Traveling With Kids

It’s our last day.

We have one more red-eye and then we’re home.

After three weeks of traveling with our 4 yo son and 3 mo old daughter, all I can say is…

We did it.

Starting off at my husband’s work conference in Vegas, we began with fifteen hours of travel. Jet-lag. Long days and late nights. The highlight being a visit from Aunt Shin and her boyfriend. Quality time with some yummy food.

Next up was Tulum. Stunning beaches, crystal clear cenotes and a visit to The Green School. A delicious Thai dinner on the water. A play date with some new World Schooling friends. We went with the intention to buy land and walked away with a decision to wait and see what will happen to this incredible town. Construction everywhere amidst unrivaled natural beauty.

And lastly, Playa Del Carmen. We were here seven years ago for an electronic music festival. Sandy roads now replaced with pavement. A legitimate city complete with all the modern amenities. For now, this seems like the place. Somewhere we can settle into while we continue to scout out something more permanent.

It’s been tough.

And we’re all exhausted. An unsustainable pace as we tried to balance everyone’s needs. My husband’s insatiable search for real estate. My son’s energy. My daughter’s rest. And my own desire to maintain balance and order while feeling physically, mentally and emotionally drained.

In the moment, it’s overwhelming.

You vow never to do it again.

But you know you will.

Next time, a little more prepared than last.

Because it’s all about finding that rhythm that is so easy to maintain at home, on the road. Creating familiarity and a routine that is flexible enough to bring anywhere. And being fair to everyone. Because as soon as the scale tips to accommodate one person’s needs at the expense of others, shit hits the fan hard.

Like when my extremely chill baby reached her breaking point – refusing to feed anywhere but in the comforts of home. Yikes. A shoe store in Vegas. And the end of the first full day at the World School Summit. A complete nightmare for me as I desperately tried to get her to latch. And a reminder to slow down.

A baby so new to this world experiencing extreme humidity, windy beaches, gritty sand on her face. Going from place to place. Falling asleep in one, only to wake up in another. She’s been a champ. Getting in half feeds in the jungle with jarring rays of sunlight streaming into her eyes as the trees sway back and forth. Her sweet fuzzy hair, matted against a clammy face in an apartment with air conditioning that isn’t cold. Face dotted with mosquito bites she can’t itch. Only protesting when she has to ride in a car. Most of the time, completely content just to be held.

And my son…

Oh man.

A constant state of exhaustion earmarked with uncontrollable hyperactivity. He’s been a different kid. Resisting everything for the sake of saying no. Every reaction and emotion amplified by 1000x. The only solution to burn out as much energy as possible through physical activity that is effective in some ways – but in no way a healthy example of self-regulation. Falling limp into bed at the end of the night. Waking up wild-eyed and bursting at the seams.

It’s been a struggle.

And I’ve found myself so frustrated with my sweet boy. We’ve battled hard this break as I’ve set limits and boundaries he wants to push with all his might. But within that has been a lot of growth and opportunities for us to get through the tough stuff with unconditional love and a commitment to doing it better the next time.

Not that it’s all been bad.

In fact, we’ve had more fun than anything else.

My kid loves the beach and everything ocean. I’ve watched him overcome so many fears with confidence whether it be water slides or boogie boards. He’s learned to swim above water. Arms paddling furiously with a huge smile on his face. Built sand castles. Snorkeled in a wavy ocean spotting parrot fish, trumpet fish and blue tang. Swam in crystal clear cenotes until his lips turned blue. Made friends and found kids to play with everywhere we go.

This is why we do it.

Not because it’s always easy.

But because it’s worth it.

To nurture a global mindset for both ourselves and for them.

I’ve learned a lot.

But perhaps the most important lesson I’ve learned is that long-term travel cannot look like a vacation.

Bedtimes need to be enforced. Healthy food habits maintained. And a good mix of activities that nourishes both quiet focus and wild abandon. Because the way we have traditionally approached going abroad is with a mentality of doing it all. Letting go. Escaping from the grind of reality. And the only way to make this new life work for us, is a change in that perspective. Discovering the world around us at a sustainable pace, while not losing sight of what’s truly important. Our health. Our relationships with each other. And the development of our children.

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