, so I went ‘home’ to Regina, Saskatchewan to have her. We were living in a very remote and rural area of Vietnam at the time.  

When our daughter was 2 month’s old, we moved to Qatar for the year. Then, next stop. France.  I got pregnant within a couple of months of arriving in France and our son was born there.

Why did you have your children abroad?

We had my son in France because we were living in my husband’s home country at the time.  

Having a baby in FranceWhat do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

My experience with the French public health care system, though sometimes confusingly and extremely bureaucratic, is that it is excellent.  I was pleased with the care I received during my pregnancy.  I also liked that we could stay at the hospital after the birth a bit longer than you would in Canada. I realize that’s not for everyone, but I sure did enjoy the rest. And surprisingly, the food was yummy. At a public hospital! 

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

I had a frightening second pregnancy. It started out fine and as it was my second pregnancy, I didn’t have all the anxiety and nervousness of my first. I was much more relaxed, even in dealing with doctors in another language.

My only anxiety was dealing with all the paperwork and trying to find a hospital.

However, by the 8th or 9th week, we  received the scary news that I had contracted toxoplasmosis and would need to see a specialist plus have monthly ultrasounds.  I was immediately prescribed antibiotics, which I took for the remainder of the pregnancy.

After that, I’d say I was alternately zen and stressed. We had to wait until the 18th week to have an ultrasound that would show how the baby was developing.  After getting good results, I chose not to have an amnio which would have determined 100 percent whether the toxo parasite had tranfered to our son. I had expected my OB/GYN to disagree, partly due to my age as well (I was 42 at the time) but he accepted my decision. (My OB/GYN in Canada was not happy when I said no to an amnio at 39 years old.)

You may not want to hear that there is more, but there is indeed more…while things were looking good as our son was developing, I ended up with a twisted ovary at the 7th month mark. The pain was excruciating and due to a slight infection and the location of the pain, my OB/GYN thought I might have appendicitis.  No tests could prove otherwise and the pain was intensifying.  I had to have an abdominal laparoscopy (keyhole surgery). Both my son and I were put under general anesthetic and I was warned by my OB/GYN that there was a possibility that our baby would also be delivered by c-section if there were complications (but that our baby would be ok, but have to be in NICU).  

The operation was a success and my baby stayed put. Then I was faced with the decision of whether or not to get the H1N1 vaccine as the virus was in full force in the Ile de France at the time. The maternity wards were not allowing any visitors, including children, during check ups and after the birth except the pregnant woman’s partner Since I was put on bedrest for the rest of my pregnancy, I decided against getting the vaccine. There was a lot of hysteria at the time and the media was reporting that pregnant women who got the flu were badly affected, so it was a tough decision.

In any case, a few days after I got the official ok to move about, our son was born, 3 weeks early, but healthy.  My mom, who had come to take care of me, got to meet him right away (she received special permission from the hospital to visit) so that was pretty special.  

My delivery was quick and uneventful, for me. The OB/GYN wasn’t there, but the midwives were supportive as was my husband, who rushed out of the delivery room to get the midwives to come back sooner than expected. They felt it would be ages before I delivered. They were wrong and I knew it.  I could tell my son was coming fast.
Post-pregnancy, we were back at the hospital a few times so my son could get his eyes tested and his brain scanned. Tests later showed that he had not been infected by toxo, to our relief.

Having a baby abroad franceDid you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

I didn’t gain as much weight in France as I did in Canada with my first so I wasn’t ‘harassed’ about it. I had heard that could be a problem if you don’t stay within the recommended weight guidelines.
The only other opinion I heard that was different from what I experienced in Canada was that my OB/GYN said that if you are still pushing after half an hour, they will intervene (ie with forceps, followed by c-section.) I pushed for nearly 2.5 hours with my daughter in Canada and he was shocked by that. He felt that that could have caused me/my pelvic floor irreparable damage. Fortunately, my second labour and delivery was super fast so I didn’t need to test this.
Regarding breastfeeding, I had had a very difficult time breastfeeding my daughter in Canada, but the support there was stellar, including home visits.  I expected to have a hard time with my son too and did worry about support, but both the nurses and the lactation consultants who visited me on the third day were very helpful and supportive. Fortunately, my son latched quite easily and breastfeeding him wasn’t as hard.

