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Old 09-07-2015, 12:28   #1
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Life Aboard With 2 Kids

I don't know if I've met my quota for questions on this forum but here goes..

Hi guys! We are moving aboard our boat in 5 days with 2 small kids (3 and 6) and our dog. I know that many others have come before us and I was hoping to get some advice to keep them busy from experienced cruisers. Has anyone discovered some really great ideas to keep them busy and entertained while living aboard? I figured that there might be some good ideas that we hadn't thought of.

We are cruising out of Galveston on the ICW headed for Key Largo. We plan to stay in a marina there until December and make the crossing to the Bahamas. We would also like very much to see Cuba.

We planned to assign our crew a bunch of chores and they love to fish and explore anything. They are great swimmers and love the water.

We would love to meet up with any families who are cruising so please let me know if we will be in the same area as you. God bless.
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Old 09-07-2015, 13:50   #2
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Give them responsibilities no matter how menial. Make sure they feel pride in helping out. If they think that the boat can't sail unless they start the engine, or unless they throw the dock line then they will feel like it is "their" boat and they will be more interested in learning new things to "help" with. Another thing I really like is to run a dummy line through a block and to a bungee cord on the bow so it has some resistance. Let them know that their job is to adjust that line when you ask. Randomly have them tighten or loosen it while sailing so they think they are trimming.

The worst thing I've seen is the Captain doing everything and the rest of the family (especially the kids) are just out for a ride. They never learned anything and never really took up much interest.
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Old 10-07-2015, 00:03   #3
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Ours were 4, 6, and 9 when we started in 2008. They adapted quickly to being aboard, but still, now and again, we heard them say "I'm bored." We'd reply, "Hi bored, nice to meet you" or "how about a 'board' game then."

In those times we tried to have ready ideas on something they could do, then told them the idea for them to work out. We tried to avoid being the crutch for their bordem. There are a million thing to occupy kids onboard - board games, boaty stuff (knots, block and tackles, etc), drawing, journaling, exploring where you are, reading together, chores, crafts, meal planning/prep, collect sand or bugs or shells, talk about the weather, log the animals you see, and yes even some screen time.

The bigger adjustment is for parents. Parent child relationships are different when you're around each other all the time. Before cruising we did the daycare dump, dinner together, and wahoo they are finally asleep routine. Hated it and didn't really know the kids until after cruising when we learned to relax and interact with them full time. Yes, challenging at times.

We're 7 years in - kids now 11, 13, 16 - half a world away anchored in Seychelles on the way to South Africa. They went to school in Australia for 6 months, all did well, and still were very happy to get cruising again. Life aboard with kids is about living as a family and sharing unique experiences everyday. The only downside I've found is that my children consider swimming with sharks/dolphins/whales/mantas, climbing up /sliding down volcanos, watching wicked weather creep by, having best friends that you didn't know an hour before, teaching Angry Birds to kids/adults that had never seen an electronic device, exploring wrecked WWII planes/ships, and using a blow gun while next to the collection of human skulls from not so distant raids is all normal field trip experience.

Next up for us is Comoros, where we hope to see the so called living fossil - coelacanth (fish), lemurs and unique cultures of Madagascar, and raw nature in Southern Africa. "Bored" hasn't been on Totem in some time.
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Old 10-07-2015, 00:20   #4
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

All the above comments about getting them involved in the boat activities is spot on.

The thought of a marina until December with two kids aboard made me shudder! Our 15 yr old has autism so is similar to a 3 yr old as far as impulse control. Its amazing how fast he can disappear down the dock and around the corner! We find it so much easier to be at anchor with the kids. Swimming off the back (we have an inflatable paddleboards that goes in the water tied into the davits right after the anchor hits the bottom), swinging on a swing hung off the spinnaker halyard on the bow, Legos, journaling, board games, rainbow looms, etc, etc, etc, keeps them entertained much longer than when they're at a marina and easier access to 'the real world' keeps drawing at them.

Regardless, you'll settle into it quickly. Best of luck you won't regret it.
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Old 10-07-2015, 02:03   #5
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

There's a million & one things for them to do & learn aboard. And they're a lot wiser & smarter than their ages would suggest when you get them involved in something. Even some things which adults have trouble grasping. In addition of course, to playing... which is fun for all ages.
I started when I was 3, & it was my job to trim the jib (on a much smaller boat), but full well knew & did every job aboard by the time I hit double digits, this, on a 30'er.

Much of the "adventure" can be them learning about how things work; from weather, to sail trim, & nav. By the time I was 5, I'd learned so much about navigation, that when we went to visit relatives overseas, & rented a car, I was the navigator. As my grandparents didn't know how, & the trips were with just 1 parent.
So they're sharper than most give them credit for, especially if "schooled" well: basically, make it a bit of a game at first.

