February, being the month of Valentine's Day and all, seemed to be the right time to debut our first CultureBaby couple. Dads sometimes don't get enough credit (just don't tell my husband I said that). And this mom and dad are definitely equally present in raising what may be the best travelled CultureBaby we have heard of thus far.
Emily and Adam are raising 3 year old Colette out on the open road. They filed this dispatch from La Serena in Chile, where their old faithful van, which brought them there all the way from California, has stopped for some much needed R&R.
As a mom of a 3 year old myself, I had lots of questions about how they handle the challenges taking a toddler on a nomadic adventure (potty training!?). But I perhaps should not have been surprised that this family of three has had so many more rewards than challenges as they travel together and chronicle their way down through South America on their blog Our Open Road.
Beware though, their blog, instagram feed, and facebook page will all have you green with wanderlust envy. CultureBaby takes no responsibility for the number of readers taking off to parts unknown with tots in tow after reading this.
All images courtesy of Our Open Road.
1. Ordinarily we ask where you live now but instead, lets ask what you think of as home and how you bring elements of home with you on the road. When we flew back to the States in August 2013 for a visit (10 months into our journey) Colette said "Mommy, I wanna go home"! "Where is home, Coco"? I asked. She looked at me as if I was crazy. "The VAN"! Wherever we may be camped for the night, the van remains the same. It is a tiny home, but our home none-the-less. Colette has a collection of things that are just hers - her koala cup from her Uncle James and Aunt Alyson's trip to Australia, her 'love book" that holds 4x6 photo prints of family and friends, her backpack with all her toys. We also love Skype - living in the technology age quickly crosses the many miles.
2. We tend to worry so much about routines and regular bed times for our kids. Are those things still a concern for you traveling with Colette or have you found that child rearing on the go frees you from these worries? Even when living a non-monadic life, Adam and I parented without the typical framework of regular naptime, bathtime and bedtime and it remains the same on the road. If Colette is tired in the day, she naps; at the end of the day, when she is tired, we put her to sleep. When Colette is dirty, we give her a bath - on the road that may be a warm solar shower, cold water only at camp, a dip in a stream or swim in the ocean with a quick rinse-off. We do make and share regular mealtimes together. Coco helps choose what we buy at markets, selecting which fruit looks yummiest and so on. Adam and I are blessed to spend nearly all our time with Colette and feel this constant in her life enables her to deal better with the many new experiences we encounter daily.
3. Have you found that being a parent is a universal passport? Has Colette ever smoothed out a difficult situation for you? Absolutely. Colette, nicknamed "the ambassador of love and joy" is an instant barrier-breaker. When stern-looking cops wave us over to inspect our travel documents, their faces quickly melt into friendly smiles when spotting the happy 'gringuita.' Having traveled as a couple for nearly a decade, traveling as a family is a wonderful experience that we heartily recommend. Trips to the park replace late night dancing and horseback riding instead of white water rafting. However, those are rare moments we happily traded for a life of shared experiences. It is important to mention that Adam and I take time to enjoy our own interests, the other having time with Coco. Adam is a passionate surfer and Emily enjoys yoga.
4. I have to know...did you potty train Colette on the go? Colette was 21 months when we departed and almost potty trained. We cloth-diapered, which I think helped her to learn what 'wet' felt like. On the road, we used a combo of eco-disposable and cloth diapers. She was fully trained by the time family came to visit at 23 months, which is when we sent all the cloth diapers back with them. It was quite a challenge to wash cloth on the road...so thankful it was just a short window of time.
5. What do you hope Colette remembers from your current adventure? We are often asked what Colette will remember, but we prefer to think of these experiences are forming her and how they will remain within her. An ingrained knowledge of the planets diversity, our times of togetherness, and the strength of unconditional love are the things we hope remain. The trip is very well documented, leaving no doubt she will have a plethora of materials to reference and fill in the gaps.
7. What did you say to anyone who questioned bringing a 3 year old on the road? When we departed California, Colette was just 21 months. People would say “What are you going to do with a toddler on the road?!” Our reply was simply “the same we would in California, except we will have the benefit of spending more time with her!” Parenting somehow brings out the ‘expert’ in many people who feel their style of parenting is irrefutable. We have been blessed with a circle of friends and family who are not those people… the support of our loved ones empowers us on this journey.
8. Whats next for the three of you? Writing this from a mechanic yard in La Serena, Chile- our next move is to finish overhauling our motor and us back on the open road!