6 Top Tips for Moving to Spain with Children

 moving to spain with children

There are so many factors to consider when Moving to Spain with Children. As parents, we can often spend too much time worrying and thinking “What if?” …

Don’t waste time worrying. Start researching now. Ask Questions. Find answers. It’s all part of the incredible journey of Moving to Spain with Children.

Here are our 6 Top Tips for Moving to Spain with Children to get your journey started …


moving to spainGet the TIMING right:

  • Timing: as in the right time in your child’s life
  • Timing: as in the time of year
  • Timing: in relation to your own life

Is you child too young or maybe too old to move to Spain? Are you certain they will cope with a huge change in their life?

Research weather patterns, local holidays and school term times before planning flights and removal dates.

Why are you thinking about moving? Is this the best time, not only for your children, but also for you?


moving to spainReally research your LOCATION:

Whether you are looking to invest money in a property or a simply looking for a rental property, choosing the correct location is fundamental to, not only the success of your move, but also your future happiness in your new home. This is also why I encourage you to rent before buying when first starting a new life in Spain. Yes, I agree that rent can be dead money. However, until you are certain you have the correct location for you, the dead rental paid will probably be a lot less that the expense incurred by the purchase of the wrong property.

If, however, you have visited a place many times, at different times of the year then buying a property may be a suitable option. Just don’t rush into it.


moving to spainMake an effort to learn the LANGUAGE

In my opinion, too many people move to Spain without learning to speak Spanish. I’m not saying you need to be fluent, but I am suggesting that it should be a personal goal to at least make a really big effort. Being able to at least start a conversation with a Spaniard, in their own language, will truly enhance your chances of integration and open so many more exciting doors for you.

Invest in some dual language Cd’s to watch with your children. Play online language-learning games. Use flashcards … There are so many great methods for language-learning these days.

Watch out for our free Spanish language-learning articles, coming very soon.


moving to spain with childrenResearch EDUCATION options:

One of the first decisions about education is usually whether to enrol your children in a Spanish state school or a private international school. The availability of state schools and international schools in Spain varies by region. It is really important to carefully research the schools in the area you plan to make your new home before you plan your move to Spain.

In some areas of Spain, it can be difficult to secure places in a school, before having an address in Spain. Speak to the schools you are considering before making any definite decisions about your property.


moving to spain with childrenBe prepared to learn new CUSTOMS and PROCEDURES

Spain is very different to many other European countries. Too many people move over here with the “But, back home they …” attitude. Do yourself a huge favour and leave that attitude (if you ever had it) behind.Be prepared to slow down. Get ready for a more relaxed pace of life. If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow or maybe the day after! Stressing about it will not get it done any faster.

Be prepared to slow down. Get ready for a more relaxed pace of life. If it doesn’t get done today, it will get done tomorrow or maybe the day after! Stressing about it will not get it done any faster. You have a lot to learn. Prepare yourselves for the onslaught of the Spanish donkey-style bureaucratic system

Note: Burro is Spanish for donkey. Burrocracia is Spanish for bureaucracy 😉

moving abroad with children

moving to spain

Get a Copy of OUR BOOK and let us do a lot of the work for you!

The above tips are a quick summary of only a few of the many issues we cover in our guide Moving to Spain with Children.

To read some of the lovely reviews people have sent in, and to have a look inside at what essential topics are covered, pop over to Amazon (click here) and have a look.

 Let us make it easier for you  Read more here!

School Summer Holidays in Spain: To Enjoy Or To Endure?

12 Weeks Of School Summer Holidays in Spain…

kids in conil

Having fun in the sun!

As I write this post, I still cannot believe it is the last day of the long, school summer holidays in Spain.

Every summer, our children break up for 12 weeks of school summer holidays. Yes, you read that correctly: three months; 12 weeks; eighty days …

In our post, Sure Signs That You’re Adapting to Life As A Mum in Spain, Nº 8 was: “You stop dreading the arrival of the 12 weeks school summer holidays.”

And I confess, I no longer dread the summer holidays, I actively look forward to them and spend months planning all the adventures we could have filling those three months; 12 weeks; eighty days.

Am I mad? Maybe, but it is all about embracing opportunity and making the most of what may initially seem like a difficult situation.

You can listen to where and why we go where we go on holiday in August here:

Screenshot 2014-09-09 16.32.41

Admittedly, it is easier for us than for some families who are unable to avoid work commitments. However, we have carefully adapted our lives in Spain to be able to enjoy rather than endure these situations.  (Click here to read: Why Working From Home In Spain Rocks ) 

Last year, it was more challenging and despite booking a long holiday in Cadiz, my work spoilt what could have been a wonderful holiday. That, of course, has now all changed and I am free to enjoy this time with our children, and enjoy it we have.

