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July

2016

How Do Kids Adjust To Travel Life Full-time?

Ecuador, TRAVEL

kids adjust to travel

Hola, friends. Happy Tuesday! And Happy Belated 4th of July to our American friends and family in the US and across the globe.

Greetings from Cuenca, Ecuador. We are on a pseudo-holiday. Of course, I am always working mornings, nights and weekends, but this week I am adventuring during the day with my kiddos before we take flight for six weeks in the US. I know our time in the US will be fast, busy and full so I wanted to get some alone time with my kiddos and the hot latino beforehand. Unfortunately, the hot latino needs to head to Asia tomorrow for work so I will be flying solo, but at least we had some time in Cuenca together. Our plan is to finish out the week here and then meet an Ecuadorian friend in Loja for the weekend. Woo Hoo! But, right now I am taking notes, snapping pictures and preparing posts about this amazing city. Get ready!

Today I want to chat about how kids adjust to travel.

Many people ask me how long it takes for kids adjust to travel. The short answer is… every child is different. Every family dynamic is different. I can only speak for our personal situation. For us, it took approximately 18 months for this to become our new “normal” and for our children to think like “global citizens” as opposed to having a solely American perspective. They will always identify with being American and we would never, ever want to take that away from them. However, it is important to us that they understand the world on a global level. Which in essence means accepting and understanding different ways of life. Bingo, we are finally there! And it has been glorious to watch it unfold. GLORIOUS! These young travelers (and not just my children) give me so much hope for the future of our world.

Let’s take a step back and talk about the process, the ups and downs, how it all began and much more.

We left the US when our kids were almost 7 and barely 10. It was a good age to take off for all of us in regards to timing, but if I had it to do over again, I would have left earlier. My opinion is that under 8 is a good time to make a lifestyle change. However, there are a bunch of people who think any age is fine. And that is ok. This is an area where I welcome being wrong because you know I want more young adults exploring the world with their family. Take those teens and adventure, damn it. DO IT! I guess you have to think of your child and what would work best for them in order to make a successful adjustment. I wish we could have left two years earlier and I say this while thinking of our children and their personalities.

Our son (the younger one) really missed my parents for months and months. We lived over three hours from my parents when we lived in the US and we would go months without seeing them at times. But I think the idea of them being so far away was hard on him. He still misses them, but he has transitioned to this being his new normal. He knows they visit us and vice versa and that gives him much peace. He has grown to like the big blocks of time with them versus a night here and there. Otherwise, he adjusted quite quickly.

Our daughter (the older one) was ready for the adventure and had no adjustment difficulties for the first six or so months. Avalon loved her new life. However, she seemed to have a delayed homesick reaction which didn’t manifest for a very long time. She then started saying she missed the US, the food, her friends, etc. We all experienced this and knew it was quite normal, but that still does not make it easy. It only took a couple of months and eventually she adjusted. She had more difficulty accepting differences in food, music, culture, language, etc in the beginning. Avalon sees this traveling life as her new normal now, but I do believe because we left when she was 10 her “normal” was pretty solid and well-formed. It took time for her to see that “normal” can mean so many different things. Now she is completely adjusted, has embraced Spanish and is more comfortable stepping outside her comfort zone.

Luckily with both kids, we chose to not deny these feelings and they quickly dissipated. Now neither child was miserable or sad daily for months and months and months. If that had been the case we would have reevaluated the situation. We don’t ever want this journey to be a burden on them and reduce their happiness. However, we did feel we needed to give it a shot and not give up right away. What we did notice with each child was that these feelings were triggered by something. I am not saying they were not authentic, but there were reasons. Largo always missed my parents at bedtime. He has never been a great sleeper and loves to co-sleep. He often felt lonely at bedtime even though we let him in our bed. Avalon’s triggers were when we asked her to do something she did not want to do, mostly chores or redoing an incomplete school assignment. Go figure!

What did we do? It was quite easily really. We never denied their feelings. We let them voice their concerns, sadnesses, and what they missed. Will and I also shared what and who we missed. It gave them great comfort to know that they were not alone in this journey. We also gave them more decision-making power in our adventures, education, and much more. We have never wanted them to feel like they have no say in this journey. This is a family journey and they get a vote. Speaking of votes, guess who chose France? Yep, AvaLar! Talk to your homesick kids. Ours just wanted more of their opinions considered. Easy. Done.

I get emails all the time asking how long it takes kids adjust to travel. As I said, every family and child is different. However, what I do think is important is that the parents stay strong in their commitment. That does not mean denying your emotions, but reinforce why you are doing this. What is your why? Share it with your children. Also, give them TIME! Time cures all! Don’t give up after six months because it is hard or you have a child that seems like they will never adjust. I can tell you that for us, the best times have just arrived. Truly! That does not mean that the other 20 months sucked, it just means that they truly get it and love it now. Our kids understand our why and they love this life now as well. They still miss foods, people, and conveniences (we all do). However, they are enjoying the journey.

So tell me, how long did it take your travel kids to transition? If you are not a traveling family do you think your kids would adjust fast or would it take time? Any suggestions you want to add to the list?

Have a great day.

Besos,
Jessica

 

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