It doesn´t matter how much you love your family. Sometimes you just get on each others nerves. On the road this gets even more obvious than at home. You are walking around with a bunch of firecrackers in your pocket and you never know when one of them is going to pop.
It´s easy to think, by looking at the pictures that I post on the blog and in social media, that we live the perfect harmonic family travelling life. I´m sorry if I´ve misled any of you into thinking that, ´cause this is not the way it is. The reason why there´s only smiling faces in our pictures is that it feels a bit like a violation on integrity to post pictures of yourself and your family members crying, being mad or fighting. So you wait until the storm has passed and take the happy family portraits when everybody is in a great mood.
The truth is that I´ve been very tired the last couple of days. We are in the middle of our trip now and the sharing every moment together and being on the road mode is starting to leave some marks. There is so much that I love about this life, but the thing that I have most problems with in the long run is the fact that you are never alone. I don´t have an office to go to where I can do my tasks in my pace (ok, almost in my pace) and take breaks when I want. Where I can decide if I want to take a run during the lunch break today or go out and have a nice meal together with my colleagues. And for the kids it´s the same. They are not able to go to preschool and play with their friends. The only ones they have to play with are each other or their parents. And at some point they are bound to start protesting. Eddie picks fights with Olivia all the time and Olivia is overreacting. That´s their standard procedure. So, Thomas and I have started to do things one on one with the kids to try to break the pattern a bit.
Kayaking with a twist
Another thing we tried to do to take the stress off is to go to places a bit away from everything and try to just relax. Not having great plans but mostly take day as it comes and do what we feel like. Writing this we are sitting in a big house in the middle of the Appalachian Mountains in North Carolina. This place reminds us a lot about Switzerland, with green hills, lively rivers and rustic farms as far as the eye can see.
Besides chilling we´ve tried out the kayaks that our host family owns. This was an adventure! Instead of having a laid back floating-through-the-calm-river experience we faced quite of a challenge. Due to low water the river was filled with obstacles and after we´d capsized one of the kayaks, walked out in the middle of the river to get it back, and paddled an hour soaking wet we finally got back to the house. Luckily our hosts also have a hot tub, where we could warm up our frozen bodies. The only one that didn´t seem affected by the feisty river was Olivia, who even fell asleep in the kayak. This kid is unbelievable – she can fall asleep anywhere.
Nobody likes schizoparents
One of the things that contributes to our stress is the constant moving. Always new places, new people, new surroundings that we need to get used to. New rules for the kids to get to know. I feel totally schizophrenic whenever we get into a new home. One part of me is trying to listen to everything our new host has to say and the other part is following the kids movements wherever they go. Jumping on sofas, running around like little ants, touching, trying, putting their marks everywhere. And all I can think about is that I hope the host doesn´t regret taking us in. I don´t know who is most annoying, the kids for being all over the place or me for running after them and exhorting them in a nervously nagging tone.
I know I wrote in a previous post that one of the advice we give other families is to travel slow and stay longer at each place. Well, we are still learning here. The eager of moving forward is steering us towards short stays and long trips. However our next plan after going to New York in a week is to fly to Denver. There we want to rent a motorhome or a van and go through the national parks. Being able to travel around in our home will hopefully take the edge of the always-moving-stress and give us possibilities to make more travel routines for ourselves.
Amateur problem solver
Being together always can sometimes be a piece of work. And a good learning opportunity. There is no distraction, no place to send your kids to get a break, no football practice, no grandparents and no peers on the street. It´s just us, and we are bound to live through our difficulties and solve them. Right now I might find it exhausting that there´s people around me every second, that we enter a new home every second or third day and that I never know what to expect. But tomorrow I might find it fantastic. It´s all about finding your own way to deal with the daily challenges. Sometimes I think that I know exactly what I´m doing, that I´ve cracked the secret code. And other days I feel like a complete amateur, that has no idea of how to deal with my kids or even my own emotions.
Well, that´s life. And no matter where you are on this planet it will always catch up with you. Even when you are out in the middle of nowhere.