(If you haven’t followed our journey so far, read my post: Do what you love. Love what you do!)

In this post, we will share with you how we planned and spent this year’s school summer holidays in Spain. Hopefully, this will give you some ideas how to enjoy rather than endure this time with your children. It’s all about planning…

School Summer Holidays in Spain

Silly string fighting with family & friends in the UK

So, how have we enjoyed our 12 Weeks of school summer holidays in Spain?

Click each of the links below to read the related articles, including information, directions and insider tips we want to share with you.

(NOTE: If the links are not active yet, it means that I haven’t managed to post the article yet … I’m out of practice following our 12 week holidays remember 😉  )

This is how we spent our time …

See how quickly that went! Where did those three months; 12 weeks; eighty days go?

School Summer Holidays in Spain

Beautiful beach days in Conil de la Frontera, Cadiz.

We have had such a wonderful summer and are already thinking about how to enjoy next summer. The only problem now is that I have to get back into work mode. There are only so many times you can tell people that you are “de vacaciones” … Maybe I’ll send them a copy of this post so they will understand. After all, it is one of the many reasons we chose to live and love our Family Life In Spain.

How do you spend your summer? Do you enjoy it or endure it? Send us your stories and ideas.

¡Feliz vuelta al cole!

Don’t forget to download a copy of our printable School Calendar for 2014 / 2015: CLICK HERE!

Our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas

As you may know, we currently live in the beautiful Andalucian, whitewashed village of Mijas. It is a popular destination for visitors from all over the world. We decided it was about time to share our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas. Please keep number 5 quiet though, or we will be in trouble with the locals.

So, what are our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas?

In no particular order ….

1. A visit to the Mayan Monkey Mijas Chocolate Factory

Do you love chocolate? Did you know you can make your own chocolate bar in Spain? Did you know that there is a chocolate factory in Mijas pueblo?

As self-confessed chocoholics, it was obvious that we would be visiting the new chocolate factory in our village, however we had not imagined actually making our own chocolate bars.

The Smallest Chocolate Factory in the World … maybe?

Address: Mayan Monkey Mijas. 524 Plaza de la Constitución. Mijas Pueblo. 29650 Málaga.

Tel: +34 951 052 772

Read more about our visit HERE:  A Visit to the World´s Smallest Chocolate Factory

NOTE: A new and bigger chocolate factory has recently opened. We will visit and report back very soon … eating more chocolate, only if we have to!

Address: Mayan Monkey Mijas. 524 Plaza de la Constitución. Mijas Pueblo. 29650 Málaga.   Tel: +34 951 052 772


2. Mijas Waterpark

Parque Aquatico Mijas is a great day out for children of all ages. Keep your eye out for discount vouchers given out at supermarkets and in hotels in the area. The vouchers can save you around €20 on the entrance fee for a family of four.

The water park offers rides and slides to suit all ages.

The Isla Lagartos (Lizard Island) allows the younger children to swim and play in fountains, slides and water jets.

Holiday Activities for Kids

The Lago Azul (Blue Lake) and Jacuzzi is where you can lie back, relax and let the water refresh you.

Everybody can have fun in the Piscina de Olas (Wave Pool).

For the more adventurous, there is: the 15 metre high Kamikaze; the 300 metre long winding slides of the Laberinto de Toboganes; the 40 metres of water madness of Rio Aventura and the Pistas Blandas where you can set your own challenges as to how to launch yourself in to the water.

Holiday Activities for Kids

Watch out for our next post with lots of crazy photos of water based fun at Parque Aquatico Mijas.

3. The Miniatures Museum: Carromato de Mijas

The Miniature Museum Mijas, Carromato de Mijas, is the first of its kind. It is a must for visitors to Mijas pueblo, no matter what your age.

From the outside, the Miniature Museum Mijas does not look like anything special. It actually looks a bit like a carriage off an old train. However, once you discover its treasures you will be happy you decided to visit.

Holiday Activities for Kids

The collection of miniatures was founded in 1972 by a famous hypnotist Juan Elegido Millán, who went by the stage name of Professor Max. This miniatures museum has pieces from over 50 different countries, many of them utterly remarkable in their attention to detail and microscopic artistry.

Photographs are not normally permitted inside the Miniature Museum Mijas. However, when the local photography competition takes place, all visitors can take pictures. We were in luck when we visited …

Miniatures Museum Mijas

My mum and my children were fascinated.

It is incredible to think that somebody has the patience to paint, using an eyelash, for months, to produce some of these amazing pictures.

