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Scary, isn’t it? The idea of spending so much time alone with your kids in a strange country.
Truth is, I love it, life is nicer, generally.
OK, so we’ve only been on the road for two weeks, we’re new at this, but we haven’t been treating this time as a holiday, we’ve started as we mean to go on, travelling slow, living our lives, not rushing around the sites and having a high-old-time.
Here we go with seven reasons I prefer travelling with kids to being at home with kids.
Seven Reasons I Love Travelling With Kids.
1. It’s easier to entertain them. All we have to do is step outside the hostel to experience something new, we can look at shops, people, buildings, vehicles and food outlets. Everything is new and different, everything brings about questions and conversations, nothing is boring.
2. We are living in the moment. Little things, the chores of normal life, become events in our day. Cutting nails, taking a shower, washing up. All these things have stopped being just another job to be rushed through and got over with. We have nothing to be rushing on to do. So a trip to the shower block is a good opportunity for a chat, I can sit outside while I talk to them in the shower cubicles, help them with shampoo and towels, get them back to the room and make sure they are warm and dry. It’s nice, it’s an event in the day and I can stop and think about how lucky I am to have these little toenails to cut.
3.Food is less of a focus. I’ve stopped stressing about feeding them, when they are hungry, they eat, so do I. I can treat them to a banana pancake or a pineapple pie if we pass a stall selling them. I don’t have to keep cupboards stocked or worry about meals being just-so. D (9) just had a vegetable samosa from a street stall and a marmite and tomato sandwich for lunch. He’s been snacking on fruit all morning. He’s eating just fine, without me having to worry. I’m eating less and losing weight, I no longer eat through boredom.
4. The kids are taking on more responsibility. I’m cursed with being a perfectionist, I like things done just-so at my house.
Here, in this lovely hostel, I’m far less up-tight. The kids are washing their own plates and glasses, helping me wash clothes and packing their own things away. It’s good for them, they’re really proud of themselves, and it’s less stress for me.
I’m not sure if I’m letting them do these things because I’m less stressed or I’m less stressed because they are doing more for themselves. Could be either.
5.We are truly doing things together. How often, at home, do the kids end up in one room and Mum in another? They watch TV while you cook dinner or play games while you’re online. That doesn’t happen now, we’re together the whole time, if they watch a movie, I have the luxury of watching it with them. We can read together, talk, play Uno, watch Star Trek. Always together, all three of us. I know exactly what’s going on in their world and in their heads, it’s good.
We only have one computer, so sometimes I just hand it over and watch them enjoy the technology while I do absolutely nothing. That’s a very rare thing in the real world.
6. They are learning so much more. They’ve had six years in Port Douglas. They’ve pulled every shred of learning out of that environment, from the beach, to the rainforest, to the reef. OK, that’s not true, liar-liar pants-on-fire, nobody could ever know everything, but they know all that they need to know.
Now they’re in a totally new environment. They’re seeing and experiencing new things every day. They’re figuring out how to do things, how to buy a train ticket from the high tech machine at the station, how to buy themselves a snack or a drink in a foreign currency from a street stall, how to follow maps and negotiate the world around them.
It’s lovely to watch their confidence grow, on the first day they were nervous as kittens, now they look like they own this area.
7. They are meeting new people. They’ve chatted with travellers old and young at the hostel, learning how to interact with all sorts of individuals. From the Indonesian and Chinese tourists who love to take photos of cute Western kids ( smile and wave boys, just smile and wave), to the lovely young girls who just enjoy talking to them.
On the streets we’ve met Muslims, Hindus and Christians, we’ve experienced kindness and indifference. Kindness is winning hands down at the moment.
They are learning to function in a fairly adult world, they need to show consideration to other hostel guests, keep the noise down, not run around, tidy their stuff away. I think it’s good for them. There is plenty of time to play, too, Kuala Lumpur has amazing places for them to run and climb and I have plenty of time to take the children to those places, I don’t have to rush home to mop the floor.
So, for now, it is good, very good. Travelling with my children is cheaper than being at home, it’s certainly better for the children and for us as a family. I’m just wondering why we didn’t do this sooner.
How long will it last before I’m screaming and tearing my hair out, wishing for my own space and home comforts? Don’t know. No idea. Stick around and find out.