Hey friends. I’ve recently got a fair few requests for more personal posts, stories, real-life-with-travelling-kids kinda stuff, and I just LOVE to make y’all happy, so here you are. A day in the life of our full time travelling family. A real day, in a real family, in real life.
Firstly, it is hard to actually put a start time on a day with kids, because- fun fact- all kids have secret Duracell battery slots in the bottom of each foot and they don’t actually ever stop. So maybe it’s a bit like this:
2.30am: Wake up to someone pawing at my face through the mosquito net. It’s Elfie, she wants milk.
3am: A tiny toddler lays passed out on my chest, radiating heat. I wonder if it is possible for two people to melt together, like the kids’ plasticine figures that get shoved back in the plastic tub at the end of the day. I pick a miniature red ant (the small ones are the worst) off my arm.
3.30am: I put Elfie back into the other bed and re-arrange the cushion barrier around the floor that acts as back-up in case she falls out. I go to the bathroom and make a previously unheard-of noise when a cockroach legs it across the floor. I can wait until morning.
3.35am: I realise I’ve been bitten by a couple of mosquitos during my bathroom adventure. The Evil Ones.
4am: Our neighbour decides that there has never been a better time to start building work on his roof. Hammer, hammer, thud. Crash. I think that there probably has been a better time to start work on his roof.
6am: Something is trying to strangle me. I fight my way up and realise that Eira, half-asleep, was trying to climb over me for a cuddle but hadn’t moved the mosquito net out of the way and was entangling my face. Hi Eira.
6.10am: Elfie wakes up and asks for chocolate. We don’t have chocolate. We do have a water-tight tub of Cornflakes, stored high up on the curtain rail, sealed in a tight plastic bag so that ants can’t get in. She agrees to the Cornflakes.
6:11am: There are ants in the Cornflakes.
6:12am: Elfie has more milk. Eira is sad because I can’t cuddle her with two arms.
6:15am: I try to sleep. Eira and Elfie play with some plasticine.
6:17am: It’s going well. Maybe I’ll get a bit more sleep.
6:18am: They have thrown the plasticine too high and it is stuck on the ceiling.
6:18am: I get up.
6:19 to 6:30: I shower and observe a new red constellation of bites across my body. I have about 30 on my legs. I remember that I got distracted while putting bite cream on last night after doing my arms and forgot to do my legs. Goody.
6:29: The girls are playing with the butt hose.
6:30: iPad. Just iPad. I shake the red ants out of my clothes.
7am: I do a puppet show with Elfie’s Christmas teddy and they both crack up. This is nice.
7:10am: Elfie wants to hold the Christmas teddy but also wants me to continue the puppet show. She doesn’t want to let go of the teddy and also doesn’t want me to do a show with another animal, but wants the show. This is less nice.
7:12am: A bit of nearly-crying
7:13am: Shadow puppets! I’m a genius.
7:30am: The kids get dressed. Elfie wants to wear bed socks with her dress. It’s 35 degrees.
7:50am: Esmae comes downstairs (she has had a sleepover with Nana in her room) and gets dressed. She asks if Attack Squids are real. I tell her it was a dream.
8am: We go to the local cafe by the river for breakfast. Patrick, Mum and I order organic porridge with fruits and muesli, and fresh juices with herbal tea. The woman who owns it has a giant elephant tattoo and talks about Mother Earth. We feel like some bluebirds and baby deer should come and sing around us and also maybe bring Diet Coke.
8:05am: The kids play with gravel.
8:10am: Our porridge arrives, it is yum. The kids would like toast. ‘Plain white toast with nothing on it’. I think about Annabel Karmel and how I don’t think we would be friends.
8:15am: The kids eat plain white toast with nothing on it and drink some fresh fruit juice that I ordered them. They look at me while they’re drinking it as if they are doing me a favour.
8:30am: The kids go back to the hotel with Mum, and P and I do work online and sweat a lot. There are two power cuts and the Wifi is slow. When it picks up speed two backpackers wearing a lot of grubby bracelets start watching YouTube and it stops again.
8:40am: Is it lunchtime yet?
8:50am: I get a picture from Mum of the kids doing art. This makes me happy.
9am: I think about the herbal tea that I’m drinking and I wonder if you have to really not like yourself very much to make yourself drink it, or if it is considered self-care and is therefore actually a pretty high-consciousness self-loving kind of thing.
10:30am: It is lunchtime somewhere in the world. I order a wrap and all the avocado they have.
6pm: Wifi has been terrible. I’ve spent most of my time chasing colleagues for work or clients for payment. I think about how when I was younger I thought adults would have it all figured out, and what a laugh that is. I also think about how money can’t buy happiness but it can buy five-star hotel rooms with good Wifi and no flies.