There are some other interesting pieces such as: dressed up fleas; the seven wonders of the world painted on a toothpick; a shrunken head from the Jivaros Indians and some stunning Japanese artwork.

Miniatures Museum Mijas

Miniatures Museum Mijas

Dried and dressed fleas.

Miniatures Museum Mijas

Please also be advised that this museum is managed by AFESOL and all monies paid as entrance fees go towards this very needy cause. The Mijas ayuntamiento do not charge any rental fee to AFESOL and contribute to running costs.

AFESOL (Association of Families and Persons with Mental Illness in the Costa del Sol), is a non-profit association formed by families and people with mental illness, together to find solutions to problems that arise with mental illness.

Address: Avenida del Compas, s/n .29650 Mijas Pueblo.

Opening times: every day from 10am.


4. Mijas Donkey-Taxis

Some people may not agree with the use of Donkey Taxis in Mijas Pueblo, however the children tend to love the experience. It is said that in Mijas, in the early 60’s, some workers returning to their homes on their donkeys, were requested, by visitors, to photograph or take a walk.

As with most tourist attractions, the tips paid by the visitors exceeded the worker’s salaries. As a result, the DonkeyTaxis are today an institution in Mijas and one of its main attractions.

Steps have been taken to ensure the well being of the donkeys. To boost the quality of their tourist taxi rides, the famous Mijas donkeys must now be registered with brand new ID plates. This will also aid recognition of individual animals and improve the service. 

Holiday Activities for Kids


Holiday Activities for Kids


Things to Do with Kids in Mijas

5. The Municipal Swimming Pool in Osunillas (summer months only).

This is a beautiful outdoor pool that is free during the week! Shhh … don’t tell too many people though please.

Holiday Activities for Kids

It is located in the area of Osunillas near Mijas Pueblo. It is generally open from the first week in June. For non residents the entry fee is €3 at the weekends. There is plenty of shade beneath the trees if you do not want too much sun and there is a snack bar to purchase drinks and snacks. A plate of paella is only 5 euros!

Location: Carretera de Mijas a Benalmádena, Km 1. 29650 – Mijas.


So, there you have them. Our Top 5 Holiday Activities for Kids in Mijas. What do you think? We’d love to hear your suggestions and to receive your feedback once you’ve done any of these things in Mijas.

NEW IN 2015:  The Tuk Tuks are a new family favourite!!!  Read more about this eco-friendly way to visit out beautiful pueblo: https://www.facebook.com/tuktukspain



When Finding The Best School In Spain, For Your Child, Really Isn’t A Priority.

What are Your Priorities When Planning a Year in Spain?

Anybody who has read my book  and our previous articles on Education in Spain will know how I stress the importance of finding the best school for your child.

When planning a permanent to move to Spain for your family, researching education options should be above deciding where to look for a property on your “to do” list.

However, if you are planning to spend just a year in Spain, for language purposes or for a family life experience, priorities change.

Or, in my opinion, they should.year in spain

The World is a book, and those who do not travel read only a page - St. Augustine Click To Tweet

Spending a year in Spain is becoming more and more popular for families with children, of all ages. Admittedly, this is still very much more so with US residents rather than European residents. However this appears to be changing with more European families contemplating the idea.

Deciding your own “WHY” is important at this point.

“Why are you spending a year in Spain?”

Ask yourself, “What do we, as a family, want to gain from our year in Spain?”

The most common reasons people tell me that they want to spend a year in Spain are:

  • To spend more time together as a family.
  • To learn or improve Spanish language skills
  • To experience another culture.
  • To enjoy a family experience that they will never forget.

I am yet to be told that the year in Spain is to improve the academic education of the children.

This may seem obvious as you read this article. However, when we are engulfed in researching and absorbing information, scheduling trips and making travel arrangements, the obvious becomes clouded or even hidden beneath all the other stuff.

“Travel, in the younger sort, is a part of education; in the elder, a part of experience.” Francis Bacon Click To Tweet

Let me help you with this decision.

Do not feel guilty.

There really are other factors to place on your year in Spain “to do” list, above researching education options.

moving abroad with children

Photo by Sheila Roberts Photography

Some factors to consider when planning your year in Spain:


  • Do you want a rural, coastal or city environment?
  • How much travelling do you plan to do?
  • What transport options are available form your chosen location?
  • What are the seasonal variations to the size of the population?
  • What are the temperature variations and weather patterns?


  • What are property rental prices like in the area?
  • Is it easy to secure a short / long term rental within budget?
  • If you are opting for an international school education, are fees within budget?

