Sunday, October 20, 2013

underway fun

One of the most common questions about sailing with kids and toddlers is how on earth do you keep them busy and engaged underway. We still haven't done any multi-day passages with both kids, (it was a different story keeping the dog happy when we were long distance cruising way back when!), but the Chesapeake Bay is huge, and the exploring opportunities are endless, so we like to set our sights all over the Bay even if it means a long haul there.

At this point, I haven't had to plan any underway activities for the kids. The thing I plan is food, because the number one key to kid happiness on a passage is ready, nutritious, tummy soothing food.

(Ok, this is not exactly nutritious, but... )

They manage to find ways to pass the time all on their own.Ship watching a key pastime. Baltimore is a major global shipping port so huge cargo ships from around the world are either making their way up and down the channel or anchored out waiting for the all clear to go into the harbor. Plus checking out all of the fabulous crafts that ply the waters of the Chesapeake.

There is a good amount of monkeying around on deck. If the weather is rough this something we limit, but on a calm day it becomes a big jungle gym.

I mentioned not long ago how Zach is getting more involved in real ways with sailing the boat, but that doesn't mean he still doesn't love to sit somewhere and curl up with a book, or play Legos. The boy has a stomach of iron and working on tiny things doesn't upset his tummy at all.

Naia is finally (deep exhale) at that age where we don't have to have one hand on her at all times. We still need to keep a close eye, but she is past the "throw yourself overboard for the heck of it" stage.  She loves to just play with her toys... and color...

And talk and talk and sing and sing and sing....

I love it when the kids find a game they can play together. Sometimes it's a little... weird. But they are having fun.

And what about the parents? Well, we switch off taking the helm (though with a toddler around, Doug often takes the majority of the time... for now.)

Doug like to mess with electronics when he's not at the helm. He plays with the AIS (tracking ships) and GPS and radio. And me... well taking photos of course! When the kids aren't looking I do things like step out on to the swim platform and hang upside down to snap a photo under the boat. Don't worry, I hold on tight and only do it in calm weather.

Keeping the tribe happy underway is a lot easier than keeping them happy while cooped up at the dock during a snow or ice storm. There is the old stand by of watching a movie, but we try to save that as a last ditch treat. I am a firm believer in the important lessons learned and character built when kids are "bored". It's not our job as parents to put on a non-stop song and dance show or surround them with distractions to keep them "entertained". I say, let them figure it out, and if I hear excessive whining, well... there is always a chore that can be done. Oh, what's that? You say you're not bored afterall? Oh good, that's what I thought. There's a big world out there and ripe imaginations ready to unfold, nothing should get in the way of that.

I almost forgot to share a few recent publications... The web site "What To Expect" (as the the very popular What To Expect When You're Expecting books) asked me to guest blog about birthday parties. Here is a link, check out the site, there is so much more to read around there even if you are past your expecting year like me.

I am still writing for Spinsheet regularly, and the October issue I wrote all about kids aboard, including an interview with some friends who are cruising with a 1 and 3 year old on a small boat. Pages 92-95 here

And SAIL Magazine launched a new publication that will come out seasonally called Multihull Sailor. I wrote a story for them about interior decor on a boat and Our family was also profiled later in the magazine along with lots of other multihull folks including my dear friend Diane and her family and Mike and Rebecca Sweeney from Zero To Cruising.  Here on pages 30-34 and then our profile on page 47.

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