A couple of people have asked me how the boys are feeling about travelling for a period of time and it has been interesting to note how they are adjusting to the changes and the moving around. Interestingly, the transitions have proved challenging.
The build-up always leads to some kind of come down…
There was such a build-up before coming to Bali – weeks of packing up our home in France and preparing for the summer guests, the purchase of backpacks to fit our belongings, the actual packing of all we need and the deliberating over what toys and games the boys would find most entertaining and then, saying goodbye to friends and family before setting off. It was a busy and full time and then we hopped onto our flight. It was much anticipated!
G remembers travelling to South Africa and pulling his first all-nighter watching movies (he wasn’t actually awake all night, but very nearly!). So, he was looking forward to the movies and playing games. Both boys made the most of the inflight entertainment and the fact that there wasn’t an imposed bedtime!
We arrived in Denpasar, Bali at midnight and by this time the boys were exhausted. R fell asleep on the journey to our apartment while G was awake and thoroughly perturbed by all the statues and images he could see along our drive. I try to anticipate the children’s concerns as far as possible and talk to them about what to expect, but I hadn’t foreseen this one!
G is a sensitive child and that night he cried and cried and then R woke up and he cried and cried because his big brother was so upset. R decided to add to the general commotion by sobbing about leaving our dogs Louis and Xena behind. I had been most worried about this – it’s quite something how children pick up on everything! The following morning, we all overslept the alarm and woke up at 1pm; so much for getting onto the time zone as quickly as possible.
G has enjoyed all that we have done over the past few weeks, but I can see that he is missing the certainty that comes with living in your family home and growing up in a small village. Sometimes I wonder if we’re doing the best for the boys, but I think that the challenge of change is character building (I hope!).
In fact, even Gavin and I find the evening before moving to a new location a little stressful, but we’re learning to manage it better. Here are a couple of our strategies:
1. Involve the children in the planning as far as possible.
Include them in the planning conversations and ask their opinions throughout. Ask them what they see as similar and what they see as different to what they know. As we travel, we’re dreaming up our “ideal home” and have a constant conversation around home design, sustainable material, dream spaces etc. and the boys have an opinion. G likes the big spaces in French homes and the quiet. They both dream of a dedicated Lego room!
2. Move on as quickly as possible if a home doesn’t suit you.
We were in a beautiful home near Ubud, but it took a half hour to the centre and a half hour to yoga and there was very little around us. It was costing a small fortune in taxis and it was stressful. It was such a relief to move and I’d move more quickly if that were to happen in the future. We have been told that if an Airbnb place is not as you anticipate from the online booking, that you can cancel and have a refund if you submit your query within 24 hours.
3. Book accommodation for a night or two.
This allows you to give yourself time to see your longer-term accommodation in person and book direct. I’d really recommend this in Bali. There are numerous villas and even in the high season, they are not all rented out. Ask around and negotiate a price reduction for a longer stay.
4. Be clear about your requirements
When looking at ashrams / communities and any accommodation really, make sure that you will be comfortable there. Ask questions even if they seem silly.
5. Have a “throw-in-bag”.
We have two backpacks for our clothing and each of us has our own small backpack. Then, as you go out the door, trailing shoes, forgotten coffee, latest artwork or all-important-absolutely-cannot-be-left-behind trinkets can be chucked in the “throw-in-bag” and drama is avoided. Is it just our boys or do your children also form attachments to the most weird and wonderful things?
6. Listen to advice from friends.
But hear what they are saying! Your requirements might differ dramatically from theirs. We’ve made that mistake before and although the recommendation was sincere, it was not what we were hoping for. Again, ask questions!
7. Use distractions…
I’m a little hesitant to add this one! We’re trying to encourage the children to engage with the people around them and engage with their surroundings and take note of their own feelings and perceptions, but when it all gets too much, screen-time can be a welcome aide…
Do you have any other suggestions for making transitions easier for children? What has worked for you?