The photos are beautiful and we are doing lots of fun things. It’s easy to come across as “this trip is the best thing ever!” But I have to confess, I resisted Facebook for a long time because this sanitized, Disney-ish version of “look how great my life is!” really seemed one sided.
So let me come clean about what it’s really like to travel for a month as a family of 5.
The Good –
- It’s probably pretty obvious but we get a month of uninterrupted time to reconnect with each other. No school, work, classes, friends. Nothing to take our attention away from each other. We talk, hug and play. On each trip, I feel a renewed connection to each of my kids and to my husband. A fresh perspective on who they are as human beings today.
- We get to do fun, new things together every day. We take ourselves out of our comfort zones, try new things and in the process become more flexible and open minded. We talk to people from all over the world, see awe inspiring sights, immerse ourselves in glorious nature, learn about different cultures, history, geography, try new foods. I overhear my kids comparing life in New Zealand to Colombia or the US or India. I love that they are developing such a global perspective on life and people.
- We have our moments of tension or frustration (see below) but we are learning from them. We are learning to be more tolerant, to get along, and to laugh at ourselves and each other rather than get so worked up about things. We basically get closer and solidify our identity as a family unit.
The Bad –
- See point #1 above. Spending so much time together inevitably leads to frustration, tension and conflict. The kids fight, A LOT. And whine. And complain. When I can’t take it anymore and tell them to “cut it out”, they inevitably remind me that I don’t have siblings and thus “don’t know that this is how sisters relate to each other.” Every so often, deciding where to eat turns into an outright battle.
- When we are tired and the kids just won’t let up, my husband and I can get cranky too. And snippy…. Not only with the kids, but with each other. I did notice though that this is improving over the years. We mostly take all these frustrations in stride now and laugh ALOT. Definite progress!
- While all the adults we know say “It’s so wonderful that you travel with your kids like this. They are going to grow up to be global citizens and really appreciate this.”, our kids actually don’t appreciate that we travel so much, most of the time. Our 11-year old wishes she was back in Colombia riding horses, instead of in New Zealand. She reminds us of this daily, and sometimes hourly, basis. Our 14-year old generally loves to travel but this time around, she wishes she was playing in the snow in Boston. Luckily, our 6-year old still just wants to be with us, wherever that is!
But seriously, it was easier to spend 6 weeks in India two years ago with our then 4, 9 and 12 year olds than New Zealand with a 6, 11 and 14 year olds. Adolescence really does add an interesting layer and a whole lot of griping!
The Ugly –
- To be honest, it rarely gets ugly, although my kids may disagree. What ugly looks like though is either my husband or I yelling at the kids because they are dilly dallying when we have a ferry to catch… NOW! Or all 5 of us arguing and somewhat screaming because we literally want Turkish or Italian or Pizza or Mexican for dinner. Or… fine I will admit it… my putting my 6-year old into bed a little more forcefully than I wanted to after trying for over an hour to get her bed as she bugged her sisters and kept them up. Not proud of that one! But I know we have all been there…
- I just asked my 14 -year old what is the “Bad and the Ugly” of family travel and she said “My sisters!!!” I guess I should be happy that she didn’t include her dad or I.
So there you have it. The truth of the Altschul Matushenko family travel. In the sum total, I definitely think that the Good outweighs the Bad and the Ugly for us. That’s why we keep doing it. Plus, to be honest, I don’t really know of another way to live. I am such a vagabond at heart and travel is an absolute passion of mine! From the time I held my oldest in my arms when she was a newborn, I dreamt of showing her the world. After I got some sleep, of course!
I feel truly blessed that we have been able to create a lifestyle that allows us to travel 3 months per year as a family, live in South America and spend summers in the United States.
And what about you, dear reader, what are your passions?
How can you incorporate them more into your life in 2017?
I would love to hear from you so feel free to share your thoughts below.