Why Travelling as a Family Makes Me A Better Parent

Travel

It started out innocently enough, but once we had a taste, we couldn’t stop. Our love affair with travel and adventure quickly became an obsession and a way of life that would soon come to define us.

It began in 2003 when we packed our bags and excitedly moved from our remote antipodean islands in the south pacific to a bustling northern hemisphere metropolis.

I remember immediately falling in love with the UK, and as a new traveller it felt reassuringly familiar. The people are humorous, humble and hopelessly self-deprecating. Storybook villages, red double-decker buses, cobbled streets, lazy summer days, friendly english pubs and an abundance of tea; at the risk of sounding cliche, London had me at “hello”.

But, sometimes it takes losing something to realize how precious it is. For me and my husband (boyfriend at the time), it was the great outdoors. I took her for granted growing up in Australia: after all, mother nature had always been on my back doorstep. Suddenly faced with a new reality, we were suffering from a serious case of nature deficit.

We craved feeling the trail beneath our feet, the rush of adrenaline from pushing ourselves to our limits, the freedom of the open road and the sensation of butterflies in our stomachs knowing we’re not alone in wild places.

We needed a fail-safe cure and the most potent antidote we could find was Alaska. The final frontier didn’t disappoint; we hiked on glaciers, came up close and personal with grizzly bears, climbed towering mountains, camped under the stars and experienced the midnight sun. While our adventure temporarily quenched our thirst, it lit a fire which would last a lifetime, compelling us to spend as much time as possible in untouched wilderness.

Over the years that followed, we lived frugally in London, devoting all our savings to travel. We took advantage of a strong British currency, crossing the pond regularly to seek out adventures in North America and beyond. We rafted the Colorado River through the Grand Canyon, found our spiritual home in Yellowstone, kayaked the Baja Peninsula with blue whales, backpacked around Europe and scuba dived the Indian ocean.

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We were, and remain to this day, hooked on nature and new experiences. Six years ago, our passion drove us to recreate a new home in supernatural British Columbia, on the west coast of Canada. Though living so far away from family, friends and familiarity is difficult, being true to ourselves and living authentically has provided us with the surest route to pure and lasting happiness.

Travel has shaped who I am; shifting my priorities from stockpiling stuff to creating memories.

When I’m immersed in nature or mesmerized by a foreign land I feel truly alive; completely present in the moment as the distractions and worries of modern day life are stripped away. It lifts my spirit, feeds my soul and quiets my mind: its the best form of therapy I know.

So, when we welcomed our son into the world we simply had to keep travelling and exploring, it didn’t feel like a choice. Sure, we don’t travel as lightly or as freely as we used to but in many ways we’re immersing ourselves more intimately as we slow down to appreciate the world at a toddler’s pace. And embracing the simplistic approach of natural parenting has made the journey easier, untangling the complexities we so often associate with children.

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While becoming a parent has been the single greatest joy of my life, I’m conscious of falling into the trap of becoming my son’s shadow; of revolving my life around his for the next twenty years. It would be easy to do; after all, the love we feel for our children is intoxicating and their needs are overwhelming.

What scares me most about being a mother isn’t the tantrums or the teenage years but the fear of slowly, piece by piece losing myself.

Motherhood has allowed me to grow in ways I never thought possible and without doubt I’m evolving into a better version of myself. But, with it’s relentless, never-ending, 24/7 demands I’m sometimes tempted to throw up the white flag and surrender myself completely just to make life a little easier in the moment.

As parents we become specialists in self-sacrifice; it’s part of the job description. But if we avoid discomfort and make a habit of choosing the path of least resistance we risk settling for less, forfeiting the essence of what makes us unique. Drawing a line in the sand so we can maintain our own identities helps us preserve our passions, nourish our marriages and become the role models our children deserve.

Our kids don’t ask us to give up on our dreams; all they want is happy parents.

A joyful home is the strongest antidote to any of life’s challenges. So, that is why I have to push myself to get and explore; because it’s my passion. When I put one foot in front of the other, I plunge into mother nature’s expanse, simultaneously losing and finding myself in a single moment; at the top of a mountain, in the ocean’s crashing waves or in the endless possibility of the open road. And the bonus now is my husband and I get to share it with our little man; nothing makes me happier.

I’ll keep finding a way to do it because I have to – adventure is my self-care. And no matter how difficult things seem, if we find our why, our how will follow. Whatever your dream, your passion, your life’s desire is, I implore you, through the challenges, to find a way to keep your unique magic alive.

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COMMENTS
  • October 12, 2016

    Couldn’t agree more! I lived to travel before having a child, and now I find that I enjoy it even more as a parent! Children should never be a reason to stop doing what you love, in fact, it should be the opposite!

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