When we think of traveling with kids, we immediate picture Alex Gizela, mama behind the fair trade kids clothing brand, Cabbages & Kings. Scrolling her Instagram feed is like a mini world tour as she travereses the globe with her four (yes four!) littles in tow. Whether she’s jetting off to Peru or setting up camp in Upstate New York, she’s always up for an adventure both big and small. With Summer in full swing, we caught up with Alex for a family camping trip where she shared how her newest baby has changed her parenting style, what products keep her chill and where she’s hoping to travel to next. Read on…
Alex! You are one of the most fun mamas we know and you manage 4 (gah!) kids with such grace. What is your secret to staying so calm?
Haha, REALLY?! I must admit I get my fair share of losing my composure…on the regular 🙂 But I think at this point in my life, I am just too exhausted to work myself up any more.
What was it like adding Nieve to the family and going from 3 to 4? Was there anything you hadn’t expected?
I did not expect that having my 4th child would be my smoothest transition. I think it’s a mix of “been there done that” and having the other kiddies to help out and play amongst themselves. This time around has been a stark difference to how I was with my my first baby, Luella. I was so neurotic with her! I read every book on parenting and would have sleepless nights just checking to see that she was breathing (actually I still do the latter). But, just as I had been warned by my counterparts, it’s definitely gotten easier with each new addition.
Do you have any advice for stealing away quality time with each of your kids? Do you specifically schedule it or have it happen organically?
I definitely have to schedule it in. Each of the kids have such busy schedules with activities, classes and play dates that it is quite difficult for quality time to happen organically. So, we try our best do something special with each of our kids on a one on one basis at least once a month. Whether it be a trip to the supermarket, a baseball game, or lunch at a restaurant, it is extremely important to have some quality time with each child. It’s not only a breath of fresh air to only have one to look after (!) but they feel so special to have your undivided attention and I have personally discovered so much more about each of them this way.
Tell us about favorite moments where you can spend quality time with all of your kids.
Anything can, and should, be an opportunity for quality time. But the two things at the top of my list would be meal-time and travel.
Having meals with one another is a perfect way to enjoy each others company and to catch up on each other’s day. We aim to do this every day with at least one meal and my number one piece of advice during mealtime is to put your phones away.
As far as travel goes, it is so important to start traveling with your littles at an early age. It teaches them to be open minded, to expect the unexpected, and to roll with the punches. It encourages them to be accepting of others and to learn about different cultures. For us, trying new foods and exploring new places, is a wonderful way to spend quality time with together.
And please don’t think of travel as something you have to get on a plane to do. Short road/day trips are a great way to spend quality time with your family. The bonding starts right away on the train or car/taxi ride.
Some great destinations (for New Yorkers) would be:
We love that you are always up for an adventure and in addition to day trips, you enjoy traveling the globe with your littles in tow. What is your best advice for mamas wanting to do the same but are hesitant to make the trip?
Just do it. I truly believe in starting to explore with your little ones early so that they get used to everything about travel and it all becomes second nature. So many lasting memories are made, it’s definitely worth it.
Is there anything special you do to make a new city or country feel welcoming to your littles?
I always bring a couple of small things that are familiar to them. Items that they love and will comfort them. For example, a favorite stuffed animal or a little night light from their room. Munchkin makes a cute owl night light that Stirling absolutely adores.
Now what about car trips? What are your go-to products to make those as enjoyable as possible?
We LOVE road trips! The key thing here is to be minimal but prepared and organized which is easier said than done! To quench the kids thirst and hunger we always roll with the Munchkin Stainless Steel non-spill sippy cups and snack holders; they are on serious rotation! To keep the kids shaded without the sun glaring in their faces the car shades are awesome! They now make them with a temperature gauge. For my personal sanity, I love the seat guardian that Munchkin makes. It prevents the horrible indentations that the car seats make and also helps from the mess the kids make when they eat in the car. Honestly, I have tried to ban eating but have simply defeated on this one.
Do you have any family games and/or playlists that you turn to? If so, what are they?
Car Bingo is a great one! And I can check and see if they are cheating with the Baby In Sight Mirror. 🙂 Jamie likes to make a different playlist for every trip we go on. It’s amazing because when the kids hear a particular song later on, it reminds them of that place we travelled to.
Your company Cabbages & Kings was started with a love for celebrating cultures from around the globe. What has been your biggest lesson from abroad that you have incorporated into your own family life?
To cherish tradition. It is a key way to keep connected with our past and with one another. It reinforces values and gives everyone a sense of belonging. Keep tradition alive!
We know that mamas often have their “go-to” baby products. What things have been your faves this time around? Has it been different than with your first?
My “go to” items have been pretty consistent although some indeed have changed with the times and gotten better and more advanced.
This time around I’m loving:
- Coconut Oil (used for all my kids and myself!)
- Nose Frida (a recent AMAZING discovery)
- Cybex Yema Baby Carrier (soooo good because not only does it look good but baby can be out or inward facing on the front or back!)
- BabyZen Yoyo Stroller (so light and is approved to go on board with you!)
- BabyLit Books by Jennifer Adams (I love that a world of literature is summarized into just a few pages!)
What 3 things do you always have in your diaper bag?
A change of clothes, typically a onesie, wipes and a sippy cup! Again, I love the stainless steel one that Munchkin makes. I try to stay away from plastics as much as possible and theirs is perfect.
Do you have any daily rituals and/or mantras that you have incorporated into your routine?
Every morning I try to meditate for at least 5 minutes. By taking deep breaths and trying to clear my mind before the chaos begins. This, and our morning smoothie! The kids and I make one every morning, it is something they all love helping to do- who wouldn’t love dumping a load of ingredients into a pitcher and then blending it?!
What destination is on your wish list to visit next?
- Northern Lights (Iceland)
Traveling with Kids Brought to You by Munchkin