Travelling As A Family – The Best Experiences No One Tells You About!
I’m writing this after a week in the car with my girlfriend and our 5 boys under 10. I came out of the experience much less scarred than she. The weather was against us with serious wind and icy cold conditions. Hard to get rid of all that pent up boy energy when you can’t get outside comfortably. We had dreamt of evenings by the fire toasting marshmallows after long walks throughout the day but instead we had a fire that swirled around in the wind and covered us in ash and smoke after a day mostly inside. It was not pleasant.
Sounds like your idea of hell. Well, it was in many, many moments. But is that not parenting? Being a parent is full of terrible, soul sucking moments that leave you sparkle-less and longing for that life before. It is also full of tiny moments of joy that light up your heart and fill you with love like nothing else. Before children I thought I loved just about every guy I ever kissed. I used to run away with my imagination and turn a kiss into so much more. When I had my first child and watched my husband (technically not my husband at the time, but that is another story) pick him up and I watched him fall in love. Priceless. For my eternity that moment will be with me. I’ve never known love like it and will now never let my imagination run away with the idea of love because I now know what it really is. My son is almost 9 and that 5 minutes of his entire existence stays with me always.
That moment has had such an effect on me. It defines me as a mother. I have bad days and struggles just like everyone else. My struggles are real and whilst they may not be visible to everyone we have very real struggles. Certainly not as much as the next person and possibly more than the other person. Hence, I try to cherish and be content. I try to appreciate and be in the moment. I get one shot at this job and I can’t apply for a different role or position. This is it. I write down the funny things they say and when I have bad days or even weeks, I read that like book and not only does it remind me of how fabulous my children are but also how much I love them. My Quottable Kid is essentially just a book you can write in, but the presentation is half of it. Click here for a link to purchase. My son actually likes to read it himself and I would like to think he really gets how much he means to me by reading through what fills me with joy and love.
I have been writing in this book now for each of my kids since they began to talk. When you read back through it, overwhelming the funniest things are when we are travelling and experiencing new things. My first son kept asking to go on the hanging buses when we were in Melbourne. He is extraordinarily literal and it made sense once I worked out he was referring to the trams. Remembering these moments of their childhood as they experience new things is why I travel with my kids.
I had some time off work and drove all the way to Brisbane with a 12 month old. Alone. We took the scenic route to allow for as many stops as required. Baby threw up the whole entire way. I had at least 4-5 nappy changes in addition to all the outfits. Waiting for me at the end were my parents and watching Dad water the lawn with my grubby baby next to him was worth all that pain.
Last week, in a car full of 5 boys, there was a lot of noise about putting a movie on or stopping here and there. Everyone was moaning and then my 2 year old pipes up in a brief moment of silence and says. ‘Just be happy.’ Nailed it. Absolutely buddy. The previous 5 minutes of shouting and moaning completely forgotten with one statement from a toddler.
My kids are 6 years apart. At home they play with each other for 10 minutes here and there but essentially have their own toys and do their own thing. On holidays however they build sandcastles together. Last week my eldest read my youngest a book every night and then in the morning they lay in bed watching a children’s show on the tablet whilst the rest of the house woke up. If my youngest fell over, my eldest helped him. Normally he would be too preoccupied to notice. These are the things no one tell you. Being together and spending time away from distractions is essentially bonding you together and teaching you a deeper love for each other. Yes, there are rough moments when luggage goes a miss or you’ve taken the wrong turn but working through this as a family is the experience you want. You want to build resilience and make your kids adaptable through dealing with obstacles. Through those tough moments there are moments of kindness and love that will remain with you. They stick because they arrive in amongst a knee deep pile of poop. You notice because as things couldn’t get any worse, they don’t, a little comment or act of love saves you.
Each trip we take the kids bring something home. This recent road trip it was quartz found in a paddock but also the discovery my youngest will eat tacos. Who knew? On summer holidays it has been swimming with greater confidence or learning to play a game at the beach with other holiday makers. In Malaysia it was a profound understanding of Orang-utans and all their wonder. At Tangalooma Island it was appreciating dolphins in the wild and how majestic they are. In Melbourne it is discovering cool parks and bringing home ideas for a pitch to our local council for a similar park.
Keep travelling. Sometimes it is tough and sometimes it is easy. Regardless of the rough patches, you are with each other, with no distractions. Revel in that and enjoy it. Focus on the fact you are creating memories. Hardship is laughed at later and things gone wrong are character building. Enjoying the sunshine and turquoise waters gives you a happy place always. Having a happy place is the best experience you can have as a family.
I would like to dedicate this to my lovely friend. No-one told us being a parent was this hard. No-one told us the real struggles and the worry beforehand. No-one also told us of the immense love affair and the pride and the joy. Sometimes it is difficult to hold your head above water. I am always here for you and your family. I have faith in the belief it won’t always be hard and sometime in the future we will enjoy simplicity again.
Guest post published by Virginia from – kidsandluggage.com.au