As I type this, my house is pretty much empty.
We’ve got bare essentials and two suitcases worth of clothes, but all of the rest of our belongings have been boxed up and shipped out. There are less than three weeks until our impending move from Perth, Australia to… undetermined lodges, UK.
Aside from the manic packing, finishing work and all the logistics that moving country involves… There’s been something on my mind.
Ethan has always been a very adaptable child. From he was a tiny baby, we’ve been on weekends away and multiple international trips. He’s no stranger to a new bed or an aeroplane and get’s undeniably excited about both.
Gavin and I used to talk when I was pregnant about how having a family wouldn’t stop us from doing our absolute favourite thing… Travelling. ‘Kids are portable’ is a saying often heard crossing my lips. And while it can be a rough, tough struggle at times (hello teething baby screaming in my arms for 3 hours of an 11 hour flight with rude passengers cursing at me because of said screaming) and each stage in his life has required us to revise our entire flight coping strategy, I still maintain that it has been the best thing for Ethan and his natural wide eyed wonder.
A couple of weeks ago, we went on a trip to Bali. At three years old and able to explore, Ethan was in his element. He traipsed around the streets in front of us, ducked through doorways and talked to locals. The humidity was a bit much for him (and me) at times, but a quick stop for a cool drink soon fixed that. We hunted for frogs and geckos around the hotel and fed monkeys in the forrest. He seemed to be loving every minute.
But on day three, in the back of a taxi, the following conversation arose:
Ethan: “Mummy, I want to go back to my home, with my bed and my toys”
Me (shocked at the first time he’s ever pined for home): “Aw love, we’ll be back there in a few days”.
Ethan: “But I want to go back now!”.
Me (in future damage-control panic): “Don’t you worry pet, your home is wherever Mummy and Daddy are.”
Gavin and I glanced at each other with concern. Earlier that morning we’d been plotting when we could sell his bed, some other furniture and our cars.
Of course we’ve thought about how this international move will affect Ethan. We’re taking him out of his beloved daycare, his routine and everything he knows to be familiar. And this time it’s permanent. But we’ve been talking with him about the change for a while and although he know’s that we’re moving home, I don’t think he really understands that it’s more than just another adventure. He frequently tells me we’re moving to Scotland to dig for treasure.
To add to this, in a week’s time we have a farewell weekend away with friends in Australia, then a couple of days in a cottage when we land in Ireland, two weeks at home in Belfast with my folks, a week in Scotland with Gavin’s family and a week in Majorca after that to boot. The poor kid will be getting pulled from pillar to post. Within eight weeks, he’ll be on six flights and be sleeping in seven different places.
Whilst I am a believer that travelling around is good for kiddos, I also know the importance of structure and routine.
We always maintain Ethan’s bedtime routine no matter where we are, he takes his favourite toys and his energy levels dictate the pace of the day, with us all stopping to rest anytime he needs it.
But the fact that there’s going to be no ‘getting back to normal’ when we move back. Our plan is to put down roots eventually, but for at least a year we’ll be travelling between Ireland, Scotland, England and God knows where else. So I’m left wondering how am I going to do this without causing serious unrest to a three year old?
Do you think it’s ok to travel extensively with children?
Do you think they need order and predictability?
I’d love to hear your honest thoughts and advice in the comments. Mulling this over is keeping me up at night!