The first thing everyone asks us, after they find out we are on a 15 month round the world trip, is ‘what about the children’s education?’ The first thing they probably THINK when they find out we have been sharing a room with our two boys for 11 months is sex. I know it’s what I used to wonder…
We are together 24 hours a day, without fail. We are in unfamiliar environments all the time without any chance of private time or the children popping round to friends’ houses. In fact, the boys rarely let us out of their sight, let alone skip off to play. This experience – including sharing a room has made us closer as a family, but you can’t have everything.
So no, sex is not something that happens frequently. We are on a dream round-the-world trip, but we’re not exactly on honeymoon; it is one of the pitfalls of long-term travel.
We have been open about sex with the boys, but at the ages of 6 and 8 (with barely any interest in the subject) we don’t want to give information that is beyond their understanding – or scar them for life.
So just in case you should need some advice, or are just wondering how we manage the odd game of hide the sausage, here are our top tips for marital bliss when the whole family are sharing a room.
1. Learn to love the bathroom
Budget hotels in South East Asia are not known for having the cleanest of bathrooms, but who knew you could start to feel affection for fluorescent lighting and wipe-clean surfaces? It has an actual LOCK that works (Often) so think saucy motel and go from there.
Especially for when Mummy is helping Daddy have a shower (see above)
3. Twisting by the pool
If you are lucky enough to have a place with a swimming pool, your luck is in. At some point all planets may align when the pool is free of other guests and your children want to watch ‘Beauty and the Beast’ again. Just don’t tell them you’re going in the pool, or they’ll want to come too and play with their dive sticks or ask you to time them holding their breath underwater. Again. Also make sure they are fully snacked up or they may just appear at a critical moment with a confused face, asking for a sliced apple.
4. Air BnB
It is sometimes possible to find a budget apartment that has a separate room. This means that you might also get to watch a NON DISNEY film AND a shag. Merry Christmas to all.
5. Set your alarm for the middle of the night
I have a travelling friend who swears by synchronising alarms for 2am to ensure that all four of her children are asleep so they can bump fuzzies IN AN ACTUAL BED. Personally I have had this technique fail on me as I heard a ‘what are you doing, Mummy?’ whilst we were JUST LOOKING FOR SOMETHING. *horror face*
6. Rent a van with a separate sleeping compartment
We had the smallest van in the world, with a space for two in the roof. It was so spacious we nicknamed it ‘the coffin’. As you can imagine, the children never wanted to sleep there, so it was down to Mike to take one for the team. Occasionally though, OCCASIONALLY we managed to convince them that they would be nearer the stars! And we’d bribe them with Haribo. Funnily enough, the children always remarked on how windy it was the next day.
7. Kids Club
We’ve never been to a resort or booked a package holiday. We were tempted last week though for this very reason. A few hours alone? Happy children, happy us…? We didn’t though, we just luxuriated in cold showers, relished the thought of the money we saved and sobbed at Moana, again.
8. How quick can you be?
We can be quick! Just not as quick as our boys, who had been sent on an ice cream mission to the campsite shop.
Most new parents and co-sleepers can relate to this- and not all families have parents who want to rip each others clothes off either. To be honest, if you have that kind of relationship, life on the road might prove a challenge.
So we’re enjoying each others company (apart from when we’re not, which is another post…) and getting our kicks when we can.
In the meantime I’m going to make sure I’ve prepared enough apple slices before we get in that pool again…
Sara Wheeler is 39, from the UK and used to love her home in Bristol, as well as her work on homelessness. She left all this to take her six and eight year old boys on a 15 month round the world trip with her husband. Sara is a pro at hide and seek, writes a blog, crochets taxidermy and aims to live off grid on her return to the UK.