This is a guest post by Lana Katsaros, travel journalist and writer for HappilyCreatedChaos.com.
We had a 30 hour travel day, and our son Atlas, who was 4 at the time, had miraculously been in a good mood for the entire journey home. He was going with the flow, which was pretty unusual for him. We historically couldn’t bring him to a mall, in fear his sensory processing disorder would go into overdrive and he would be hugging the floor in 30 seconds flat. We avoided dining out, in fear a waitress would get slightly too close to him while serving our plates, he would panic and start flailing at her. I stopped bringing him to the zoo after he stripped my clothes off of me leaving me in my bra, in public, with a bloody lip after telling him it was time to go. We had moved passed a lot of these situations through years of occupational therapy, speech therapy, and ABA, but I was still nervous. We had exclusively driven to take vacations, and this was the first time we were getting on a flight after our son was professionally labeled ASD.
We had practiced a lot before we took the trip from Miami to Portugal, the shortest route to get to Europe for us at the time. I had consulted with our son’s occupational therapists, read tons of articles, and began using stretching and yoga to alleviate some sensory seeking instances with success. His ASD school at the time even had doubts about our long trip, but we had confidence. It would take thirty minutes to get to the airport in Lisbon, two hours to get through the airport and onto the plane, and eight hours to fly back to The States. After that it was a bit of a wild card. Would getting stamped back in be quick or short? It all depended on the line and how many of those people on our plane and any other incoming planes has US passports.
Atlas did the drive to the airport well, which was to be expected at this point in our journey. He went with the flow at the airport, and did the whole two hours of lines and security procedures with grace. We were impressed, but weary of the plane ride. Keeping him entertained for a whole 8 hours was going to be hard, and we didn’t have any “plane practice”. Going to Lisbon was easy, we caught a red eye. Coming back, we weren’t so lucky.
See, Atlas has a combination of sensory processing disorder, a history of a speech delay, and low muscle tone. Before we understood what any of this meant, we thought it was all behavioral. Once we learned he was sensory seeking and looking for input, our world changed. His world changed. Speech therapy helped him gain a voice, and giving his body what it needed helped us rejoin the world again. The plane ride went fine, all 8 hours of it. In combination of seat activities, we walked to the bathroom a lot, and walked around saying “hi” to babies and other children on our flight. Things started to get tricky after that, at customs.
Arriving at 10pm, we were all tired and well done with travel for the day, but the line for customs was longer than expected and Atlas looked like he was going to break. I wanted to get ahead of it so I immediately started using occupational hacks married with some yoga poses I knew, and he snapped into complying with my instructions. “Stand like a star!” “Can you hold it for 5 seconds?” “Good, now try a tree.” “Can you do it longer?”. This went on for a solid 30 minutes as we slowly crept up the line. I did all standing poses, and asked what felt good and focused on those times of yoga poses until he emitted a sense of calm. An hour later we were walking to our car without a meltdown in sight.
From this day on, we worked on different poses and meditations to use during different situations. We tweaked and consulted and refined over and over again until they were reliable. Then we packaged them up, named flows and included a comprehensive guide and shared it with the world in April of 2019.
Yoga for Littles is for everyone. For the wigglers, for the deep in thought, for the sensory seeking, for siblings and only children, and of course their parents. This deck has saved me in so many public situations, it’s impossible to keep track. I made something totally customizable and compoundable. Sometimes just two minutes is enough, so times you will find yourselves doing four flows a day. Whatever the case, I hope this can help families like mine the way it’s helped me. Atlas is now 6 years old, and we travel the world as full time family travel journalists.
Lana Katsaros is a full-time family travel journalist, currently on assignment in Europe. She worldschools her son Atlas and she and her husband create videos, articles, and itineraries for those looking to travel with their littles on happilycuratedchaos.com. As a published children’s wellness author (Yoga for Littles, which reached #1 in three categories on Amazon), the focus on her blog and social media is the day to day activities they do which includes a social-emotional curriculum out in nature as a family while balancing new and exciting offerings of each place they visit. Weaving the good days with the hard days is also a focus, because this parenting thing is hard, and sometimes when you are with your family 24/7, it can get even harder and sharing the truth is important.
Happily Curated Chaos has covered searching for the Six Forgotten Giants in Denmark, The Seven Trolls and the Magic Tower in Belgium, ziplined through a forest, hiked up Italian mountains to find waterfalls, spent the day at Gucci Garden, learned to cook a vegan meal on a secluded farm in Italy, biked on the ancient walls of Luca, stayed in a village of only 100 people, completed tree-top ropes courses,as well as explored museums, learned to skateboard, test out arcades across the globe, and discover the most magical amusement park of all time.
Katsaros is a full-time family travel journalist, currently on
assignment in Europe. She worldschools her son Atlas and she and her
husband create videos, articles, and itineraries for those looking to
travel with their littles on happilycuratedchaos.com.
As a published children’s wellness author (Yoga for Littles, which
reached #1 in three categories on Amazon), the focus on her blog and
social media is the day to day activities they do which includes a
social-emotional curriculum out in nature as a family while balancing
new and exciting offerings of each place they visit. Weaving the good
days with the hard days is also a focus, because this parenting thing is
hard, and sometimes when you are with your family 24/7, it can get even
harder and sharing the truth is important.
Through their website, they also share in vegan findings around the globe, natural places for you to explore on your own and the day to day challenges of parenting on the go. The family left the states in the summer of 2019, and do not show any signs of stopping. The trigger to leave was based on the current state of the American educational and health care system and the goal is to learn first hand how other cultures face modern-day challenges.
Lana is also the owner of The Rich Hippies House, an event and holiday compound in West Palm Beach Florida, where she has hosted many local events for small businesses. The purpose of the space is to have a beautiful and comfortable location for people to host mindful retreats, intimate weddings, or simply gather and spend time together.