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It’s now been just about 8 months since we left Australia with our kids. We left for Penang with the hope that we would be able to make an online income work, that we would be able to spend the year away funded by this online income and that we would hopefully spend a chunk of the year in Europe. We have done it!
I also left with the plan of giving regular updates about our life and how we found the transition to living and working abroad and how our kids coped with all the change. On this last count, I have failed. I started off trying to post about this monthly, but this is my first update in awhile. For that, I am sorry.
It is hard working, travelling and being a full time parent. Harder than I imagined. Although I would not give up our current lifestyle, finding time for things that are important to me is difficult.
Anyway, I do hope to do a better job in future in keeping you updated about what we are up to and how we are going rather than just focusing on the destinations we visit. As much as I love sharing all the great places we discover, I am also aware that these articles in part hide the reality of our day to day lives. We may be travelling, but we are still a normal family. We have the same issues – like getting the kids to go to bed – and the same dramas – like finding enough alone time.
You can read our last update here from where we were getting ready to leave for Europe at the 5 month mark.
We have loved loved LOVED travelling in Europe. It’s been a refreshing change after nearly 6 months in Asia and we have enjoyed exploring new places.
It’s been amazing, but it’s also been tiring.
We will be away from Penang for 4 months all up. It’s a long time for us to be on the move and I expected it to be hard. I booked a month in the middle staying still in Paris in the hope that that would help us catch up after travelling relatively fast for our first 5.5 weeks in Europe.
It didn’t really work. It was nice to stay put for awhile, but I have definitely learned some lessons during the last couple of months. Maybe these lessons will help you plan your own adventures.
It is hard work travelling with two preschoolers and we have to work as well. It is just so tiring and we all end up on each other’s nerves. As much as I have loved Europe, I have started missing Penang.
I miss our simple, easy life. The fantastic food. The great house. And, if I am being brutally honest, I really miss preschool.
I love my kids, obviously, but being a full time parent while working full time is STRESSFUL. It’s wearing me out. It makes me less patient and I am definitely a better parent when I have a break. The kids seem to miss the outlet as well.
It’s also not good for my relationship with J. We need some quality time together badly.
Before I had kids, I hated spending too long anywhere as there were so many places I wanted to go. With kids, though, I would rather have a base to travel from. It has been great having our home in Penang and I am so happy we will head back there in late September.
I just wish we hadn’t left it for so long. However, Europe is also a long way to go so it’s hard to not take full advantage of it while we are here. There is also nothing I would cut out and I am looking forward to everywhere left to go, so I have no regrets.
We have mostly been staying in one bedroom apartments in Europe which has been fine. However, our one month stop in Paris was in a compact one bedroom and we all went a bit crazy.
The longer we stay somewhere, the more time we spend in our accommodation so it’s very important for us to have more space at those times.
We find the kids get fed up and upset if they don’t have at least every third day hanging out and playing with their toys, watching TV and just doing stuff like they would at home.
My desire to head back to Penang ASAP has already been mostly eradicated since arriving in Italy. What a wonderful place! A change of scenery and pace can be a good way to re invigorate us on the road.
We have had our fair share of drama in Europe which probably hasn’t helped. S’s passport was damaged and getting a replacement was a drawn out (and stressful) process.
Then there was the illness/infections. Z was nearly admitted to hospital in Poland. S hit her head and ended up with an ambulance ride and stitches and now has a scar on her face. Both Z and J had infections in Paris. Between all this, we have been to 4 hospitals in Europe and a few different GP offices. It is crazy.
The drama has still not ended after Z got his hand caught in the door on a metro train in Paris when we were leaving. He is ok, but it was a horrific experience.
S and Z are going quite well. That probably sounds surprising after the last section but they take everything in their stride and mostly forget anything bad that happens 5 minutes later. It’s a nice skill to have!
They talk about Malaysia sometimes and miss the orange house. Overall though, they seem quite happy and whenever I ask them if they want more holidays (they call each place we go to a new holiday), it’s always a resounding YES!
I’ve found 5 to be an excellent age to come to Europe. S is so interested in everything and this trip really seems to be having a profound effect on her. She is learning a lot.
Europe can seem wasted on Mr 3. He does love many of the things we do, but he doesn’t care about the history, religion or some of the more amazing aspects of Europe as you would expect. He is also still going through a very defiant phase (which started nearly a year ago, please tell me it will end soon!) which makes life very difficult at times.
He yells, throws things, hits and runs away regularly. We have found this tougher to deal with as we have hit warmer weather as places don’t have air conditioning so everyone has all their windows open, including us. I am very conscious of just how loud the kids can be and how much they are probably disturbing others and it’s been stressful to try to keep the volume down.
On the upside, it is amazing listening to him talk. I am sure he is far advanced for his age when it comes to geography and understanding different cultures, languages and how people live. It is obvious that this experience is also changing him for the better.
We are currently exploring more of Italy and then we will head to new countries, Slovenia, Croatia and Norway!
At the end of September, we fly back to Penang via Bangkok.
Our plans are to spend the last school term in Penang while our kids return to their preschool. During this time we are purposefully trying to keep travel to a minimum – at this stage, I will be heading to the US to talk at TBEX (travel blogging conference), but otherwise we are staying put. My mum and brother will visit us there which we are really looking forward too.
Next we are off to the UAE, Oman and the Phillippines. We plan to spend Christmas back in Bali and see more of Indonesia outside of this island before returning to Malaysia and Singapore.
At this point, we still plan to return to Australia in late January in time for S to start school in Melbourne. We constantly question why we would chose to leave this lifestyle to go back to one where my online business is not enough to support us and J has to return to work, but we really have found the perfect school for us in Melbourne and we just can’t let it go.
I hope this update hasn’t seen too negative – we really do love Europe! And considering every other article is basically me raving about this place, I wanted to also share the flip side.
What have you learned about travelling with kids?