When we did this conversation.. Jana was on her own with little Tom, in Adelaide. Each day had new challenges and I could hear that Jana worked hard to find the positives in the challenges and shared so freely with us, what was happening in the moment as she quietly spoke inside the camper, with Tom not far away.
The truth about motherhood on the road and on our own
The truth is, I don’t remember anyone telling me how small your world can become during the toddler years. And, that honestly, that’s OK, feels fine and worlds well. Just don’t look around at others, the ones with a strong support system, that will just make you nuts to think that your life will look the same.
Whether on road or at home there are common lines of reality when on your own. Don’t get me wrong. We ARE lucky to sometimes have baby sitters and lovely ones. Yet, in the gaps between that help and support, and/or when you your partner goes on the road for other children, work or looking for work.. you are simply left on your own, which feels very much the same when it happens on the road.
Jana gives us an intimate peek into motherhood on the road
Jana’s words touched me deeply. Feeling understood, like someone else knows the reality I am in and maybe you are as well. I cried. I can say it. I felt heard. Or, as if I was the one speaking and it allowed me to exhale. “I am not alone in this solitude and need for peace to survive and enjoy my daughter.
Staying close to home/camp with our toddlers
Sometimes, we do what is necessary to survive parenting at home or on the road. Jana, speaks about..Staying close to home so life with a small child is easier to manage.. Yep, here, here! I have many friends I would truly like to see, plans often made, yet, with a nap mid-day and all the prep to get out, the food and drinks packed, the stairs, the non-car transportation, oh.. it’s tricky, even when at home. When we travel, you kick it up a notch as we are spending extra time and energy just for basics and keeping the family grounded amidst new surroundings and adventures.
For Jana (and many of us) there are a few things that make being with a toddler a bit easier:
- Staying away from big crowds to not have to worry about our little ones getting lost.
- Nature is an ideal setting to be in with it’s calm and grounding.
- Realize how the quiet and reality is now different now that you have a child.
- Easy kid clean up is within reach.
- Sleep possible when needed because camp (or home) close by
- No navigation needed as you are in your own zone.
- More peaceful and known area.
- Projects, crafts etc easier close to home.
- No need for going out for activities, as basic things at home satisfy.
On the Road, again
- When you are packing up and moving every couple days you do your best to be efficient and fast. Yet,. with a toddler, breakfast and all the clean up, even with everything staying in the caravan, it still takes 2 hours on the morning of departure. Honestly, it’s the same for many of us whether traveling, or staying at other people’s homes, relatives and so on. Movement takes time and energy. So, sometimes, travel needs to be slower to get a break and depending on the toddler, for their own grounding. It all depends on weather, plans and time realities.
Community and family:
Socializing is challenging with a toddler, in general. And, if an expat in another country in one home, or if traveling in your home, as with Jana, you end up being asked the same story over and over again and it can be a bit tedious. We all ask those questions at some point, when traveling or when we hear that unfamiliar accent. Yet, I wonder if there are other ways to connect. I wonder as well, how we manage to keep community as we travel or are away.
Yes, we all can call/Skype, etc. friends to keep connected. But, ultimately, we miss face to face and being “known”. A place to relax into. When on the road, or in a place we didn’t grow up in, sometimes the feeling is somewhat separated from local community. And, even when we find it, sometimes that connection is lost, for various reasons.
Of course, we love our partners, talk with them and appreciate them (when they are there and helping:), and yet some things you just need your girlfriends for.
The truth is, that our roles change when the baby is born. And, no matter how helpful or enlightened our partners are, it’s often the case that the man goes back to work and life and sometimes for us mothers (or whichever partner is left with the lion’s share of the caregiving), it’s super challenging. Of course, it’s not the same in every partnership.
Nice 24/7 with partners
Jana thought it would be much harder to travel 24/7 together. But, when there is so much to do, there is no time for annoying each other. Well, we know a little about this since Mats lost his job. Though, somehow, we have found plenty of ways to annoy each other! Maybe it’s also that added pressure of the unknown. Though I know that Jana and Michal have that too. At least, they have the path of the journey and travel destinations. And, the somewhere between surviving each day, keeping little Tom happy and as well themselves and keeping food, fun and organization going, they manage to sort things, together. Yet, maybe it’s all about perspective.
