We’re nine weeks in. Gulp. Where did that time go? It means we’re just a bit over the two-thirds mark. Four weeks to go. If we’re counting down. Which I really would prefer not to do, but I just can’t help it. The clock keeps ticking.
LESS IS MORE.
These are the three words I’d use to describe the mysterious beauty of stuffing our lives into a van and taking it on tour for three months along with our two, mostly adorable but sometimes excruciatingly frustrating children.
Less space = More outdoors.
Our van is on the small end of the scale at 16-foot. It’s about the size of my son’s bedroom at home. And rather than housing a single bed and a built-in robe, it fits a kitchen, dining table, lounge, a queen bed and a double bed, a wardrobe, overhead cupboards and room for a pony. Jk. No pony. Unless it was tied up under the awning. That would be achievable. But the point is, my upbringing (and perhaps yours too) has taught us to live large. We bounce around in open-plan houses with more things than we know what to do with. A holiday in a caravan inadvertently minimises EVERYthing. You realise how little you actually need. In fact, already, I’m itching to de-clutter the van!! And when the space is tight indoors, well, you go outdoors, don’t you? We chose not to bring the iPad for the kiddos, for example. Have they missed it? No way! They’re too busy trying to catch butterflies, zipping along on their scooters and making boats out of seed pods. And this brings me to another biggy…
Less cleaning = More time for fun.
My cleaning routine is quite comical. It takes me about three minutes to ‘vacuum’ the floor (I use a dustpan and broom). It takes about the same time to ‘mop’ (I use a wet cloth). I do a mega load of washing (all in: colours, whites, darks, sequins… yes, Adelaide loves to wear sequins when she’s running barefoot through dirt puddles) every three or four days. And we do the dishes each night by hand, but that takes no more than 10 minutes. Done.
Less glamour = More authenticity.
I don’t wear makeup. I don’t use a hairdryer or straighten my hair. I usually don’t wear a bra. My feet haven’t known enclosed shoes since I had to fly back home three weeks ago (and certainly no heels – my Havis are dying a gloriously slow death however!). I don’t use fake tan. I don’t stress if I (or the kids) skip a shower for a day or two. And it’s THE BEST! There is such freedom in choosing not to conform to how society says I should present myself. Delicious! And you know what, my hair would so easily turn to dreads!
Less others = More us.
For the most part, the four of us are everything to one another. Without the direct contact of our family and friends, we fill gaps. We are friends and confidantes and disciplinarians and teachers and so on. This happens at home too, but not at this concentration. I worried that our marriage would be tested. I thought the dreaded set-up and pack-down process would pit us against each other (two words: reversing cameras, also known as marriage-savers)! Quite the opposite: God has been strengthening our relationship and bringing great joy to us through the process. So much time in each other’s pockets means we see the full spectrum of our characters. We’re knowing and loving each other better and more, even as we see our flaws and failings.
Less routine = More wonder.
Routine is a mother’s best friend. It has probably been the hardest part of our adventure, the lack of structure. I’ve always loved spontaneity. I associate spontaneity with holiday-feels. But not when kids are in the equation. They often don’t know it, but kids (generally speaking) thrive when they’re given some structure to their everyday. Mine are no different. I’d say that they are just now getting into a groove of ungroovedness. If that makes any sense. Into a pattern of non-pattern. But what I really meant to say in this observation is that we’ve had our eyes opened wide to the wonder around us. Everything is food for our adventuring souls. Doing a u-turn to gawp at a wild cassowary. Staying up past bedtime for the night tour at Paronella Park with its magical light show and population of micro bats. Catching a gecko and sharing the giggles of our youngest as she let it scamper up her arm, over her shoulders and back. Returning to a particular riverbank over and over until we spotted several wild crocs (one more than 4m long).
And every day we thank God for the wonders He has shown, and greedily ask for more!
There are many other ‘Less is More’ examples from our travels. I expect we will get a shock when we return home to the extravagant MORE that we knew as our normal before now.