Tag Archives: toddlers on sailing boats

A tale of two puddles

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Muddy puddles

This week was a tale of two puddles. With the rain came muddy puddles and with the low tide came sandy puddles.

Jumping in muddy puddles is such a simple but entertaining exercise for Orbit and we don’t even have to leave the marina! It’s a wonderful adventure searching out for clean puddles but also the best puddles. By clean puddles I mean those that are less likely to have any nasties in them (like run off from rubbish bins). The best puddles are those that are safely away from car parks and frequently used roads within the marina so Orbit can play freely, without me asking him to move because cars or trucks are coming past. But most importantly, they need mud – the higher potential for mud the better. As little boys know, the amount of fun is directly correlated how dirty one can get!


Why I try to find ‘clean’ puddles

Each new puddle would start out with clear water and we would examine if there was anything interesting in it (like a leaf or a stick) before Orbit jumped in, adding to the number of mud splats on his face. By the time we got back to Medina, Orbit had very wet pants and socks and very muddy gumboots and rain coat and I had a collection of ‘interesting things’ from the puddles in my pockets. While I went about cleaning up the mud, there was one very happy little boy who fell asleep contented (if not exhausted) that afternoon.

At the moment I am trying to teach Orbit only to jump in puddles when he has his gumboots on. As we only have so much space on Medina, we are limited to the number of shoes we have, so I try to keep Orbit’s shoes clean and dry. As clean and dry as possible for a 2.5 year old that is!

A few days later Orbit and I were off to one of the local parks. After playing in the muddy puddles, he was determined to wear his gumboots, so off we went to the park gumboots on.

The park we went to has a playground on one side and a small beach on the other. It was low tide and there were ‘salt water’ puddles left on the exposed sand. Am not sure what causes these depressions, someone once told me it was from the stingrays resting on the sand at high tide – but who knows, please let me know if you do.

IMG_4373As Orbit walked down the beach, he started to get really excited started to yell “puddles, puddles!” and ran towards them. I wasn’t in too much of a hurry to catch up because Orbit usually takes his shoes off before jumping in the water at the beach. But this time, after examining what was in the puddle and collecting the mangrove seeds, he jumped in – gumboots on!

Although Orbit was having trouble jumping in the puddles because his boots were sinking into the sand, he still persisted, running from one puddle to the next, each puddle getting a bit deeper the closer to the waterline he got. In one of the puddles, his gumboots finally filled up with saltwater and called me over to help him out of his predicament of being stuck in the puddle.

While I was trying to get his gum boots off, which can be quite tricky with wet sandy socks, I wondered why he still had his gumboots on. Then my words came back to me “only jump in puddles when you have your gum boots on”. Orbit was doing exactly what I had asked him to do!

Painting with salt water

IMG_4221 A few months ago a package arrived from Orbit’s cousins in Canberra with some truly wonderful presents in it. One of the presents was a Paint With Water book. This book and others (we now have a growing library) are my “go to” activity when I need Orbit occupied for about 15 minutes.

Orbit takes a great delight in ‘painting’. Its lovely when he says “Yeah!” when I suggest we do some painting or refreshing to hear him say “painting” when I ask what he would like to do. It has been really interesting watch his skills develop, from how he holds the paintbrush to where he paints – on the paper, off the paper, trying to keep within the lines or not.

Paint with Water books are fantastic for any number of reasons, there is less mess to clean up (compared to paints), are relatively cheap and easy to find (I buy mine online), they don’t take up much space, we only need water and a paint brush, the ‘paint’ comes off skin easily and doesn’t seem to effect the varnish or upholstery (as long its cleaned up relatively quickly). The pictures can take sometime some time to dry (depending on the amount of water that has been used), so I just pat them down with hand towel and hang them up on the safety lines with some pegs to dry.

From experience (hence the library of Paint with Water books), I’ve found that the books with a picture only on one side and with perforated edges, so one page can be pulled out and painted at one time are the best.

I have also found an answer to my question of what to do with Orbit’s growing collection of artwork – use it as wrapping paper! ‘Homemade’ wrapping paper just adds that special touch, doesn’t cost any extra money and means we don’t have to carry wrapping paper for presents.

IMG_4297This week I decided to experiment to see if the pictures worked with saltwater, and they did! Not a earth shattering discovery I know, but because we’re conscious about our water use, any little bit of water saving adds up. I am constantly on the lookout for activities that suit the cruising lifestyle (limited or no water, limited or no electricity and doesn’t take up too much space) and I think this one is another winner.

Another fabulous thing about Paint with Water books is that there is no age limit on them. I really enjoy painting my own picture while Orbit does his (hence my need for him to be occupied for about 15 minutes). I suppose it ties in with all the ‘mindfulness techniques’ that are around at the moment, like the colouring-in books for big kids (i.e. adults). So, Paint with Water books are a winner on Medina, may our library grow!

A big thanks to Orbit’s Aunty Kelli for sending Orbit his first Paint with Water book – we haven’t looked back!

Its only chalk dust

We’ve had some fantastic winter days this year and I have been thinking of some activities for Orbit to do while we are still in the marina, the sun is shining and its not too hot to be outside.


Orbit’s chalk drawing

There are a number of activities we can do within the marina. We can go to the play area, visit our marina family, explore the gardens (i.e. look for lizards), roll down the grassy hill or watch the activity at the hard stand area (watching travel lift put boats in and out of the water is a particular favourite at the moment) to name a few.

But its always good to have a few extra activities up our sleeves – in case we don’t have these activities at our next marina.