You might also read the Sailing With Kids blog, http://sailingwithkids.net/ & or contact said boat's skipper, who happens to be a member on here. They're selling their Tartan 41 in the F-S section. http://www.cruisersforum.com/forums/...es-145371.html And spent a few years in the Caribbean with their offspring.
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Old 10-07-2015, 06:56   #6
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Thank you to everyone for the replies. This is exactly the advice I was looking for. I thinks e will do good with them and we realize this is a transition for everyone. We want to make the most of every day and we also don't want to lose our minds. We are both full-time stay at homes and we do the up close and personal thing with them 24/7. They both like to get at their mom for entertainment, which we are trying to change. I think that they obvious adventures aboard will be grand and we need to get them into a routine. I definitely have a lot of swabbing of the decks and tons of other chores that we want help with. We are hoping that being on the water will be a calming experience for them and give them chances to be alone with their own thoughts, rather than being loud and pestering us. Maybe that is too much to wish for.
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Old 10-07-2015, 08:51   #7
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

I would skip the dummy trim line job, kids are smarter than you think and when they do discover it was all a ruse, they will resent it. I've never had kids, but worked with many and still plan to have them on my multi year circumnavigation. Teach them knots, have them make fancy rope end trim, stopper knots, etc. Weave a small gear hammock or find something that needs a simple fix, pick up stuff on shore from the trash dumpster that just "needs" to be taken completely apart, to learn about tools and ask questions, what does this do? Maybe even they will stump you and you have to do some research to figure out the answer. Teach them how to learn. Have them count and draw pictures of every different type of animal they can find in a notebook, and tell about what they do, and how they act, special attributes, basically start a research notebook. Have them do artwork and maybe try to sell it on shore.

Any leads on multi year circumnavigating wife material wanting or having young kids would be appreciated.
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Old 10-07-2015, 09:40   #8
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

I agree with getting them involved with real functions on the boat. I took my two kids, on my own, when they were 3 and 6 years old. I used full body climbing harnesses to keep them safe, always clipped on while on deck.

They can steer. They can hold out a dock line. They can keep watch. They can learn the phonetic alphabet (they love this one...just try it). They can learn how to speak on the vhf, especially how to make a mayday call if something happens to you.

With regards to other activities...I went to the dollar store and bought a ton of crap. I filled a special locker. As a reward, like following all the rules, or being helpful sailing up to an anchorage, they could choose from the locker. They LOVED the special locker. There were simple things like colouring books and crayons, magnets, all sorts of small toys that kids like, and playdoh. The little tins of brightly coloured playdoh were always a big hit. We also bought all the robert munch books in "travel size"...they are tiny versions of the big books...great fun. But most of all, they enjoyed being cozy and safe in the vee with lots of pillows and blankets.

And a portable 12v DVD player with a stack of kids movies.
I guess a current equivalent would be an ipad air with tons of games.

Whatever the challenge...you will all be closer and happier for the adventure.
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Old 10-07-2015, 09:41   #9
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Quote:
Originally Posted by svTOTEM View Post
Ours were 4, 6, and 9 when we started in 2008. They adapted quickly to being aboard, but still, now and again, we heard them say "I'm bored." We'd reply, "Hi bored, nice to meet you" or "how about a 'board' game then."

In those times we tried to have ready ideas on something they could do, then told them the idea for them to work out. We tried to avoid being the crutch for their bordem. There are a million thing to occupy kids onboard - board games, boaty stuff (knots, block and tackles, etc), drawing, journaling, exploring where you are, reading together, chores, crafts, meal planning/prep, collect sand or bugs or shells, talk about the weather, log the animals you see, and yes even some screen time.

The bigger adjustment is for parents. Parent child relationships are different when you're around each other all the time. Before cruising we did the daycare dump, dinner together, and wahoo they are finally asleep routine. Hated it and didn't really know the kids until after cruising when we learned to relax and interact with them full time. Yes, challenging at times.

We're 7 years in - kids now 11, 13, 16 - half a world away anchored in Seychelles on the way to South Africa. They went to school in Australia for 6 months, all did well, and still were very happy to get cruising again. Life aboard with kids is about living as a family and sharing unique experiences everyday. The only downside I've found is that my children consider swimming with sharks/dolphins/whales/mantas, climbing up /sliding down volcanos, watching wicked weather creep by, having best friends that you didn't know an hour before, teaching Angry Birds to kids/adults that had never seen an electronic device, exploring wrecked WWII planes/ships, and using a blow gun while next to the collection of human skulls from not so distant raids is all normal field trip experience.

