The only problem? We lived 22 hours away.
Being a young family on a single income, the price of a last minute plane ticket across the country was not an option, so my husband planned to pack up the car and make the drive while I stayed home with our 3 year old son and 7 month old daughter.
Thankfully, my husband’s occupation does not require him to be gone from home for extended periods of time so this was new territory for us. The day he was set to leave tears streamed down my son’s face as we answered his questions of when daddy would be back, why he had to leave and why we weren’t going with him.
That last question hung in the air a bit though. Why weren’t we going along?
Road trips with young kids aren’t easy, for sure, but staying home with young kids isn’t always easy either, right?
In an instant we changed our plans and a few short hours later our family of four was packed up, on the road and embarking on an adventure that ended up lasting nearly 3 weeks.
Was it hard? Sure it was. There were nights we drove until midnight so we could cover miles while the kids slept. There were days when we seemed to stop every hour for a bathroom or diaper change and we planned our stays on the fly, looking for a hotel with vacancy when we couldn’t stand the drive any longer.
And it was an adventure we will never forget. In fact, as soon as we got home we began searching for a camp trailer to purchase so we could continue adventuring together as a family. Those adventures have become a well spring of memories for our family and a big part of our family culture.
Want to begin adventuring with your family? Here are three tips to making the most of your adventures together.
- Toss your expectations out the window. This was our greatest strength on that spur of the moment road trip. We had only one goal. Drive 22 hours in 3 days. We worked hard to have a ton of patience with our kids and stop whenever necessary. With no advance planning I didn’t have a host of Pinterest activities or snacks to make the trip a breeze but we bought food when we needed it, downloaded music and audiobooks as we went and simply made up our minds to deal patiently with whatever came our way.
- Learn to laugh. I changed diapers on my lap in the middle of the night. I let my little girl crawl around on dirty carpet at some mall in Montana, which would have horrified me at home. One night we checked into a hotel room at midnight and our hearts dropped when we lost sight of our son for a minute. We found him curled up on a couch in the hotel lobby, asleep. Life happens – sometimes more than normal, when you are adventuring together. Be prepared to laugh about it together and know you are making all kinds of great memories.
- Become a team. A sense of team helps bond families and kids love to feel like they part of something special. Let your kids know that you are in this together. You don’t have all the answers but you will figure them out, together. Kids catch on to their parents attitudes quite quickly and your love for adventuring as a team will be contagious.
Family adventures can last a few hours, a few days or a few weeks. They can cover miles and space or happen, with a little spontaneity, in your own backyard. All they take are a willingness to try something new together.
Nowadays my family is a team of 6, adventuring together. We’ve explored our state and more through countless camping trips and weekends away and, God willing, we will have many more years of adventuring together in the future. It truly is a wonderful way to build a storehouse of memories and beautiful family culture at the very same time.
What are your favorite family adventures?
Katie Westenberg is a wife and mother to four, who is passionate about fighting fear and living brave. She lives in the Pacific Northwest, enjoying the adventures of every day life outside the city limits, spending time with friends and family and finding a little time to write and speak as well.
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