Our plan is to cruise but we’ll be based in floating marina’s while the Skipper goes to work to top up our cruising kitty. As it will be Orbit and I on Medina by ourselves (while the Skipper is at work), we’ve chosen to be based in floating marinas because it makes life for me so much easier. The thought of getting myself and Orbit in and out of the tinnie with the groceries on my own is not something I really want to deal with now or in the next few years. No worries if the Skipper is with us, but not on my own, not until Orbit can drive the tinnie anyway.

Anyway, back to activities we can do in the marina … I have come up with a few and will post more in the coming weeks.

DSCN1828This week we tried drawing with chalk on the concrete walkway of the floating marina.

We checked with the marina manager and he said it was ok as long as Orbit was supervised, we don’t draw on the main walkways and to clean up afterwards, but then clarified that this shouldn’t be an issue, because “its just chalk dust”.

I also checked with our neighbours who we share a walkway with. They thought it was a great idea and said they looked forward to seeing some of Orbit’s art work.

I spoke with a few other families in the marina and one mum suggested I lay hoses down the side of the walkway to prevent the chalk rolling into the water. We only have one hose (that is handy) and thankfully our neighbours have ‘permanent fenders’ partly along their side of the walkway which are high enough to prevent the chalk from rolling in.

Orbit loved drawing with the chalk and was keen to have me draw as well. This triggered me to write the alphabet. Once Orbit had finished his drawing, he began to practice the alphabet and we tried to come up with words from what we could see, like B for boat, C for chalk, F for fish, W for water … not very creative I know!

We both enjoyed this activity, although, I think Orbit’s preferred part was washing the chalk off the walkway. It’s something we’ll definitly be doing again.

When you don’t have a fridge door …

We don’t have a conventional stand alone fridge on Medina like what you find in most houses. I wish we did, ahhhh … the space, the shelves, the internal light – I do miss the strangest things.

Our fridge (next to the oven)

Our fridge (next to the oven)

Our fridge is built in and more like an large esky with a small generator on the side to keep things cool. It opens from the top and we have to ‘pack’ our food in the fridge in plastic containers to keep things organised.

One of the benefits of having a conventional fridge, is having a fridge door to put children’s artwork, awards on etc.

A good friend (who is also a primary school teacher) encouraged me to display Orbit’s artwork and awards, regardless of our lack of space and fridge door. She explained that displaying Orbit’s artwork and awards shows him that what he does is valued, helps to build his confidence and and shows him that we are proud of what he does.


Orbit’s bulkhead

So, in lieu of having a fridge door, we have dedicated part of a bulkhead to Orbit’s efforts. We choose the starboard midships bulkhead because anyone who walks down below can see his work (as well as Orbit), its a prime location!

Sellotape seems to be the best medium to attach the work or awards as this doesn’t leave marks on the wood, is easy to remove and doesn’t mark the artwork or award. We just fold the ends over the corners once its finished being displayed.

I try to rotate Orbit’s artwork regularly. When something has been up for ‘too long’, it is a reminder for me to get the craft box out and get our creative juices flowing again. We leave his awards up until he gets a replacement, e.g. moving up to the next level of swimming lessons.

We do keep a selection of Orbit’s artwork on the boat, but unfortunately we can keep it all. I try to keep the pieces that have the highest sentimental value or something he may be interested in later on in life. In time I plan to take photos of all his work, as photos take up a lot less space, but its not the same as having an original.

I am sure as we travel around on our adventure the bulkhead won’t be big enough. Hopefully we’ll all be inspired to create some artwork to put up around Medina’s interior!

Tantrums on a sailing boat

As you may have guessed by now, Orbit is a pretty typical two year old. And being a typical two year old involves tantrums.

Toddlers throwing tantrums is challenging at the best of times, but a toddler throwing a tantrum on a sailing boat adds a unique dimension to parenting. Not only because of the small space, if the tantrum is occurring down below, but also the safety factor if there is a tantrum up on deck or on the floating marina.

One of the best pieces of advice I have been given (about tantrums) is to work out why Orbit is having the tantrum in the first place. The advice has been priceless and Orbit’s tantrums have become easier avoid or manage. By working out why he is having a tantrum has allowed me to be more objective about the situation, therefore more effective when managing the tantrum (most of the time).

Orbit’s tantrums usually come back to one thing, a power struggle. Essentially, I want Orbit to do something and he doesn’t want to; or Orbit wants to do something and I don’t want him to. Sometimes he pushes the boundaries by actively deciding not to do as I ask. You can see his brain ticking over as a wicked smile crosses his little face. For me, the resulting tantrum after I have physically restrained him, is the most annoying. The result is usually a monumental tantrum and sometimes I wonder who is throwing the biggest tantrum – Orbit or me!

I have found that one of the best ways to manage the garden variety tantrum (besides making sure he has enough sleep) is to give him choices. We share the “power” of decision making. The end goal is usually still achieved, but Orbit gets to make decisions along the way. An example might be Orbit deciding which pair of socks to wear, what he would like to take on our adventure with us, and/or deciding whether to ride in the trolley or wearing a harness when walking up to/from Medina. Sometimes we don’t achieve our end goal, Orbit ends up in bed throwing his tantrum and I end up on deck working out an alternative plan.

I am definitely learning the ‘battles to fight’ and learning to compromise. Being in such a small space and with the obvious safety issues, we can’t be fighting all the time. So I am leaving the ‘battles’ to the important things where there is a safety consequence.

Luckily Orbit’s tantrums don’t last too long and he is back to his usual happy self within about 15 minutes or until he has been distracted by something else.

Each sailing family is different and am curious to hear how other parents cope with tantrums on sailing boats.

I don’t have any photos of Orbit throwing a tantrum, so I thought I would share a photo of Orbit in his favourite spot on Medina at the moment – hanging out on top of the dodger looking into the cockpit.