Language Immersion Requirements:

  • Consider the level of your Spanish knowledge.
  • Do you really want to be in an area where nobody speaks any English?
  • Do you want a mix of languages spoken?
  • You do not need to be in a place where no expats are to learn the language.
  • Is it worth enrolling in language classes to enhance your learning?


  • If your focus is on language learning, subject to the age of your child, consider enrolling them in a Spanish state school
  • Many International schools in Spain are mainly attended by Spanish children (check this in advance) so this does not mean that your child will not learn any Spanish whilst there.
  • If you do not want to delay your child’s academic progress, consider enrolling them in an International School that follows the same curriculum.
  • Many schools finish at 2pm on a Friday so that allows for lots of weekends away, visiting new places.
  • School holidays are less often but longer durations, great for planning trips away.
  • School term starts around the first week in September so plan your arrival based on this.

“Travel is more than the seeing of sights; it is a change that goes on, deep and permanent, in the ideas of living.” Miriam Beard Click To Tweet

Based on experience, I would like to encourage you to shift your focus when planning your year in Spain. Focus on fun. Focus on family time. By doing this you are not neglecting your child’s education … after all, by spending a year in Spain with your children, you are gifting them an education that many would be envious of.

For more advice about finding your ideal location, CLICK HERE to visit our relocation website …

Have you spent a year in Spain with your family? We’d love to share your experiences with our readers…

Planting Seeds …

“The first step to growing strong roots is to start planting seeds.”

It feels like an eternity since I last posted on this blog. So much has happened over the past few months: We have finally moved into our new home in Spain; we are in the process of re-launching our business in Spain.; we have become involved in launching a new networking group on the Costa del Sol.; and we are helping to organise the Children’s Fayre 2011 to raise money for the oncology ward at Malaga children’s hospital.

So much to tell and so little time to tell it …

Yet, sat here now, after the recent storms, looking up towards the Sierra de Mijas, breathing in the fresh, clean air and marvelling at the feeling of space and tranquillity that surrounds out new home, I feel as if we have all the time in the world.

The forecast is for further storms and unsettled climes. For the weather in Spain, maybe, but not for us...  We are home. We are happy. We are looking forward. We are ready for this new chapter of our Family Life In Spain.

We have planted our seeds. Now it is time to get to work and help them to grow…

Bif! Bam! Pow! DCKids are Giving Away $100. Enter now!

Woo hoo! It’s competition time. $100 of Amazon vouchers are up for grabs. Just in time for Christmas! Read on and let’s take a wee trip down memory lane …


No matter where in the world you live, no matter how old you are, you will almost certainly recognise these iconic expressions:

Bif! Bam! Pow!


Holy Smokes!

And these phrases:

Better three hours too soon than a minute too late

No time to tarry, lest we forget, lives are at stake

An older head can’t be put on younger shoulders.

You’ve tripped on one of your tricks this time, Joker!

Can you remember which show they’re from, yet? This will give it away, for sure:

Come on, Robin, to the Bat Cave! There’s not a moment to lose!

Holy haberdashery, Batman!

Thanks to modern technology and the big world wide web, we can continue to enjoy childhood classics, such as Batman, wherever we are. We love sharing the cartoons we grew up with, with our children. Thanks to DCKids Youtube Channel and their website, our children are easily entertained at home, in the car and especially when travelling.

Games   DC Kids

The DCKids YouTube channel makes it easy for our children, and yours, to watch their favourite mystery squad, on-demand, and from any device.



DCKids is giving away a $100 gift card for Amazon.

Simply watch the video below and enter for your chance to win today!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

If you don’t understand Spanish, follow these instructions:

1. Watch the clip and tell us how many arrows does Green Arrow fire? (A) 12 (B) 17 (C)15

2. Subscribe to the DCKids YouTube channel

3. Visit DCKids.com

Good Luck Gang!


Costa del Sol Family Days Out That Don’t Cost The Earth

A Great List of Costa del Sol Family Days Out from Marianne.

As parents, our children are the centre of our world. We love them unconditionally and there’s nothing we wouldn’t do for them. Living in Spain is one of the choices that most of us have made in order to give our children a happy, healthy lifestyle. We all know the advantages of living here; the climate, the opportunity to learn a new language, the value placed on family and so on.

In our family, we especially value the opportunity to spend time outdoors and in the Málaga area there is no shortage of fabulous activities and attractions aimed at families, but they often come at a cost. Some of these places are very expensive for the admission price alone, and then they frequently require additional payments once you are inside. Extras such as food, activities, souvenirs and photographs can quickly add up and a fun day out can end up being prohibitively expensive.