6.15pm: I meet the kids, Patrick and Mum at the beach. Bliss. Utter bliss. Fresh air, sunshine, waves, smiles, beauty. They have been doing art, playing outside with their new friends and had mango in the garden. Some monkeys and monitor lizards stopped by the house. Eira would like to know how many sleeps it is until her birthday (251). She tells me she would like a Beauty and the Beast party. Esmae tells me that conditioner would be a funny prank to put in a smoothie, because it makes your hair smooth. Elfie wants milk.
6:17pm: I wonder if we could invent some sort of spray on suncream that dries into a clingfilm-like skin?
6:20pm: Watching the kids in the waves. Esmae is utterly fearless, a warrior mermaid. Eira runs in circles, belly-laughing her head off. Elfie lays down in the shallows and lets the waves splash her.
6:22pm: A wave goes right over Elfie and i pull her up. I am quiet, until she has stood up and opened her eyes. I ask her how she is. “That was scary!” she says. “Yes, it was!” I say. She lays back down in the waves.
6:25pm: Eira gets smacked by a big wave. She splutters and retches. “Mum!” she says. “Mum!” ‘Yes?” I say, “Does Rudolph really have a red nose, in real life?” she asks. She retches again. In the story, I say. She asks if any reindeer have red noses in real life, I tell her no. She dives back into the waves.
6:40pm: Esmae shows her new friend how to tackle big waves. I am so proud of her.
7pm: They are still in the ocean. I think about how good it is when you can spend your time doing what you love.
7:30pm: The kids are hungry. We order wood-fired pizza to eat on the beach. Eira orders olive focaccia bread with salad, chips and home-made coleslaw, and talks about trying the mushroom burger. I am happy because she makes me look like a good parent with culture and standards.
7:35pm: The gorgeous ladies who work at the beach cafe bring the girls free smoothies. I think about how great people are and I also wonder why kids will eat practically anything that other people give them.
7:40pm: An issue over a chip. There is ketchup touching the end of the chip, which is not acceptable to Eira. I say that Esmae can eat it. Eira declares ownership of the chip based on an algorithm taking into account how many chips Esmae has had, how many she has had, the fact that she is 5 and Esmae is 7, how much she likes olive focaccia bread compared to chips, and that one time when she was 3 that she dropped her ice-cream and I didn’t have cash to get another one. I bite the ketchup end off and give it to Eira. Her facial expression says my solution gets a 6/10 satisfaction rating.
8.15pm: We head home in a tuk-tuk. I ask them to please put their shoes on to go out to the road. I am met with resistance. I tell them about glass and hookworms and sharp stones. They find my script unconvincing. We go to the tuk-tuk barefoot. There is no glass, hookworms or sharp stones.
8:16pm: A swift debate about who deserves to not sit on a parent’s lap because they all want their own space. The tuk-tuk driver starts the engine before we have decided. We head home half-crouching, half-sitting, clinging on to the handlebars. No one gets their own space.
8:20pm: We battle through a cloud of mosquitos to the door of our guesthouse room. We engage in our evening routine of “1-2-3- GO!” as soon as the door opens to leg it inside and slam the door before the mosquitos follow us in.
8:21pm: We compete to see who can kill the most mosquitos. No mercy.
8:25pm: Showers, for everyone. Sand everywhere. Kids play with the butt hose.
8:45pm: Elfie has milk, Esmae and Eira chill out with dim lights. Hopefully they will fall asleep.
9pm: EXTREME HUNGER. THERE IS EXTREME HUNGER. Jam sandwiches, apples and more mangos are produced. I consider the benefits of ants as smart and organised beings vs their extreme inconvenience and biting.
9:20pm: Esmae goes upstairs to play puzzles and do workbooks with Nana. I lay with Eira and Elfie. They kick me in the face. Eira says, “I love you SO much, Mummy. More than one hundred and twenty thousand dinosaurs.” I think about how great it would be if we all used dinosaurs as a unit of measurement.
9:45pm: Kids are asleep. Patrick and I stare at each other, enjoying the silence. Having children around 24/7 is like surfing in waves where you get up from under a wave and you get hit again and again, and it gets up your nose and stings, but at the end of the day you think it was actually pretty fun. We could be cool and sit outside with a beer, like proper travellers, if there weren’t ten thousand and fifty mosquitoes outside our door, or if we could be bothered. Bed.
9:50pm: Patrick chats to me about things like politics and theology. I look at videos of rats enjoying showers and accidentally wake Elfie up from laughing at Instagram memes. Patrick doesn’t get it. He wakes Eira up by laughing at me laughing. They roll over and go back to sleep. Hooray.
10pm: It is Witching Hour in the UK. I WhatsApp my UK friends who are wishing it was bedtime. I fill out a page of gratitude journal, which is lovely.
10:15pm: Goodnight <3