In today’s world we are often caught up in the lives of our children without actually connecting with them. We are busy chauffeuring them between after school events whilst mentally compiling our shopping list, sat on the bleachers whilst catching up on our emails and even scheduling different meal times to accommodate different schedules.
My husband Russell and I will be celebrating 27 years of marriage this year. Throughout our marriage Russell has constantly worked away from home and it was left to me to chauffer our children to their various sports events and after school activities whilst juggling meal times so we could actually catch up with each other. Did I ever resent my husband work away a lot? No. Quite the opposite. I was grateful that he was willing to work away so much and give our children the kind of upbringing we envisioned.
Having said that, every time my husband would return home our family dynamic would change. I was used to bringing up the children on my own (with a lot of help from my parents) and our children were used to our hectic sports and activities schedule. When Russell was at home he would come along but found it hard to keep up to speed with their busy lives and reconnect with us all. I had grown up part of a close family and wanted the same for our children but realized Russell standing on the sidelines for the odd game wasn’t going to achieve that.
It could have been very easy for us to fall in a pattern where my husband would return from working away and the house would be full of arguments. I would get angry that he hasn’t taken the garbage out but he didn’t even know when garbage day was so it was a little unfair for me to assume he knew. The children would get annoyed that Dad didn’t know football training was on Saturdays and Ballet was on Mondays and Thursdays. We expected Russell to slot into our hectic lives seamlessly, which is quite a challenge.
Instead I decided to make time for us to reconnect and the easiest way to do that was to plan time where we would all be ‘present’ and not distracted. We chose to travel every chance we got. My husband made sure that the times he was not working fell during school holidays and we made sure that we always had a family holiday together to look forward to. Whilst the children were young we would head out for a week a couple of times a year, generally staying in UK (where we lived and raised our children before moving to Canada) but as they got older we extended not only our range but the duration too culminating in a three week tour of Hong Kong, Singapore and Thailand.
Our family meetings would consist of ‘do we want to get new carpets or do we want to visit Asia this summer?’ Every time travel won and do I regret our decisions? No! Not at all! I can’t even remember what our carpet used to look like when we lived in England but I do remember the look on my son’s face when we boarded a Tuk-Tuk in Bangkok for the first time and I remember the sense of achievement I felt after facing my fear of heights and climbing the Sydney Harbour Bridge. Every trip we took reconnected us as a family as we experienced new activities together.
Instead of our family drifting apart, we kept reconnecting through our travel experiences. My children were exposed to different cultures and grew up to be kind-hearted and accepting adults. In addition, my children have grown up to be friends. Sure, they had their fair share of sibling squabbles but that was all soon forgotten once they went snorkelling together for the first time or when they visited the pyramids and felt history come alive. Our family is very close, so close in fact that we still travel as a family, however, we now have added two spouses to our family!
We see a lot of families where one parent works long hours or works away and we hear time and time again that the spouse feels like they are missing out on their children’s childhood. We are living proof that that doesn’t have to be the case and it is our pleasure to be able to provide busy families with the same travel opportunities we were exposed to and help families deepen their bonds.
Carol has achieved prestigious Commodore status in Cunard’s Academy training program, certifying her as an expert cruise professional. As a Commodore, Carol joins an exclusive group of travel consultants who are now recognized by Cunard at the Academy’s highest level for their unique qualifications and knowledge as a Travel Professional. Carol earned this distinction after completing the minimum 25 courses necessary to graduate from the program.
Rhian has also achieved Commodore status in Cunard’s Academy training program. Travel consultants who reach this top level in the Academy program have completed hours of course work to become a travel expert on a wide range of topics. In 2013, Rhian was awarded the Young Professional Award by the Global Institute for Travel Entrepreneurs.