Being cruising live aboard kids now, our kids lead quite a different life to the one they lead when we were living on land. They have gone from being land kids to being boat kids. We often refer to kids that live on land, like we used to, as ‘land kids’ and those who live on cruising boats as ‘boat kids’ and we hope that neither of these terms offends you! So much has changed for them that I could write pages on the subject but this is part 2 of the article I wrote about last week.
BEING AND DOING TOGETHER
Being together all the time is the best of it and it’s also, at times, the worst of it!!
Most of the time it’s a luxury that we really treasure. We’d never have been able to spend this time with our kids if we weren’t living this lifestyle.
We’d never have been able to create as many amazing memories together and we’d never have been able to go through some of the tough times physically together most of the time. But there’s always a flip side isn’t there? Sometimes we just need to get away from each other and have some private time. Secretly, I crave the times when I’m alone onboard! I LOVE it when they are all away, ahhh the quiet! and the space is ALL mine. But an hour or two later, I’m excited that they’re all back home again!
Likewise, the kids need time away from each other too and that’s where being around other cruising families is priceless! They get to spend time with other kids and not just each other. They often head out for a sleepover or playdates on other boats and they always come home excited and ready to be together again!
There are things that we only used to do when we were on holidays or on some weekends when Dad was home but now we’re lucky enough to be able to do regularly.
Almost every time we set sail we also set up all the fishing rods in the hope of catching dinner. While it’s really not my thing to even touch a fish with a whopping hook stuck inside it, the kids really enjoy it. And I have to admit, its pretty exciting when it happens not to mention the taste of truly fresh fish can be so delicious.
Despite not really being a history fan when I was at school, I love taking the kids to explore places and we learn about the history of each place that we go. I guess it’s like school kids going on an excursion only that we are doing it all the time, rather than the odd one at school or just when we went to places on our holidays.
KID CHORES versus POCKET MONEY CHORES?
When we left Italy we believed the kids were too little to do many chores. All they had to do was make their beds. You see, I have the unfortunate personality of things having to be perfectly symmetrical but of course, little kids don’t get that so their edges weren’t even and the pillows were never perfect but they did their job!
Since becoming cruising livaboards things have changed. It quickly became apparent that we all had to help around the boat. A boat needs constant maintenance to keep it safe and functioning properly so together with household chores, there’s a lot of work to be done.
It’s not only a home that we live in 24/7 but it’s also our vehicle, our classroom and where we entertain.
There’s not only house cleaning to be done but theres also a large amount of mechanical boat maintenance that needs to be attended to on a regular basis. This means there’s quite a lot of work that needs to be done before we even think about having fun.
So from the first week of being onboard the kids have had a few chores. They need to keep their cabins tidy and make their beds every day. They also take it in turns daily to clean their head (thats bathroom in boat talk!), a task that they both equally adore as you can imagine!
There are 2 jobs that they swap every few months so currently Sienna has to keep the dinghy clean, fuelled up and in good condition and Mackenzie needs to make sure the cockpit (that’s the outside lounge area) is always clean. There’s nothing I dislike more than a dirty cockpit. And of course, apart from grime and dust, the main offender there is hair, and not only hair from your head but that other curly short hair stuff that somehow seems to shed only in a boats cockpit or a shower….can’t stand the stuff!
Apart from these specific chores there’s so many other things that we all have to do together to keep this lifestyle going on a daily basis. We usually all shop together. Well, actually, Tim usually stays home to do boat maintenance which we like to call “Dad having a secret sleep while we’re gone!”…but we know that’s not true!! So the kids and I do most of the shopping and they are a great help…on the selection side, not so much but on the carrying side, definitely!
Then there’s all the other things that we have to do as a team like anchoring, getting onto a mooring ball, weighing anchor, setting and trimming the sails, tying up to a marina, or helping us move our toys in the dinghy as you can see in the feature photo, as just a few examples.
Not so long ago, the kids asked us about pocket money. You know, the usual, ‘so and so gets money every week, why don’t we?’ Well, now they’re approaching teenagerdom and are carving out their own passions which obviously require some material things. We don’t have a very large cruising budget, in fact, its very low so we thought it might be a good idea to introduce pocket money. We’ve never believed in pocket money without working for it, thats just our opinion for our kids. So the deal is that they have to do a certain amount of polishing onboard every week as well as ensure they write up their journals (something that they were falling behind in and we know how precious they will be to them once they’re grown ups). We divided the boat up in 2 halves so Sienna does all the polishing on the starboard (right) side and Mac does all of the port (left) side.