However, this doesn’t have to be the case. There are numerous places in the Málaga / Costa del Sol area where you can have a fun family day out for little or no cost which is one of the things that we appreciate most about living here. These are some of our favourite things to do and places to go.

costa del sol family days out

Parque La Batería, Torremolinos

1. Parque la Batería, Torremolinos.
This park is full of fun things to do, there is no admission charge and ample parking is provided inside. My boys love to climb to the top of the Torre Mirador, look at the cannons, splash each other at the fountains, run around on the many open, grassy areas and play in the fantastic, large playground. The park doesn’t have a cafe, but there are some vending machines next to the playground. Rather unusually a ‘dummy tree’ gives you a place where you can hang your child’s dummy to give them an incentive to stop using one when they are at an age to do so, which I have never seen before or since but I think it’s a great idea. There is a huge, old-fashioned carousel which you do have to pay for, but it is only 50c per ride. There is also a big boating lake where you can hire a rowing boat for only €1 for 30 minutes and you can have a pleasantly relaxing sail in the sunshine. Or, alternatively, you can do as we usually do and spend the whole time trying to avoid crashing into other boats, shouting “look out!” and “sorry!” rather a lot, embarrassing yourself by getting wedged in under the bridge in front of amused passers-by, before eventually being called in at the end of your allotted time and trying to reverse rather amateurishly into one of the numbered bays!

2. Paloma Park, Benalmadena.
This is another place full of big, open spaces for energy-filled children to run around in and if you stop and look under the hedges and bushes there is a good chance you will see some rabbits hiding underneath! There are also freely roaming chickens, geese and peacocks as well as various other animals housed in enclosures which are located just behind the big playground. This has equipment suitable for younger children as well as other more adventurous climbing apparatus for the older ones. The park has a few cafes and some other smaller playgrounds scattered about, along with a big fountain and some rather wonderful metal sculptures of heads lying around on the grass which are large enough for children to crawl into. The lake is home to lots of ducks, geese, swans and turtles and you can hire segways and pedal powered carriages if you fancy travelling around the lake at a slightly faster pace! We love it here! There is lots of parking around the outside of the park, but it can get a bit busy at the weekends and in the Summer.

3. Los Pedregales Park, Estepona
There are two parts to Los Pedregales. There are the more-developed bits with playgrounds, picnic tables and open-air barbecue facilities which are very popular with families and which can get quite busy at the weekend. It is a good place to hold a birthday party if you aren’t averse to carrying all your party paraphernalia through a bit of overgrown terrain. This bit is also due for further development in the future as there are plans to create a dinosaur-themed park there and a go-karting track too. Or there is our favourite bit which is the wilder, undeveloped side of the park. We go in through the smaller side gate with the Adana sign (the rescue home for dogs is also through this gate and further up the mountain track a short way) where there are lots of pine trees (great for pine cone collecting missions but not good for dogs in the Processionary Caterpillar season) and rocky tracks leading down to a stream that rushes over the pathway at the bottom in the rainy season. We take our dog up there and we all love to clamber over the rocks along the stream and climb up the tree covered slopes at the top of the hill. Great fun for bracing walks, rock climbing and for burning off your children’s energy in the fresh air!

costa del sol family days out

San Pedro Boulevard

4. San Pedro Boulevard, San Pedro
The fantastic new boulevard is an ideal place to go for a walk/scooter/skate with the children, stopping en route at one of the many playgrounds. There are a couple of cafes too if you fancy stopping for a drink while your children play. My boys especially love the big skating park at the far end where they can ride their scooters in the large, open space and also the undulating bridge which they love to run over.

5. Parque Tres Jardines, San Pedro
This park is relatively new and hidden away in the industrial estate of San Pedro. It has a lagoon with some hungry ducks always eager to be fed, lots of open spaces, two playgrounds (one aimed at older children and the other ideal for younger children) and a kiosk which admittedly I’ve never actually seen open but maybe I’ve just been unlucky. There is also an adjoining area set aside as a dog park so its a great place to go with your dog too! This is another popular venue for birthday parties and it can get quite full with party goers at the weekends and competition to reserve the picnic tables can get quite fierce!

6. Paseo Walks
Our favourites are the San Pedro and Estepona paseos, both of which have playgrounds on the beach and on the paseo itself along the course of them, as well as chiringuitos and cafes if you want to stop for a drink along the way. Paseos are a great way to spend a few hours on foot or on bikes and scooters.

