Family adventures

Traveling Europe with preteen boys alone… a few thoughts

Everyone told me I was mad. Don’t do it they said. Don’t go to Europe with the boys alone. It’ll be hell.

And I’m like, she’ll be right mate, don’t worry. We’ll have fun.
Besides, I made a promise to myself when I set up my business – I could work my arse off all year round, but summer holidays was time with the boys – no matter how annoying they were being at that time. Because very soon they’ll be gone and won’t look back.
Not to mention, I’ve always been a stubborn cow, and while morose at the thought of my beloved Steve not coming with us on this leg of the trip, we set off on our European adventure July 2nd, starting in Barcelona. Right now, we’re more than halfway through a Mediterranean cruise that lasts for two weeks.
I promise to share some thoughts of my virgin cruise experience when I can wrap my head around it. It’s interesting.
More insight into the cruise and the environmental impact if you’re interested…
(feel free to subscribe to this channel – my kids laugh at my numbers)
However, let’s talk about traveling with two pre-teen/pre-pubescent lads. When the hormones started brewing in my boys over a year ago, I was surprised by some of the changes I was seeing.
Lex is older and he started first. Jax is just commencing. With Lex, I was shocked to watch him go from an ordered, neat and ‘on-time’ wonder child, to absolute chaos, including a shambolic brain!! It’s true what they say about brains falling apart during puberty.
And Jax! Man this whole trip, I’m constantly nagging him to get up and out the door, especially as we actually have to be at places on time sometimes. Fun, fun, fun – NOT!
Was it my mate Wendy who shared a post – traveling with kids, is just yelling at your children in different countries…? Yes!!!
Mix all of that up with traveling together… on a ship… in a relatively small room… sometimes for two whole days at sea…

A flavor

La Sagrada Familia, Barcelona
I walk into the room and fly across it, because both boys have left their shoes exactly in the middle of the walkway, the same place you’ve told them a million times not to leave their bloody shoes.
Wet towels on the floor and their clothes! Ahhhhhhhh, pick ‘em up and put them in the washing bag!! Or back on the shelves. We don’t have space for chaos my loves.
Dirty socks on my computer – awesome!
Smells, so many smells and aren’t farts funny? No, they’re not actually!
Fighting, wrestling, annoying the shit out of each other…!!!!! Especially in a small ship room. Our poor neighbors, although I can hear one neighbor snoring, so I suppose we’re even.
Flicking each other’s hats off. That’s a current favorite. Grrrrrr.
Neither of them is capable of moving fast AT ALL and they’re always alwayslate! Stressful when you’ve been called to muster, and they’re dawdling somewhere or taking half an hour to put on their shoes, or you have no idea where they are or what they’re doing. Hurry-bloody-up! At this age, it just seems like everything takes so long…
Get out of the bloody way is a catch call of the trip, especially as we’ve had to deal with such massive crowds. Thankfully, both have discovered crowds are shite, and I can see it’s time to teach them “crowd management skills” – or at least they need to keep up with me when I do it!!
The Ponte Vecchio, Florence

And the moaning.

Moaning while wandering some of the greatest cities and monuments of the world. I get Rome, that was brutal, but come on guys, look at what you’re seeing??!!! Note to self, you’re planting seeds Andrea, planting seeds.
And not just moaning – attitude – yeah whateva mum! Seriously, when you’re trying to resolve a situation and you get the back-of-the-hand attitude! Not cool mate, not cool at all.
Oh another thing – space, personal space, that’s gone completely too. Trust me, personal space disappears when they come into your life, but it gets worse with puberty. Not only has the man spreading begun, they’ve developed this lovely ability to always want to be physically close to you – which is just so awesome when it’s steaming hot – and they are always literally in your face…
Or they’re in front of you so you trip over their feet, or beside you and in contact, or just too close all the time. Worse when they want to hang off you.
It’s good they’re staying close – I like the fact they don’t want to get lost – but please, I’m already contending with crowds and your stomping with your shoes on my sandaled feet. It BLOODY HURTS!!!!
Other than that, it’s awesome 😊
The Roman Ampitheater

