Category Archives: Family


Repair instead of buying new

With the month of October fast approaching, as a buy-nothing-new-month “celebrated” in other countries too, when I saw this post on my timeline this morning, I remembered that I saw some Repair Cafés in Germany recently.

I wasn’t really surprised to find out that the Repair Café was initiated by the Dutch Martine Postma in 2007 in Amsterdam, and that it has been a great success since. Martine started the Repair Café Foundation in 2009, a non-profit organisation, “that provided professional support to local groups in the Netherlands and other countries wishing to start their own Repair Café”, and she even wrote a  book about it (in Dutch).

On the site you can find out where to find the closest Repair Café in your area:

And if there is none, they have a great guideline about how you can start one, after all, we don’t have to reinvent the wheel…:
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This step-by-step manual is based on our years of experience, and guides you through all the different stages of setting up your own Repair Café: from finding local repair experts and a suitable location, to collecting the right tools, creating publicity, finding funds for your initiative etc.




What I like about this idea is not only the fact that we get the chance to learn how to repair items even if we are not a professional – we can get help at those Cafés! – but it’s the mindset. Why throw away if you can repair it? Many times we choose to buy new because repairing is way too expensive, and I admit that I did it several times in the past. But many items can actually be fixed with less expense. There are shops that have spare parts – one has only to find them… In these Repair Cafés you can ask people about that and maybe you’re lucky and find even someone who has an idea how to repair it.
Repairing is to give things a new chance – and sometimes purpose. I like this idea because it is one of the things I want my children to learn: that we can fix things, that items can be repaired. I want them to grow up with what I call the repairing-mindset (I’ll explain it more in another post soon), because it will help them to be more conscientious and respectful for things they/we own.

Not throwing away things, but trying to fix them is in line with the buy-nothing-new-month movement, a “global movement for collective, conscientious consumption” and the idea started in Melbourne and spread to the Netherlands and the USA.

Since I wrote about this buy-nothing-new-month a few years ago, in our family we tend to expand this month over the whole year. It’s not about not buying anything at all – we all need food and items for our household that we still need to buy. It’s more about reflecting on what we “need” and what we “want”, and if the things we want are really so indispensable – and if they really need to be bought new…

I personally like the idea of knowing how to fix things, to reuse them, maybe by giving them another purpose; and I like the idea of my non-needed/wanted items to find a new home and make someone else happy.

– What are the items you repair? Do you throw away the items you no longer use or need, or do you give them away?


8 Ways Camping Helps Prepare your Kids for Adulthood

– by William Jonson

Most of us are back from summer holidays. In order to not feel to sad when getting back to the usual routine, I can warmly recommend to plan your next vacation, or shortcation. Why not camping with your kids? For those of you who haven’t done so yet, here are some great reasons why camping with kids is a great alternative to the all-inclusive kind of vacations. – Thank you, William, for writing this post for my blog! You may all want to check out his fantastic site Pandaneo where he gives us more tips on camping!

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The transition from youth to adulthood is hard and as parents we would like to see it go as smoothly as possible. There are things we do with our kids when they are growing up that help to teach them responsibility, like assigning them chores or helping them to budget their allowance. Camping is also great for preparing kids for adulthood though you (and they) may not even notice. Here are 8 ways that camping helps to prepare your kids for adulthood:

#1: Camping Teaches Tangible Skills

When you go camping, there are many new skills to be learned. You may start with simple car camping and move on to backpacking where things get more complicated. These are all great opportunities for your kids to develop new skills. While some of the skills won’t necessarily be useful outside of camping, your children will have developed the capacity to learn.

#2: Camping Helps Kids Develop Confidence

As your kids are learning and mastering all of the different skills that are necessary when camping, their confidence will grow. Having confidence is very important when transitioning to adulthood, as growing up can feel scary. From the skills and abilities they gained camping, your child will have confidence to take things on in adulthood.

#3: Camping Teaches Responsibility

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While your kids may have minimal responsibility during early camping trips, as they get older their responsibility can increase. They will have their role and they will be expected to fulfill it. And of course all roles are not necessarily fun. My son always wants to be build the campfire but he also has to be responsible for washing the dishes after our meal. We still get some moaning here and there, but for the most part he takes on the task, knowing it is his responsibility. This has been one of the most valuable lessons from camping.

