Komodo, Indonesia barefoot books children

WIth a Komodo Dragon in Indonesia

Oh, the bittersweet transition from the lazy, hazy, crazy days of summer…

I relish our family summer holiday time – our spirited conversations over dinner, on car journeys and long walks– reminiscing about previous holidays, singing, dancing and sharing funny moments. It is our chance, in our otherwise frenzied existence, to unwind and just be together.

Ever since our children were tiny, my husband, Marty, and I have tried to take them to a new place in the world each year – sometimes to countries far away like China, Zambia or the Galapagos Islands; other times to a campsite closer to home. Our hope is that we can spark their curiosity and interest in other cultures, religions and ways of life, open their eyes to real and important global issues, and instil in them a desire to give back and to find something in the world that they are really passionate about.

Egypt barefoot children

Egypt

Born in England, with a Swiss-born dad and a Canadian mum, I think my children definitely view themselves as “citizens of the world.”  They have been lucky to have grown up surrounded by stories, writers, artists and performers from around the globe and to have met lots of fascinating people from all walks of life, many of whom have become part of our extended family. They have definitely grown up Barefoot.

For as long as I can remember, my home life and my Barefoot life have been completely intertwined. The jury is definitely out on whether that is a good thing – juggling the demands of raising a family with running an all-consuming little business on both sides of the Atlantic is certainly not a recipe for a stress-free existence. And like so many working parents, I constantly question the work/life equilibrium and whether I’m doing a good enough job raising my kids. Will they grow up with the right values and be happy contributing members of society?  Should I be working less and can I be a better parent? For most of the time, busy schedules, commitments and the day-to-day demands of life leave little time to reflect on these questions.

Japan

The beauty of summer holidays is that they provide that much-needed perspective. As a family, we are able to resume our rhythm, share stories and get to know each other again. Our holidays are a time when we really stop and take life in. I can’t describe how magical it is to witness my four children, laughing and bantering with echoes of “Remember the time…?”

My kids are getting bigger now – two daughters are off in college, a third has just embarked on her gap year adventure and my, not so little, boy is starting his junior year in high school. Last year, my eldest daughter Meaghan created a library in a school in Sebikotane, a small village in Senegal in West Africa. She was inspired to build this library in her gap year when she participated in a program run by Global Citizen Year.  My second daughter, Kristen, spent time in southern India this year working with BUILD, a student-led initiative for sustainable development. She has fallen in love with India and can’t wait to go back. My youngest daughter, Erin, has just left for a 3-month service trip to Jordan where she will also be immersed in an Arabic language program. And my son, Jordie, wants to design buildings and airplanes…and maybe write books!

Meaghan barefoot children

Meaghan in Senegal

Kristen barefoot children

Kristen in India

Erin, currently in Jordan

Summer is past and, a little too suddenly perhaps, I find myself firmly and squarely back in the weeds of the real world, with the lazy, hazy, crazy days a distant memory. Life will quickly return to its frenzied chaos, and we will all embark on our next big adventures.  But I certainly feel a little more energized after our summertime together, quietly confident that my four Barefoot children are more than okay.

Botswana barefoot children

Botswana

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