Eight months ago my husband and I made the life-changing decision to sell everything for an adventure around the world with our two kids. At the time my daughter, Dorothy, was almost three years old and my son, Manilla, only one.
I hope this post doesn’t come across pretentious and proud. There are many things that my children miss out on from not having a permanent home and the beneficial consistency that comes with that. I’m super aware of those. Like every mother, I question myself all the time — if I’m doing the right thing for my family. But, in an effort to be more positive and confident, I will share a few of the things that I can see in my own children that make me feel like I’m doing an okay job. If you’re considering some travels with your own kiddos, I hope you will gain some insight from our experiences!
Here are six things my kids have gained from our travels:
1. A love and respect for animals and nature.
We’ve seen and interacted with dogs, pigs, dolphins, whales, sharks, stingrays, kangaroos, koala bears, donkeys, monkeys, frogs, lizards and elephants. The best part — none of them were in a zoo! Both of my kids love animals. Manilla wants to get a little closer than Dorothy, but they both get so excited every time we even see a gecko on the wall. Which is actually quite often. Some highlights have been hopping along with a mob of kangaroos in Australia and swimming in the water with a school of sharks in the Bahamas!
The world is a beautiful place. There is so much to see and learn. Traveling has given our children the blessing to experience first-hand many of God’s beautiful creations.
2. How to put yourself out there.
It makes me sad that my kids miss the social interaction of their friends and cousins back home. My daughter is really craving social interaction and she knows that she’s not going to make friends unless she does it. We’ve had to teach her how to take initiative, be bold, be outgoing and to be inclusive. If Dorothy sees a girl under the age of eleven she will go right up, ask them their name and invite them to play. That makes me so happy.
I’m amazed at the bravery of our kids. They weren’t initially this way, but both have become more and more comfortable in uncomfortable situations. They swim in the open deep blue ocean, they pick up crabs on the beach, and they eat new foods like mahi mahi and shrimp.
We’ve had to teach her how to take initiative, be bold, be outgoing and to be inclusive.
4. How to live with less.
You never know how much you don’t really need until you have to cart it around the world. My family has 194 pounds of luggage. We have three checked bags, two carry-ons, and three personal bags. We are constantly shedding weight and learning what we can do without. With kids, that has meant no strollers, no car seats, no books and very few toys.
My daughter has a backpack with crayons, play-dough and her princesses. My son has three balls. They love what they have and play with them every day. They are super stoked to find and play with new toys when they have the opportunity, but I’m glad that I don’t have it with me!
It makes me so happy that our kids don’t blink when they meet others with a different race, religion, language or way of life. Initially, I was nervous if my kids would act differently to people who didn’t look like we do. I’m happy to see Manilla will give flirty eyes to any old lady and Dorothy will play with anyone who will play with her!
Side story: Last week a two-year-old topless Italian girl walked up to Manilla on the beach and kissed him on the lips!! He totally froze! You’ll regret that one when you’re older, little Manilla buddy!
6. Low maintenance.
Our kids now can sleep just about anywhere, entertain themselves with just about anything and are at least willing to try any food. We try to keep even a little bit of a routine and schedule each day but, to be honest, it rarely happens. The kids have been great about going with the flow and keeping the meltdowns to a minimum.
Thank you for letting me share a little bit about my family. I know it was scary for us to take the plunge, but looking back, I’m so very grateful we did!
How do you expose your family to what’s new or unfamiliar?
Images via Amelie Roy