Michael & his family hit the road this year for a full time travelling adventure! We have listened to their podcasts and we always love a story from the Dad’s point of view – remember when Lloyd from Our Big Lap shared with us his thoughts after being on the road for 4 months!
Was it tough for this father to adjust to full time travel? Michael shares with us his Top Tips to help fathers adjust to full time travel. ENJOY!
6 Tips to Help Fathers Adjust to Full-Time Travel
You’ve made the decision to travel Australia so you can focus on what’s most important, and spend more time with the wife and kids.
So, does it go from working a normal job one day, then being all hugs and playgrounds the next day?
Not at all.
So what can you expect when you first hit the road?
You will get to spend A LOT more time with your family. All day. Every day. This can be a huge change if you’ve come from a situation where you see the kids a little bit each morning and evening, then a bit more on the weekends.
For some, this change can be too much of a good thing. It can take a while to adjust. It can be tough, and it comes with a whole new bunch of stresses.
The good news is that after being on the road for 8-months straight, there are a few things that I’ve found that you can do to help adjust:
Look at the kids’ endless questions as a sign of affection.
Your kids will want to talk to you ALL the time. Don’t try to fight it. Small kids love a chat. About anything. Annnyyyyything. You can avoid getting frustrated by the non-stop talking if you just accept that they want to chat all the time and look at it as a sign of affection. A bonus is that if you engage in their questions and try to help them find answers, you’ll learn some pretty cool stuff (questions I’ve had to find the answers to recently are what’s the hardest metal, does beer freeze in liquid nitrogen, and if people eat bees).
Don’t try to multitask when the kids are around.
Have to make a call? Send an email? Concentrate on some fiddly repairs? Trying to do this while the kids are wanting a chat means things take longer, the kids aren’t getting the attention they truly deserve, and you just end up getting frustrated. If you move away, it’s done way more quickly and you can get back to being 100% present with the family in a shorter time. Some personal favourites? Waiting until the kids are busy before even thinking about trying to tackle some tasks, or even just locking yourself in the car for 10-minutes!
Make time for yourself.
There’s no doubt you’re going to have to give up some of your hobbies to travel. Time will be more of an issue than you think (there really isn’t much down time during the days). There might be some things that you can keep doing… if only you could find the time. For many things, you can. To do it though, it’s either really early in the morning, or at night after the kids have gone to bed. Either that, or openly communicate with your partner so you can both book some ‘time-out’. If there was one thing I could recommend to anyone, it’d be this. You’d hate to end up resenting the trip/the kids because of missing out on things that make up you as a person, when all it takes is a bit of scheduling. If it is that important to you, you’ll make time.
Gradually go full-time with the kids.
Being a full-time parent is tough. Not digging a trench tough, but mentally exhausting. A big shout out to the stay-at-home mums… some days there’s NO break (not even when you try to hide in the toilet). It can be a rude shock. Rather than working full-time one day to hitting the road the next, if you can, go part-time for a bit while you’re preparing for the trip. If this isn’t an option, consider finishing up at work while the kids still have a few weeks left in school or childcare.
Say ‘yes’ to any offer of babysitting.
You know how it normally goes. Someone offers you some cake, and you politely decline. After the second or third offer, you finally take it (even though you wanted it all along). Don’t play this game with offers of babysitting. Anytime a family member or close friend you come across on your travels makes this offer, jump on it. Otherwise, they might not ask the second time. Taking turns with your partner so you can have some time out is one thing, but having couple time away from the kids is another. Make the most of it. You don’t know when you’ll get the opportunity again.
Make the effort to keep in touch with your mates.
You’re on the road having an adventure with your family. For everyone else, life goes on. Your mates back home will continue to catch up with each other. They’re also getting distracted by the pressures of their work, family, their local sporting team, etc. Don’t take it personally if they forget to keep in touch with you. Don’t be afraid to be the one that makes the first effort to message or call. Even if you feel like the one who is always going first (seriously though, who keeps track of this?!). It might even be time to bite the bullet and get onto ‘The Facebook’. Keeping in touch will make you feel less isolated, and it will make it easier to slip back into things when you finally get home.
So, is it worth it?
Longer term travel is amazing. The places you see and the people you meet are unbelievable, but… it’s the change from being a working dad (or mum) to being with the family full-time that’s possibly the biggest benefit of the travel.
You’ll have less distractions. Without a house to maintain, you’ll find this time absorbed by your family. That’s awesome.
Being present. You’re likely to have less going on in the back of your mind. When you’re with your family, you’ll really be there. Not thinking about work.
You’ll see the kids grow. First steps. Crawling. Learning things they’d normally be taught at school. No matter what your kids’ age, you’ll actually be there to witness their growth.
The little things. Walking the beach together when you’d normally be at work.
Going fishing with the kids on a weekday. Seeing the kids’ excitement as they see their first wombat. That’s awesome. If that itself isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.
As fathers I think we may take for granted how relentless kids are, and how tough a job it is being the one who is staying at home with them. They really are non-stop. It’s a good thing. Writing this, it’s easy to see that most of these points are relevant for travelling mums too!
Being with the family full-time is amazing, and the best thing about seeing this country. It’s the best parenting decision you’ll ever make… and you’ll be sad when it comes to an end.
Michael Peachey is a freelance writer for hire, specialising in digital marketing and branding. When he isn’t behind the microphone with his wife Natalie interviewing families for The Family Travel Podcast, their family of 5 is travelling Australia in a caravan having A Big Peachey Adventure.
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