We’ve never really had a bunch of negative comments on the lifestyle we’ve chosen for us and our kids but you do see the look on peoples faces when you tell them, and I would like to thank them for not sharing their thoughts. Mum always said if you don’t have something nice to say then don’t say anything at all.
Our friends all said that we were crazy to sell our business, house and car but I think they can see now what a positive impact its going to have on our kids. Our past life consisted of high levels of stress and long work hours. We worked hard to cover our mortgage and day to day bills. We never took vacations because we couldn’t get away from our business and our girls were in full time daycare learning all sorts of funky habits and continually having runny noses. Our girls have had their fair share of ear infections, conjunctivitis, colds, flu, bite marks and even hand foot and mouth. Sure its nice for them to socialize daily with other kids and learn all their nursery rhymes but I had to listen to them scream and cling to me every morning begging not to go and pick them up in the arvo with bite marks and a new runny nose. I’m not downing people who put their kids in daycare, we were one of them and sometimes its inevitable.
Don’t think that it’s all peaches and cream living on a boat though. We don’t have the constant illness’s and we have more control over what they learn and the language their exposed to. But now we are trying to learn the balance between personal time, work time (boat maintenance) and kid time. Young kids are extremely demanding but weather you’re on land or floating kids will be kids. We try and seek out other boats with kids onboard to give the girls some other kid stimulation but we find they prefer to play with their toys then the kids themselves. It will come with time. At our old house we had a whole room full of toys but now our girls are learning to use their imaginations and are happier for it. We maybe have 2 small boxes of toys for them and lots of craft and learning supplies. These days they are happier playing with screwdrivers and helping out with the baby and of course treasure hunting on the beach and looking for fish.
We find that our girls are learning a set of completely new skills living on a boat. They’re learning different tools and how to take things apart, they learn how to cook pancakes and wash dishes, they’re learning how to snorkel and how tossing garbage in the ocean effects the beaches and animals. They look at pictures in books like turtles, shells, sharks and say “We’ve seen those”. What better education then living in a 24/7 excursion. Who wants to be stuck in a little 50’x50’ room learning animals from a book.
Other than getting here from North Carolina – 4 day sail, we only do day sails between islands to get us all accustomed to the boat and new way of life. We’ve been living onboard for 8 months now and I’ve noticed that no one ever mentions long showers or fast flushing toilets, its as if we’ve lived onboard our entire lives. We never knew how the kids would adjust to our new life but other than reverting back to a bit of bed wetting from our oldest all is well. It’s our home. The major aspect of our lives that have changed is our view on safety. We have an arsenal of prescription medication and a huge custom prepared first aid bag. We can deal (hopefully) with any first aid situation that will arise. Everyone also has harness’s for the cockpit and life jackets. We put netting up all around our 3’ lifelines and locking gates at the transom. We are officially a gigantic floating play pen. While we sail we’ve taught one hand for the boat and one hand for yourself. The girls are allowed in the cockpit either harnessed or with a lifejacket (harness offshore, jacket coastal) and when it’s rough they camp out in the salon and watch a movie – we have a fine selection of Disney classics.
Conclusion: life onboard with kids is different but we find it no more dangerous then living on land. Sure one of our kids has fallen off the dock but kids are getting hit by cars everyday. We chose to sail in good weather and keep the boat in good working order. We still see local doctors if something is a miss health wise. We are no different from the typical suburban family we just live on a boat.
Lets all judge less and live more