Family Gap Year One – Dad’s Reflection

MMBZL written in sand above flipflops

1 year, 365 days, 8760 hours, 525,600 minutes or if you are Lara a fifth of your life travelling and quite a big chunk for the rest of us. I still can’t believe we did it, made it through a whole year and are still talking to each other after being 24/7 for so long.

In this day and age with compulsory school, busy jobs etc. you really don’t spend much time with your kids, especially as a Dad (Mo working 50-60 hour weeks might beg to differ!). A real shame as they will soon be teenagers and we will be uncool taxi drivers and mobile cash machines. After this they will have their own busy lives with uni, jobs and own families, potentially on the other side of the planet (hopefully drawn by love or career and not running away). Those young years are important, a window of opportunity, in management speak, that I am glad not to be missing. Enjoying simple pleasures like watching them make friends, confidently talk to adults or try something new pretty much everyday.

Looking back at our ‘lives’ at home. Mornings are a manic rush to get out of the door to school/work, I doubt we are alone in finding this stressful, at least they want to go to school! After school clubs, homework, endless activities and birthday parties (often 3-4 a weekend) conspire to minimise quality time with parents. This is how society has developed, whoever coined the expression ’rat race’ got it spot on. I think you have to go back hundreds of years to find parents taking a real part in raising children. My rosy tinted specs are thinking father teaching son to hunt…

So we stepped off and I have to say it was the best decision I/we ever made apart from a bit of eye twinkling. It’s not perfect, often challenging but very rewarding. With lots of opportunity to answer questions like “are white lies bad?” or “why do people become suicide bombers?”. How many of us spend enough time talking with our children?

I love seeing them active, red faced, smiling, tired but wanting more. Too much time is spent in front of the TV, the world’s biggest addiction just behind sugar, luckily we can supply lots of distractions. Kids don’t run/climb/fall over or have freedom to explore these days. I don’t buy that they are safer locked away inside, the sedentary life will kill them years earlier with more certainty than crossing the road. You can’t do anything these days without a parent on hand to take the blame, that’s if there isn’t some arbitrary age limit.

I also love seeing them talk to so many people. Starting conversations with complete strangers pretty much anywhere, often making friends, gaining confidence and enjoying the experience. ’stranger danger’ doesn’t half make life boring and people more insular. Very few people are bad and the majority of abuse shamefully comes from people known well. Another case of being seen to do the right thing, rather than actually doing what is best for them on balance.

Lack of toys is no limiter to having fun either. A blanket becomes a camp, sticks are swords, paper equals planes and creativity comes naturally. Kids are curious and inventive, more than capable of entertaining themselves. I can say that their excess of plastic tat has not been missed but don’t take their drawing pens away.

Seeing the world at the same time is a big bonus although the quality time comes from both together, it wouldn’t be the same being without the travel.

And what do BZL think? To hear them talk about “when I take my children travelling for a year…”, “can we do that again”, “my taste buds have been on a real adventure all year” or “can we pop home for a few days to see everyone?”. They do miss, friends, family and school but they are having an amazing time, as are we.

Would I rather be doing anything else? No, this is what life is about.

6 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Chris Lambah
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:25:56

    I love the philosophical bent your on here Martin, I absolutely agree with you and your making me feel very sad and envious in equal measure, envious as I’m not there, sad as i’m not planning our great adventure.
    Perhaps when I’m Ritchie and famous hu?


    • Martin Clark
      Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:58:43

      Go on, you can do it! Rent the house, sell the cars and go and live the dream. There are destinations for almost any budget, in fact the ‘experience’ is better when you are not living it up. Parts of SE Asia, S America and India are the most cost effective and a real experience. I doubt you would regret it and when you get back you can just jump back into the rat race (if you want to!).


  2. annathrax
    Jul 17, 2013 @ 12:28:18

    You inspire!


  3. gabrielle hersey
    Jul 18, 2013 @ 06:41:26

    Martin Mo and Kids, the blog moved me to tears ,well done living the dream and getting out of the rat race we are all in,putting life into perspective and the kids will never forget their wonderful experience all their life.Good luck on all your future adventures ,love Gabi Hersey


    • Mo
      Jul 21, 2013 @ 14:34:23

      Hi Gabi, thank you! lovely to hear from you and happy you’re enjoying the blog. Sometime I still have to pinch myself to really appreciate that we are actually living the dream! Hope you’re all doing well, best wishes from all of us, Mo x


  4. Chrys
    Aug 27, 2013 @ 01:10:10

    Loved reading this!! Can not wait to hear all about it from you guys in person one day! Love from everybody in Bewdley! xxxx


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