7. Benahavis Parks
Benahavis has two excellent parks for children. The first one you will come to, which is on the left just as you drive into the town has a lovely little playground, a lake, a waterfall, open spaces to play on the grass and even an amphitheatre where children can put on a ‘show’ on the big stage area. There are pathways that you can walk or ride along, beautifully tended gardens and picnic tables too. In the lake we have often seen turtles and even a water snake. The second park is further into the town, right opposite the school and this has a nice little kiosk. There are lots of play facilities for all ages and it is also a popular location for birthday parties.

8. Duquesa Castle and Park
My boys love visiting this castle. They like to climb up to the top to see the great views and enjoy going into the little exhibition rooms. There is one room where you can have a try at fencing and others that offer historical information and displays of relics. Next door to the castle is a park with a playground and a wishing well. It is all nearby to the beach as well so there are lots of opportunities for playing here. And if you happen to find an orange frisbee somewhere in the trees at the back then it is ours!

costa del sol family days out

San Pedro Golf Club

9. San Pedro Golf Club Driving Range
This is located opposite the Bárcelo hotel and for just 1€ you can get a bucket of 25 golf balls to use on the driving range. It is suitable for adults and children and there are golf clubs that you can borrow if you don’t have any of your own. There are a couple of putting greens where your little one can practise their finer golf skills and a big grassy bunker where they can whack the balls with a little less finesse! Golf lessons are available if you discover that your child could possibly be a golfing genius and there is a cafe where you can enjoy a drink while watching all of the golfing action.

costa del sol family days out

Pedal boat rentals at Parque Fluvial, Fuengirola

10. Fuengirola Castle and River
The castle grounds are a great place to run around and there is the added opportunity to have fun on the water for the more energetic types. There are pedal boats that you can hire for a few euros for 30 minutes (30 minutes has never seemed longer than when I was pedalling a swan full of excitable children with my rapidly tiring legs, to the shouts of “faster, go faster mummy!” coming from the smaller passengers in the back!). There is also a zip line going over the water and a cafe on the water front. We have never actually seen the castle open so I can’t comment on what is inside those elusive walls as that remains a mystery to our family!

NOTE: Here’s a video we made at the end of last year by the river at Fuengirola … (Lisa)

11. Benahavis River Walks
Just before you get into Benahavis town you can park up on the right hand side and explore the river walks. There are places you can swim as well as more adventurous routes that you can follow through rocky terrain and water. In the Summer it gets very busy and it can be difficult to park but it is a fun way to spend a few hours and get some exercise too, all for free!

So keeping your little ones entertained needn’t cost the earth. These are just some of our favourite things to do and chances are you have your own family favourites. I would love to hear about them as we are always looking for new, fun and more importantly, inexpensive things to do!

NOTE From Lisa: Click on the Google map below to get directions to these places and many more. Where else should we add to our @FamilyInSpain Costa del Sol Family Days Out That Don’t Cost The Earth map?

Don’t forget about a trip to the Lakes

Send us your suggestions 😉

Thanks Marianne! Why not pop over and have a look at Marianne’s website and join in her Facebook page 😉

Marianne Hill is a primary school teacher who, in those rare, quiet moments when she is not surrounded by children at work or at home, can usually be found either writing articles or blog posts, reading, listening to music or posting on Facebook. Alternatively she could be out running or cycling around the Estepona area of the Costa del Sol of Spain, where she lives with her partner Neil and their children Sam, 6 and Henry, 4.

Web: www.mariannehill.com   Twitter: @marianne4373    Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/lifewithmychildren

quiz about spain

CLICK HERE to take our fun Quiz about Spain

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Ramblings of An Expat Parent Abroad : Our Ten Year Old Son’s Adventures.

expat parent abroad

Trying on Ski Gear in the sports shop

Where do I start? How do I explain? Do I know what I want to say? If I can’t get it right in my head, how can I get it right on paper? Or, at least, vaguely comprehensible, for the person reading it.

Ah, got it. Putting it on paper, as it comes out and then re-reading, re-writing and re-thinking … Yep. That’s how I’ll do it.

So, where do I start?

Ok. Let’s start with the right here, right now.

Here goes …

I’ve just come home from a school meeting. Our 10 year old son ( yep, I said 10, remember that!), is going on his first overnight ski trip to the Sierra Nevada in 2 weeks time. Is it 2 weeks? OMG. It’s on January 28th. Ok 13 days. Hmphhh.

I’m in a virtual fairground, on an interminable ride. The biggest, most exciting and at the same time, the scariest of all. The infamous roller coaster. Not one but three: The roller coaster of life; The roller coaster of expat life and The roller coaster of parenthood. (Now that’s another blog post I’ll be sharing with you!)

And sometimes you just need to jump off the ride and gather your thoughts. Back track and work out whether you’re screaming for joy, or screaming in fear.

expat parent abroad

This is us enjoying the rides … totally soaked but loving it!

