Break Kids Away From This Madness!

Posted on: Sunday, February 10th, 2013
Posted in: Sabbatical Shuffle, Blog | Leave a comment

Domeni Hedderman and her husband uprooted their three kids and five super-routines to BreakAway for six months in Belize. On an island. You can read all about it here.

Or you can write your own story—if you and yours are just wily enough, savvy enough, and stubborn enough. My family sneaks away fairly often, but whenever winter drags on like a cold torture test, my mind (and soul?) drift back to exactly four years ago, when we flew to the West Indies for four months of island hopping.

Ms. Hedderman offers a few perfect quotes to reminisce the process, frustration, and euphoria that made that trip so—dare I say—epic.

I believe in travel with my kids…before they’re too cool to hang out with their parents.”

Yes, all parents fear the Too-Cool Chill; we put our parents through it, right? But any more, I beg to differ: Once you’ve sprung your offspring into a world that is cooler than Coolsville, they’ll say “Yes!” from then on. Just last summer, my two children (now 9 and 15) eagerly abandoned sweet summer in Minnesota to do Europe. Elsa now wistfully calls Italy, “My favorite place in the world…”

We wanted to create our own life.”

If this statement suggests that school, sports, lessons, friends, and all the rest conspire to usurp one’s freedom of choice, that’s sad. But true. Sometimes fleeing is the best path to self-determination—and to the fascinating opportunity to start from scratch. The world becomes a great co-creator.

Every moment has potential to be a prayer.”

The delightfully slow pace of Belize inspired Ms. Hedderman to write that. But that warm, spiritual high has also graced me amid a frenetic sailing race on Grenada, a busy train station in Copenhagen, or a languid lunch in Tuscany. At home, one often prays for strength and patience. When far away, one prays this moment won’t end.

Here, it’s okay to just be a kid.”

Oh my, kids grow up fast. But do they really want to? I think not—and taking them to exotic lands without a pile of digital crutches has inspired them to do amazing, kid-like things. Like have a water-balloon fight in a mountain village for days on end. Like making sand castles by the dozen. Playing dominoes. And…

The world…has the potential to teach us more than a textbook ever could.”

The people you meet when wandering the globe make for excellent teachers. And there’s no better school than the open classroom offered by foreign lands and new experiences.

Oh sure, textbooks are important. That’s why I diligently tried home schooling when island-hopping. And while it wasn’t much” fun” at the time, as is true with many worthwhile challenges, I’m glad we stuck it out.

But if math sometimes made us miserable, imagine the glee (not the TV kind) whenever we finished it and could go back outside to body surf, chase hermit crabs, or take the “dollar bus to town to stock up on fresh passion fruit.

Thanks, Ms. Hedderman for sparking some great memories. They’ll last a lifetime when, frankly, that basketball tournament or history test just won’t. Those sabbatical trips are the best gift you can give your children. I’m certain, but don’t believe me.

Just try it. And then ask your kids.


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