During this whole trip I have been pondering how to love and nurture my family by creating space and time that is our own no matter where we happen to be. This whole blog is sort of about that too, but I thought I would take some time to suss out some specific strategies I’ve learned (and am learning) in a series of installments that will hopefully help you too, whether you’re traveling for a weekend or getting uprooted for a longer time, or maybe even inspire some thinking about life in your permanent home. I by no means claim to be an expert–there are plenty of others out there who have done a lot more traveling for a much longer time with more kids! So this is just my take, and as always, I’d love to hear from any of you with stories and feedback! So, here’s my first article in this series:
One Back Pack, One Blankie, and One Stuffed Animal
When I was growing up, my family took lots of road trips because our extended family all lived in other states. There were three of us kids, so a packing allowance was a must. Besides our clothes, which went in the “back pack” of the car, we were allowed to keep with us one back pack full of books, games, paper, and crafty stuff (I think at some point mom had to veto scissors, glue, and glitter, at least until I was old enough to have scissors as part of a sewing or embroidery project); one blankie, and we all had ones that had been made for us by various relatives that worked perfectly in for covering up in the van; and one, strictly ONE stuffed animal or doll. I always brought my Raggedy Ann doll, made by my Grandma Jean, though once I got my American Girl in 3rd grade, I may have fenagled some excuse to bring both. As a grown up with a baby, this formula seems to still hold together as the perfect recipe for keeping well-loved things close for the purpose of personalizing any space, while also keeping me from going overboard and bringing too much (which is both heavy and makes it easy to lose track of such precious items!) Of course, these things look slightly different now, but I think they boil down to the same concepts.
One Back Pack: The real point of this one is that you must keep the things you love to do with you at all times; those things that make you who you are, that help you relax, and keep you sane. For me that means always having a sketch book, at least one or two portable projects like knitting or embroidery, a journal, a book or two that at least remind me of my good intentions to read more, and myriad pens and pencils. I can look back on how my back pack has changed over the years–once stuffed with American Girl paper dolls, at least 5 books of poetry and a rhyming dictionary, or crammed with my giant cd wallet and a diskman–and see how I’ve changed and grown all reflected in those things that were important enough to me to carry and cram in on road trips. For our trip to London, I also insisted on bringing my sewing machine, which did not of course fit in my backpack, but was crucial to me as I felt like during this time in my life, making things for my family, our home, and friends was a really important way that I could love and nurture them.
One Blankie: Quite literally, bring something along that keeps you warm and reminds you of someone or something important. We received many many beautiful handmade blankets and quilts when Everett was born. It was hard enough choosing which ones to bring with us to London, but for the current jaunt around Europe we had to narrow down even more. I brought with us a quilt made by our dear friend Gwen (also seen in our London nursery) because it’s durable, beautiful, and can work as a play mat. It can both serve to keep us warm and warm up whatever space we’re in.
One Stuffed Animal: This represents a personal item that doesn’t necessarily serve a specific purpose (like the stuff in your back pack) but that can comfort you in those sometimes surprising moments of homesickness. I tend to keep with me letters and cards sent from friends, or other little trinkets people have made for me, to read and turn over in my hands, a tangible reminder that distance is not insurmountable. Of course, a computer and internet connection helps a lot too:)
**Stay tuned–I will announce the winner of the Giveaway tomorrow!!**