I know the idea seems daunting. Between the sleepless nights the sneaky slips and moments where you feel you’ve lost full control of that tiny human you created, why would ever even consider leaving your home, let alone the city, state, or country?
But I promise you, it is not as scary a compromise as it seems.
In fact, in the long run it is so very, very rewarding.
We only get our children to be our captive audience for so long. Let’s call it 18 trips around the sun, where we have them as roommates. You take that for granted at the beginning as all the days, weeks, and months melt into each other.
But then they start school, and rather than having a schedule that’s at your disposal, it’s now at their discretion, and suddenly all that unlimited trip time is now limited to their school breaks.
Then come the years when their desire to be with their friends is greater than hanging out with you. When even though you may have them physically present, you know their heads and hearts are really somewhere else.
Add in the final component: the plans that have suddenly become commitments because with age comes that maturity you hoped they’d grow into, and now they’re here. But those 18 years of limitless time for trips together are all but gone.
So parents, plan the trip, because they’re only this age for so long.
There will be a time when meeting cartoon characters and life-size princesses is met with lackluster enthusiasm. When the obsession with all things train disappears and riding that coveted rail line is now a thing of the past. When you realize that even though they won’t remember all the details of these trips, you know it’s something you all will never, ever forget.
So I urge you parents: take the trip!
Before we started a family, my husband and I made a pact that the one thing we wouldn’t lose when we inevitably would lose ourselves in parenthood was our need to travel.
Our son arrived and boarded his first plane when he was less than a month old. And he hasn’t stopped since. He’s been overseas, on the seas, and exploring by plane, train, and automobile.
And we’ve learned a lot from the 7+ years of traveling we’ve done as a family.
Yes, we’ve had our fair share of hiccups along the way. But we reeled, we’ve recovered, and we made better of what could’ve been far worse. We’ve learned about our resilience to keep going despite the circumstances. A lesson we couldn’t better teach to make us stronger more self-sufficient people.
We’ve watched our children’s curiosity blossom as they imagined the possibility of the journey, from allowing them into planning to sparking their imagination in the discovery. Their genuine excitement to be part of the big picture is nothing short of contagious and there is no greater joy than watching them see their plans comes to life.
We’ve cultivated a sense of independence, learning all that we can do for ourselves. Our kids aren’t frightened by new buildings, language barriers, or different terrains. They eagerly immerse themselves in the experience and that alone creates a true sense of self. We’ve seen them make friends with ease, and if love for others was the only lesson they would gain from this, that would be enough.
But now their sense of adventure is greater than their need for things. We’ve watched them beam at a marvelous experience and speak of things we never thought they’d remember. They are gaining a true perspective of how truly wonderful and different the world around them can be but how very much the same we all really are. And that, more than anything, is the best gift we could ever give to them.
So, when you’re questioning what else you can give your kids—give your kids the trip.
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