Do you love to travel? Me too. Have you asked yourself WHY?
Travel is much more than getting to know a destination. It is how you think and behave when you are exploring a new place. It is about who you are and your attitude towards life when you are away from busy schedules and daily routine. It’s that state of hyper awareness when faced with new adventures, challenges and experiences that inevitably come with travel.
When you travel, you embrace every opportunity, lesson and experience – good or bad – and you make the best of it. You are braver and bolder. And what an empowering feeling that is.
Every day is the start of a new adventure. You are open to new sights, fresh smells, unusual tastes, exciting people, and different customs. You wake up every morning filled with optimism and enthusiasm. You fully expect things to be amazing. And more often than not, they are.
If that’s not proof enough that your mindset can change your life, I don’t know what is.
With that in mind, since embarking on my journey with Our Whole Village, I have decided to expand this simple, yet very effective “think like a traveler” concept from life in general to parenting. And the results have been amazing.
Here are 5 daily practices that have been working out for me as a parent:
1. Be open.
Our tolerance level rises significantly when we travel. You might be just fine camping at 5,200m in the snow with no water in Tibet (true story) and if the same thing happened close to home (if you could find a mountain that high), odds are you wouldn’t be such a happy camper (pun intended).
Just as you are open to the most adverse conditions when you travel, be open-minded about the small adversities of day-to-day parenting, temper tantrums and all.
More importantly, be open about your and your children’s feelings too. Rather than repressing feelings of anger and sadness, let your child (and yourself!) experience those feelings.
For instance, when my kids are mad, I tell them it’s okay to be angry and I suggest they go hit a pillow. They find it amusing. They do it. They feel better. Magic.
2. Be present.
Appreciate the little moments more fully. When you travel, you take photos of virtually anything. The locals are walking by, going about their businesses, while you photograph the fruits at the market, the signs on the street, ants on the sidewalk… anything and everything.
Be like the tourist. Notice the ordinary and everyday life moments with new eyes.
Our hectic routines might make this practice a little harder at first, but it sure is very rewarding. Marcel Proust’s quote – one of my favorites – sums it all up: “The real voyage of discovery consists not in seeking new landscapes, but in having new eyes.”
You will be amazed at how much more patient you will be. And I speak from personal experience.
3. Be bold.
Just like you would try new adventures when you are away, make an effort to leave your comfort zone at home too. Routine is great for children, but trying something new with your kids every once in a while is very rewarding. A new activity, a different route, an untried game, an exotic dish; each is sure to spark their curiosity and enthusiasm.
For me, there is absolutely nothing more rewarding in the world than witnessing the spark in my daughters’ eyes when they discover something new.
4. Be kind.
Unpleasant things do happen when you travel. You might lose your passport, or miss a train. Still, you don’t let that ruin your vacation, do you? You bounce back and make the best of an unfortunate situation. Most importantly, you don’t let that affect the rest of your journey.
And when you think about your last vacation, will you remember the things that went wrong or the incredible places you visited and the amazing people you met?
Let go of setbacks and disappointments quickly.
Find your reset button, whatever that is. Breathing, meditation, exercise, a shower, a song. Anything that will help you let go of that feeling of uneasiness and remind you to be kinder to yourself.
5. Be grateful.
Just as you notice the wonders around you when you are visiting a new destination, try pointing out the wonders around your children on a regular basis.
Gratitude leads to happiness. Gratitude helps young children look beyond their own universe.
I have started an experiment this year. I expanded my gratitude journal to include my daughters’ entries too.
At the end of every day I record their favorite moments of the day, things they are grateful for.
One day this will be a beautiful memory of what their days were like, but I can already see the change in my almost-5-year old, Sofia. Last night I forgot to ask them about their day and Sofia prompted, “Mom, you forgot to ask me about today! I am happy for sunny skies!” (It has been raining non-stop here in Madrid).
How about you? I would love to hear what works for YOU!