#4: Camping Teaches Kids to be ready and Prepared for Anything

The outdoors is not a controlled environment like your indoor home.  When at home, you will not necessarily be impacted by poor weather, as you can remain inside. When camping, you might encounter wildlife, or be overwhelmed by bugs. Each experience will help your child learn that anything can happen and they can do what they can to prepare. It is my children who remind me before each camping trip to make sure we have the bug spray. And they like to be in charge of their rain gear “just in case”. Kids also learn that even with the best preparation, there still may be problems and they will learn to work through those.

#5: Camping Teaches Kids to Work Together

When camping, there are certain tasks that have to be done before you can go and have fun. Working together on these tasks gets them done faster. There are also certain tasks, like setting up a tent, that require a second person. For young campers, this is an opportunity to learn to help by completing small tasks. Older camper will be able to take on a greater role and experience how to work as a team with their family to accomplish a common goal.


#6: Camping Teaches Kids Flexibility

Things don’t always go as you planned in life and that can be frustrating. Those who learn to be flexible will have an easier time navigating those periods in life where things are not going as planned. Camping provides opportunities to practice this. It may rain right when you planned to start cooking your meal for example. Or you may have to camp in a different place than you had planned.

#7: Camping Teaches Planning Skills

Planning ahead is important in many cases to ensure you have what you need. Kids can learn the importance of planning through camping. Creating a camping checklist with your kids is a great way to start them thinking about it and they can help you check off the items as you pack. This is a great life skill. There is other planning that goes into camping, like planning your menu for meals and planning where you will camp. Kids will have the opportunity to see what happens when you don’t plan ahead (campsites booked, meal incomplete, missing an important item) vs. when you do.

#8: Camping Teaches Problem Solving Skills

It never fails; on a camping trip, no matter how well prepared we are, we always forget something or something goes slightly awry. For us, it seems that we regularly forget the rain fly for our tent. Fortunately, the whole family now knows how to hang a tarp over the tent in order to keep it dry. And of course every campsite is different, meaning that we have to problem solve every time we want to hang a tarp. This gives kids the chance to think through the problem and try different ways to solve it.

Camping is much more than an economical vacation. The experience provides kids with a variety of skills and opportunities that will help kids gain the tools that they will need for adulthood. How do you feel camping prepares kids for adulthood?

Author Bio

William Jonson is an outdoor enthusiast, he loves traveling and willing to share interesting experiences about his trips. You can find tips, guides, lessons from camping on his blog

Other posts by William that I really like – well, I like all his posts on his site, but these are a bit related to this one:
9 Reasons for Camping in the Backyard

Camping with Family: Preparing for a Fun Activity

Family Camping Safety Tips


10 Most Dangerous Apps for Children Parents Should Know About

by Rose Cabrera

If you haven’t checked your kid’s phone yet, then it’s probably high-time you do it.
Although there’s nothing wrong with letting your kid use a smart phone, you also need to know how much liberty you should give your child. Too much of anything, particularly at a young age, can be harmful.

In guiding your child, here are the 10 apps you should be checking on his phone:

1. Snapchat

Snapchat is one of the most popular apps today. In fact, even celebrities use it. It’s an app that allows users to send pictures and recordings to their friends and set a time limit on how long these files will last. Unfortunately, with a false sense of security, kids can easily be encouraged to send things they shouldn’t be sharing.

If you see this app on your child’s phone, it’s essential that you re-iterate that what goes on the internet tends to stay there for good. There are apps that can actually capture his images before they get deleted.

2. Whisper

Whisper enables its user to create anonymous confessions through texts superimposed on
images. Although it sounds harmless at first, this app actually allows sharing of geographical location and messaging as well. Sexual predators can use it to lure trusting and innocent kids to meet up with them.

3. YikYak

YikYak is a social media channel that allows you to read posts from people within your area and to comment on them anonymously. These features are what make YikYak popular for cyber bullying. It can encourage kids to post derogatory comments on other kids and not get caught.

4. Vine

Vine allows users to post and share a 6-second clip of anything they want. Unfortunately, this app doesn’t have any strict rules about pornography and violence. Although it has an age requirement, it doesn’t have a solid way of verifying a user’s age. Because or how accessible its videos are, it’s easy for your children to view pornographic and adult contents on their feeds.

Aside from this, the app also enables its users to talk to anyone in and out of their friends list.

Since people can create an account under a false name, you’ll never know who your kid is really talking to.

5. 9Gag

9Gag is commonly used for finding and sharing memes. The risk with this app involves its
images not being strictly moderated. They can involve sexual, explicit and aggressive contents which are the exact things you don’t want your kids to see.