I’ve just managed to stagger off the education waltzer. (Yep. That’s another mind boggling post I’m waiting to share with you) I’ve being whirring round and round in circles for a few months. The ride finally ended and my dizziness was starting to clear.

It is literally a non stop ride at the moment.

But, I am happy to say, it’s not shrieks of fear you will here in our house. It’s shrieks of excitement. We’re loving the ride…

Are you getting dizzy yet?

Maybe adding some bullet points will slow things down.

Here are the ups and downs, twizzes and twirls of the past few months:

  • For the first time ever, I was doubting our son’s school
  • I researched the private school option
  • I was convinced I had found the best school ever for him
  • I decided I didn’t want my son to change (he is the most beautiful person!)
  • I rediscovered why we chose to live where we live
  • I was unhappy with our materialistic ways
  • I researched a year travelling, with all the family
  • I considered a trip to South America with my son (volunteer projects)
  • I started teaching him coding thanks to Khan Academy

I need to put my thoughts about each of the above points in writing, but that will take time. You know, like needing to hold onto something and clear your head, as you step off a fairground ride. If you jump off and walk away, you’ll probably fall flat on your face. When you experience these rides, you need time to process it all and to be able to think clearly.

expat parent

Shrieks of joy or shrieks of fear ?

So, back to the Sierra Nevada Trip.

In a couple of weeks, 36 pupils, aged between 10 and 11, from our son’s Spanish state school, will be going to the Sierra Nevada, for two days of fun. They will travel via coach, leaving the pueblo early on Thursday morning. On arrival they will be kitted out with the necessary equipment and will receive 5 hours of instruction, with one instructor per eight pupils. That night they will eat and sleep in a hotel in resort.

The following day, they will have breakfast in the hotel and then head to the slopes for another 5 hours of instruction in their groups. They will then jump on the coach and head back home (To their eagerly awaiting parents).

It was decided that, due to the short duration, all the children would have snowboards lessons.

“How bloody great is that. At only 10 years old!”

Aaaargh … this calls for “Ninja mum” action. (Thanks Tania from Sticky Fingers blog. I’ll be referring back to your inspirational words in another post!)

This year, 2015, is all about family travel and family fun, for us. We have several trips already booked and are looking to fit in as many more as possible.

When Joshua, our 10 year old, first mentioned the Sierra Nevada trip, which was only a vague possibility at that stage, hubby and I both agreed that we didn’t think it was a good idea. We have both worked in ski resorts (in our child-free days) and we really want the children to have an enjoyable first skiing experience. As a result, our first family skiing holiday is yet to happen. (Although we have now booked to go to Andorra in Semana Blanca this year … Yippee!).

We both agreed that 2 days was not enough to get a good feel for the sport.

Time went by and the possibility became a reality. Somehow he just ended up with his name on the list and the deposit paid. Luckily, attending the meeting, this evening, eliminated any doubt I may have had. It is so exciting. He is 10 years old and he is going to a ski resort with his classmates, and they are staying overnight. What an experience!

As a parent, I believe the more experiences we give our children, the more open and well-rounded they become. Even if it is not always easy for us.

Oh, and that mobile phone that I carefully convinced him that he didn’t need, despite the fact that most of his friends have one, is now on order. He doesn’t know yet. But, in this instance, I feel I want him to have a phone so I can speak to him whilst he’s away. It will only be used in these instances. When he comes home, the phone will be put away. I’m not ready for him to take that path yet.

The mobile phone debate is one I am sure takes places in many households. I was shocked to read the following statistics in this El Pais article:

Around a third of 10-year-olds have a cellphone. By the age of 12, the figure is 70 percent, and by 14, 83 percent.
A fifth of 11-year-olds have a social network profile. By age 12, that figure is 50 percent, and by the age of 15 on, 90 percent.
Sources: National Statistics Institute and the Interior Ministry.

The world is changing at in incredible speed. Learning how to jump from one ride to another, without getting dizzy and falling flat on our face, is one of the many skills an expat parent abroad has to master.

So, ski gear shopping has begun and the roller coaster carriage is slowly chugging upwards … this is going to be an incredible ride!

expat parent abroad

Joshua, all kitted out and ready to go to Sierra Nevada!

A Visit to MIMA Malaga 2014: Great for Kids!

Yesterday we made our annual visit to MIMA Malaga at the Palacio de Ferias y Congresos in Málaga.

MIMA Malaga is basically like a huge indoor play area and fairground for children of all ages. For only €6 per child and €5 per adult,  you can enjoy hours of fun!

mima malaga

The event is designed for leisure and family entertainment during the Christmas holidays and takes place each year, at the Trade Fair and Congress Centre of Malaga, FYCMA, around the dates of December 26th to January 4th.

