Finding Family Quality Time on the Road

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How do you make room for family quality time in your busy lives? Even for a traveling family like ours, this is something that we definitely struggle with.

It’s still surreal for me to think that we’ve been on the road for two months. But as we visit each new city, the reality sets in. Our home in Seattle seems a million miles, and a million experiences away.

This post was updated on December 13, 2019.


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16th Street Mall in Denver where families can spend family quality time
16th Street Mall in Denver (August 2018)

The four phases of adjustment

Psychologists say there are four common phases that you experience when you adjust to any new situation: the honeymoon phase, the rejection phase, the acceptance phase, and the adjustment phase.

There are variations to these four phases of adjustment, depending on which psychologist you follow, and you can often cycle through the different phases multiple times, but the basic concept is the same. Once the novelty of a new experience wears off, you’re bound to hit an inevitable fall.

Hanging out in downtown Denver (August 2018)

Where we are in our adjustment

I don’t know if we’re exactly at the rejection point yet on our journey. We’ve been moving so much, visiting with friends and family, that it almost serves as a distraction, keeping us from really examining what we’re feeling or going through on this trip.

But even with the distractions, I can still see some hints of the rejection phase setting in. We snap at each other. We get cranky with one another. We tire of the long travel days. And the days begin to take the shape of routine in their own unique ways.

Our family enjoying a concert (September 2018)

Making time for family quality time

One of the things that I think is contributing to this feeling of routine is that we often forget to make time for family quality time. It seems strange to say that, considering we’re essentially spending 100% of our time together. But it’s just family time together, not family quality time together.

So how does a traveling family spend family quality time? Since our days are filled with the act of traveling from place to place, homeschool lessons for our world schooling family, freelance and blogging for me, and web development work for my husband, we don’t always have time to do activities together as a family. Similar to how it was when we were based in Seattle, we really have to make an effort to spend time together as a family.

red rocks amphitheater in morrison colorado, where familys can spend family quality time
Red Rocks in Colorado (September 2018)

Opportunities for family quality time

Fortunately, we’ve had a few opportunities recently to spend family quality time. At the beginning of last week, we visited Estes Park and explored Rocky Mountain National Park. While in Denver, we spent the day at the Denver Museum of Nature and Science. And just last night, we visited Red Rocks and took the kids to their first pop concert. We watched Jason Mraz, who was promoting his recent album, Know. I definitely feel blessed to be able to have these types of experiences with the family.

And I suppose that’s what we need to do as we move into the rejection phase of our travels: keep things in perspective. The bad days will inevitably happen – the tantrums, the arguments, the moments when we don’t want to do this anymore – but we need to remember that this happens to everyone.

Red Rocks amphitheater, where families can spend family quality time enjoying a concert
Red Rocks concert venue at night (September 2018)

Making family quality time a priority

As we travel, we are realizing that connecting as a family doesn’t just happen automatically. It takes work, just like it did when we were back home. Sure, we can do plenty of travel activities together. But they’re not going to make us closer to each other if we’re not making the effort to really connect. As we did back home, we need to make family quality time a priority.

Spending family quality time together will help us get through this phase of the adjustment process, and move on towards acceptance. After all, making time to experience the world together as a family was why we wanted to travel in the first place!

How do you and your family spend family quality time?

Finding Family Quality Time On The Road | The Wandering Daughter | How families can spend family quality time when they're traveling full time.

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Hi, I'm Astrid

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I'm a travel-loving mom of three from Seattle. Join our adventures as we explore the Pacific Northwest and the world!

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