A Mum’s perspective on moving her family to Thailand

(Written by wife, Susannah. My version here :)

In 2 weeks time, we will be flying our ‘Keene Beans’ (Isla – 4, Mali – 2, & Jack – 1) to Thailand to live on an island for 10 months. I usually leave the online stories to someone in our family who rather enjoys it (it’s not Jack) but so many friends and fellow-mums have asked me to share the story from my side so here goes.

Was it an easy decision?

It sounds idyllic – white sandy beaches, turquoise waters, care-free children playing in the sunshine – and in so many ways it is. But we’ve had a mini-experience of life on a paradise island before and I know the reality. Bali wasn’t straight forward for me and there were many tears shed as I was at times lonely, frustrated and exhausted – I couldn’t make the most of it for myself as I had a 10 month old that I had to watch every second due to the lack of walls and huge drops off sides of buildings, I was pregnant and had no close friends and family for support and I missed the exploration and carefree adventures of pre-kid travel. However, there were many amazing moments too and I don’t for one millisecond regret that experience for we saw the kindness cultures embrace children with and 4 years later Isla enjoys the tales and photos of our time there.

These challenging feelings were very much at the forefront of my mind when the Koh Lanta idea arose but this time we had 3 little ones to take into consideration – it was so much easier to decide before they arrived! There was no doubt in Ben’s mind and so the final decision lay on my shoulders and I spent days in a knot of stress and anxiety – was there good enough healthcare? Would they all contract some sort of hideous tropical disease or fry in the sunshine (we are 3⁄5 ginger after all)? Were we being selfish taking our children away from family and friends? Were we all going to be on the front page when the next natural disaster hits the region? What if Ben’s off working and I’m stuck with 3 children, no friends or family, too hot to play on the beach and nothing to entertain the kids with for days on end? Would Ben be able to generate enough income to support us all?

But what if we didn’t do it or at least give it a try – I knew we would always regret it and so there was the answer. For at least a week, the decision filled every single cell of my body with fear and anxiety – I felt sick to the core that we were creating too many risks and unknowns and that life in our adored home town would simply be a lot safer, more predictable and comfortable. But it will be here when we get back and that’s what’s so great.

The Planning

My brain is currently in over-drive trying to remember and sort everything for our trip, shutting up our house ready for rental, making responsible decisions about things such as immunisations and visas and trying to run our everyday family life but the decision has also given me a boost of energy with a looming deadline. It feels so liberating to de-clutter the house and buy that loo-roll holder that I should have sorted months ago. I have no idea what we will or will not be able to buy easily when we are there but I also know that we can survive with so much less stuff than we think so it’s a good time to be reminded of this.

We don’t have a house to live in yet and I know this bit makes a lot of people feel very nervous! Luckily, this is the bit I’m least worried about – we have somewhere for the first week and then we’ll find the best solution once we’re there. I think having travelled a fair amount in my life helps this feel less daunting.

Overall, I feel incredibly excited and fortunate that we have this opportunity in our lives to at least give it a go and I hope the kids will look back on it with admiration too. It’s been so encouraging listening to friends responses to our decision and I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandmother lately who lived with her 3 small children in the Sudan in the 1950s, travelling there by boat and small, rickety planes – this is nothing compared to that and I both admire and draw strength from her bravery to explore. Koh Lanta here we come!


Connect with Susannah on instagram.com/keenebeans

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