Having two little boys around like Woodpecker’s definitely changes they way you live.
Kids are no machines and do not function like machines. However hard modern society seems to try to force them into the tact of modern economy, they very often happily resist these attempts. Kids show us in a refreshing way that the natural state of living is not about looking at the watch and reaping “profit” as efficiently and as quickly as possible, but about taking your time, concentrating on the here and now, enjoying your body, nature, the beauty of the world and let yourself not be hasted by calendars, clocks or duties.
In fact, there is no such thing as a “duty” to a small kid, except enjoying themselves. What a good life!
Needless to say that downshifting – however much recommended to anyone – is absolutely mandatory once you have kids.
It is a real and shameful waste of some of the potentially best years of your adult live when you just continue your race in the thread-mill once your kids arrived to this beautiful world. And it would be something you very likely will heavily regret on your deathbed – as millions have done already: “Spending much more time with family and friends” and “much less time working on a career”, is one of the most frequent statements of dying people throughout the world when asked what they would like to change in hindsight.
What a tragedy to recognise this only in your last hour!
However, for many people the thought of kids is very much connected to abdication of control and freedom.
Although some of that is true (some things will not be possible to you for some time – though for some limited time only), Woodpecker, as a outdoor and travel-maniac is very glad to have found out that one thing still is possible:
Doing adventures, thrilling traveling and varying endeavours are possible with kids as well as without!
There is absolutely no need to stay at home, to spend all your free time at grandparents only or in one of this awful and non-frugally overpriced family hotels with full-time care for the little ones (so that again you don’t have to spend time together).
Only ingredients you need to experience something special are:
- Faith in your kids,
- Understanding of their needs, and
- Time, time, time!
Recent proof from the Woodpecker’s tribe was a two days overnight sailing trip on a small rental yacht on lake Chiemsee.
A fantastic lake next to the towering mountains, big enough to have some sailing fun, but small enough to offer a secure and save “testing-ground” before going something more sportive.
And what fun it was!
The kids were quite fascinated about the different way the world looks from a boat, they loved to sleep all together in its cave like cabin and the elder one found some fun in taking the ruder as well (which was way larger than he is) – although any cop would have taken us for drunkards when looking at our sailing path then ;).
I was not so sure if all would work out that well, because only two adults on board plus two kids means scarce resources to do all the stuff that has to be done on a boat. But again I was proven wrong, and chances are that Woodpecker can continue his beloved hobby also in the circle of his beloved family! Hurray to that!
You are not a sailor and don’t care a damn about Woodpecker’s little lake adventures?
Well, no problem, here is the good news:
The above holds true for about any other of your hobbies and fondness as well!
- Small kids can climb mountains with you (you might have to carry them on your back though).
- Small kids can be taken on a bicycle trip from Paris to Istanbul (although you might have to carry them in a trailer).
- Small kids can join you on a trek trough Africa in a Unimog (and enjoy it!).
- Kids can go uphill ski-tours with you (from maybe the age on 12 on).
- You can to a “mens/women only” weekend city trip with your 3-year-old (see Woodpeckers father and son trip to Vienna).
- You can take your kids to surfing, riding, kayaking, cooking, museums (or boy loves museums), theater (well not at age 3 though) and so on.
- You can drive by car to the end of turkey or Sicily or you can take them to a backpacking trip through Mexico.
These all are real examples I have seen or done and all of them worked well!
The thing is:
You need TIME, you have to adjust the pace of all the above needs to the kids rhythm, and you have to build in kids specific features.
E.g. on a sailing trip you sail 4-5 hours per day instead of 8, you make a lot of stops for swimming, you construct funny things to tow behind the boat, you tell tales of pirates and discoverers, you do a water-fight on deck and frequent land excursions.
In other words you simply do what you loved your father/mother to do when you were a kid.
And then you can do everything. Kids are quite robust, they lived in caves and rode on horses with our ancestors, they seem to stand heat or humidity better than I do (because I am the guy who has to carry the rucksack…), they have no problem with a lack of luxury or strange foreign people.
It is never the kids who are the limiting factor. It is the parents.
It is parent’s stress, their lack of time and faith, their impatience that is limiting your family!
Downshift, overcome these factors and you will have a great time. And your kids will have a fantastic childhood!