Next up for us is Comoros, where we hope to see the so called living fossil - coelacanth (fish), lemurs and unique cultures of Madagascar, and raw nature in Southern Africa. "Bored" hasn't been on Totem in some time.
Agree with Totem. Our four kids were all born aboard and the eldest two shall be off to 'varsity shortly. Simply put, we have involved them with everything. They contribute their idea's and share their concerns. These are discussed to enable them to appreciate that they are considered but we, as parents, make the decisions.
When I say that we involve them, I mean in just about all activities - from boat maintenance, manual navigation (sextant), cooking, provisioning etc. They are an integral part of the boat. The older ones used to love coming on watch at night and we would put them to bed when they fell asleep after ten minutes - but it was a special ten minutes. As they got older the thrill of a night watch grew skinny but our two youngsters still relish this. When Kindles became available we loaded them up with a library of books. Additionally, school work accounted for several hours of every weekday. We have a large collection of board games and these get used regularly with all of us participating - with lots of squeals and laughter still. Whilst at anchor they are often busy visiting other boats with kids, or off fishing/exploring/snorkelling/beach combing etc. They always seem to be busy.
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Old 10-07-2015, 14:07   #10
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Buy Behan's (that's svTotem who posted above) new book: Voyaging with Kids when it comes out in October.

Also, there's a very active Facebook group called kids4sail
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Old 10-07-2015, 16:26   #11
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

I will tell you this for the what it's worth category, I taught school for 36 years and one of the most pleasant experiences I ever had was having an 8th grader in my class that enrolled in school while his parents recharged the cruising kitty so to speak. This young man was so interesting to listen to, many days I let him speak with the class on some of his adventures and where he had traveled to. We talked about the Galapagos Islands and the next day he brought in a photo album with pictures of the Island and the giant tortoises. The young man was articulate, well mannered, and was extremely well rounded. I'm sure your children will learn things in the world that they would only see pictures of in a textbook, what an opportunity for them, and yourself, to give that as a gift of learning, truly priceless. When they become adults and start their own adventure in life, what memories they will have to draw from in their childhood. Kids usually spell love "time" and for you to give them your time and vice-versa is a wonderful thing. Go, have fun, and remember their little minds are quite the sponges soaking up everything even if you don't happen to see it. What a great experience, good luck.
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Old 10-07-2015, 19:36   #12
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

Hi,
Good for you! We're 6 weeks in with 3 kids 8,7,5 and have many ideas (both proven and unproven). sea logs with drawings, coloring, ocean bingo, scrubbing the decks, paper airplanes, baking, puzzles, endless ideas.... Check us at www.fringesquirrel.com. Ask away. We're in Maine prepping for a slow trip south. We'd love to help however we can. .cheers.


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Old 10-07-2015, 20:57   #13
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

cwyckham - a minor correction, svTotem is Jamie (me, the lessor co-captain on Totem!). Behan and her co-authors did terrific work with the Voyaging with Kids book - excited about the release.
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Old 10-07-2015, 21:13   #14
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

You might try contacting the Neale family if you're curious as to more, firsthand informaation. One of his works is here http://www.amazon.com/All-Same-Boat-...+the+same+boat although there are newer editions. It's just that the above's the edition which I read.

He was a corporate lawyer, IIRC, who with his wife, said, screw off to the rat race, & they packed up their family onto the boat. And for a while, sailed N. every summer, out of the heat & named storms. Then S. as the temps began to fall, with the seasons. And their kids grew up onboard, being home schooled, & seeing all of the E. Seaboard, Gulf, & Caribbean.
And as they traveled, amongst other things, he routinely wrote (often hilarious) articles for "Cruising World".

Also, for the multimedia approach, this may give some insight, especially when the Skipper talks about the differences in his kids between when they were US based, vs. Caribbean/boat based.

Also, in a book given to me ages ago, called "The Walkabouts'". A family with 3 young children purchased & rebuilt a sailboat, to escape one of the disintigrating African nations. And they (the adults) noted a couple of key things.
- That everyone had their own bunk/private space, even if tiny
- Everyone had chores, commensurate with (rapidly growing) abilities, & they were to be taken very seriously.

Also, one neat thing which the 3 kids came up with, was to put on their own theatrical production. And when they were coming up with the play, plus practicing it, the adults were to be topsides, no exceptions.
Keep in mind, these kids had had only miniscule exposure to tv, but regular radio shows, & some theater. So them doing like a 15 - 20min play was a major deal. Especially as they were from ages 6 - 11, IIRC.

HTH, & enjoy so much quality time with the family.
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Old 11-07-2015, 06:53   #15
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Re: Life Aboard With 2 Kids

There are so many great ideas here and we will incorporate them into our travels. Madame Geneva- I've seen your blog on a few occasions and I like it very much! Thanks and we will definitely reach out to you. jheldatksuedu- I am convinced I've found the only woman I know that has the guts to liveaboard a boat for years. If I find another woman who has the same inclination, I'll send her your way! wizard1_us- this is an really great example and we hope our kids are the same way. We see this as an unbelievable learning and growth experience for them and it is funny- the same people who call us crazy for doing this also say they wish they could've done this as kids. I know I surely do! UNCIVILIZED thanks for the info and I will reach out to them.

I can't thank everyone enough for all of the input! We set off next week and we are so excited!
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