As my daughter sleepily stumbled into my bed this morning she said, “Mommy, I had the best dream. I dreamt we were the Bucket List Family and we were on a plane to Maui.”
Unfortunately, we are not a sponsored family nor do we have a huge budget. However, 2 years ago we decided to reprioritize our lives. I replaced my full time teaching job with freelance work (hello photography), my husband took a more challenging position, and while relocating to Georgia, we downsized our home by 1,000square feet.
We decided to stop going through the motions and to take control of our lives. We made the commitment to stop letting our jobs consume us and to start putting our family first.
We continue to have ongoing conversations about our dreams and desires, as they’re always evolving. We’ve include our children in budget making and in conversations about the opportunity cost of spending. Just as full time work gave us more possessions, our tighter daily budget allows us to enjoy more time together. We hope our kids learn to ignore the pressure to be a consumer and to speak up for what matters most to them.
As a family, we’ve all decided we’d rather collect memories, not things.
We limit our daily spending by eating at home and discussing our monthly purchases to bring awareness to our spends. We aren’t scrooges, but being intentional about monitoring our spending makes us aware of areas where we are unintentionally splurging. By tightening down our daily purchases, we’ve discovered that while our family income has stayed the same since making our move, our travel budget has grown. We’ve traded dinners out and unnecessary spending for moments we will never forget.
We get asked a lot how we travel with 3 kids, but we do a lot of activities while at home in Georgia, so traveling doesn’t feel any harder (once you survive the flight). In our daily life and in travel, we limit screen time and encourage our kids to read books, to be aware of their surroundings, and to engage in conversation. We talk and sing and play all the games in the car. I know handing over an Ipad over would be quieter and easier, but I strongly believe by refusing to do so is what makes our travels easier. Our children have the stamina to sit still and enjoy the world around them. We’re also strategic in when we travel to optimize nap time and pack a bag loaded with snacks (because fed people are happy people). You can see my tips for flying with kids here.
Traveling with kids doesn’t have to be elaborate. Sometimes we plan “vacations” in our own city or going “home” to visit family. So many of the lessons and memories aren’t found at the destination, but are discovered along the journey.
We realize that our kids (8, 6, and 9months) will probably forget many details of these adventures since they are so young, but they add so much adventure to each trip. Their tiny legs and curious minds force us to slow down and see the beauty in simple moments; the excitement of meeting a pilot, the beauty in seeing native plants, and the excitement of doing anything for the first time (T’s favorite: riding the metro in France).
Our deal is simple; we will continue to show them the world if they promise to continue to try new things; speak a foreign language, make a new friend, taste unique foods, or push themselves to do something challenging and maybe even a little scary. By doing this, we hope to raise kids who are more aware and respectful of the differences of people and their cultures. We want them to know that we have the choice to make this life exactly what we want it to be if we choose to push outside our comfort zone.
If we choose each day to be just a little bit braver and a little bit kinder,
we might just be able to change the world.
Where should we go next?