Among the many questions I get about our upcoming one-year around-the-world adventure, there’s one that always makes me smile.
The conversation usually goes something like this:
“So you guys are taking a trip around the world?!?!?”
“Yes, we’re really excited about it. “
“That’s amazing! Will the kids be going too?”
At this point in the conversation I almost always have to bite my tongue. There are so many amazing responses that I’d like to give :
“Nah, we’re leaving them at home. A litre of milk and a box of cookies should get them through.”
“Nope. Those two buggers have been leeching off us for years. This is our turn to be free!”
“Only one of them. Every night we turn the kitchen table into a wrestling ring. The one with the most pins by July gets to come with us.”
I don’t say those things (mostly) because I know that people aren’t really thinking that we aren’t taking the kids. It’s just that, while the idea of a couple heading off to follow their dreams of world travel seems “cool”, the idea of a family of four doing it seems well….kinda crazy.
And yet, as the countdown clock on our home page will tell you, we’re doing exactly that in 2 months.
As much as I joke about the situation now, the truth is the decision to do this trip as a family was an easy one to make. Ish and I dreamed this trip up more than 10 years ago, but it was just that – “a dream.” The first time it became real was when the kids were born. We’ve always traveled and I remember having a discussion, as I held a newborn Ethan, about “what happens to those dreams now?” We were both determined that Ethan would join our life not vice versa: He’d come along where we went. And he did.
By the time he was 2 and required a new passport, Ethan’s pages were filled with stamps. And when his brother came along he joined us.
Back then, the flack I got for taking them was different: “They won’t remember. What’s the point?”
My answer was different then too: “I’ll remember and I’ll tell them all about it.”
That theory has held up. Cameron recently announced that he’d like to see the Eiffel Tower and while I agreed that it was something we should do while in France next Spring, I also pointed out that he actually already had.
We then sat down with the photo albums and I told a bunch of stories about what it had been like for the 11 month old in his stroller and how he was a hit in Italy but less so in Paris restaurants.
Over the years, the kids have traveled with me often. Sometimes we go as a family. Sometimes it’s just one of them and myself off on an adventure and forming memories all our own. Each time I expose them to new people, new places and new foods.
I also try to teach them something and force them to broaden their perspectives just a little bit.
It might be as simple as knowing what to do in a customs line, or the proper way to introduce yourself to a Minister of Tourism. They also realise that when Mommy says she’s working, she really is. They’ve had to sit patiently
through dinners and keep comments to a minimum during interviews. They understand what I do and they know how much fun it can be. They are lessons I hope they’ll remember down the road when they choose their own careers.
Even when I was a lawyer and my job was less…um…exhilarating I still brought the kids into the office from time to time. There were lessons for them in that too, plus I wanted them to see where I was when I wasn’t at home with them.
So yes, next year I’ll be traveling and working -writing stories from places around the globe – and yes, unless you’re making an offer (kidding!), the kids will come too.
Have you taken your kids to work with you? What have they learned? Has it taught you anything about them? about yourself? Please leave me a comment. I’d love to know.
Canadians’ take their kids to work day isn’t until the fall but in the U.S. the day falls on April 28, 2011. This post was written in response to a request from @mummy_T who writes the blog “Travels with a Nine Year Old.” You’ll find her take on taking kids to work along with that of several other family travel writers with kids of varying ages at the links below:
Snaps & Blabs (@snapsandblabs) “Traveling with children – which one to leave home?”
Theodora (@mummy_t): “Travels with a Ten Year Old” http://travelswithanineyearold.com/2011/04/28/travels-with-a-ten-year-old/
Jessie (@WanderingEds): Why We Love Traveling with our Daughter http://www.wanderingeducators.com/best/traveling/why-we-love-traveling-our-daughter.html
Ana: (@riderby) “The Good, the Bad and the Ugly: Traveling Around the World With a 5-Year-Old.” http://www.riderbymyside.com/post/5006298398/the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly-traveling-around-the#disqus_thread
Christine (@almostfearless): The Amazing Adventures of Baby Cole http://almostfearless.com/2011/04/28/the-amazing-adventures-of-baby-cole
Nicole (EastsideCurry) http://eastsidecurry.com/2011/04/28/traveling-with-your-kids-the-good-the-bad-and-the-ugly/
Avril (@gotpassport) http://gotpassport.org/2011/04/28/the-world-is-our-playground/
Nancy (@familyonbikes) FamilyonBikes http://familyonbikes.org/blog/?p=1791
Amy (@livinontheroad) What is it like to travel with kids under 10? http://www.livinontheroad.com.au/about-us/entry/whats-it-like-to-travel-with-kids-under-10.html
travel is so important, i can’t understand why MORE families don’t do so. and remembering? well, being used to being in other cultures is a great skill. :)
@wanderingEducators totally agree! But then you knew I would. :)
We love to travel and the girls are great fliers, drivers, diners, hikers. At four! I would love to travel more than we do but money is a constraint for us. I’m thinking about doing a 4 in 5, where I work 4 years at 80% pay and take the fifth year off at 80%.
You’re trip sounds amazing. How about my kids and your kids can take care of each other and we’ll go with you. :)
I´ve thought about how my daughter won´t remember much of our trips, but the experiences will somehow be part of her learning the world. People think we are crazy for taking kids away, we think they are crazy for just staying home…
I love this: the experiences will somehow be part of her learning the world
That is it exactly. Adapting to new experiences will become a part of their way of life. Your daughter is lucky.
What a wonderful job you have for a person that loves traveling. I am sure the kids have fun with it too, even though they have to behave for some Ministers ;)
They LOVE it. It will be interesting to see if they still feel that way when we’re 6 months in…
That is so funny. We got that comment a lot also. The first time I was very taken a back, but after a while, we started using some of your responses… We are five months into a round the world trip with a 9 and 7 year old, and so far it is fantastic. The boys have learned heaps and grown up a lot, too.
I need to read your blog and learn from you!! Do you have one? Same ages and boys at that! Anything you wish you’d planned differently?
Actually, there is a very HUGE reason to take your kids traveling before they will remember it – their brains grow dendrites in response to “stimulating” environments. And dendrites are the connections between brain cells that make everything make sense.
So – by taking your baby traveling you are placing her in a stimulating environment, she grows more dendrites, and when she’s older she has those dendrites to help her learn even more! I wrote a blog entry not too long ago about that idea: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/?p=1653
Good to see other families out there experiencing the world – even if you’re not doing it from bicycle seats…
Great point Nancy! Thanks for sharing it here.
You don’t know it yet but another recent post of yours got me so fired up I wrote a post and have to sit on it until I’m calm enough to make sure it says what I need it too. So impressed with your family’s journey. My hat is off to you.
Nice post Heather. I’m so excited (and envious) of your upcoming trip. Wish I could do our year around the world all over again.
So glad we connected Lisa. I’m enjoying flipping through your site. So comforting to remind myself I’m not re-inventing the wheel!
Also good to know that you’d do it again! Hoping to come back with that same feeling.
You’ll be living the dream, Globetrotting Mama. Excited for you and family!! I don’t have kids but I traveled quite a bit on business trips with my mom and dad and out of those trips came a friendship with a Quebec City family and a summer of learning french. Years later, thanks to my dad, I got a job teaching english in a small Quebec town and boy, did I pick up a lot of french that summer. I will always be grateful for getting a better chance than most to learn a second language.
Thanks Boomergirl! I bet the French you learned in the world is waaaay better than the French I learned in a classroom. Thanks for the reminder.