By Tammy Kling
Co-Author of The Compass
Standing at a kids birthday party one saturday, I overheard a mother use the words before kids . . . to start a sentence. "Before kids," she went on to say, "it seemed like we had a lot of money!" The other parents chimed in, nodding their heads. "Before kids" . . . another mother said, "I used to run triathlons."
Rediscover who you are
Before kids . . . we traveled the world. And not just travel, but adventure travel! Our trips often led us to exciting and unpredictable destinations, and experiences that changes our lives. We worked in orphanages in Romania, holding tiny babies that had been abandoned by their mothers. We made friends with gypsies on the street, flew back one year to be at the bedside of a dying friend we'd met there who my husband grew to love like a father. In the years before we got pregnant, we hiked twenty miles through an anaconda infested swamp in Peru, climbed Macchu Picchu, dined on Piranha that night and slept in a small thatched roof hut surrounded by jungle animals. Each time we did something new, my mind and soul expanded, and I knew I'd want that experience for my kids, when I had them.
Add Adventure to Your Life!
Our first child is six now, but we spent his first day of kindergarten in the jungle, in Costa Rica. We woke up to howler monkeys swinging from the trees, and he was exposed to Spanish everyday, and the sights, sounds and tastes of an entirely new culture. And something remarkable happened. His mind and soul expanded, and he became instantly aware that anything is possible, that the world is a giant place with amazing people living in every crevice and corner.
It was the trip of a lifetime, and I realized then, if we could do the jungle with an infant and a thee year old, we could do anything! My husband and I could have the adventurous experiences we had enjoyed before kids, and the kids could have safe, exciting, once in a lifetime experiences with mom and dad, instead of a kids club hotel experience while the parents are out "adventuring."
Do you ever find yourself uttering those two words? Before kids . . .
This year my four year old celebrated his birthday at Jules Verne, the restaurant in the center upper level, of the Eiffel tower.
This is better than Disneyland!" he exclaimed, while my six year old took pictures of the amazing, vast landscape out the window in front of our table. We dined on a five course meal, with bountiful desserts, a birthday cake, champagne, and a tray of the finest cheeses in Europe. It was a magical, once in a lifetime experience for the kids, and after we ate my husband and I led them to the top of the Eiffel tower, where we had scenic views of the entire city.
Before we left, my play group of mothers were skeptical.
"Not for me," one said, shaking her head. "We won't do long flights, until they're older."
My husband and two toddlers and I boarded a flight to Paris, and they slept the entire way . . . nine solid hours. I wish I could say I planned it all so well, but it was a night flight, and it all worked out magically, as if the hand of God was on our shoulder!
Right now, I'm planning our next trip. Because before kids . . . well, travel was our life!
I'm continually amazed at how some women seem to let go of or forget their former selves when the kids come along, in the name of sacrifice. Who was it you were before, or wished to become? Dust off those dreams, and get your passport renewed. Break through the myth that life is divided into kid specific activities like Disney and Chucky Cheese, and that the adults must dine and travel elsewhere. Take them everywhere, and push the envelope with your travel goals to create exciting new experiences! get out of your comfort zone.
Of course, that's easy for me to say because I'm an adventurer. I love nature, and I love travel, and before I had kids, I traveled on adventurous trips across the world, sometimes pushing the limits of what normal humans would think reasonable. I worked an airplane crash in Colombia. Along the way I grew richer, stretching and changing emotionally. I knew I'd always want that growth and possibility for my kids, and when I had them, the adventure continued.
Somewhere along the way, while reading about Paris in a book, my four year old stated he wanted to go there. A business trip combined with the timing of his birthday, seemed like synchronicity, a magical wish come true.
In Paris, the buildings, the architecture, and even the strange looking foods were all learning experiences for my two boys. No Mac and Cheese in Paris, which made eating a creative endeavor. After two days in the city we journeyed by taxi to the French countryside, to the medieval village of Esclimont, and my children thought they'd stepped back in time, young knights on white horses. The castle was built 500 years before, and was surrounded by an authentic moat, like the kind they'd only seen in storybooks.
In the mornings my husband and I enjoyed coffee and the paper while the kids slept in, due to the time change. I took a long run one day through three french villages, across paddocks and fields and down cobblestone streets. We ventured through a walled city and came upon a random French market, where we were able to spend the day with the locals, eating nutella crepes and buying trinkets from their homes and garages. On the way back we ran wildly through the woods, on a wide path layered with leaves.
What are you waiting for?
A lot of moms feel as if they have to let go of the person they once were, once the kids come along. But life with kids can be even more adventurous than it was before you had them, and there's no need to wait! Don't delay your dreams, or table your interests and hobbies. If there's something you've always wanted to try, take the family along! Make it a goal to run your first 5k somewhere in the world you've already wanted to travel to, and push the kids in a stroller. Book a drive trip to a destination you've always wanted to visit but have never had time for, and don't be afraid to make the long trip in the car with children. The adventure will be fun for everyone. Push the envelope and plan a trip to an exotic location in another country. Kids find meaning in everything, and will learn things about the world and the way in which culture and people are connected. Now is the time. What are you waiting for?
Tammy Kling, co-author of The Compass,is an international author and literary coach to the world's leading CEO's, celebrities and individuals who want to pursue their dreams of writing a book. Her work has been featured in the NY Times, Wall Street Journal, Dateline NBC, Extra and Primetime. She has co-authored and collaborated on books with NFL players/ other athletes and the CEO’s of Dial, First Command, and executives at other major corporations such as Wrigley, The John Maxwell Group, and Wal-Mart. Her most recent release is There's more to Life than the Corner Office; the secret to total life prosperity, (McGraw Hill/2009) Tammy guides executives, entrepreneurs, athletes, and individuals at all levels to achieve life and business transformation. The clarity of her life's purpose is to write books that change lives.