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Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!): Country Kids in a Big City

Life Lessons of a Military Wife (overseas in Europe!)

My goal here is to make your life easier, especially those who are in the unique situation of being a military spouse. Yes...I've been around...but in a good way...and hopefully can share those tips, tricks and shortcuts with you too. I've been on this military bus for over 40 years now. My goals in life are to have a well-run home, few money worries, well adjusted children, money socked away and whatever happiness I can scoop out of life.

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After life as an Army brat, being in the Army myself and marrying a soldier, I can honestly say I have a bucket full of life lessons I can share to help you make your everyday life easier and enlightening. Don't waste your time making unnecessary mistakes and benefit from others who have come before you on your journey through life.

Friday, November 20, 2009

Country Kids in a Big City

My fingers have been itching to write! I never posted after our Berlin trip. What a wonderful city known for always changing but somehow remaining the same. The weather was gorgeous and with our Berlin Welcome Card, we traveled all over the city on the transit system without having to worry about purchasing or validating more tickets. I still remember getting around the city on just my military ID card back in the day, but I am dating myself with that comment. Since our boys are 10 and 12, I had to go over the "yes we are in a big city, and we're not in Kansas anymore" speech. Here's what I told my kids to give them the tools they needed, not to get lost and how to handle themselves should something go wrong.

Here are some tips you can use for the speech to your kids:

  • Look around. My kids tend to walk and yak and yak and before they know it, they are way ahead or way behind. Have them look around and be aware of where they are. Don't let them cross the next crosswalk until you get there, and always keep them in front of you rather than behind.
  • Arm them with a cheap prepaid cell phone. They only cost 20 euro, and it is worth the peace of mind should they get separated. Preprogram your cell phone number into the phone.
  • Paper with hotel name, number and your cell phone number. Everyday, they carried an index card with this information on it. When you are scared, you can get forgetful and forget everything.
  • Small change in pocket. This was psychological. It's not like the change would make a difference in anything other than the confidence it instilled in my children.
  • Store owners/managers or police officers only. I have always told my kids, even when they were little, if they ever were to get separated, they were to immediately approach someone working in a store or a policeman. This is their best chance of someone being honest and truly helping them.
  • Clue the kids in on your schedule. My kids always know the schedule of events of the day. That way, they could say where we were going next.
  • No names on backpacks or bags. You might as well put a sign on your kid saying, "hey child molester, over here!"; knowing a child's name gives a sexual predator a huge leg up. Research shows that a child will become more trusting of someone as soon as that person starts using their name. Don't write it on their school backpacks either, unless you write it on the inside somewhere out of sigh.
  • Have the talk. Tell your kids about peoples' appearances and looking perfectly normal but not knowing what they are like on the inside. It is okay to be wary of people and not talking to someone you don't know is not considered rude.
  • Walk on the inside. On sidewalks, have them walk on the inside, away from the street. While you are at it, keep your purse on the inside too. In Italy especially, you will regularly see mopeds whipping by with someone looking to grab someone's purse.
What tips can you share for kids out and about?

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6 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I love your comments about Berlin and how it leads you to talk about safety. Having lived in Germany for a few years and become acquainted with some policemen there, I feel comfortable telling my kid to look for Die Polizei if she needs help there. It's no insurance for safety, but it's a lot better than the alternative(s).
Jerry
www.leads4insurance.com

November 20, 2009 at 10:42 PM  
Blogger Mrs. Spouse said...

I don't have kids so I have no experience and I have never gave it a thought. But you put it all right. :)

December 1, 2009 at 1:11 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi, I'm moving to Germany at the end of the month and I'm looking for a list of food/personal items that I should bring that are hard to come by or really expensive like Peanut Butter and vanilla extract. Any help would be greatly appreciated! Thanks! Rawanshrum@hotmail.com

January 15, 2010 at 10:18 PM  
Blogger ****Veteran Military Wife at Life Lessons of a Military Wife**** said...

In depends on if you are military (and have access to the commissary and PX) or if you will be on your own (hired by a civilian company over here). Our PX and commissary do have thousands of American items.

Off-post, I have found peanut butter, Oreos and Doritos and other American products at REAL (a favorite German grocery/retail chain of mine)...but obviously they will be more expensive.

Check the boards on toytowngermany.com, as lots of folks discuss that on there.

Most Germans also use vanilla beans rather extract in their recipes too.

http://www.toytowngermany.com/forum/index.php?showtopic=156029

January 16, 2010 at 1:53 PM  
Anonymous KP said...

I don't have children but I believe the tips you've given are also useful for adults who aren't frequent travelers. I hope you had a nice visit to Berlin! I didn't have a chance to visit while I was working in Europe, but I was able to explore Poland and Denmark. I recommend both!

February 11, 2010 at 1:30 AM  
Blogger Dana said...

Hi! I see you are possibly still in Stuttgart. We are getting ready to PCS there early summer. Can you email me...I would love to get some more specific info from you as far as housing/car shipping, etc if you wouldn't mind helping me out!
My email is serfass@hotmail.com
I tried to find another way to contact you on your blog, but didn't see another way. Hope you don't mind!

Thanks so much,
Dana

March 15, 2010 at 6:26 PM  

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