We don't do school runs...So I foolishly and optimistically thought that i'd no longer start each day with screaming at the kids to put their shoes on.
A psychologist friend was surprised when she found out that there was anything but calm joy in our family. But she was reassured- there is theory in sibling development that conflict is essential and unavoidable. I can vouch for this.
Every morning, I vow not to get impatient, not to threaten the removal of screen privileges, don't SHOUT. The children find such fun in doing the OPPOSITE of what I need them to do, despite them needing to wear sunscreen pretty much every day for the last 9 months. It is STILL a battle, still makes them laugh and run and giggle with sadistic glee that they can make my brain go pop.
Why? We don't have to get to work or school, but the actual dynamic is still the same. I am still rushing around the house trying to remember everything. This 'naturally' falls to me you see, as the woman to organise... and if you want to see anything about Mental Load here is a good cartoon. It highlights what many women have known for a while but find it hard to vocalise and is something we as a couple are working on.
Many families and couples who do long term travel have told me that it nearly split them up.
What?! How?! You ask. Surely you are living the dream, away from work and school pressures?!
Well, there's the spending every single day and night with the same people all the time. It can be pretty intense.
There is the stripping bare of everything that you do (see mental load, above). Once you get out of holiday mode, any issues you have become very obvious. In a world where there is no structure, nothing to challenge or occupy your brain (apart from navigating a train timetable, the occasional blog post etc) there is very little to actually TALK about. Apart from what you have both seen. Together.
There are Plans to make and things you have seen... but when the other person- or the children- or hormones- or homesickness- put you in a bad mood there is nowhere to hide.
No neighbour to bump into at the shop to PING you out of your stormy mood.
Nowhere to go for a cup of tea to offload and get headspace.
No bedroom you can hide in for an hour as YOU ALL LIVE IN THE SAME BEDROOM (which could also be part of the relationship problem- but that's another post). It's just you, your family and your brain. In the main, all four of us have to be EVERYTHING to each other and sometimes we each fall short.
Don't get me wrong, work and school and normal life is hard- I'm not belittling that AT ALL. These are different hard things and ones that most people (like us!) wouldn't expect.
I read Alain de Botton ' Philosophy of Travel' and it made us roar with laughter. We went on holiday but ACCIDENTALLY BROUGHT OURSELVES WITH US! Ha ha ha ha!!! For a WHOLE year!! ha ha ha ha!!
The morning is spent whilst I rush around remembering drinks, snacks, swimming costumes, sunscreen, beach toys, maps, charging cables, plasters and emergency anti-histamine medication. I wrestle (hypothetically, usually) with children who just want to do anything apart from what I want them to do, whilst smacking each other with whatever is to hand.
Eventually we get in the car, and when we get there in the midday heat, one or both children will probably say they feel sick or just refuse to get out the car.
Don't they know how lucky they are?
Sometimes... but usually not.
Unfortunately for the children they just don't see many of these days out as a big deal, to them it is good, but it is just... normal. They have no urgency to see the National Park full of incredible trees/ beaches/ rocks. They've seen so many and no matter how many people tell them they are 'lucky' to see all this, to them, right now they just have parents who keep making them look at stuff and telling them how cool it all is. And we fully intend to keep on doing this, by the way.
As adults, we know the sacrifices that we have made to be here, to do this. It is a once in a lifetime chance and despite its challenges, to us this means the world.
One day they'll get it, sat in Geography learning about sedimentary rock, Grand Canyon will suddenly become cool because they will be able to put their hands up, because they know loads of stuff about it. They might thank us then.
In the meantime I'm going to learn to make our mornings less shouty and cross-sounding by breathing and counting to ten.
I'm going to make our life run as smoothly as it looks like it does on Instagram.