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

If you’re in a country where you are recommended not to eat certain foods that would be no big deal in your own country, maybe listen to the advice. We have no idea how I contracted toxo, but I didn’t worry too much about eating salads nor pinkish (not rare, but pinkish) meat. I should have been more careful.  
And if you have a diagnosis of toxo or some other medical issue that is more common in the country where you are pregnant, read up on it in both your own language but also read the stats, information and tips from the country you’re in. I found the French websites dealing with toxo much less scary and more factual and hopeful. If that makes sense.
Finally, it really helped to belong to an Anglo parenting group in the Paris area. I had a lot of support and help, both IRL and on the forum during my pregnancy.


Want to share your story? Get in touch

About Kathleen: 

Kathleen OmalleyKathleen is a teacher and co-creator of, an online resource inspiring expat trailing/accompanying spouses to tap into their creative sides, their passions, and their interests to better learn the local language.  
Follow her on Twitter and like her on Facebook

Little Captains — Preparing Kids for a Cruise

There are several reasons why you’d want to go on a cruise holiday with the family. You can choose from a range of destinations, on-board entertainment and activities are plentiful and nearly everything is included in the fare. As a result, there’s no need to make travel and accommodation arrangements or worry about where you’re going to eat and drink each day.

Little Captains — Preparing Kids for a Cruise

Most operators cater for the wants and needs of all those families who are adventurous enough to board a ship. Operators like Royal Caribbean, for instance, offer dining options for both young and old, teenager clubs and nurseries. But before embarking on a holiday to remember, don’t forget these helpful tips.

When it’s just a thought

Pick a family-friendly cruise — Some cruise operators have minimum age requirements for passengers. There may also be rules about how old kids have to be to use the swimming pool or take part in activities, so double check the finer details.

Choose accommodation wisely — Even though you’ve probably got a budget, your choice of accommodation could make or break the holiday. You’ll probably want to be nearer young ones while teenagers could do with the extra space. Some cabins only come with a shower and not a bathtub, so be aware of this too.

The build up

Get the kids excited (but not worked up!) — Your children are more likely to have a better time if they know a bit about the ship and destination before leaving. Show your kids some pictures or tell them about the activities and entertainment on board.

Pack specifically for children — Remembering to pack your kids’ favorite clothes and toys is fairly obvious, but think about things like wet wipes, toilet paper, snacks, books, sunscreen, sunglasses, insect spray, seasickness tablets, and earplugs, too. Those aren’t as obvious!

Once you’re on board that ship!

Sign up for clubs and activities — Spending quality time with each other is important, but signing your kids up to a supervised club enables you to relax and unwind. Thankfully, they’re bound to have a great time too. You may also want to join a shore excursion, but remember to take it slowly. Kids can get restless and tired easily.

Stick to your regular schedule — Try to get out of bed at a normal time each day and don’t let the kids stay up too late. Although you’re on holiday, sleepy or overactive children are difficult to deal with and could cause unnecessary stress.

With numerous benefits to this type of holiday and family-specific ships, there’s no reason why you can’t have the trip of a lifetime on a cruise. Travelling with kids is difficult and demanding, but stick to these tips and it’s so easy. Who dreads family holidays!


Image by flickrized, used under Creative Commons license.

Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: UNITED ARAB EMIRATES

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Maha who is half English, half Egyptian and had her children in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Here is her story:

having a baby abroad Dubai little farasha mahaTell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old are your children and where did you have them?

I’m 28, half English half Egyptian born in Dubai, lived around the middle east but went to school and University in England.

I have a 4 year old daughter. I had her in Dubai at a private hospital. My 23 month twin boys were also born in Dubai but at a Government pediatric and maternity hospital.

Why did you have your children abroad?

My husband is from Dubai and my family live here also so with my first delivering here was the obvious choice. Also I didnt want to be away from my husband who wouldnt be able to travel because of work.

