Our youngest child turns four tomorrow. FOUR. Cue tears.
It’s bittersweet, isn’t it? When you realize you’ll never experience your children at their cute, younger ages. Yet we all know how miraculous and priceless life is as their personalities unfold and you’re able to develop deeper relationships with them.
For us, our second child turning four marks a significant time for our family.
It’s time to travel!
If you have kids, you likely sympathize. While many families choose to go adventuring with kids under four years old, we simply weren’t that brave.
So we waited. And waited. And patiently, oh so patiently waited.
Come January, we’ll be jetting off to see the world for several months sans diapers, bottles, strollers or carseats and with two kids who will be able to occupy themselves while mom and dad take a jet-lag-induced nap.
Why did we wait so long to travel with our kids?
Ask our extended family and they’ll tell you how important and helpful a routine, sleep schedules and a calm atmosphere have been for our kids. They’ll also probably tell you how annoying it was when we left family gatherings obscenely early in order to get our littles to bed on time.
But doing these things definitely paid off.
I obviously think exposing young children to some travel is beneficial, especially if you plan on traveling in the future, but I also believe babies and toddlers need a daily rhythm and stability at home in their first few years of life.
You only need to scan the current headlines to read multiple studies explaining how a regular routine and structure produces healthier, more socially advanced kids who thrive later in life.
And don’t even get me started on a regular sleep schedule. More power to you if you’re able to schlep the whole regular shuteye thing out the window in leu of sightseeing.
Children are also generally more capable of handling long-distance travel starting around four years old. Our son proved this by going on multiple long car and airplane trips after he turned four (while I stayed home with his newborn sister).
Simply put four-year-old kids can wait in lines, they don’t need a nap as often, they can hold their bladder and go without a carseat if needed and they can (finally!) grasp some simple instructions (such as don’t pick up and eat that strange-looking, gross thing off the ground).
We just traveled home from the beach this past weekend and our daughter literally stared out the window for the entire two-hour ride. No way that would have happened when she was two. No way.
Starting around four kids are also more likely to remember their experiences. I don’t know about you but I had zero interest toting diapers and bottles and a tired baby (and an irritable mama) around multiple airports and into foreign lands only for our kids to forget what we experienced.
And so… we’ve waited four LONG yet sweet years to take them on some big adventures.
And it’s finally time to do what we said we’d do.
We didn’t know when she was born we’d be embarking on an adventure around the world four and a half years later. We didn’t even have a clue how life would look like.
But we did know one thing – we’d be traveling as a family somewhere.
And that was enough.
Do you travel with kids under four? God Bless You.
Did you wait until your kids were out of toddlerhood to travel (or are you still waiting?) I get it – just remember the years are short and the days are long… I keenly remember and am with you in spirit.
You got this…
I found this article sadly accurate in regards to how frustrating it can be to travel with a toddler. Still want to travel with one? Go for it! I highly recommend slow travel however –– the way we plan to travel I’ll post more on soon.