MOMS WHO TRAVEL – PARENTING FROM THE ROAD

Are you a mom who loves traveling but is not able to do so for the fear of leaving your little ones at home?

While it is acceptable for Dads to travel and leave their kids at home, It is not acceptable for a mom’s to travel and leave their kids at home. Mom’s can travel for work and this is in most cases acceptable but not if they travel for leisure.

Parenting is one thing that will never be taught in a school and has never been. There is no curriculum or manual for parenting either.  However, it is one thing that everyone has an opinion on, whether they are parents or not. They know when you do it right and when you do it wrong. Everyone is a”Parenting Experts”.

The sad bit is, while some opinions are quite positive and helpful, there is a lot of harsh judgement on parents who chose to travel alone and leave their kids at home. Every time we mention that we have two kids in Kenya, you can see the shock on the faces and some will go ahead and ask questions with a lot of concern while some will express their personal feelings and opinions about us leaving the kids behind for our three and a half year’s adventure. The kids too receive their share of concerns from their friends back at home.

Parents who travel and leave their kids at home are not any less of loving parents than those that never leave home without their kids. When we started planning for the world tour, our biggest challenge was breaking the news to our two teenagers. We questioned ourselves quite a lot. “Are we being bad parents? How is this going to impact on them? We even thought what will people say because we were worried about negative comments and especially from the social media since we had agreed we will share our travel stories on the social media. During our planning time, I did a couple of posts dubbed “243 reasons why am riding around the world”.  With 243 days left to our departure, I went through quite an emotional time.  I was deep in thoughts and as well as tough conversation between my heart and mind. I had triggers from within and also from outside. I decided to evaluate myself and the world tour once again and that is how I started writing about why am doing it. One of my reasons was for my kids. This process made me re-affirm myself, that I needed to carry on with the world tour.

The truth is mom’s have been traveling without their children from a long time ago. It’s now 7 months since we left home. We are going to be away for a total of 3.5 years without going back home.  Our plan is to have the kids fly to a place we can all have a family holiday. I don’t know of another mom who has left their kids for a long adventure and how long that was but I would presume I might be among the few moms who have done this. I am not proud of being away for that long and this is not a bragging right at all.  I miss the kids a lot. I have my many lows when I honestly wish I could hug them, watch a movie with them, do our cooking together like we always did and much more. I think about what I will miss in the three years. I worry about how we shall adjust and catch up.  Am not a super mom, am a mom like all moms and I worry too.

I was having one of those moment again recently and decided to use internet and search if there are other mom’s traveling without their kids and how they are coping with it. I used a ladies travel group as my main area of search as I was sure I would find other mom’s traveling and we would engage as moms.  I stumbled on a post of a mom who had received a very emotional message from her daughter 5 hours after she had left home for a few days solo holiday.  This post got many of us moms on the road commenting and other moms giving their opinions, questioning and supporting all in one post. I learned a few things from the post: –

  1. Majority of the moms traveling on holiday without their kids only take a few days a way. Mostly were 3 to 10 days.
  2. The second category of moms traveling without their kids were those traveling for work and took a few days to a month or couple of months.
  3. Majority of the kids left behind were young too. Below 10 years and a few between 11 and 17 years.
  4. Most moms had left their kids under the care of their dads while others were under the care of a nanny of relative.
  5. This therefore interpreted to majority of the moms being young and at the prime of their careers with busy demanding lives and a break or me time is necessary.
  6. Moms traveling for holidays received most questions and their parenting skills questioned while those traveling for work received acknowledgement and their parenting skills not judged.

My comment was way below in the comments and replies and when I expressed how am feeling and for how long I was going to be away, there was a huge concern about why I would do that. One of the responses said “a lot of the ladies are just concerned about how long you will be away from your kids but if you are sure they are ok, you and them should be ok”.  That was quite deep and I asked myself yet again for the five million times, “Are they ok?”

“Are they ok?”

When we broke the news about our travel two years ago, the kids quickly gave us a go ahead. Over the two years we had the discussion of us leaving and every time they gave us the same go ahead. They are 18.11 and 15.5 yrs. They are not small but they are our kids. The day we left, there was a flag off and there had been prayers in our church but never a crying moment or a very emotional moment. We were all bold and strong. We however, miss each other all the time even though we talk a lot.

 

“How do you help your kids cope with you being away as a mom?”

There were many positive comments on the ladies group post where a lot of ladies said positive things about solo mom travelers while others questioned our being away.  However, in all these, those of us out there without our little ones found consolation in each other. Moms proudly shared their experiences and the kind of messages they receive when they are away from home. Others shared how they help their little ones cope with their absence. Here is what some moms said: –

  • To moms who are away – When we as mothers are not there, we place budding trust in our children and their caregivers to figure things out. This is a huge gift.
  • One moms objective by being away – “I wanted my girls to be able to stand alone but among friends and family! To take care of themselves and think for themselves! But they also know, if it’s rough, they can get in touch and we can work through the situation!
    I made strong girls!! Independent girls!
  •  To moms with worrying kids back at home– “Sometimes I shift the communication focus in these kinds to highlight this. For example, “I know it feels different without me there and I know you (and caregiver(?)) will do great! I can’t wait to hear your wonderful stories about things that happen this week and I’m going to make sure I remember stories to share with you too!”
  • To moms who are dealing with emotions of being away – I used to feel like this and then I realized I was neglecting myself. The child is coming to no harm. You can’t parent if you don’t take a little bit of time for yourself. That’s not selfish that’s good for your mental health. As parents we shouldn’t be so judgemental towards eachother
  • To moms who want to bring up strong and brave kids – I think this trip will do both of you some good. You need time for you as well as they need some time away from their mom to grow independent and this is showing them someday they may be able to be as brave as you to do some solo traveling.
  • To all mom travelers – Keep texting and keep enjoying your time alone. You are teaching your children that taking care of yourself and your needs are so important! They will grow up to be independent and strong! Plus when you get home you will get the best hugs you have ever had. DO NOT LET ANYONE GUILT YOU!!!! Fulfill your soul and everything will fall into place.

Besides moms sharing their experiences, there were other ladies who have experienced being left at home when their parents traveled when they were young. They expressed their feelings at the time as children and their appreciation of that now that they are adults.

There are moms who said this would be hard and they would prefer to never leave their kids while they vacation but always vacation with their children or stay at home. Something that I truly respect.  We are all different and as I said, parenting is individual and each mom is as a good mom, there is no measure. We all should respect every moms choice of parenting style and not question or judge. instead support each other.

Looking back at the seven months we have been away from the kids, we have seen a lot of growth in them that we never saw when we were home. Our daughter lives on her own and has been able to budget her monthly allowance, get herself busy as she waits to join campus.  She has supervised repairs at home and is taking care of a whole apartment. Our son on the other hand, though in boarding school does his budget and shopping for back to school.  He is able to prioritize his needs vs his wants.  He is able to justify his money needs and properly spend that well. We feel like we nannied them quite a lot that we never had an opportunity to see their ability. This travel has given us that opportunity.

If you would like to talk to me more about ‘traveling moms”, please reach out in comments below and I will respond. Looking forward to more moms on the road.

Photo credits to @doskariuki and Allen Maimba