My experience delivering my daughter was not one i look back on happily.My doctor was an older indian woman who was quite a ‘hard’ person and always very rushed. I was put on bed rest at the beginning of the pregnancy due to bleeding so I just wanted a good and experienced doctor. I guess thats why i over looked her harsh nature. I enrolled in antenatal classes at her recommendation and when the midwife heard who my doctor was she told me “you’ll by induced my 39 weeks and be strapped to monitors” – not what i wanted at all! I used the guide from those classes to draft my birth plan and insisted we went through it together. I didnt want anything unusual. Majority of my requests were simply “to be informed before rupturing membranes / performing a sweep / starting internal monitoring” etc and also for internal examinations to only be performed by the same person (subject to shift changes – i was being realistic). In short, not one of the points on my birth plan , that she even signed off on, was followed. From the start i was told they were just going to “check” me and then i had excurciating pain… because she performed a sweep. The next time she just wanted to “check” me I burst into tears because I thought I lost control of my bladder. In fact she had burst my water. And did i mention this happened at 39 weeks because she told me that if i didnt let her induce me then my baby would be too big to deliver naturally and i’d have no choice but to have a csection. I also requested that only the necessary staff be in the labour room and guests be limited to immediate family but 18 hours into my labour i noticed random nurses coming in and out of the room. They would stand, look at us, smile and walk out. My husband ask why they keep coming in and out and the midwife giggled. Her answer? “They’ve been told you are a cute couple. they wanted to see”.

After the birth I was very happy to see that the hospital listened to my request that my new baby be exclusively breastfed and they put a big sticker on the bassinet. On day 2 they gave her a nice warm bath and she slept and slept…and slept! After 3 hours i tried waking her for a feed but she was too sleepy. An hour later we stripped her off and tried again but still she slept. They told me that they would need to check her blood sugar level to make sure she wasnt sleeping because of low sugar levels. I agreed. They pricked her heel and of course she cried. While they tested the blood i tried to nurse her but she didnt want to latch on and the blood sugar test was fine. Since the test was fine I refused the nurses suggestion of a “top up feed”. 20 minutes later another nurse walked into my room and in front of my guests announced that i was starving my baby and that i was cruel. she said that they would need to give her formula with a syringe. I was so upset and very embarrassed. In hindsight i wonder if i was alone in the room if i would have stood up to her. But i gave in. Tears streamed down my face while they gave her the formula not because it was formula but because I was worried about the knock on effect – her full tummy means she wouldn’t nurse for even longer and i was desperately trying to establish my supply, and most importantly my wishes were unnecessarily disregarded yet again. Thankfully we were able to figure out breastfeeding ourselves and with the help of some amazing lactation consultants and I nursed her until she was 21 months.

We were blessed with a healthy baby girl at the end of it all so thats all that matters but the experience there was dreadful. When i fell pregnant again and knowing i was due in the summer I straight away said i would deliver in England… but then we found out we were having twins, and the pregnancy was a bit bumpy from the start so we decided that it would be best staying here. I definitely didnt like the idea of flying back with 3 kids under 3! As soon as i told anyone i was having twins i was told csection and of course exclusively breastfeeding isnt even worth thinking about. I chose the government hospital because they have the best NICU unit and no other hospital was able to support babies as premature as this government hospital could. As soon as i mentioned delivery to the doctors there, the idea of a natural labour was completely normal. They carefully explained the possible situations that i needed to keep in mind but said if both babies were head down then 100% i could attempt a natural delivery. In the UAE doctors are not allowed to deliver a breach baby naturally, however, in the case of twins my doctor told me that even if Baby B was transverse, which he ended up being, or breach natural labour is still an option. The twins were born naturally and thankfully Baby B turned himself head down during the labour. It was the most empowering moment of my life. I wasnt poke and proded, put in unnatural and uncomfortable positions. As for feeding, breastfeeding was very much encoraged. unfortunately one of my twins needed some nicu time and his brother was with me wanting to nurse endlessly. when i called the nurse in the middle of the night i was expecting her to offer formula and i was ready to say yes! Instead she told me if i was too tired to keep nursing, i could express some milk and she would give it to him with a cup or syringe while i slept. Without that support i dont know if i would have had enough milk for the both of them and continued to exclusively breastfeed them. They’re 23 months and still nursing 🙂

