Vacationing with three children between the ages of two and five is intense. There must be a balance between adult and child activities as I don’t believe in making life, including vacation time, one hundred percent all about the children. Our children love doing everyday activities with us. They enjoy walking places, and can walk for hours without complaining simply because we take them everywhere with us.
When I plan a trip with my family I always look back to how my family traveled when I was young. We would go to beautiful places and mom would point out hundreds of things along the way. She would tell us the history or importance of each place before we even got there. Looking back, I remember seeing and experiencing so many new things around Europe, but what stands out to me the most was the time spent together in the car getting to these gorgeous places. I had my walkman, my books and my family; I didn’t need anything else.
Each trip I have planned for my family I have kept this in mind. I don’t bring along a lot of toys anymore, just two or three of their favorites. I want them to focus on where they are, not on what they have. On our recent trip to Tuscany they ran down village streets, played with stones, observed numerous insects, played with insects, asked questions about nature, swam and just enjoyed being together as a family with no distractions. In the car, we play silly songs that we sing and dance to. We talk. And guess what I find myself telling my young babes? All about where we are going, who lived there and which century it was built in. Is it over their heads? No. Why? Because children are sponges. The more we speak with them and the more we allow them to experience life the more they will grow in knowledge and understanding of the world around them.
Vacation isn’t just about relaxing, it is about so much more. Making memories that you will cherish forever. It is about being with the ones you love. It’s about new experiences, new flavors, new sounds and new smells. It’s about all the things you cannot catch on film. Interesting.
Many ask me: isn’t it a lot of work; wouldn’t it be better to wait until they are older to really enjoy it? Yes, it is a lot of work. No, it wouldn’t be better to wait. Each life experience that your child has begins to form them into the person they will be. Not only do they experience new things, but they learn to be patient by sitting for long hours. They learn to respect other cultures and realize that there is no one right way about anything. They learn about how big God’s love is by seeing how beautiful He made our Earth and all the creatures on it.
It is a sacrifice, both financially and mentally, but I will never stop sharing the world and its diverse cultures with my children. I want them to have open minds and to love all that is around them. Some have wondered how do we make it financially to travel with a family of five. It’s simple, we don’t buy stuff we don’t need and instead use the money to go places. Each one of us is in a different boat financially, but it all comes down to choices in the end.
Whenever we go somewhere our children never want to come home. This shows me they love experiencing new things and I’m excited to continue opening up the world to them. Travel with your children. It doesn’t have to be a far place. It doesn’t have to be extravagant. Just take them somewhere new and you will see how much they will appreciate it and how much you will add to their world.
Our final trip in Italy just ended and we know we will miss this country. Yet our next adventure will be in Asia and I can’t express the joy that brings to my nomad’s heart!