5 top reasons why a family sabbatical is great for kids

Since we have been doing our sabbatical for ten months now, we are making some conclusions.  One of them is that our kids benefitted tremendously from this experience.   For a background, our older son is 13 and the younger one is two.  From the outset we anticipated that the little one will benefit the most since he was breastfed and was also rapidly developing.  As it turns out, our – as he calls himself – original son has benefitted equally if not more.  Here is what happened to our kids:

  1.  The diet improved greatly.  While our older son was always fed by grandma, she had a weakness of giving him what he wants, i.e. pasta and pizza for breakfast, Coke, candy, etc.  Mom and dad are far less likely to indulge and also demand him eating salads.  He used to simulate choking on the greens and was disgusted by bell peppers and cucumbers.  But after months of eating healthy, especially in Provance, he grew to accept if not like the vegetables and eats salads every day, without making a scene.  As a result, he never has colds, he is slim, his skin is clear and he has more energy, to the extent possible for a teenager.  The baby went from bottled breast milk to straight from the tap.  He is also very healthy and – most people say – gorgeous.  Both boys eat exceptionally well, they love the food that European farmers produce.  Tuscany is next on the list, so things will be even better.
  2. Better learning and education.  Our oldest son was bullied in school and also had attention and focus problems.  His worst enemies were in school and his best friends were really into gaming.  Homeschooling immediately solved the bullying problem – well, he is being bullied by his little brother, but that’s not too bad.  Disconnecting him from gaming helped his attention and focus problems.   He is also more self-sufficient and helpful around the house.  Showing him museums didn’t really do much, but he did show interest in architecture, especially Spanish one in Barcelona.  The little one had learned well too – we take him outside once or twice per day, exploring the world around him.  He has learned things like cows, chickens, trains, tractors, airplanes, butterflies, etc. by looking at real things.  Naturally, with his mom not being exhausted from work, we read, draw, sing, play, count, all day long.
  3. More time and better quality time with parents.  We were a pretty close family before the sabbatical: always eating together, finding any free minute to play or spend time with each other.  But now we have exponentially more quality time together.   There is no job to go to, so most of the day is spent talking or doing things together.  We have a lot more meaningful conversations about the world, And better quality time apart: like reading, drawing, or daddy’s private time sampling cigars while watching the stars.
  4. Becoming more open-minded and worldly.  With so many conflicts going on in today’s world, I think it’s important that kids have a good exposure to different cultures, languages, customs.  Some they may find strange or disagreeable, but nevertheless they will develop an ability to respect others and not to be too self-centric.  For example, from our time in Turkey, our kids have heard daily muslim calls for prayers and went inside the beautiful mosques.  They will not automatically have negative associations with this entire religion, just based on television or mass media.  Also, they will understand that many other people in the world live their own ways and those ways are just as worthy, interesting, exciting, as ours.
  5. Less materialism and more focus on important things.  As we travel light, the kids are forced to do with less stuff: less toys, games, clothes.  Instead, they have fewer but better things.  There is more interaction with parents and other people.  Our oldest son used to get one or two new Lego toys per week.  He would play with them for a few days and move on to the next one.   Now he only gets one small toy per year, hand-carried from US by dad, and is much anticipated and treasured.  Everything is just more abundant in US and easily accessible, which makes it less appreciated and savored.