What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

The private healthcare here is usually very good and since everyone (or most) have health insurance, it makes it accessible to all. However, for me the government hospital was truly incredible. Theres no bells and whistles, long waits in the antenatal clinic and standard ultrasound equipment but when it came down to whats really important, I could not fault them. A huge benefit this year has been the access to hired help! Live in helpers are the norm and is an affordable luxury.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

l read a LOT of forums and blogs when i was pregnant with my first but then avoided them in my second pregnancy. I envied the mothers who were able to have home births, water births, whose birth plans were respected!

Part of the local culture here is visiting when someone delivers. we visit in the hospital so typically the new mummy wears a pretty nursing gown and will have organized a hairdresser to come an blow dry her hair in the hospital. She will take a hospital suite to accommodate all the guests and have organised canapes, juice and tea to be served. The suite will be decorated in a particular theme and gifts will be given to each person who visits. On top of preparing for the new baby this is a lot to plan for too! Typically you receive a lot of guests for your first baby – we served 100 coffees on the first day after having my daughter. Hospitals set visiting hours but when you have a private suite they don’t really enforce it. I was receiving people from 10am until 1030pm. It is hard and tiring but its also lovely to really be celebrating the new arrival 🙂

I was so lucky to have my mother with me throughout and the support of my husbands family.

having a baby in Dubai maha little farashaDid you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

I didn’t realise until I had my daughter just how pro-breastfeeding I am. It has been incredible seeing the support you get here in a culture that encourages mothers to nurse their children until their 2nd birthday. When feeding the boys I really had to trust my gutt as with all big families and communities there’s support and theirs a lot of ‘advice’. Many told me that it was too much work for me to breastfeed both of the boys (i tandem feed with the help of the EZTwin nursing pillow) and that i should nurse one, and pump for the other and then give in a bottle. This seemed like waaay too much work for me. When the boys started becoming colicky, which we later discovered was silent reflux, i was told that boys were hungrier than girls and that they were fussing because they were hungry. I trusted my gutt, asked my midwife and my milk supply, or possible lack of it, wasnt the problem

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

Have a plan but be flexible. Noone knows whats going to happen when you go into labour. Yes, it would be amazing to have candles, nice music, oil massages and be rocking on a ball through the labour but sometimes that just doesnt happen… and if it doesn’t thats ok. In hindsight i was so upset not because of what was actually happening. Why would i be? My dream came true – a healthy baby. I was upset because what i imagined didnt happen

Trust your gut! Advice from others is always well meaning advice but can lead you on the wrong track or really make you worry that youre doing everything wrong as its usually the complete opposite of what the person before said!

Stand your ground. Insist that the doctor listens to you and respects your wishes (as long as they dont jeopardise the health of you or the baby of course)

Get help with breastfeeding! I took a package with a midwife to come to my house once a week since we dont have health visitors like in the UK. Each time she came she would check the boys latch just to be sure. the minute things started to go off track i’d call her. Get the problem sorted early and then its easy to deal with. Problems with breastfeeding can be so painful for mummy. Don’t suffer!

Get a nursing cover! You don’t need to be stuck at home just because you’re breastfeeding…and you definitely don’t need to sit in the public toilet every time baby gets hungry. As a muslim woman wanting even more modesty and also feeding an older baby i found that most nursing covers weren’t wide enough so started designing my own. Feeding my babies when out and about has never been an issue.


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About Maha:

Maha Gorton Little FarashaMaha is the founder and creator of Little Farasha  (“Farasha” meaning butterfly in Arabic) is a collection of hand crafted, Middle Eastern inspired accessories for trendy babies and glamous yet modest mothers.

Check out her stunning Keffiyah dribble bibs, nursing covers and ghitra bags!

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Having a Baby Abroad – Global Differences Series: ITALY

Next up in the series of The Global Differences of Baby-Making I talk to Kate who is American and had her daughter in Florence, Italy. Here is her story:

Tell me a bit about yourself? Where are you from? How old is your daughter and where did you have her?

