The reasons I travel now as a mom are different than the reasons I traveled before kids. Before kids I traveled to experience the world. I traveled to be reminded that life exists outside my comfortable middle class bubble. I traveled to be reminded how insignificant my problems were and to be slapped in the face by what real hardship and suffering look like. I traveled to learn about life and myself. And I was most definitely born with the wanderlust gene.
But it’s different now. The wanderlust never left, but my reasons and motivations for travel are different. I travel to escape. Let me clarify—I travel WITH my kids to escape. To escape the routine. To escape the messy house. To escape the endless errands and chores that ought to be done. To escape the mundane.
I love my kids, I love being a mom. But sometimes it’s suffocating. Sometimes even when nobody is fighting or whining or trying to fall off a window ledge (that’d be my daredevil youngest) I still fight the urge to be irritated by every little thing. Some moms go to their car and just scream or cry for five minutes. Or lock themselves in a bathroom alone and play on their phone while their kids cry and scream and scrape at the door. Some moms relish early bedtimes and large bottles of wine. I start planning last minute family trips. That’s my thing. That’s how I cope with the stress and craziness that comes with being a mom to little ones.
And I get that that sounds crazy. But for me, traveling with kids is therapeutic. To escape my boisterous in-your-face children I go on vacation with them. I add jet lag, crowded airplanes, long road trips, strangers, and the unknown to the equation. I take our messy, chaotic lives and then risk a more chaotic adventure. And I love it. I love every last second of the stress, whining, misery, and euphoria that comes with traveling with kids. And I think I know why: change of scenery.
We LOVE hotel rooms. Clean sheets, clean towels, and someone else to clean up the mess!
The change of scenery makes all the difference.
It’s amazing how a gorgeous backdrop or historic landmark make everything more bearable and help me put things into perspective. For some reason, when my kid throws a tantrum (Stonehenge
—take your pick) on one of our adventures I see the the humor and irony in the situation. Perhaps I should get mad or embarrassed, but in those moments my knee-jerk mom reaction isn’t to raise my voice and issue idle threats. The change of scenery calms me. Outside my house, surrounded by complete strangers, I can recognize that my kids are being kids and struggle to express pent-up emotions. We may get a few stares, but the mom (and dad) that calm them down or let them get it all out are the best versions of ourselves when we are traveling.
Much to his dismay, there were no gladiators to be found within the walls of the colosseum.
And I could use a change of scenery about now. My three-year-old had minor surgery. My house can’t seem to stay clean. We’re trying out homeschooling with my kindergartener. And the awesome grandmas who spoiled us for the past six weeks with their visits have now deserted us and returned to their own homes and lives. (In reality, I’m blessed beyond words to have a mom and mother-in-law that seem to enjoy traveling thousands of miles to do my dishes and laundry. It also probably doesn’t hurt that I’m the sole grandbaby-maker so far and I make beautiful babies…)
I don’t realize how much the extra help helps until it’s gone and suddenly I’m drowning in housework I’d grow accustomed to ignoring.
I’m starting to think there’s a correlation between how epically stupid the last-minute trips I concoct are and how overwhelmed I’m feeling at home. And the stress must be getting to me—because next week I’m taking three kids BY MYSELF on a train adventure around Scotland.
Going nuts at home with the kids? Spend four days cooped up with them in a rail car. Epically stupid or legendary adventure? It remains to be seen. But I am giddily excited at the prospect.
So let the countdown begin. Scotland rail adventure is around the corner. And rain or shine, it promises to make for an interesting story and a much needed change of pace.