To be honest, we were not always 100% convinced if what we are doing is also best for the kids. So far we had done extended trips, but never between two lifes, never without knowing we will soon be back home. Our home now is our car. Paula said today, she misses living in a house, drinking hot chocolate while it is raining outside. We told her that in a few months she will have that and that then, she will be missing cuddling up in a rooftent, looking at the stars and listening to the animals at night. „You are right“, she said and happily jumped off. It is amazing how quickly the kids adapt. They devided the car into different Zones : Lottas, Paulas, Carls and Max’ room, my seat is the service station and Timms seat the cockpit. We have a little bookshelf in the back of the car, which we call the living room and all the build in cupboards are the cellars. Our rooftent is the bedroom and part of the trailer the kitchen. Very handy, we do not even have to change our vocabulary, „clean your room“ is still understood.
So far we are more than amazed by the kids. They are really tough cookies, never complaining or whinging, happily playing together. They think of new games all the time, most oft he toys we took are still untouched. The only thing we are not happy with, is them helping. Especially our eldest is less independent than we thought. This is 100% our fault though and Cape Town live has not much helped. This, out of one million more, is one reason why our journey will teach them lessons for live. It will only work, if every one of us gives their best, does their share and looks after the others. It is very tough not pretending to be super mum/dad and doing everything. We now decided to work on choices. If our eldest for example choses not to help putting up the camp or doing the dishes, she as a consequence also choses not to be helped when she has a problem. It is very hard to stick to, but the only way if we want to break the vicious circle of punishments and forced helpfulness.
What works better than expected though is homeschooling. We try to stick to a routine of getting up early and starting school at 8, when it is still pleasantly cool. Mostly we focus on Maths, German and English. Geography, Biology and Histrory somehow happens on the way. Often the kids do not even realize they are learning. Our surroundings offer more than billions of themes to teach them. At Barby for example they learned loads about farming, about what makes a desert a desert and what animals live there and how. They learned how people manage to survive, how important it is to save ressources, how beautiful and cruel nature can be, and how one can make lots of things of what others would consider rubbish. At Barby they for e.g. never spend money on firelighters, but they collect old tea bags, dry them and put them in lamp oil. Best firelighter you can imagine! All our kids can distinguish quite a few antilope, know their footprint and dung. From the surrounding vegetation they can guess what animlas might live there, they know how to light a fire, which wood burns best, how to staple the wood, how to cover it when going to bed. And this only after 4 weeks!
When driving long distances ( only once yet 🙂 ) we do spelling Games, Maths games, we read about our next destination, about its history. The kids ask the most incredible questions and watching them learning just makes us realize what we missed over the last years. Just doing homework with them can never give you this insight. We are not sure if we would have the energy for ever, but just now we enjoy the teaching very very much.
Spending so much time together is the best that could happen to us as a family. The first few days were a bit hard to get used to this closeness and to this always having to be „present“ as a parent. Finding „couple time“ is also quite a mission, but possible. Being together 24/7, sleeping in a rooftent with six people is not always easy, but so much worth every effort.
And, after a month the holiday feeling slowly disappears. Travelling becomes a reality and is not allways pleasant. The weather is never right. In Sossousvlei the heat, hot wind and dust was nearly unbearable, while in Swakopmund the cold winds, the fog and the sticky seabreeze were hard to cope with.There are days, especially when things do not go the way they should when slight panik is striking and all these „what if“ questions start spoiling positive thoughts (especially Michaelas while Timm is quite cool actually). And so far there was not really much to worry about (apart the broken brakes and having to eat pasta 3 days in a row).
A thing that amazes us all is, how little one actually needs. From all the clothes we took, we already sent half oft he stuff back to Cape Town. Half of the toy cars are lost and not one has been missed. There is still one box of games and books we have not even touched.
While Timm and the kids enjoy „messy mode“, Michaela is still fighting the dust ( in her toothbrush), the campfire smell and dirty clothes and still sticks to painted toenails as a last reminder of civilization. Our civilized live though, looking back is something that needs a complete make over. Right now we wish we could make it more simple, more down to earth and concentrating more on the things that really matter to us. Time will show what they are, but definetly it will be friends, family and country living.