Having-baby-abroad-in-Italy-Kate-HashI am 29 years old and I live in beautiful Florence, Italy with my husband Rob and our sweet little bambina Livia (6 months old). I am originally from Philadelphia, my husband from Indiana and we met in Washington, D.C. and have lived in Louisville, KY. This Harvard Business Review article basically describes us and our expat challenges. We work for ourselves designing + developing websites and blogs. We help our clients translate their business goals into success online. It’s fun and we have a blast working together.

Our daughter was born here in Florence in September 2012.

Why did you have your daughter abroad? What do you feel were the benefits to having children abroad?

We were living in Italy for about a year and just really loved the role that children play in the culture here. They are adored. Loved. Appreciated. I felt like having a baby here would be a super positive experience. Plus, if I’m to be honest, I loved the idea of having a baby for “free.” Yes, I pay taxes here, but as a self-employed person in the U.S. medical insurance that covers maternity is just simply out of reach. It was reassuring for me personally and professionally not to have to worry about that aspect of everything. I felt like I got to focus on my pregnancy and my baby and not so much the silly financial logistics of it all.

Healthcare in Italy varies quite a bit and in Tuscany we’re very fortunate to have amazing maternity care. As a first-time mamma-to-be I loved the libretto di gravidanza we got — essentially a little booklet with appointment sheets for everything I would need over the course of pregnancy. My husband and I referred to it as “The Idiot’s Guide to Pregnancy.” We are conversational in Italian, but not fluent, so what the booklet allowed us to do was research each test well in advance and learn necessary vocabulary.

As an expectant mother abroad how did you feel?

Calm! I was never asked about my birth plan or parenting style or any of the really crazy things people ask about in the states when your baby is still only the size of a peanut. It all felt very laid back and natural. Of course there were times that I wished I was closer to my family (my sister was pregnant at the exact time as me), but in the end I felt like my husband and I got to have a very intimate experience with the pregnancy of our first child. We were in a sort of cocoon and it was nice.

Having baby abroad Italy

Did you encounter any opinions that would have been different in your home country with regards to your pregnancy or parenting choices?

Haha, yes! My doctor asked me point blank if I planned to gain weight like an Italian or an American. They are strict about weight gain here and do not like it to get out of control. There is less of an interest in being PC (politically correct) here. They just tell it like it is — even to a hormonal pregnant lady!
Also, back to this idea of a birth plan. On one very popular U.S. pregnancy site they had a 15-page birth plan PDF that they told you to download and fill out with your doctor. I laughed when I saw it — if you tried to show that to someone here they would just laugh at you. In their minds, there is really only one way to have a baby.
In terms of parenting choices, they are really big on bundling kids up here to a degree that is a little ridiculous. If Livia goes out with anything less than 8 scarves and 5 pairs of pants on under a huge down coat all of the nonni go crazy. Our little girl hates being bundled and we prefer our baby to be happy, so naturally we get the side eye a lot. Thankfully, spring is almost here!

What advice would you give other mothers in your situation?

When you decide to have a baby abroad, embrace the culture. I see a lot of women here that complain about everything and/or worry to an unhealthy degree. I think it creates a toxic environment on so many levels. We kind of just dove into the deep end and figured out how to swim. I’m really glad we did because the pregnancy experience in Florence was very positive for us.


Want to share your story? Get in touch

About Kate: 
kate hashKate is the marketing and design guru of Hash Consulting. If you’re looking to create (or revamp) your organization’s website, she’s your gal. She enjoys developing organizational structures for websites that make them user-friendly and intuitive. What’s more, she also loves doing the design and coding work for sites, too. Kate has a BA in Journalism from The George Washington University and a MA in Higher Education Administration from The University of Louisville. Her professional background includes three years at one of the leading b2b publishing companies and one year in higher education marketing. Before founding Hash Consulting with Rob, Kate worked as an independent consultant for four years. Kate loves writing about travel, Italy, blogging and Italian dual citzenship, and has previously written for Design*Sponge, Travelated and Southern Flourish.