5 Months As Vagabonds


The Not So Perfect, Perfect Adventure

As I mentioned in a previous post (click HERE), my husband, myself, and our three kids (ages 6, 4, and 2) have been traveling for the last 5 months.  A new city every month, staying in a furnished apartment or house, and living a transient and simple life.  Everything we brought, had to fit in our minivan. So, we each had 4-5 outfits that we washed and wore and washed and wore.  My kids had a small basket of cars, some Jenga blocks, and a little stuffed dog to play with, oh, and lots of books. We didn’t pack any utensils or pots and pans, and most of the time we were furnished with very little to cook with.  I was also training for a marathon.

Why did we do this?

My husband is a medical student and is currently applying for a very competitive specialty. These “away rotations” are a way for him to get to know different programs and the people involved with them.  My kids and I had a choice to be separated from Daddy for 4-5 months, OR stay together and see him some evenings and most weekends– AND have lots of adventures in cities across the U.S. which were previously unknown to us. So, we opted to do what anyone would do, right? We chose adventures and family time. So, we strategically packed our minivan to the brim and off we went.

The struggle…

Everything went very well for my husband. He was meeting new people, making contacts, and kicking butt like he always does (proud wife moment!) As for me… here I was with my 3 young kids, in a new living space (which was often less than desirable), in a new city, with no friends or acquaintances.  Don’t feel bad for me, I knew what I was getting myself into… sort of. And, my kids are incredibly social and outgoing so making new friends was easy for them. It was all a little overwhelming, but I had hope that we could do this together. I just had to plan and pray.

I’m not going to lie, there was definitely some Netflix happening for the kids, and some Instagram/Facebook for me (it was my only real connection to home, family, and really anything very familiar.) I was also homeschooling my son who is in kindergarten (some days were more successful than others).  Every day we would venture out at least once to see something new that the current city had to offer.  Most often a children’s museum, zoo, science center, park, farm, gardens— you name it, we did it. I think I may have had PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) from one kid running one way, the other hanging from that thing, and the last melting down because he/she was tired or hungry or both.  It was fun! Really… and not so fun sometimes. At least I can laugh about it now!

Allow me to paint you a picture… like the time I took the kids to Costco and the Christmas toys were already out in like –AUGUST (Holy cow, way to early Costco!) and one kid was hiding somewhere in between crates stacked twice my size, another kid was hanging on the bar that had all the new Christmas dresses, and one was throwing the tantrum of a lifetime because I wouldn’t buy him a Christmas present NOW!

But this is all totally normal mom stuff, right?  If you’ve had at least two young kids and ventured to Costco, you know.  YOU KNOW the utter anxiety and exasperation.  You may have even thought to yourself… “Well, if I just leave them here,  maybe no one will notice. Surely they will have more than enough food and plenty of plush oversized animals to sleep on. Maybe they can even play on the playground… the one up in the “Costco sky,” or camp out in the 10 man tent.” — Next thing you know there will be a Costco babysitting service— Pay $39.99 an hour to drop your kid off overnight and they will have bottomless hotdogs, pizza, fountain drinks, and FUUUN!  I might be on to something here. Kid heaven. With no parents. (If any Costco representatives would like to contact me, I will gladly provide new insights and ideas for a free membership renewal.)

Anyway, my mom brain is digressing.

Here is what I didn’t expect…

1. PERSPECTIVE: I didn’t realize how my perspective would change concerning what REALLY matters.  My kids were HAPPY.  They had hardly any THINGS to play with, but not once did I hear them complain about the toys they missed at home.  And it’s not because they don’t ever complain (trust me), and it’s not because they don’t have any toys at home (ha!), it’s because they had each other. We were a family with little to no distractions when we had time together and that is what life is all about.  It’s not about acquiring the best and coolest toys and having the most friends and finding the coolest things to distract us from what matters most. It’s not about being in the same room spending time together, each on our own “device”.  Our children just want US. They want our time and attention and to spend time BEING AND INTERACTING AS A FAMILY.