6. Tinder

Tinder is a dating app that has a 17+ rating. It allows users to find and hook up with potential partners within the same area. When a person flags another one, they’ll be able to connect instantly. With this, it’s also possible for a pedophile to create a false account to get in touch with unsuspecting children. Aside from its threat to your kid’s safety, Tinder also creates the impression that good looks are very essential in connecting with other people.

7. Instagram

Instagram is similar to any other social media sites in that it’s also widely used for cyber bullying. Aside from this, the app can also reveal your kid’s location. It even has the option to include his phone number in his profile page.

While these things can seem harmless, the idea that your child can be sharing personal information can mean a big security threat. Although there is an option to set profiles to private, you still won’t know who’s really following your kid’s page.

8. Kik

Kik is a messaging app that allows a user to send pictures, videos and other multimedia contents to another person without leaving a log on his phone. Because of this, Kik is often used by teens to share nudes and provocative messages without their parent’s knowledge. Since it doesn’t leave a log, a lot of sexual predators also use it to lure teenage girls.

9. Blendr

Through Blendr, a user can send private messages, photos and videos to another person within his area. The app doesn’t use any authentication rules to verify a person’s identity or age.

Because of how free people can use the app, it’s commonly used for flirting and hooking up.

10. Ghost apps

These are the apps that are disguised as harmless applications to hide explicit and sensitive files. Most of the time, they look like calculators and calendars but once you open them, you’ll be prompted to key in a password.

For a parent, it’s essential that you create a strong and trusting relationship with your child.

Letting your kid know that he can easily reach out and talk to you can greatly limit the chances of him looking for other people’s attention. It will also help lessen the chances that he’ll hide things from you.

Rose Cabrera writes for To know more about her in-depth security guides and essential home safety tips, you can check out more of her works by visiting the site’s home security blog.


Ute’s tip:

It is fundamental to establish trust with your child and to take time to discuss these topics in detail, ask and answer all kind of questions so that the situation is clearly understood. Parents often tend to become very strict when it comes to security issues which can lead to misunderstandings and failure in making children understand, forcing them to hide things, which, as a result, makes them at a higher risk on getting into trouble.

When you find these apps on your kid’s device, before deleting them you should be very clear in explaining to your child why you need to uninstall them.  They should understand the importance of safety and the dangers of these apps.

Other than deleting and explaining, you should also follow these things:

  • Restrictions by age can be set up in your kid’s device to make sure they’ll only be downloading apps suitable for their age.
  • Monitor the apps on your kid’s smartphone and make sure there aren’t any “hiding app”.
  • If your kid already has a profile on the said dating sites, explain to them why it’s not appropriate and safe for them. Then, ask your child to take down the profile.
  • Disable GPS feature in the device and make sure the camera isn’t turned on.
  • Set limits and teach your kid about responsible use of technology. (from topsecurityreview)


Be kind to your children at Christmas…


Before Christmas – or the Holiday season – children get very tired. There are many things going on at school: tests, exams, assemblies and all kind of celebrations.

During this time of the year, schools observe an increase of injuries on the playground, children get easily sick and this all can take a heavy toll on the whole family.

One of our favourite poems for this season is “Be kind to your turkey this Christmas” by Benjamin Zephanaiah. I got inspired and composed this very short poem that I dedicate to all the parents (please be indulgent: English is my fourth language…).

I’d like to make it longer… so, here is my challenge for you: If you can come up with some lines, please add them in the comment.

I will add them in the most homogeneous way (I promise that I’ll do my best!) and re-publish the poem at Christmas on this site adding all your names.


Be kind to your children at Christmas

they’re doing their best and that’s enough

we all need a break

so do it for their sake:

take a moment and “see” them,

do listen and hug them

there’s a lot going on and it’s tough.

 (by Ute Limacher-Riebold 😉 )

Be kind to your children at Christmas,

they do so much to make you proud,

kids of an expat, linguistic acrobat!

take time to be there for them

praise and support them

expats are the best – shout it out loud!

(Chris Drew)

Savour every moment

Cherish every kiss

These are the things

One day you will miss

Laughter, tantrums, smiles and tears

Bring so much joy yet so many fears

The patience given and the kindness fed

Will contribute to good lives led

One day you will take a breath

And they will all have ventured beyond

Nurturing their fledglings in their own back pond

(Chantal Vasile)




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