It is an indoor amusement park with over 60 recreational, sporting and educational activities where children, between 2 and 12 years, learn and play.

The fact that is it all undercover means that it can be enjoyed whatever the weather, even though we are lucky to have blue skies and sunshine in Malaga, for most, if not all, of the festive season.

mima malaga

There are activities such as typical fairground rides, a natural ice rink, a mini-golf course, a basketball court, a climbing wall and zip line circuit, road safety workshops, environmental workshops, mathematical development, crafts, face painting, pool areas, trampolines, bouncy, parades, storytelling, theatres and more…

mima malaga

Sponsored by Unicaja, MIMA closed its doors last year having had more than 32,000 visitors, 67 activities and 40 visits to schools.

Not surprising really when you get so much for such a small amount of money!

Family in Spain TIPS:

  • Get there early as it gets very busy. Mornings tend to be quieter than evenings.
  • Book your tickets online at least the day before to avoid ticket office queues (https://www.ticketea.com/-entradas-mima-2014-muestra-infantil-de-malaga/) NB: You cannot buy them on the same day!
  • The queues only get longer so just get in line for the activity or ride you want to enjoy and be ready to entertain the little ones while in the queues.
  • Although advertised for up to 12 years, most of the activities are better suited for up to 10 years.
  • It is loud! If your children do not like busy, noisy places then it is not recommendable.
  • If you plan to stay for lunch there are a few options but, again, eat earlier if you can to avoid the queues or even take your own picnic.


mima malaga

MIMA Malaga 2014 Opening hours:

From Friday 26 December to Sunday 4 January, from 11.00 to 21.00 hrs.

Closed: Wednesday, December 31 and Thursday, January 1st.

FREE Parking

MIMA Malaga 2015 Entrance fees:

Children: 6 €

Adult: € 5

OAP: 4 € *

General admission includes all rides and activities at MIMA 2014 except climbing wall with zip line 2 €; pool areas, 2 €; and Rink, 3 €. In the Ice Rink is compulsory to wear gloves.

Location and map MIMA Malaga 2015:

mima malaga

Click on this to access the Google Map and get directions.

Palacio de Ferias y Congresos, Avenida Ortega y Gasset, 201. 29006 MÁLAGA.

Tlf: 952 045 500




A Spanglish Christmas Poem

Spanglish christmas poem

We love this Spanglish Christmas Poem, based on the well-known English “‘Twas the Night Before Christmas”. Read it to your children, they are sure to love it!

We’ve added the translation of the Spanish words in each line for you.

Wishing you all a wonderfully ¡Feliz Navidad!

‘Twas the night before Christmas and all through the casa, (house)
Not a creature was stirring : ¡Caramba! ¿Qué pasa?  (Good heavens. What’s wrong?)
Los niños (the children) were tucked away in their camas, (beds)
Some in long underwear, some in pijamas.

While hanging the stockings con mucho cuidado (very carefully)
In hopes that old Santa would feel obligado (bound/obliged)
To bring all children, both buenos and malos, (good and bad)
A nice batch of dulces (sweet things) and other regalos. (presents)

Outside in the yard there arose such a grito  (shout)
That I jumped to my feet like a fightened cabrito. (little goat)
I ran to the window and looked out afuera, (outside)
And who in the world do you think that it era? (was)

Saint Nick in a sleigh and a big red sombrero (hat)
Came dashing along like a crazy bombero. (fireman)
And pulling his sleigh instead of venados (reindeer)
Were eight little burros  (donkeys) approaching volados. (flying)

I watched as they came and this quaint little hombre  (man)
Was shouting and whistling and calling by nombre: (name)
“Ay Pancho, ay Pepe, ay Cuco, ay Beto,
Ay Chato, ay Chopo, Macuco, y Nieto!”

Then standing erect with his hands on his pecho (chest)
He flew to the top of our very own techo. (roof)
With his round little belly like a bowl of jalea, (jelly)
He struggled to squeeze down our old chiminea, (chimney)
Then huffing and puffing at last in our sala, (room)
With soot smeared all over his red suit de gala, (fancy suit)

He filled all the stockings with lovely regalos  (presents)
For none of the ninos had been very malos. (bad/naughty)
Then chuckling aloud, seeming very contento, (happy)
He turned like a flash and was gone like the viento. (wind)
And I heard him exclaim, and this is verdad, (true)
Merry Christmas to all, and Feliz Navidad! (Merry Christmas!)

spanglish christmas

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