I met my husband while he was in the middle of travelling around the world. I had just arrived home from a month in South America myself. We connected at a house party, cold beer and nachos, sharing our passion for adventure, and our dichotomous love of roots and stability. Over the coming years, we built our life, travelling with our growing family as we best could.
Our trips became closer to home as our budget got tighter, and our kids multiplied. Trips to Europe being replaced with camping and “stay-cations”. As our stability grew, our ability to travel seemed restricted.
But it wasn’t. Our IDEA of how we should travel was archaic, and one night (over many a glass of wine) we realized that in our efforts to meet everyone’s needs, we had sacrificed something valuable.
We saw ourselves as a “family unit”, and we were wrong. We were a unit, yes, but one made of individuals. We each had our likes, interests and passions. I had no time for sleeping in a damp tent, and because of this our camping adventures have disappeared. Without realizing, I finally stopped trying to ensure that everyone had a good time, that all needs were met. I stopped, because in my striving for perfection, nothing was getting accomplished.
So I disassembled our unit, and let go of the ideal of perfection I was trying to achieve.
We started from scratch, each one of us as individuals, and built in new family values that met our needs. The biggest change was that we could be a group of 2, or 3, or 4 frequently. But being our full contingent of 5 would now be a rarity.
With our new plan, our travels became more frequent. Multi day trips of caving and electric bikes with my husband and daughter. Camping for my son. Weekend excursions just the two of us. With this freedom, we realized that by allowing our kids to be individuals, we were becoming a stronger unit.
When the chance came up for a Press Trip to Beaches in Negril, Jamaica, we gave the kids of the option of participating. We told them we would take 1 of them (out of 3) and together they should decide who should come.
It took them seconds to decide… no fighting, or desperate pleas. They knew themselves, and each other and realized this trip was best suited to our middle daughter.
We didn’t know what we were getting into with Beaches, and this was a first trip for all of us to Jamaica. From the welcome, to the daily activities, the food, the staff and the beach we were impressed.
Being able to make it “all about” our daughter was even better. No fussing over 3 different dinner ideas, or where to play for the day, or managing a range of bedtimes. This solo trip with her let us get to know HER preferences, and enjoy each moment, completely focused.
We also had the chance to participate in the Sandals foundation Reading Roadtrip with her. Something that would not have happened had her younger brother joined us!
This gave her the opportunity to visit an Elementary school in Jamaica, meet the students and experience something very different than her school back in North America. Eye opening for sure, and an event that turned our tropical vacation into a life learning experience.
Being a parent of 3 is amazing, and challenging, and being a sibling is just the same. Sometimes you need to step away from the chaos and just be an individual. By letting go of some of the control over our family, and my expectations of how it should be… I was able to experience something better. I know each of them better as people and have grown closer as a family.
I let go of the idea of a perfect family holiday, and in return I got dozens of imperfect family experiences.