What if kids are homesick & miss their friends?
I want to go off prepared for the negatives that will arrive rather than blithely assuming all will be peaches and cream. Of course we will have fabulous, once in a lifetime experiences but I'd love to hear from somebody that has lived through the ordinary, real life blahs.
Our kids kept in touch with their friends - sent special friends a postcard from each country as well as emails and Skype calls. When we got home we were surprised to find one family had plastered their wall with our postcards! And the kids are still all very close. In fact, that particular family took off on their own four month adventure just a few months after we got back - the kids all agreed it was much easier being away than being the ones left at home!
One of our kids missed his mates more than the others. We offered him the prospect of returning home, but his missing was not that severe - he definitely wanted more to be with us.
I just wrote a blog post today about the downsides of traveling: http://familyonbikes.org/blog/?p=1572 Although we have come to the conclusion that long-term travel is the best thing for us, I totally understand that each family has to consider all the pros and cons and go from there.
I also wrote another article a while ago about the stages of culture shock: http://www.examiner.com/international-t ... erm-travel When I was a Peace Corps Volunteer years and years ago, my father sent me an article outlining the stages of culture shock - after I had already passed through them. I wished that I had known about the stages as I was passing htrough them - it would have helped me understand what was happening. Anyway, I think culture shock is very real for kids as well as adults, so it might help to talk with the little ones and let them know what is coming up.
I wish I had most concrete suggestions for how to deal with it - I think each person simply has to work through it on their own.
I many ways, going to a new situation after a trip would be easier than returning to the same ol! Consider yourself blessed!!
We have geared our world travel so that our daughter can meet LOTS of friends as we go and maintain her friendships as we roam the world. She just had a ball connecting with her best friend at home in California where they did a sleep over at our beach home rental and hung out at the mall and such while she was there,then her best friend from Spain called via webcam and she introduced the two of them ( despite them not speaking the same language) and gave her Spanish friend a virtual tour of the house. Two weeks before that she was reconnecting with all her school friends in southern Spain & also made good friends with some Australian kids in southern Spain who were just starting their world tour. Then in London she reconnected with good friends whom we know from Spain. This week we were in Kauai, Hawaii where she met some local kids and learned some of the traditional games and how to surf.
Today leaves sooo many options for connecting, but you will also have so much fun during your explorations, kids live in the now and will meet friends everywhere if you make time for that and encourage it. You can make up your own celebrations...like we will do Halloween this year in Bora Bora ( where they don't celebrate it ...just as they didn't in Umbria, Italy, or Barcelona...but WE did).
It really is all about attitude & one can worry needlessly before take off.
I've written about friends for globetrotting kids:
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2010/05/g ... avel-.html[/url]
And one of the MANY ways that she makes friends and learns languages as we roam the world:
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2010/08/c ... 10a94e970c[/url]
Here is one I wrote about how to enjoy Christmas abroad ( something we have done for 4 years and will again this year in Asia):
http://www.soultravelers3.com/2009/12/h ... idays.html[/img]
We have a singleton who is a VERY social extrovert & our world travels have been a great advantage in her friendships as she has friends all over the world now ( many that we return to regularly and will continue doing that for many years & many new ones and she keeps in touch with many via webcam calls, emails etc). She was 5 when we began and 10 now, so we have experienced many stages. She is even already planning her own RTW trip with one of her best friends who also loves to travel as soon as they graduate from University!
I'd imagine it would be even easier with a siblings as they always have each other. Certainly, keep friendships and the kids needs in mind, but also remember that having the TIME together to bond as a family and be a well oiled team is part of the great joy of extended travel. It's very valuable I think to NOT ALWAYS be connected to friends. You don't want to just recreate the exact same environment as home...but have time to explore a new way of living, being, seeing, experiencing the world together.
One of the biggest problems with society today is peer attachment instead of family and parent attachment, so you will gain MUCH just from the TIME together...playing, working, exploring, learning and just hanging out together.
You will live decades worth of new experiences in the next year, but when you go home, it will be exactly the same and you will have missed nothing there. ( THAT is the biggest culture shock to adjust to) It's a bit of a time warp because travel keeps you living in the "now". It will go by in a blink of the eye...it's hard to believe we have been traveling for 5 years.
Yes, just like at home, you will all have moments of crankiness, but be a good team that supports each other even in the tougher moments and keep your eyes on the prize...having fun for a whole year as family while you explore the world together...living a dream come true.
In our family, we have a saying, are you sitting in the "lack" chair or "full" chair. it's all in the perspective and we are here to remind each other. This morning when I got a little cranky due to lack of sleep, my daughter said to me as she looked out at our spectacular beach view on the north shore of Kauai just a foot or two from the sea....."Are you sitting in the "lack"chair, mom?". She was right and that is the kind of team building/person building opportunity that one constantly gets on the road ( and not) when challenges about friends or what ever else comes up. You can remind each other or make a family cheer like we do.
My suggestion? Just commit to the fun, commit to the team, commit to the adventure together and use everything to your advantage...even the crankies when they show up in any form. No ...you or your kids will not be ecstatic 24/7 for an entire year ( you WILL have stressful times) , but you WILL also have the time of your life that you will never forget if that is what you commit to!!
Fear not, enjoy! Just decide to love it all.
8 reasons to do a family world trip:
I am always doing that
which I can not do,
in order that
I may learn how to do it.
My daughter moved away from her bffs last year when we moved from the US to Switzerland. It has definitely been a positive experience for her and an adventure but there were also some rough patches. About 1 year after we moved I took her back to the city we moved from and she got to see all of her friends. I keep offering to skype with them but for some reason the kids don't take me up on the offer. Once my daughter made local friends and started learning the language, she began doing a lot better.
I think acknowledging her feelings has gone a long way toward making her feel better. No one likes to be brushed off and trying to convince someone they don't feel that way is rude. We still travel a lot and I try to get her excited about some aspect of the trip i think she will like. We went to Paris a couple of weeks ago and she was pumped because of the Madeline books. First thing she wanted to do when we got there was go to the Eiffel Tower and eat a crepe with chocolate. Not the first thing I wanted to do but hey, it was her trip too.
Make sure the kids stay in touch with their friends. Can you help them start a blog so their friends can follow their journey? Skype? That sort of thing.
In the end, it is a great experience for them.
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