My kids became each others best friends.

2. DEJUNK AND TRY LIVING A SIMPLE LIFE:  In this consumer driven society, I think it is very VERY easy to become subject to things.  It was so refreshing to have next to nothing.  If you can try it, TRY IT!  I will be filling up my house with bags of things to donate here soon.  I challenge you to do the same thing and donate to a worthy cause.  Simplicity is key. This is one lesson I don’t want to forget when I am back home with all of our stuff. I don’t want the management of my things to take up my life and hinder me from the best use of my time.

And last but not least…

3. THERE ARE GOOD PEOPLE EVERYWHERE:  This is so true!  I loved meeting so many different people all the time. So many good samaritans that were kind and helpful.  I am a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and we must have attended at least 10 different wards (congregations) in the time we have been gone.  Upon learning that we were only going to be there for one month, it would’ve been easy for people to say, “Oh, okay… well enjoy your time here!” THE END. But this didn’t happen. There were many wonderful people eminating incredible examples of Christ like love.  People who approached us as new faces, learned of our temporary time in the area, and took us in regardless.  They told us they were there for us if we needed anything, offered to show us fun things to do in the area,  invited us to dinner, or to a play date at their house.  This, to me, is emulating the Savior and what he would do.  He wouldn’t ignore, or cast out with uncaring… he would embrace, love, help, and welcome.  I want to be this way, always.

Could I have learned these lessons at home? I don’t know, maybe.  But I am so glad I learned them now.

We are HOME now.  I get to sleep in my own bed, my kids have their own rooms WITH beds, I have cooking supplies, a garage, a backyard, a computer, a grocery store nearby, friends, AND (drumroll please…..) I am not living out of a suitcase!!! Three cheers and a HALLELUJAH!  I want to say that I will never take these things for granted again… but I know it’s not true. It’s human nature.  So, I guess we will have to do this again in a few years!

This is a much longer post than I intended, so If you stuck with me this long, congratulations, you should get a prize!


How about you?

-How do you minimize distractions in your home when there is family time to be had?

-How do you dejunk/organize? Share your secrets!

XOXO Laura

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  1. I LOVE this post. I honestly think it would be so fun to pack up and live that way for a while! Crazy yes, but fun. I think that’s why I love Disneyland so much. And I know it’s not a minimalistic thing to go there. It’s super expensive and crazy. But our family gets along SO well when we go! There are some days where we don’t have a single meltdown or tantrum. It’s those moments when I realize that being TOGETHER really is so important and so FUN!

    And about the toys…I have boxed up a huge bin of toys and put it in the garage. Like 6-8 months ago. And nobody has missed a single toy! I hated even buying stuff for Christmas but what I tried to do is get them one thing they wanted, and the rest was stuff they need. Like pencils, water bottle, toothbrushes, etc. I even bought stuff at the D.I. like games. Kids are so A.D.D. and even the toys they REEEEAAAAALLLLLYYYYY wanted are now yesterday’s news. This comment is so long I’m sorry! But I totally believe in de cluttering and eliminating the “stuff” so there’s room for more of the GOOD STUFF! Like family time and conversations! I told my hubby I’d rather drop the small fortune we drop on Disney passes than buy them toys and stuff they don’t need. Those memories and EXPERIENCES will be far more valuable than anything else. And every day I hope I’m making their childhood memorable because I only get one shot at it! Ok I’m done. :) I love you!

    1. Kirsten! I LOVE hearing from you! Yes, what a fun way to have fun without having to bring it home! Disneyland is amazing!!! There was a small chance that we were going to end up your way for residency but that didn’t end up happening. I am sure glad that you are enjoying yourself. Next time we go to Disneyland, I will definitely give you a shout out and see if we can meet up. Love you to pieces! I wish you lived close to me and could help me with my food pictures #pathetic #youarethephotomaster ha! XO

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