So far its all working out really well. They help keep the rust at bay and we reward them with some pocket money.I love seeing their personalities grow and differ. Mackenzie is busily paying off his much wanted camera as he is passionate about photography and Siennas busy squirrelling it away for something in the future!
FREEDOM and RESPONSIBILITIES
Most cruising live aboard kids have a thirst for exploring. Whenever we are with other kids boats the kids are out exploring the minute they are all finished with homeschooling.
What I find strange about this is that we give them more responsibility here than we would if we lived on land.
We actually hand them the dinghy keys and make sure they’ve packed their essentials. They will pack their own food, water, hats, torches, first aid kit, pocket knives, vhf radio and whatever else they think they need and they head off somewhere for the afternoon. Yes they tell us where they’re going and yes they check in via the radio, but they are off. Not in a million years would I do that if we were living on land. I’d NEVER give them the car keys or even let them go very far by bike, and say ‘off you go’, knives and all and come back before sunset!
I LOVE that we can give them that freedom and that we can give them that responsibility. They are also well aware though, that if they disrespect that freedom there are consequences.It’s not like we don’t check up on them from time to time though! So far, all we’ve found them doing is building forts or building campsites to hang out in with their other boat friends. Let’s hope it stays that innocent for a while longer!
Now here’s the downer for me. As a cruising livaboard there’s not a lot of sport that goes on. Well, not in the sense that I’m talking about. Sure, the kids are super active. They swim all the time, they snorkel regularly and we go on as many hikes as we can. But all that isn’t the same as doing sports like land kids do.
It still breaks my heart that Sienna doesn’t do ballet anymore. She LOVED going to ballet class in Italy, and she was really good at it. I know she was going to be a great ballerina. And I feel so guilty that we’ve taken that away from her. Both Mackenzie and Sienna also went to swimming training twice a week and again, I feel bad that they aren’t doing that strong training anymore. So while we are giving them some great experiences I sometimes worry that they aren’t doing enough sport and they aren’t part of a team sport. But we can’t have it all.
This on the other hand, is something Im very pleased that we are not ensconced in. While the kids have iPads and a laptop they don’t indulge in many games. They have the obligatory Minecraft and we think its fair to allow them some time on it but they have no other games. They use Instagram to stay in contact with family and friends though Mackenzie is trying to build an Instagram business through his photography passion.
Actually, if you have a minute he would love you to take a look at it here @http:www.instagram/aqua_blue_life
Their laptop is used for school when we have some wifi to do research and also to store and edit photos but thats about it. They simply are not very involved in social media and thats typical of cruising liveaboard kids. Of the many that we’ve met, none of them has a phone because they don’t need one. I think that would be hard to do if we were living back on land as it seems most kids have phones at a very early age nowadays.We also don’t have TV and before we left I wondered how the kids would feel about that. I thought there would be times where they really missed watching TV but I’ve not heard them ask for it since we left.
Actually, I just stopped typing and posed the question to them ‘Do you guys miss TV at all?’…they both chorused back ‘Nah…it’s too boring’ Ok, well I didn’t expect that response but I’m glad that’s what they think.
We do have a TV monitor that we thought e’d use to replay videos we take or to watch movies on but it’s still packed away in a locker onboard! Maybe one day we’ll dig it out
THEIR OWN CABINS
Bedrooms on a boat are called cabins, which sounds much less exciting than a bedroom! We are lucky to have 3 cabins onboard our Moody 425 sailboat so that means that both Mackenzie and Sienna have their own cabins. When we started cruising they shared the forward double cabin but they soon started asking for their own so they chose their favourite and moved in.
Since then they have been busy making it their own space. The difference with cabins on our boat as opposed to bedrooms in our house is that we don’t have the budget to buy anything fancy as far as decor. This means that the kids mostly make their decor and I love that! They’ve made picture frames, hanging mobiles and other decorations rather than going to shops and buying them. I like the fact that they have to think their way around how to get such things made, I think it’s good for their soul!
We have certainly changed some aspects of our kids’ lifestyle by removing them from our landlife and bringing them on this adventure. Not all of these aspects are positive ones but we believe that the experiences we are taking them on are mostly beneficial to them. We are definitely a close knit little family who are going through some amazing adventures as well as some more trying and complicated life choices.
Well it’s almost 9am and homeschool is about to start so I need to put my teacher hat on now and get on with it.
If there’s any other aspects of their lives that you’d like to know about you can leave your questions in the comments section below and I’d be happy to answer them!
Also, if you’d like to share my blog with your friends I would really appreciate it!