One of the biggest challenges logistically and emotionally for our adventure is taking on this trip with our twin eight year-old sons. Jed and I have always wanted to live abroad and it is only in the past few years that we realized that this was an experience that we wanted to share as a family.
Adding kids to the scenario meant that we had to think through things like access to good schools and a safe neighborhood as we determined where to take our sabbatical. As we dug deeper we looked for a welcoming school community so the kids would feel at home. We also looked for a city with other sports and creative activities that would be available to the whole family to round out our experience.
Our boys have known about our plans to move for about a year so they’ve had plenty of time to think through how this change may affect their lives. One of the early apprehensions they expressed was that they did not feel as comfortable with their Spanish knowledge at the end of summer as they do at the beginning of the break. This is a big part of the reason that we planned our Spain arrival so close to when school finished. This meant arriving in Granada during two of the hottest months – July and August. We figured that we could find a way to cope with the heat in order to get us to Spain early so that the whole family could adjust before school starts in September.
The boys were also sad to leave great friends. As the months got closer to our departure and we finally received our official approval for our Spanish long term visas, we began planning various going away parties and final activities. We quickly realized that these activities became A&V’s checklist for departure:
- Milestone 1 – Going away party with A&V’s friends
- Milestone 2 – Last soccer game with picnic lunch
- Milestone 3 – Cupcakes to school
- Milestone 4 – Bon Voyage party with family friends and neighbors
- Milestone 5 – Head to the grandparents house with cousins to hang out for a week
- Milestone 6 – Depart for Spain
At one point Jed and I had a row about all the party planning, they just added to our workload when we both had checklists of our own, seemingly a mile long. But the thing was, A&V’s checklist was just as important. This was how they were mentally preparing to leave.
I’m glad we were able to get so many parties, outings, and playdates in before we departed. In the end, everyone’s checklists got done and we got to fill up our buckets on lots of love from family and friends before we set off.