How I´m preparing my child for a long trip

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When I was nervous about deciding on going on an extended trip, a big part of my fears came from assuming that maybe it would be hard to make Luísa go through such a change (change of house, friends, town, school and language). I also had to deal with my own personal doubts about whether this was a good idea or not.

Preparing myself to do it first

As I kept the idea well hidden with me, I decided to not tell anyone that could offer fearful advice and instead I seeked for the motivation with people who has gone through amazing experiences in extended traveling as a family.

I kept reading amazing stories of  Mommy T traveling with her nine year old and the Soul Travelers 3 family, like this post where this family that has been traveling the world for 3 years (since the daughter was six years old) tells us this:

“We have found that there is no better educational opportunity for tomorrow’s global citizen of the 21st century. There are many obvious advantages of life as a field trip and the world as one’s classroom, and we have been astounded by the incredibly beautiful sights and generous, kind people that we have met.”

Once I was convinced about going, I knew it was time to prepare Luísa for the trip.

I started telling her that we are going to Costa Rica, that we will go to a new school there full of “niños” (children). I started to add a few key words in Spanish to our routine, and so far, she likes this idea.

I tell her that we are going to be in a new house. That we are going to get rid of most of her toys, but she will have a few new ones there.

I tell her that she can choose something to bring along, any toy that´s not too big.

I´ll have her care for her little back pack with very few items in it (since I´m afraid at times I´ll have to take it with me, and it better be small enough to fit in my backpack). But ultimately, I want to introduce the idea that she hast to care for a few of her stuff.

We have to let go of our dogs (besides our fears)

jul-2008 we got the puppies

Since I´m not very sure when we will come back, I decided to give away our two dogs: Brancão (which means big white) and Zulu.

I thought this would be hard for Luísa to take, I was scared of her reaction. I finally told her we will have to give away Brancão and Zulu before going on our trip to Costa Rica (I repeat Costa Rica a lot to make her used to this word, she is already, she says it herself sometimes). She immediately said: “And we are going to buy a little dog, right?”

“You bet we will. We will get two other puppies when we come back”.

She´s been talking about these puppies a lot, I´m afraid she wants them when we get to Costa Rica. Not happening.

Attachment to the dogs aside, I have to say I´m very excited to not wake up a few times a night with them barking. I hope we don´t live next to a rooster in our new house.

And Luísa´s awesome reaction to getting rid of the dogs to then get new puppies lifted a weigh that was on my shoulders. And I realized my concern was all in my head.

Thinking that she would be sad and clingy to our dogs was just my own wrong assumption that had nothing to do with reality.

Traveling is all about testing our assumptions, getting out of our comfort zone. This will be a great experience for both of us, how could I have considered not going?

Next step, getting rid of the toys

I´ve been getting rid of toys for the last few weeks. I simply withdraw something she doesn´t use for a while. I gave many away already. She never noticed anything.

We will keep some in a box to find when we come back, but I´ll have her choose what to let go too, so she is full into the process of letting go of things to jump into experiences.

I want her to witness and be part of all the changing processes. This will include accepting that we can only carry a number of things in our backpacks, say good bye to everyone and step into our next adventure together.

I confess that I do feel a bit unsure at times, but I´m ready to go.

This article was originally posted on Tripping Mom by Marilia Di Cesare on January 3, 2011. Republished with authorization. Click here for all other posts.


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