This year’s spring cleaning series has been a bit of a different one because of my family’s current travels. It’s all good, though, because I’ve really enjoyed writing about this sort of stuff from a different perspective: we’ve talked about minimalist beauty and health routines, a minimalist approach to kids’ toys, and a simple trick I discovered last year to minimize the kitchen insanity (which can also apply to other parts of life).
Next week’s final spring cleaning session will be more conventional—I’ll share my favorite tricks and tips for keeping our home simple(ish), sane(ish), and minimal(ish). Today, though? Let’s talk about our guts. What drives us to make our decisions and convictions.
No doubt, the past seven months have been the strangest we’ve ever lived. I mean, who takes three kids under 10, straps little more than a backpack on their shoulders, and travels the globe in hopes of a slightly (read: understatement) different education for a few months? We do, apparently, and it’s been worth it in every way. Many other people do, too, as we’ve come to discover. In fact, a number of families do this indefinitely (they call this lifestyle “location independent”).
It’s been a fun ride, but both Kyle and I are eager to return to our sense of normalcy—we’re definitely not made for location independence. When we rent a car to drive around a country, we talk about things we rarely get to chat about on public transportation, and the conversation usually falls to When We Return, We’ll… You can fill in the rest with stuff about work, kids’ school, community, personal health, and the like. Planning real life. Because well, we’re made for that, too.
Walking through Pamukkale, Turkey.
Combine this trend of ours with a nonstop, continual stream of (pleasant, well-meaning) comments we frequently get that sing to the general tune of, “I love what you’re doing, but I could never do that,” and it’s all got me thinking about why we’ve made our somewhat unconventional choices.
I get why many people think they couldn’t do what we’re doing. It’s hard—really hard sometimes—to travel with kids for as long as we have. But here’s the deal: It’s worth doing, and it’s do-able, when it’s what you’re meant to do in that season. It just is. Extended family travel is no harder or easier than many other things in life; it’s just one more option.
It reminds me of conversations I sometimes have about homeschooling. A common response when someone hears how we currently handle our kids’ education is, “I admire what you do, but I could never do it.” I smile and nod, because I understand the sentiment (oh believe me, I do), but I silently think, Yes you could. If it’s what you were meant to do right now, you could do it.
I actually think the same thing about traditional schooling. I hear of parents’ needs to fill out reading logs, volunteer for this or that, fight traffic for drop-off or pick-up, meet with teachers for conferences, and handle the general cacophony of a morning where you have to leave at a particular time, and I think, “I admire what you do, but I could never do it.” And of course, I could. (I’ve done it before, and I very well may do it again.) Both schooling options are valid and good, and both have challenges. That’s life.
Trainschooling somewhere in Croatia.
Almost every decision has multiple options to weigh, and they’re usually both hard and easy in some way. Take any fork in the road, and you’ll notice that every direction has some sort of challenge—a shaky bridge to cross, mud to slop through, steep terrain to hike, diphtheria to contract (oh wait, this isn’t Oregon Trail). Everything from schooling options for our kids, to taking a new job or staying where you are, to smaller things like saying yes to an evening out or staying home—all have plusses and minuses.
It’s so simple, but I think we forget this. We freeze with indecision, or we wonder if life would be better if we take that other bend in the road, because we simply forget that nothing in life is perfectly easy and everything has a challenge to it. (Except maybe guacamole—the answer is always yes right there.)
So what’s the solution, then, to making the “best” choices for your family, and therefore eliminating the other options? What’s the number one way to declutter your life’s options and forge ahead with confidence? How do you spring clean your modus operandi?
It’s this: you do you.
Tate “distracting” herself while we meet with friends in Kosovo at a fancy restaurant.
That’s it. Such a no-brainer, I know. But honestly, this is why our family is able to take on the challenge of traveling around the world with three kids, why some years we choose to homeschool, why we make a big deal out of birthdays, and why we do family movie night Fridays. We’re doing us.
And it’s the same with your life choices, too. You’re able to have your kids in that school, or live in that town, or take on that position at your office, or whatever, because you’re doing you.
(And if you don’t feel like you know you—it’s not easy to “do” you if you don’t know you, after all—you might enjoy my eight-session, self-paced e-course.)
Here’s the deal: all of us doing us is a beautiful thing. We’re doing who we’re made to be, and we’re confident in who we are. We don’t feel the need to justify our choices. We’re focused on our own yards instead of either criticizing our neighbor for watering hers differently or wishing our grass looked like theirs. We’re in love with the patch we’ve been given to cultivate.
The kids playing with the EntreFamily kids near Split, Croatia.
So next time you’re weighed down with too many options, too much life clutter, too many question marks about what you should do, remember this: be you. Do you. Honor how you were made with that freeing agenda. It’s what’s kept me going all these months on the open global road. And it’s what’ll keep me returning and steeping in deeply back to “normal life” when the time comes.
Our old playground at our old Turkish neighborhood.