Before I became a mom I always thought that there were a lot of things that I had to teach my children, little did I know would my kids become my life teachers, and they would come to this world with much more to teach me than whatever I could teach them. This is true of pretty much every aspect of my life but when it comes to traveling, boy has my perspective of things changed since we started having our little third-wheel travel with us! After countless trips with my daughter I can say that traveling with kids makes you a better person, in this post I will share with you 5 ways I think traveling with my children has made me a better mom and a better person.
Learning to slow down and take a break.
Traveling with kids doesn’t allow for overpacked schedules. I am normally a time optimist and tend to plan to do more things than I can probably manage, the same applies to travel. This way of living is not always very healthy because over scheduling and over committing can become quite stressful, and it also makes so that enjoying the moment is a little bit more difficult. With children, or at least with my children, this is impossible.
Julia is a great little traveler and she adapts so well to our plans but there is no way on Earth I can overpack a vacation with activities without having to pay the price. She has taught me that there is beauty in splashing your hands in the fountain for 15 minutes. As a child she is obviously completely in sync with her body so there are plenty of snack and potty stops as well as naps during the day, she will also say no whenever we propose something that she doesn’t feel like doing. She enjoys life to the fullest and she listens to herself.
To have a great trip together we have to allow for a slower pace, where there is time for running around and being silly, staring at a bee for minutes on end or simply sitting down to take a break. For me, the ability to do this has been so freeing and a total relief. I have learned to slow down, take a break when I need it and even say no to things that I don’t feel like doing.
Accepting and enjoying unpredictability
Up until I had children I was a complete control freak, everything in my life had to go according to plan and I had plans for everything. I am very good at planning which is a good trait to have I believe, but any time something didn’t go as planned I would get stressed and think about what went wrong and why, for hours. Since the moment I knew I was pregnant with my first daughter I learned to let go. I understood that I could plan every detail of my life except my children.
Becoming a parent is as unpredictable as it gets since you don’t get to plan when the child is born, if its a boy or a girl, what personality they will have and what they will like to do. Having Julia in my life has been a big surprise every single day together. She is a free spirit and comes up with the funniest things. When traveling she accepts that we don’t know where we’re going next and that sometimes plans will have to change, that at times we have an early ice cream and a later lunch, and sometimes there’s a snack on the go instead of sitting down to eat.
She thinks everything is magic and everything is a surprise and in that enjoys life to the fullest. Watching her I have learned to let go, that I cannot and should not have everything under control. That as long as a few basics are in place I can basically adapt and accept whatever happens. So we have had to cancel plans while on vacation because of a cranky baby and have also been surprised with a nice long adults-only dinner because she fell asleep for the night in the stroller.
Appreciating the little stuff in life
This is probably the best thing about having Julia in my life. She really knows how to appreciate and admire the little stuff, that which you would normally not see. We have been in botanical gardens and while we are looking at a huge rose bush, she will spot the little bees feeding from the flowers and flying around from one to the other. There has not been one single place we’ve visited where I am not amazed at the details that she spots, and how easy it was for me to miss it.
More and more I am able to find little things that I enjoy and admire and that I can share with her. Life is like that, full of little moments that we better appreciate. Moments like having breakfast, story time or sitting together on the grass and watching the moon or the stars at night. For Julia the best part of going to Paris is not taking our picture under the Eiffel Tower, but simply being there, and being with us. Traveling with kids helps make us better at appreciating those moments and learning to cherish them, it is not about the place you’re in but about the people you’re with and the little things in life that we take for granted.
Learning to look at things with a fresh mind and question everything.
If you have a toddler you know they ask lots of questions, and by lots I mean, LOTS of questions. Julia asks questions about things that I would have never even thought of. Traveling with kids to places that they have never been and with a completely different culture than our own makes for a lot more questions than normal. I can no longer tell myself that something its just the way it is because I will likely have to answer some questions about it and she will not take a “because” as an answer.
With this I have learned that we shouldn’t accept anything just because. It is important that we know why things are and that we are able to question them. Only if we question something can we ever think of changing it, and I am not talking about traveling to far away places and changing other cultures. I mean challenging ourselves as people and as parents and asking ourselves why?, why do we do things the way we do them? Are they the right things to do? Is it something that we should accept? Is it even right? Having the fresh mind of a child with me all the time helps in this journey of not only accepting things as they are.
Accepting myself and letting me be me.
I don’t know at what point in time do we lose that ability to accept ourselves for who we are and just be, ignoring the eye of others and what they may think of what we do, how we look or what we are doing. My daughter has been a perfect teacher for me in that field, especially when we travel. She will have no issue to start crying in the middle of a long flight if she hurts herself, and of course that is the right thing to do, but as adults it is very easy to want to silence the parts of us that may be uncomfortable to others. I have learned to not tell her to stop crying but to comfort her and understand, because why should she pretend she didn’t hurt herself if she obviously did.
We have been in crowded plazas where a music band starts playing and Julia will have no problem in simply starting dancing if that is what she feels like. She will be fast to run to a mom blowing bubbles for her kids even if she doesn’t know the mom or the kids; for me it is a different story. Although sometimes I may feel like doing something I tend to tell myself that what I want is weird, unacceptable or plain embarrassing, leaving myself wanting to do something that at the end I didn’t do because of what others may say or think.
Julia will have no problem turning her face from a stranger she doesn’t want to talk to or making play doh spaghetti for the lady beside her, she will jump and run when she feels like and laugh as loud as she can when she is happy. Her self-awareness has taught me that the more I allow myself to do what I feel like without having to hide myself the better I know myself and more I am drawn to do things that I actually want and I actually enjoy.
There is probably a ton of ways traveling with kids makes you a better person, kids teach us to be nicer, more patient and more authentic. Normally we may think that we are making our kids a favor in taking them traveling with us, and maybe we are, but they are also doing great things for us in being our companions in our adventures. For sure the greatest adventure of all for me has been becoming a parent, one that I continue to discover and be amazed by every day of my life. What have you learned by traveling with your kids? Tell me in the comments or share with me through social media
You may also be interested in reading:
- How travel can make your children smarter
- Ideas for a fun staycation (or weekend) with your kids
- If you travel with kids and are flying don’t miss reading 7 ways to entertain your children on a plane without an iPad