Because of course there is a plus side

It’s proving to be an excellent opportunity to develop independence. Being a solo parent forces this hand. Just this makes me see single parents in a whole new light and I would like to acknowledge all of you legends, doing it day in, day out. I SALUTE YOU!!!!
At home, most activities are supervised by one of three adults in our home, mainly to manage length of time or excessive water usage, but bed and bath on this trip…. I just leave the room until it’s done. I like that. I’ve never been a fan of this time of day. At the end of any full kiddie day, very few parents I know have any patience left at all… Those who do are saints!   
They are now strong fellas, developing into men, which means they carry heavy things now – excellent!! My back thanks them.
They’ve both been excellent at trying new foods – even Jax. Lex has always been amazing with food – he’ll eat things I won’t touch, but Jax has always carried on like a pork chop when presented with something new to try. I’ve been proud of him giving new flavors a go.
The Acropolis, Greece
It’s been an opportunity to plant seeds for a love of history. I hope they love it, because it’s always been one of my passions – especially Ancient History. Equally, the last couple of archaeological digs on the Greek Islands seemed to do the trick, with Jax now wanting to be an archaeologist!! Hooray. Better than a monster truck driver, no?
And finally, while annoying for the early morning tours, my boys have finally finally started to SLEEP IN!!! It’s been 13 years of no sleeping in, and I know it’s going to cause all sorts of angst in the years ahead, but knowing I can get an occasional sleep in on this trip, well, I’ll ‘av some of that!
Bloody kids, I tell ya. No idea why we want to have them, but we do and there are so many crappy moments traveling with them, but also glorious moments, where you watch them evolve in meaningful ways, or watch them interact with strangers. I’ve watched the boys get braver in small but important ways, and device usage has been limited due to the experiences we’ve been having, which they don’t seem to mind at all. Excellent.
I’ve said it before. Kids don’t grow up gradually, they grow up suddenly, and once their brains put this trip together into a sequence of memories and stories, I am expecting another spurt. In the next spurt, I really REALLY hope Lex overcomes his whateva phase and I hope even more that Jax bypasses it.
Having kids so close together (15 months apart) elongated growing up phases when they were little. At this stage of life, I hope we finally start to see these stages compressed.
Tell her she’s dreaming I hear you say. No, I’m just a person with a lot of hope.
Yours, without the bollocks

Santorini, Greece
Thank you for reading my ramblings. My brain and heart are a work in progress, always. I’d love a comment if it stirred any thoughts or feelings and of course, please feel free to share it with anyone you know who might be interested or entertained. I sure do appreciate it when you do. If you want to connect, I’m on Twitter here, Google+ here, Instagram here, YouTube here, and Facebook too. I share loads of stuff, not just my own xxxxx

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4 Responses

  1. I'm reading this smiling, laughing, agreeing but most of all in admiration that you stuck to your plan and took the boy's solo. Ps – I'm dancing around I got a shout out in your blog!

  2. Loved reading this Andrea, it was enjoyable to read and mostly I loved your honesty and ‘not trying to make things look perfect’ very important, brave and inspiring! Thank you! x

  3. The pictures, videos and comments you're posting make me feel like I'm almost there with you. And I'm not, and I marvel at what you're doing with your boys by yourself.

    You are such an incredible person and an amazing mom. I love your honesty about your experience and I love what you're doing to help your boys have a broader perspective, see the world differently and develop an appreciation, maybe even love, for history, architecture, archeology. xxxxx

  4. So – I remember when we hatched this cruise plan, what could possibly go wrong? I've watched everything unfold from either talking to you daily or on FaceBook and I reckon you're a bloody legend my love. And you know what – so do your boys xxx

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