There is this idea in our society that once you get married and have children, you have to settle down.
The time for adventure is while you’re young and single, so you better live it up then, or you’ll miss out! The common, trendy slang word “adulting” is everywhere, and implies that working hard, paying bills, being responsible, and taking care of your home is a drudgery assigned to the sad state of adulthood. The young years, those were the days, my friend. But now you have a career, or a spouse, or children, and all the fun is gone. Get ready to be excited about diaper bags and lawn fertilizer, sweetheart. It’s time to adult.
Here is my inclusive list of suggestions on how to NOT settle for settling down.
- Six months into marriage, take your entire savings account (a beefy sum of $500 that you are very proud of) and blow every penny on a weekend in Chicago with your spouse. Throw in next week’s grocery money on a whim when you see a boat about to leave the dock for a late-night river cruise. Because once that boat gets out into Lake Michigan and stops suddenly, then fireworks start exploding into the sky from a nearby barge, you will snuggle close into your lover’s arms in the chilly air, watch the brilliant colors filling the sky, and not care one bit that you’ll be eating ramen noodles for six straight days.
- Take a very typical, adult-ish trip to a popular, touristy beach town for your first big vacation as a married couple. Spend a week there being hopelessly bored, sleep a lot, watch too much TV, eat at chain restaurants, sit on a crowded beach, avoid town at night because of all the drunk teenagers, and leave feeling like the whole shenanigan was a big waste of money. Consider that maybe the typical, adult-ish vacation is not that exciting. Determine to never make that mistake again.
- Continue a pattern of working hard and building up that meager savings account, then blowing it all on every birthday, anniversary, or any other chance to travel together. These trips are not big or impressive. They are weekends in Chicago, overnights in secluded cabins in the woods on snowy evenings, and giant camping trips with family up north. They are small-picture adventures that begin to form your idea of how life could be lived. They are seeds planted.
- When that poor savings account has to be spent on things like tuition, medical bills, and a new (very used) car because the last one died and went to heaven, don’t get discouraged. You can always walk around the historic district of the closest city, window shop and people watch, then buy McDonald’s ice cream cones on the way home with the change you find in your car’s consul. These experiences shape you, and help you slow down a little and see what is all around you.
- Sometimes, eat Lucky Charms for dinner while you Netflix and chill.
- One day, finally, college days will come to an end and you’ll start making real money. You will plan your exciting adventures–you’re going to live in a studio apartment in downtown Chicago and really experience life. Start looking at apartments and planning finances. Simultaneously, find out you are pregnant. Laugh hard and lay all other dreams aside. Just for now, you tell yourself.
- Have a child or two. Or…ok…three. Oh, wait…four?! Yes. In less than three years. This will keep you busy. But don’t–I repeat, DO NOT–stop dreaming. Yes, one day you’ll look back and think you must have been out of your mind to seriously consider moving all the way to freaking Qatar with two toddlers. And Charleston was a beautiful plan, but it was driven purely by emotion and a desire to escape. It’s okay. Time spent on this dream was not wasted. This season brings lots of growing pains. Embrace them.
- Take multiple cross-country trips with 3-4 small children. Learn and grow and figure this traveling-with-kids thing out. Discover that these trips are not vacations. You will not sleep. Relaxing on the beach with a good book is last year’s news. Your kids will have public meltdowns. You will have public meltdowns. Recognize the difference between taking vacations and traveling. Remember that trip to the touristy beach town years ago, and decide you like actual traveling way better–sleep or no sleep.
- In between trips, keep your sense of adventure fresh by doing crazy things. Things like taking your two toddlers (one with a trach and g-tube and 25-lbs of medical equipment) to a popular restaurant for a fish fry. On the first night of Lent. In Wisconsin. Laugh about this experience for years to come. Or take your kids to the zoo even though it is 54-degrees outside and pouring rain. Because it’s a work picnic and there is free food, for crying out loud. Anyways, it’s better than sitting at home and being bored. Also, you will have to breastfeed your six-week-old in the giraffe exhibit because it is a building with a roof.
- Through it all–all the craziness and overwhelming changes–keep adventure a priority. Start a separate savings account for travel and do not touch it for any other reason. I know, one-eight of your income goes to diapers every month. This, too, shall pass. Save for travel anyways. Have big ideas and never stop to consider that maybe they’re CRAZY AND DUMB. Try it anyways. Because when you look back one day, you’ll realize that the only trip you really regret was the one where you sat around and watched TV and slept too much. Driving eighteen hours straight through to Texas so you could go to Magnolia and see your favorite band in concert, with four kids in two double strollers? Loved it. Driving over slick, icy mountains all day with three baby boys to get to Charleston, SC, and make a dream come true? Would do it again in a heartbeat. Spending eleven days traveling over 3600 miles and staying in three different states in New England, with two four-year olds, a two-year-old, and a one-year-old? OK, that was a little crazy. But we don’t regret it for a minute.
Our future plans are even crazier than our past experiences. We have so much we want to do and see. So many places we want to take our children. No, I don’t see us settling down for a long, long time.
I hope you will follow along, and JOIN US, on this exciting journey! Subscribe to my blog and follow me on social media. We have a little bit to teach, but so very much more to learn!
More posts you might like:
Beginning Early – Traveling with Young Kids
How to Choose an Airbnb for Traveling with Kids
The First Breath of Ocean Air – Charleston, SC