How A Mom of 4 Created Life’s Slow Down Button:
Traveling, Educating and Working on the Road
by Stephanie Pletka
Do you ever feel as though you are sitting at the wheel of a Google car, as if someone else is driving your life? Work, Cook, Laundry Repeat.
We are a family of 6 from Atlanta, GA who decided we needed to create Life’s Slow Down Button and fast. Our kids were a few years from graduating high school and we had become the ‘Work Horse’ a ‘Money Tree,’ as we took our place in the rut of life. Our life was good, but hectic, more than 2 people had prepared for.
You spend your life cooking, cleaning, loving, counseling, helping, directing, shepherding and in the blink of an eye, the kids are gone. Dad is traveling, mom is holding the fort down, dropping off kids from one sports event to the next. Life is just Hurry Hurry. Is this what we imagined for our lives?
Years ago, when John and I married, we decided, over Nachos and a box of Trader Joe’s wine, that we would start a company that allowed us to work from anywhere, so we could take our kids on the road and see the world. Those poor, naive souls. This was before kids, when we didn’t have to change diapers and schedule a vacation like re-writing the Geneva Convention, just to go out of town. Fast forward 15 years, 2 business, 4 kids and a dog later, we didn’t recognize the people we had become; you might even say we were STUCK. We had become a diaper slinging, baby feeding, taxi driving, soccer mom, homework-helping, sick kids in the night, back pack wearing, car seat toting, chicken nugget eating – type of family.
How did we get here? Between mortgage payments, college funds, retirement plans and daily living, it had all become too much. College, those were the days of great food, friends and late night parties. Our biggest worry was a project or exam.
We started a technology company (that’s a book in itself) and years later, we realized our dreams to spend more quality time with the kids was quickly waining. We had become deeply rooted in community, the PTA, work-life, home-life. Time was ticking and it wasn’t on our side. We had succumb to the ‘Holiday Card’ companies telling us when to buy someone a box of chocolate. We graduated from college and were gifted a KEY to the Hamster Wheel of Life. Congratulations, start running!
It’s been said that everyone Dies, but not everyone truly Lives.
My husband walked in, after traveling cross-country by himself for weeks on-end and said: We need a change. At that moment, we pulled out the original plan, to homeschool the kids, travel and work on the road. At first, I couldn’t stop laughing at the thought of ME homeschooling. Since when was Pluto no longer a planet and teaching Geometry was over my pay grade. So we bought a curriculum that came with teachers, tests and accountability and headed out on a journey to create the Slow Button we had always craved.
The Journey to Change
In the last 3 years, we’ve traveled to 43 states, 10 countries and 9 National Parks via planes, trains and automobiles.
From Europe to Yellowstone, we’ve visited the Vatican, climbed the Statue of Liberty, walked the grounds of the Alamo, biked the Golden Gate Bridge, hiked through the Grand Tetons, taken Spanish classes in Spain, swam the Mediterranean, rafted the Rockies, sailed Lake Michigan, followed Paul Revere’s Freedom Trial through Boston, visited cathedrals and museums, gazed Van Gogh’s art at the Louvre, segwayed in Prague, volunteered for a homeless shelter in L.A., met up with friends all over the world, laughed, cried, told stories and became stronger in the process.
Did I tell you, on our travels, we were filmed for a reality show in Minnesota, drove a motor home through NYC during rush hour, (wouldn’t recommend this), were neighbors with the Milwaukee Bucks and Brewers, lost a couple of kids along the way, (we got them back) and traveled with a rat in our mini van for 17 days? But never mind that. You’ll have plenty of your own stories to tell and memories to be made. I promise.
What We Learned
The experience taught the kids financial and time management skills, how to budget, handle projects to completion, read maps, board trains, pack efficiently, have empathy for others, get along with each other (well sometimes), take risks and learn from their failures.
In the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing in a series, how to create a budget, how to pay for the trip, how we integrated work, school and travel, what curriculum we purchased and how to get un-stuck to create the life you desire.
Whether it’s hitting the road or hitting the gym, quality time is priceless. Don’t get caught up in the Hamster Wheel of Life. Create your own custom Slow Down Button and write the life you have always dreamed of living.
Here’s to Living the Best Version of You!
Stephanie Pletka created the parenting blog SpitupandHeels.com to encourage other moms from toddlers to teenagers to find humor in the ordinary. From carpool to counseling hearts, every season of life (good or bad) will not last forever. She’s written for various online magazines, blogs and newspapers, encouraging parents to create a slow down button to design the life you’ve always dreamed. When not traveling with her family, she resides in Scottsdale, AZ with her software designer husband and 4 children.