Family dynamics and life changes with perspective
The truth is that perspective we choose or fall into chooses where we are. What if we made our own choices and could shift the energy and our attitudes about where we are. It’s like Jana talking about reading a book and how it seems impossible for many of us parents to get to our own books! Yet, maybe its because we don’t see it as possible and all we have to do is realize that more is possible than we know. It’s this way with most things. Without realizing it, we create our own blocks around various things. Yet, old habits are hard to break
Just managing basics takes the whole of every day. and our energy Yet, with slightly clear minds and ideas about what we hope for, things magically happen. I myself introduced reading my own book aloud, along with Ella’s. She surprisingly got into it. Yet, with us, tired days erase those moments and then we forget we ever did it! Weeks later, maybe we come back around to those things. Like anything, new habits require persistence.
Read that book!
Ladies (and some gentleman), it’s time to regain dreams one tidbit at a time.
Read that book, DO what you truly hope for.. Make it happen. Stop waiting for there to be time.
Reading happens when we make it happen. All things happen when we make them happen. We just need to decide it. I know it doesn’t feel that way, most or many days. Believe me, I am right there with you! But, it’s time to get off our butts and get back in to pieces of our own lives, now consumed by family “needs” and get back to us! The whole family will benefit from this. And, we will be happier people. That makes the whole family more balanced and in a good place.
This also teaches our kids to read in their own, do and keep activities that are important to them, amidst any chaos of life, family and so on. And, it comes back to this.. over and over.. Do it for us.. and for them..
How can we be more present for selves and others?
Mom (parent and as well partners together) time is vital. How many of us also use late night time for ourselves. Though sometimes at the expense of energy, it often feels like the only time of peace and focus. Yet, we must assess whether the sleep loss is worth it. We turn off wifi at night. For better sleep and no Netflix in bed! It helps, loads.
Being more present through travel can happen in so many ways.
- not meeting with friends, so more time for self and family
- Not online all the time which is ultimately good, though frustrating because we have gotten used to getting info when needed, asap.
- Remembering how it was to not have internet and going back to roots for collecting info etc, keeps life interesting and is another adventure to have with family, *like asking others etc.
- More present with our kids, playing and engaged.
Minuses and darker side of thoughts?
Hard to function without a goal or sure destination makes one uneasy. “Unknown is tricky”
Midlife… going to be 40 and all that goes along with that
What are we doing?!
No house, car life goals. Maybe this is both plus and minus. No burden. No place, having a mortgage is tricky too as you have to also pay it and so on.
Jana reminds us of simple truths about hard times
“We all have our own stories. Things we must deal with. In the moment it feels like things are end of the world, but it will end at some point. We just need to go through it, painful or not.. it will end.. Just have to go through it without going crazy. And, see what the future looks like (on the other side).”
What’s next with the Chans_in_the_van?
After 2 months Jana and family still don’t know what comes next, really, as far as final destination.
At least they are finding their way in that beautiful country and that is cool.
Will be interesting when they are in middle of nowhere= long long trips..
Originally, when this was recorded, the big decision was about if the family would be going North to Darwin.. or West .. across long stretch..
Now, as a clear choice, as reality about gas prices and being in the middle of nowhere with a toddler in Darwin area seems less attractive. So, the Chans are going West. No clear destination. And, it will mean long drives that could bring all new challenges for active Tom and Jana and Michal.
We look forward to seeing how things continue to unfold.
Jana’s mindfulness action:
Looking at each day. “What is the highlight of day?” like cleaning up, Tom.. biking around
Question of the week:
What would you like to bring back to your daily life?
*Reading *silent bath *Watching a whole movie without interruptions ? What would bring more joy to your days?! Do it! See that it is possible. Every once in a while. Do it again, with something else:).
A few of my favorite things:
Honestly, dirt, plants, trees and fresh air. I know, I am supposed to be putting my favorite things to “buy” and encourage the affiliate links and so on. Yet, this week is about simplifying. SO, step outside, electronics off and breathe in fresh air (rain or not) and make your activities be about what is available without purchasing something or going anywhere. Maybe it happens inside. Maybe it’s cooking a meal. Or, playing with stones and dirt, “together” is the favorite thing. Doesn’t matter really “what” you do.. if you are with the one(s) you love. Right?!