My son thought adults didn’t have any fun, so my wife and I made a surprising plan

Credit: Glen Henry
Credit: Glen Henry

Glen Henry is an In The Know by Yahoo parenting contributor. Check out his site, Beleaf in Fatherhood, and follow him on TikTok and Instagram for more.

Earlier this year, my son Theo and my wife Yvette went out for a day together. Theo had just received rollerblades for his birthday, and Yvette got herself roller skates so that they could go together.

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Upon seeing his mom lace up her skates, Theo asked, “You know how to roller-skate?”

Yvette laughed and said, “Yes, I do.”

Theo looked extremely surprised and said, “I didn’t know adults knew how to have fun. I thought once you were grown up, all you do is work.”

Yvette looked at him and realized that this was what we as parents had modeled. When she came home and told me about it, my heart sank. We did not want our children to grow up thinking that life as an adult was only about work, but it was what we had shown them.

We have been incredibly blessed over the last year to expand our business, but with expansion comes the increased need for our attention. And between the business and home, we had been spread thin. We realized after Theo said this that we needed to make fun a real priority — not just for our family, but for ourselves!

So, in July of 2021, that’s exactly what we did.

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Making fun a priority

Courtesy of Glen Henry
Courtesy of Glen Henry

We set off July 5 for a monthlong road trip across the U.S. We didn’t know what it would look like, how we would make things work, or if we would make it back in one piece with four children under 10 and one semi potty-trained 2-year-old in a 24-foot RV. It was not easy, and we were stressed more than once about how the business was doing back at home, how much we were spending on gas, and from the general lack of alone time. (Even our 8-year-old wanted his own peace and quiet.)

That said, it was one of the coolest experiences of our lives. We spent so much time together and saw so many family members we hadn’t seen in years, some of whom our children had never met. We saw the sunrise over the Grand Canyon and hiked through Zion National Park. I showed my children where I had grown up, and they met the people who had raised their parents when we were children.

Back at home, business was going great and gave us a whole new trust and respect for our amazing team of employees. Through all the fears, stress and uncertainty, we were repeatedly reminded of how much we were gaining every time we let a little (or a lot) of control or cash go.

Was it worth it?

Courtesy of Glen Henry
Courtesy of Glen Henry

My wife looked at me just before we were about to make the drive home from Utah to California and told me how sad she was that it was all about to end. I would be going back to the office, the kids would be going back to school, she would be in meetings, and the closeness we had woken up to with each other for the last month would be gone. Though there were most certainly times when we missed our routines, when we wished we could have a moment to ourselves, we realized in that moment how special this time with our children had truly been.

Someone asked me recently, “Was it worth it?” When they say this, I know they mean the money, the time, the headaches. Was it worth the financial commitment? Was it worth the stress of planning? Was what you took from the experience worth everything you had to give in order to make it happen? Unequivocally, yes. Yes a million times is my answer.

This was a legacy move. Legacy moves aren’t easy or comfortable, and sometimes we don’t truly know the effects and worth of these moves for years to come. The morning before we left, sitting with Yvette, I got a glimpse of what that legacy move would manifest into five, 10, 20 years from that moment.

I know that we will look back and smile about the times we bickered in the RV. I know we will get teary-eyed (and have already) thinking about the family members we saw for the last time on that trip. I know my children will look back on the videos and photos we took and laugh at their smaller selves. I know they’ll smile looking at how young I was when I’m old and gray. Moreover, I know we will have more moments like this now because of the risks we took in taking that trip and because now we know we are capable of doing it.

So travel with your kids. Not because it’s easy or relaxing or particularly cost-effective, but because eventually, you’ll forget the bill you paid 20 years ago. But you won’t forget how much fun you all had, and neither will your kids.

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