I am often asked about cruising with kids. Is it difficult? I’ve overheard people talking about us. We’re brave apparently, and it’s not because of the ocean, or the remote places we go, it’s because we took our kids. We’re also crazy, according to a guy hiking behind us recently. And we love the commotion, mess, and noise of 5 little kids running around the boat, thought the guy in the slip next to us for a week in La Cruz. Most people out here have waited until their kids are grown up and from what I gather, most people are unwilling to live this closely with their kids day in and day out.
Here’s how it is. I make breakfast, and do dishes, and read books, and bake bread, and perpetually come up with dinner ideas . I wash laundry and remind the kids to flush the toilet, and wash their hands, and pick up their Legos, and finish a chapter. I take the clothes off the line and sweep the floor, and tell the kids to get their shoes on and find their water bottles and get in the dinghy (read: car). I’m always behind on the laundry, the toilets need scrubbing and it’s difficult to take the kids to the grocery store. This is how my life is the exactly the same as any stay at home mom of two little kids.
So those cruisers without kids that wonder why I would travel this way in spite of having kids are asking me if it’s worth it to travel with kids rather than live in a house and send them to school and send my spouse off to work while I continue to do all of the above. They’re wondering why I would trade the ease of dropping my kids off at school, hiring out the cleaning, going out to dinner for the trouble of doing it all myself, while living with them in our tiny space.
It’s true, because of our kids we don’t get to spend a whole day snorkeling. We don’t get to take the longest hike and climb to the highest view spot around. We don’t get to go out to a fancy dinner or (successfully) sneak into a resort swimming pool. We don’t get to stay up late on any one else’s boat.
On the other hand, because of the kids we do get to meet locals. We connect to families we don’t share a language with because we figure out that our children were born weeks apart. We are understood when our little one’s legs get too tired and need a shoulder carry. “Fatigue,” they say. They’ve taken care of their own little ones too. Because of our kids we’re handed a couple more bananas before we walk home, and smiled at as we order ice cream, and laughed at because Miles walks right up to everyone and begins to speak, in English, without ever stopping to notice that they don’t understand a word. Because of our kids people seem to understand that we’re not on vacation.
We wanted to go cruising before we had kids. In fact part of the reason we had kids was because we wanted to travel with them. We always planned on taking care of our own kids (and that is not to say that I didn’t research boarding schools for three year olds in Switzerland once or twice) and that one of us would stay home with them. So for now we both stay home. And it is SO MUCH EASIER. We get to share in the work of child care and the joy of the kids making some pretty amazing discoveries.
And what we get and give our children are life stories that include sailing across the Pacific, hiking to the third highest waterfall in the world, wading with black tip sharks, swimming from the boat in clear warm turquoise water, snorkeling around a coral reef, bike riding on an atoll called Fakarava, and birthdays that will be celebrated in Tahiti, Suwarrow, and Fiji. We’ll see mountains, and jungles, beaches, and volcanoes, full moons, and shooting stars. That is only part of it. That is only this year.
Their world view already includes three languages. They mix Spanish with their English and are adding French every day. That speed boat that went by looked like a panga, for example. They don’t look twice at a man wearing a boar tusk necklace, with a half tattooed face, and a pencil urchin spine through his ear. They are explorers with no end to their questions and discoveries.
So, for the people wondering why we’re out here in the South Pacific with our kids, we couldn’t wait! We worked hard to make sure this was one our our choices in our life, and OF COURSE we’re going to cruise with our kids. We love the warm breezes and beautiful ocean too. It’s amazing to be here, even if we miss out on a thing or two because we’re busy picking toys up off the floor, again. We’re working hard to take care of our home and our children, and we’d rather keep doing that with an absolutely stunning view.