The Truth About Living Abroad With Toddlers
It’s easier than it sounds.
After waiting 35 years to have kids, I had two babies in twelve months.
Believe it or not, it didn’t feel difficult because it was what I wanted. My boys are now half way to their second and third birthdays and they already have stamps in their passports. They have been on their first plane ride, they are soaking up a second language, they are taking in a new culture and they are eating plenty of new offerings.
Travel should happen after the kids have graduated and you’re ready to retire right?
I recently read a mom post on Facebook about her plans of traveling the world. She said she would start the moment her two kids graduated from high school, and I get it. She’s got little ones. Some days the basics feel like adventure enough, if you know what I mean.
Others say they will travel once they reach retirement. Once they’ve got a nest egg and investments working for them they will be financially ready to enjoy their life. The responsibilities of raising children will be behind them and they can really focus on their lives. But how often does this actually happen? How often does later turn into never?
So why on earth would we choose to live abroad and travel now?
Here is the straight and honest truth ― being committed to nurturing a marriage, caring for kids and running several businesses does make for a full plate, but those things are not enough to satisfy my soul fully. Living lean on possessions in order to be free to pick up and get on a plane to whatever place has caught our attention, now that lights me up! Plus it makes the other key pieces of my life much richer and fulfilling.
When given the option to do what I love now or later, I always choose now. There are no guarantees. We often convince ourselves that there’s plenty of time or that the opportunity will always be there and that simply may not be true.
Want the real truth on how hard it is to pull off?
It’s not harder than living in the U.S. In fact, it’s loads easier. And the reason why lies in the culture in which we are living. Mexico is super family and kid-friendly. They could not be more patient and loving. They enjoy it when our kids run up to their table in a restaurant. When my kids are turning up the volume for no particular reason, they find it amusing and remind me to let them be kids. They take life at a slower pace so it’s quite alright that it takes two hours to eat breakfast and half an hour to walk a block.
They don’t care about being stared at or have a strict rule of personal space. They see kids as a blessing. And don’t let me forget to mention that with a lower cost of living I only work three hours a day, so my children get loads of time with me to play, nap and cook.
When my husband and I want to have a date night, we can easily afford to have a nanny come over for a few hours and we feel confident that our boys are being taken care of. As a mother there is no greater feeling than witnessing your children being loved on all the time.
I’m a different mother while traveling.
I’m less uptight and self-conscious when living abroad because I don’t feel the judgements and experience the darting eyes. Motherhood is no longer a competition. I’m not trying to measure up to anyone else’s standard of success. I am simply enjoying my kids. Interestingly enough, I am much more trusting, as well ― when my kid is on the other side of the park I can be certain that another mom will pick him up when he falls. I have a village here and it most definitely takes a village to raise kids well.
And if I could give one piece of advice, one gypsy mama to another, start when they are young.
The culture in which we are raised soaks into our bones so slowly and subtly it goes unnoticed until we enter a new one. If you want your family to be open-minded, accepting of every culture and people, if you want to cultivate curiosity and adventure, do not delay. There is a natural monotony of having little ones, so give them the balance of routine and new experiences. Make the plans, be courageous and leap!
Here are my final three pieces of advice for parents who have a love affair with travel like I do:
1. If travel is in your blood, make the move and be sure that your kids will adapt faster and better than you can.
2. If you are happy living abroad, your kids will definitely pick up on it and embrace the experience, too.
3. If you are committed to being their constant, the variety will serve them well — both now and later.