“Where are you off to next?”
“How do you do it with 4 kids?”
We get a lot of questions about our family adventures but let’s be real- this is NOT a HOW to guide or advice on making family trips magical because trust me we do not know how to do that. Family is a beautiful mess AND we value adventuring together. Here are some reasons why:
1. To spend uninterrupted time together. Real life does not always mean quality time; work and school keep us busy and schedules only become more complicated as the kids get older so we want to always set aside time to just be together, check-in, explore, laugh, eat (apparently ice cream is our new obsession- see pics), really listen to one another, and enjoy each other. As our kids get older we don’t have to pack diaper bags and manage toddlers but there is still so much competing with quality family time. We see even our high schooler (after MUCH initial pouting and protests about a long trip) reengage and bond with her siblings and open up more. It sometimes takes a few days for us all to get out of a funk and remembering that we like each other and are on the same team. Time with our kids is something we have in limited quantities and it is precious. Parenting; at least in my experience does not really get easier, it just evolves to new hard but we want adventures together to always be a part of our family culture.
2. To have a high value on family time but also realistic expectations & time for reconciliation. I had someone say “well your kids must act better than mine because you are always able to travel.” NOPE. Come hang out for a day friends. It’s a mess up in here. Here is the deal; kids are kids, family is complicated and our kids, like us, have their own unique story and their own strengths and their own challenges. We don’t expect our daily life at home to be perfect without any bumps in the road so we certainly do not expect our vacation time away to be that way. We seek forgiveness often and reconciliation with each other. We EXPECT things will go off the rails and we will need to readjust and expectations matter. If you are so stressed because of the cost or planning that went in to a trip- I get it- but it will only disappoint. Things also always go wrong. Living in Tanzania helped us embrace that you should always hold any plans loosely and expect the unexpected. We have had urgent care visits on two of the last two vacations but it also gives us an opportunity to problem solve together (after I mutter some words under my breath) and make it an adventure. We try to laugh our way through the bumps in the road and this is also a HUGE life lesson- we should all EXPECT things will not always go as planned and it is our response that we choose. During family trips one of the benefits is that we sometimes have more freedom of time to actually just deal with things as they come up instead of rushing to the next thing.
So, YES they act crazy, whine, and fight on vacation and I lose it and yell (so really it is no different than our normal life) but we value togetherness and want our kids to know that no matter where life takes each one of them their family is a place for them to be known and loved and that together we can overcome a lot.
3. To meet & learn from people with different stories than ours. We value curiosity and people’s stories and make an effort to expose our kids to diverse perspectives and different parts of the country and the world. We love starting conversations with strangers and asking about their lives and we find that so many people love to tell their stories if we just ask. Camping is SO GREAT for this because you make friends with the folks around your campsite and we have met the coolest people! We intentionally seek out opportunities to learn about history and culture.4. To cultivate the attitude of a life long learner. Learning history as essential to understanding our present and working for justice in the future. We always try to find historical relevant sites and locations that we can see and read about on our trips. This is definitely our family’s influence, my history teacher background and our love for cross-cultural activities but there is just so much we need to learn from the past and exploring historical sites, museums, landmarks, reading primary sources are our JAM! Our hope is that our kids learn from the many often excluded voices they are exposed to and appreciate the historical relevance of current events and develop an appreciation for our complicated past. There is so much we do not know and so much of this vast world to learn- that is EXCITING!
5. To value adventure, exploration, joy, & fun! We value experiences & over things (Jason and I joke that it took us over 15 years into our marriage to actually spend money on a couch rather than just go on a trip). Everyone values different things which is totally great- it makes us each unique. I have friends that have beautiful homes they use for welcoming and entertaining and I love and affirm that as well but for us if we have the funds we will be buying a plane ticket or loading the camper up. For us a huge value is exploration- going somewhere new and trying to take it in. We also believe that God designed us for JOY- it was his idea that we would love the feeling on the sand under our toes and the sound of the waves and the delicious taste of street food a world away or a bougie local coffee shop’s perfect latte. Skipping rocks, drinking coffee, eating ice cream, playing soccer, swimming in a waterfall, and laying in a hammock are all holy moments. Experiencing these things together bring us joy and we celebrate the Creator as we explore together.
These are some reasons why we value adventuring together.
We spent half of a day at urgent care and dealing with a serious sibling conflict but that is part of who we are all becoming- it is a beautiful mess and Jesus invites us to community, forgiveness, and experiencing joy.
So friends, if you think you cannot travel because it will be a mess- join our circus side show on the road. At least we have a change of scenery for the crazy. Jason plans and I am the hype woman and we all bring our full selves- the good and the ugly on every trip. Expectations matter and if you expect chaos you might be surprised at the memories and amazing adventures that happen in the midst of the mess.