If you’re considering doing The Big Lap with kids you’ve probably asked yourself, “How will the kids cope?” We asked ourselves this too and it was one of the hardest parts of our decision. Our kids are very happy at their kindergartens and schools and have developed some very very close and special friendships. Not to mention that our kids prefer to sit inside on their ipads rather than go riding their bikes in the park! We knew that telling them of our idea to leave everything behind to travel Australia was going to be a challenge! BUT we also knew that kids are extremely resilient and they will probably cope better than we will! Here’s how we prepared our kids for the Big Lap!
Initiating our kids into the “Outdoors Club!”
Our kids are precious. If they get a splinter, it’s almost literally the end of the world. If there’s a money spider on their pillow, it’s a life or death situation! Like most children these days they probably need to toughen up and get more in touch with nature! With our busy lifestyles there is not much opportunity to do this on a regular basis. What better way to initiate them than to throw them into a caravan and take them out to explore the big wide “scary” wild of Australia?!
Actually, to go from one extreme to another would probably be rather cruel! So, we have decided to make a conceited effort to get outside more! We went camping for the first time – in our backyard! We got out some old tents that a friend had given to us. The kids had a ball setting them up and designing their own spaces. They even insisted on setting up a beach tent for the 2 year old with an old curtain draped across the front to make a front wall!
We collected sticks and firewood from the reserve next door and had our first ever family camp fire, complete with marshmallows.
The kids asked if they could sleep in their tents! We knew they wouldn’t last long out there by themselves so we agreed.
The kids retreated to their tents and 2 out of 3 actually fell asleep!! Our 5 year old couldn’t sleep so he crept back inside and stated, “I don’t think I’m ready for camping just yet!” To be honest, I didn’t really like the idea of our kids sleeping in the backyard all by themselves. Their tents weren’t exactly insect proof, especially the beach hut!! So, just before we went to bed, we brought the other two back into their beds.
At about 2am we awoke to the sound of the heaviest rain we’d had for months!! Thank goodness we decided to bring them inside! Next morning we went outside to check on the tents. The beach hut was completely destroyed! The curtain had gotten so wet that the weight of it had pulled the whole tent down! The other two tents also turned out to not be waterproof and the sleeping bags and toys left inside were swimming!
So it seems we still have a long way to go before we’re completely “wilderness ready” but at least we tried, we made a start and thankfully we still have about 12 months to practice some more!
Get the Kids Involved (& Excited!)
Get a Map
As you can imagine our kids weren’t too thrilled when we announced that we would be selling our house, leaving their school and travelling around Australia indefinitely! They immediately focused on the negatives, “What about our friends, our cousins, our cat, the internet???” To attempt to combat these feelings of impending doom we slowly began to immerse them in our decision and our plans! We ordered a giant map of Australia and regularly talked about the places we might visit and asked them where they’d like to visit. Our eldest daughter said she wanted to go to Tasmania so we’re planning on going there first! Hint: buy a map that fits on the wall of your caravan so you can refer to it and/or use it to track your travels on your Big Lap.
Get Some Books
After a little bit of research we decided on a few age appropriate books to gift to our kids as part of their upcoming birthday presents. We bought; “Are We There Yet?” By Alison Lester and “Explore Australia – The Kid Edition” by Janine Scott. There are also many that you can borrow from your local library too. It all depends on their reading skills and interest types but there are plenty about families travelling Australia, Australian animals, Australian History, Australian towns and their people and also things to do in Australia.
Watch Videos and Follow Travelling Families on Multimedia
Facebook, Youtube and even Netflix have some wonderful pages and shows all about travelling Australia with kids. Join a few Facebook pages like Aussie Big Lappers, Travel Australia With Kids, Planning a Lap of Australia and you will find lots of like-minded families to learn from. We shared some of the amazing blog posts with our kids. It was obvious that they were becoming excited about our trip and the potential of these amazing things we would see and do as we travel this great country! They even began telling strangers about our plans to “Travel around Australia in a caravan!”
Get The Kids to Help Sort and Sell Their Things
Research the Marie Kondo tidying method (KonMari method) and then teach your children how to tidy and sort their things. Help them to decide which items actually bring them “joy” and which they can easily live without. It was surprising just how easily they could do this! We discussed how they can really only take a few things in the caravan on our big lap and that most items we would need to sell or give away. In the early stages it also helped to give them some of the $$ their items earned on Ebay / Marketplace! See more about how to sell everything you own here!
So, I guess the key here is to involve them as much as possible. We were lucky to have had 18 months to plan for this trip. This has given our kids time to get used to the concept and dare I say it, perhaps even LIKE the idea!!