Stability for children seems to be a major concern in American society. “Children need stability to thrive”, they say. “Stability helps children feel secure”, they say. As a traveling family I get questioned on the stability of our life for my son. I know that stability for kids is a concern of many people. Due to this, it’s a key concern for families looking to travel beyond the two week vacations. I really find it sad that, as a society, we have such a narrow view of life that anything outside of that view is “concerning”. So, I thought it may be beneficial to take a look into stability and what it really is.
Dictionary.com defines stability as:
-the state or quality of being stable
-firmness in position
-continuance without change; permanence
That’s the definition and I find it legit. I also think we have taken it a step further and added context to the term that is not the case. Here’s how I view stability and what traveling has taught my family. I would not trade our “stability” for anything in the world.
Stability is Not Based in Location
It seems, we as a society believe, that stability is created by living in the same house, going to the same school, doing the same activities and more of the like. Is that really true? I bet we all know people who grew up with what looked like stability to people on the outside of their home. However, what truly went on inside the home created chaos, dysfunction, anxiety…everything but stability. Given that, stability is really not about location and routine. It’s about soooo much more.
Sometimes We Need The Unknown
I know many people may disagree with me here but it’s my opinion. Sometimes we need to have things shaken up. As a mom of a child with Aspergers, it was drilled into my head that my son needs routine. Having routines allow him to feel safe and know how things work. This, supposedly, will eventually help him become a thriving citizen of society. I did this. I followed the rules. Checked the charts. Dotted my Is and crossed my Ts. It helped that my son naturally created his own routines (which also was a detriment).
After some years, I began to see that with all the routines, my son struggled when “life happened”. When people would say they were coming over and cancel at the last minute, he would be de-va-sta-ted…I can’t even describe it. When he thought he’d get PB & J for lunch and I realized, as I went to grab ingredients, that we’re out of jelly, he lost it. This was not good. I began to see that all this routine did serve its purpose at one point in his life. It was just no longer serving him now. Life happens. Things change. My boy needs to understand this and learn how to roll with the punches, in addition to the routines created in his life.
Taking It On The Road
I can go rogue, at times, so don’t follow my lead. Lol Part of the reason I decided to travel nomadically was specifically because my son needed to ditch the routines that guided every aspect of his life. (For all the other reasons why I decided to travel long term, click here.) What better way to do that? Traveling nomadically takes him out of his routines, like nothing else can. I mean, the house is gone, a lot of the comforts we had are gone, we don’t drive the same streets and so much more. On top of that, while we can attain some or all of those in a new city, which is great, it will all change again when we go to the next city.
Lessons Learned About Stability
In taking this road, I’ve learned a few lessons about stability that may help you. If you’re concerned about your kid’s development without stability, keep reading. If you have family hounding you about stability because you are heading out to travel, pass this along. If you only able to take two, week-long vacations, keep reading. This is for everyone.
Stability Exists No Matter Where You Are
Stability is found in those things that you can’t physically buy or take anywhere. Stability is found in love and loving someone. See, when you love someone you will always show them you love them. My son knows he can come to me for a hug at any time. He knows that we’ll play games together in any country in the world. He’s aware that in any airport, train or bus station we can say “would you rather…” and a game is started, right there. He’s secure in knowing that I love him and, that through that love, I will provide safety, comfort and even fun. These are the core of what creates stability.
Routines Can Travel
Yup, I said it. Routines can travel. Who said that you can only have a bedtime routine in a house you pay on? Haven’t you taken trips when your kids were little? Did you still go through the same bedtime routine as when you were home? (Some of y’all are like nah! Lol…well I did.) This is what I mean. Routines are portable. No, not all but the important ones are. And if they’re important to you, you’ll find a way to make it portable.
I have a morning routine that I do no matter where in the world I am. It sets my day off right. I just need a pen, a journal, my phone and a bottle of water. Those can go anywhere and if I’m out of something, I can get a new one. The same goes for my son and his morning routine.
Children Learn from Mobile Stability
It may just be my opinion, and I am pretty biased, but I think kids learn more with mobile stability. The thing is, when traveling, kids are exposed to so many situations we try to hard to keep them sheltered from at home. If we miss our flight or it’s cancelled I can’t really shelter my son from that. He has to learn how to adjust and manage this change within himself. He can also learn how to manage it externally from watching me and discussing how I find a resolution.
When at home though, I can (and have) withhold information such as a friend coming over until they actually show up. This eliminates the possibility of disappointment if they cancel. At home, I can do things like this so often…and not even realize it. It doesn’t help my son at all.
The Biggest Gem
The biggest lesson I’ve learned from traveling, regarding stability, is that children learn that stability is not about a “where” but about “who” and “how”. Children learn to get creative and find ways to create what they need (i.e. morning routines, self comfort and more). Children also learn that caring for one another is truly the basis of stability. They know, regardless of where they are, they are secure because mom (or whomever) has created a secure family environment. This environment that produces love, joy, discipline and a bit of necessary discomfort, goes with them everywhere because it’s who they are. It gets deep into their heart. This is stability.