Sometimes I joke with Chris that he is living my best life. He works long hours from home and often will spend a stretch of days barely leaving the house. A bit of a shut in. Sounds dreamy, doesn’t it? I LOVE to be home. I love practicing at home, I love that I can often teach at home, I love having my kids home. I love it. When the kids were small and we lived on a chunk of land with lots of animals and a jumbo garden I too spent stretches of days never going anywhere. We are in a different era now, of course, with friends, and sports, and music, and activities, and many more teaching commitments on my end. But there continues to be a part of me that is always wishing to get back to that slower, home centered, time.
It’s never just one way though because the other big truth is that I am restless. I love to move. I need to move. Move my body, move my location, move my mind, move my perspective. And one of the major reasons that Chris and I chose home education in the beginning was not just so that we could maximize our time together as a family and at home, but also so that we could get out into the world together and do more, see more, explore the world together. As two people who never really liked school (ahem, at all ever), we wanted to make a big effort at giving our kids more of the childhoods that we wished we could have had. That is a bit of what we all do as parents, right? And obviously, I’m not saying here that we want to mold them into minis of ourselves and superimpose our interests on to them, but rather that we wanted to create a life with connection and freedom at the core with space to explore who they are and who they dream to be.
Plus, we wanted to travel. Chris and I are compatible in loads of ways and one huge one is that we are excellent travel companions. So, it makes sense that we wanted to get up and out into the world with the kids right from the beginning. I wanted them to have fluency in travel. Ease. That meant going places regularly. We flew loads until Eider was 2 and suddenly we were looking at 4 airfares. And then since that we have made an effort for airline travel once a year to keep them comfortable and flexible with it and have also taken long road trips several times a year besides. Now we have kids that are pretty proficient when it comes to hitting the road (or sky). BUT THIS IS NOT TO SAY THAT IT IS ALL SMOOTH SAILING! Of course they bicker and pout and raise a holy fury from one of us or the other from time to time or even with a regularity, but this is not a post about that so much. However, you must know that it happens and we are trying to let it help us all understand that travel is often uncomfortable and that is part of the point.
Mostly, what travel and holiday have looked like for us is getting somewhere and then hunkering down for a week or so. Place based. Colorado, Tucson, Sanibel, Islesford, the UP… We get there and we hunker down and do our thing. Other than an epic 3 week road trip I took with the kids and Almanzo when they were 9 and 6 (and 1) where we vagabonded around the Southwest- I am pretty sure there is a post somewhere in the archives of this blog from that adventure.
But now they are equipped. They are capable. They are ready and willing and excited for bigger adventure farther afield. So Maple’s trip to the England with my mom and then Eider and my trip to Scotland to meet them, couldn’t have been more appropriately timed. It was the perfect introduction to travel abroad for both of them and with a just so itinerary that kept them both engaged and curious and enthusiastic. I have been longing for these trips for so long. I think that I didn’t even know how much I was hungry for them. As someone who spent a good chunk of her childhood living abroad, it has always been at the forefront of my mind that our kids should have a global awareness as much as possible. I just always wanted them to know, that our way is not the only way and that we are each a product of our culture no matter how much awareness we have around that…
(And a quick pause here, because I am about to really advocate for big travel as a family and I am well aware that I am privileged beyond reason to have access to the means and the support to make this kind of travel happen. But there are other ways to support a global awareness for our kids. One way is as easy as visiting your public library and picking a country to study. There are brilliant podcasts and documentaries out there to support us. My kids learned the most about the castles that we saw on our trip before we even left by scouring the Netflix documentary series of Great Britain’s castles. Also, eating a wide variety of culturally and regionally specific foods, whether out or made at home, is a great way to introduce cultures to your kids. And this is all just the tip of the iceberg. It starts at home. It really does.)
… It feels like time now. I’m scheming and saving for the next adventure. Because suddenly, overnight almost, our kids are ready. They want to visit museums and talk about art. They want to wander the streets of a foreign city and converse about history. They want to try new things. They are ready to experience the ways in which things are both different and connect over what’s the same. They are ready. I am ready. And if I have learned anything as a parent at all, it is that time is short. We don’t get a lot of time with these kids. And often, they are ready for the next phase of things before the adults even realize that we have arrived at them so if we wait we really might miss it. Familiarize them now. I always am so thankful that I continued to do my thing and pursue my interests regardless of my kids age. Sometimes with more ease and expanse of time but never as something separate from them. Let them know what you love! Let them experience your world, whatever that looks like. Orient them around your joy so they know to prioritize their own.
And, now, let me know all of the places that are so great to travel as a family! What was amazing? What was unexpected? Where did you journey to with your kids that really made your hearts sing? I want it all! Because as much as I strive to be a home bound shut-in in my day-to-day, I want to see the world too. With my kids hands in my hands whenever possible.