We’ve been on the road almost 5 years now and it’s been amazing, but our elder son is now a teen, not just in numbers but in emerging attitude too. How has and will the teenage years affect our lifestyle? Will we have to stop being a digital nomad family and settle into bricks and mortar? We had the big discussion last night and this is how it panned out. We’ll still watch and wait, but for now our decision is made.
From Age 6-13 the Children Have Loved our Digital Nomad Family Lifestyle
I wouldn’t say it if it wasn’t true and I spend every waking second with my children so I know them inside out. They’ve been very happy to be a nomadic family. We never planned to be on the road this long, we didn’t have enough money to be on the road this long, but exciting things happened with our websites and we could now potentially continue travelling forever. The problem was, I wasn’t sure if it was fair on the kids. More and more our life is revolving around my work and my husband’s Ironman training and I don’t feel I’m putting as much time into making them happy as I used to. Mom guilt. I’m also worried that as teens they may want to be with other kids rather than boring old mum and dad. Thankfully the teen doesn’t think I’m boring yet, apparently I “Have swag.” But it could happen. He has some teenage attitude going on and it started very recently after a virus, I was worried about post viral depression but he seems to be bouncing back. He’s a diamond of a kid, so happy and funny and I’m proud to be his mum and still this close to him at 13.
Where do the Kids Think of as Home?
London, Wales and Romania. They don’t want to go back to Australia at all. My younger one would like to pop back to see our cat, he’s still alive and well and living in Daintree, but they don’t want to live in Australia again. Boo loves London and Romania, D loves Wales and Romania. In all honesty I think it’s down to climate, hot countries are hard to live in, we all prefer cold and 4 seasons.
Language Barriers and Nomadic Kids
They prefer being in places where people speak English and always have. Those that say kids play with kids of every language and nationality are talking rubbish and probably have no real experience of this. Toddlers might, but after that no, not so much. So why do they like Romania and want to spend so much time there? They don’t speak Romanian much beyond good morning and two loaves of bread please, but we have plenty of other expat English speakers in the village and they’re more than happy to hang out with adults rather than kids. We’re not one of those families that travels to learn languages, we always learn a few words to be polite and as a bit of a challenge, but we have no interest in raising bi-lingual kids. I speak decent French, bad German and a bit of Romanian. Other than the Romanian my languages have never been any use at all, so it’s not a priority. They did find Spanish very easy to pick up in Guatemala so we’re toying with the idea of Spain for a while, but they don’t want to go to a Spanish school and I don’t want to send them. If they want to learn a language at some point it will be their choice. They could even take an exam in a language if they wanted to prove their knowledge, everything is still possible outside the school system. Maybe I should take a GCSE in Romanian, would it make me any better at communicating if I had a certificate?
Do Nomadic Kids Need Other Kids or Will Adults Do?
They have a lot of fun, interesting adults in their lives and it’s been great for them in many ways, not least for their vocabulary and general knowledge. So speaking purely for my own kids, not yours, they’ve been fine to hang out with adults. When we hook up with other families as we did in Thailand last year, they loved it, a similar aged friend was a bonus, but it hasn’t been essential. We meet a lot of kids they don’t like too, not every child is friend material and they are as selective as you or I. Unfortunately D hit maturity rather early, he’s outgrown a lot of his kid friends and his brother in some ways, that’s another issue, his brother isn’t on the same wavelength right now.
We’ve asked them about this over and over again. Yes having more kids around would be nice ( D actually said that adults or kids, makes no difference) but neither want to go to school to find them. We will instead make more effort to meet up with other nomadic or digital nomad families and stay in the places that kids are likely to hang out.
High School and Exams, What to Do?
Neither of them wants to go to school. They are as certain of that today as they always were. But what about exams, those paper qualifications that everyone presumes are essential because it’s just the normal thing to do?
The kids are not legally required to sit exams or take tests and currently they don’t want to. If in future they change their minds, we’ll make it happen for them. It’s actually really easy to do and no school attendance is required, but this isn’t the place to explain that system, there is more in this post on homeschooling. They can do exams at any age and we will be there to support and facilitate that for them. They have no clue what sort of future career they would like, why would they? But they are receiving a quality education and we fully believe it’s superior to anything a school can offer. Yes, they do maths. D has taken Open University biology and chemistry courses, they both use Khan Academy and Boo is still young enough for Minecraft Homeschool. Boo also has his own website that makes him money. By the time he’s 16 he could be making a full time living from it. Do you know how to do that? He does.
So the exam question will wait a little longer too, until they are a clearer on what they might want to do with their lives. I’m not pushing them towards university or paper qualifications at all, I’m just here to support and help them for as long as they need me.
Have We Achieved What we Set Out to Achieve Yet?
I think we have, yes. At this point if the kids wanted to stop travelling I’d be OK with that. They are worldly, they know what 50+ countries are actually like. They know about their people, food, customs, climate and religions. They are smart, capable and knowledgeable so we’ve got them off to a good start. If we continue to travel now, it’s mostly just for fun.
I’ve also proved that it is possible to support a travelling family lifestyle through travel blogging ( NOT selling courses). So many will tell you it can’t be done including some fellow bloggers. They just never did it right.
So What Did We, As a Family, Decide to Do?
For you for Pinterest
We continue to travel. That was the best solution for everyone. We explained to Boo that no, he couldn’t live on a cruise ship and eat buffets every day and neither could he actually live in Disneyland. So the next best thing is travel. He has plenty of buffets and theme parks coming up soon in Langkawi, Singapore and Indonesia ( I haven’t told you about Indonesia yet, something exciting came up!) We will need to go back to Australia in 2019 to sell our house, we’re not currently planning on buying a place in the UK until the Brexit mess is resolved and likewise buying in Romania is off the cards until then. I’ve given myself permission to stop worrying about all this for another year and just enjoy my family, our travels and my business. Hope you stick around for the ride.