So… what’s it like going from being a dad (or mum) working two jobs to being with your kids full time?
I don’t know how many times I’ve been asked this question by people we’ve met on the road, usually by people with a smirk on their face and expecting me to say something along the lines of “I just need a break”
It’s the biggest benefit of travelling full-time, and one that was unexpected.
At home there’s ALWAYS something playing on my mind. Lawn to mow. Repairs to be done. Helping around the house. Some other appointment. Now? Once the legs are wound down and the hoses are connected, I’m essentially DONE. I now have the time to cook (and no excuse!) with the kids, go to the playground… I’m even helping Chloe sew a doll at the moment
Seeing the kids grow.
I saw Chloe’s first steps on a video recorded with Natalie’s iPhone. Now? I’m helping Chloe learn what we’d normally outsource to a teacher. I’m seeing Elliot transition into someone who is getting a grasp of how number, letters, time, etc all work together. I’m seeing Edward’s entire progress towards trying to crawl. Sure, the younger kids may not remember everything about the trip… but I sure will, and they’ll have memories of having a dad who was there.
I can honestly say that in the past, even if I was spending time with the family, there was always something else in the back of my mind. Weekends are only so long. Thoughts like “an hour should do it and then I better get onto the weeding” or “we’d better leave by 4.45pm to make the supermarket.” Now? Digging in the sand with the little excavator and dump truck? I’m all yours buddy!
Quite often it’s the little things. Walking outside and seeing the kids playing together. At 1pm on Monday. Just before we’re about to go fishing. That’s awesome. If that itself isn’t enough, I don’t know what is.
So, it goes from working a normal job one day, then being all hugs and playgrounds all the next day?
Not at all.
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).
Some things that I’ve learned over the past months that helped me adjust include:
Just accept that they want to talk to you ALL the time.
Small kids love a chat. About anything. Annnyyyyything. Surely they don’t really want to know if it’s dark or night in Japan, or if you need liquid nitrogen to freeze beer or wine (actual questions asked today). I found the best way I could avoid being frustrated is to just accept that they want to chat all the time and it’s a sign of affection, so…
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. I’ve found if I move away, it’s done way more quickly and I can get back to being 100% with the family in a shorter time. My personal favourites… locking myself in the car for even just 10-minutes, or taking the Eddie for a walk in the pram.
Make time to be yourself.
There’s no doubt you give up some of your hobbies, which can be a big part of your life, to travel. The parts of me that I could maintain (exercising) I could keep. To do it though, it’s either really early in the morning, or at night after the kids have gone to bed. This is also the time of day I use for new hobbies that I’ve picked up along the way. If there was one thing I could recommend to anyone, it’d be this. I’d hate to end up resenting the trip/the kids because of missing out on things that make up me as a person, when all it takes is a bit of scheduling. If it is that important to you, you’ll make time.
I was fortunate enough to work two part-time jobs before we took off. This meant that I was still working an average of four days per week, but this was way less than I’d been use to for a long time. This meant I could get used to the increased home and kids time. I’d highly recommend this if you can do it, but I realise not everyone can.
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. Being with the family full-time is amazing, and the best thing about seeing this country. Best parenting decision I’ve ever made… and I’ll be sad when it comes to an end
If you’re a dad… what’s your favourite thing about being on the road with your family?