4 kids and a dog are we crazy?

Submitted: Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 16:57
ThreadID: 104018 Views:2610 Replies:19 FollowUps:12
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We are planning on packing up and hitting the road for a year or maybe longer if the kids don't drive us to drink... we have a 13yr old boy 10yr old girl 7 yr old girl and a 2 yr old boy are we MAD?

I know my family will not approve and will think we are going to harm the kids by pulling them out off school, they have a point our kids have had a less than normal start in their school life... We were a defence family for 12yrs and have been lucky enough to live in Sydney, Darwin, Cairns, Mackay and now Melbourne so unfortunately change is nothing new to them this pass 3 yrs is the longest we have been anywhere, so my feet are itchy...
we are at this stage planning on taking the family dog and asking someone to cat sit while we are away even though I am now realizing that bringing the dog will restrict us a lot but the boys are both HF ASD so might become more upset without her.
So is there anyone in a similar situation. ? I would love for our dream to come true but dont want to put the kids behind the 8 ball even more our 13yr old is already 3yrs behind his class mates and our 7ur old is already struggling with her sight words and reading... or would some one on one teaching from me actually do them some good? It would be great to hear from anyone who has traveled with older children..
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Reply By: Peter_n_Margaret - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:30

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:30
Yes you are crazy.......if you take the dog :-)

OKA196 Motorhome
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Follow Up By: Shaker - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:01

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:01
We don't find it too restrictive with our dog!
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Follow Up By: DES, LYNLEY & MILLIE - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:34

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:34
We don't have children - past that stage, but travel with our little dog. Take your dog if it is part of your family. These are so many places that you can freedom/bush camp and your dog is also a good safety factor. Make sure you freedom camp as what you save on camp fees you will gain by enjoying all the off the road areas around this country. Good luck and go for it..... We are on the road full time since 2008 and have talked and seen to heaps of families travelling. teachers on the road reckon that it is the best education you can give the family. Enjoy your life and time with your children.
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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 13:33

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 13:33
Definitely include the dog. They have as much fun as the rest of the family. Just don't break any rules or make the other campers cranky.

Best experience of your life. I'm sure others can give advice on schooling your kids on the road.

Have fun,
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Reply By: Notso - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:49

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:49
Even if the kids did miss out on some formal schooling, what they pick up about life and practical things whilst tour would more than make up for anything they missed.

We have seen many families doning just what you are planning and they all seem happy and the kids enjoy their schooling under a tree somewhere.
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Follow Up By: AlbyNSW - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 19:07

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 19:07
Agree, we did a trip with a family of three kids that have been on the road for 18 months and I was very impressed with how well balanced, grounded and mature their kids were. The positives far outweigh the negatives of missing conventional schooling life
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Reply By: Member - Leanne W (NSW) - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:55

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 17:55
Go for it!
The kids will learn while you are on the road and will benefit from teaching from you. Get them to follow your travels on a map, read signs, learn about places you visit and things you see etc. There are heaps of others who have done schooling on the road so hopefully they will reply and give you the ins and outs. Get some advice and help from your school or other specialists about how you can help your kids try and catch up to their peers level of schooling if possible. I am sure there are programs out there to help struggling kids.
I would try and leave the dog home if possible. As you are aware it will restrict you.
I have an 8yo with HF ASD (aspergers) so understand challenges you may be up against. It is my dream to hit the road with my kids, and I will do it one day.
This will be something that your kids will remember for the rest of their lives, plus it will be valuable family time together.
I know it won't be easy for you but I say 'just do it'.
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Reply By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:51

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:51
As I said in another post to day at 11 years old I was taken out of school in glasgow in 1967 and we spent a month on a ship (fair star ) school was basic and we settled into sydney 3 months later we found out we had family in perth so we were taken out of school again and off to perth .

my only negative was I have only a certificate for crossing the equator from king nepture I wish we had some pictures

your kids will learn so much about this fine land we live in and there is also home schooling I am sure in 20 or so years your kids will look back with great enjoyment of the trip you took them on

one other thing is some thing so valuable the time you have spent with the kids on the trip my dad worked six day weeks and very few holidays only got to spend time with him after her retired that is my one huge regret in life because just as I got to know him he passed away

so ignore what others say and get out there with your kids and have a fantastic time if you come to Broken hill i will give you a personal tour if you want.
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Follow Up By: allein m - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:52

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 18:52
what i forgot to say was it was a adventure and I loved every minute of it and it has done me no harm in education or life .
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Reply By: Jos - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 20:00

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 20:00
I think taking the long trip is an excellent idea and the kids will love it ... however, you do run the risk of putting the kids "behind the 8 ball" education wise if you don't plan on "teaching" them during the trip.

Your kids are at an easy age for you to be able to incorporate educational activities into the trip. For example: word and maths games when driving (e.g. I'd say to my kids - what's 22 plus 33 plus 44 and get them to mentally calculate it); write a short story about their day or what they've seen; talk/draw/write/dance/sing about different places, animals, rocks, maps, stars, weather...

A little bit of prep and research for ideas and it shouldn't be too hard. If you can keep it up (and the kids will most likely enjoy it), you may find they advance more than they would in normal school.

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Reply By: around we go- Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:19

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:19
Thanks for the replies. I already have a few ideas for schooling.. plan to go back to basics and make sure they can all read and spell the 100 word list at the very least. I plan on getting the 3 older ones a camera so they can document a scrapbook off photos and journal entries. I plan to get them to research the next place we will travel too also calculate the distance and work out how much it will cost to drive there, if there is different roots get them ( the older two ) work out which way would take longer.. also get them to read the maps and pick out the next place to make camp. Not sure if it will be enough schooling to keep them up to date though. My oldest school is Internet based anyway so I guess could always ask and see if they would be happy to email him some work...

I just have to learn to block out the negative people and know within myself that this would be a once in a lifetime experience for them and us..
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Follow Up By: Member - OnYaBike - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 22:12

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 22:12
Perhaps you could enrol them in a school of distance education. Qld has one, I don't know about the other states. You might need the internet when you are in range of a phone signal.
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Follow Up By: SDG - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 17:53

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 17:53
Get the distance ed thing going. That way they can at least send you what is needed, and at least you have an idea of what the rest of the age group are doing, educationally.
Nothing to stop you doing other things as well.
Learn the times table while driving for example.
Spell what they see.
We played cricket with the cars, trucks, etc. (cars being one run, trucks, four, cop car six, motorbike out, etc. Make up your own scoring)
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Reply By: Eric Experience - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:26

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 21:26
Go for it.
You will find things a lot easier if you take a motor home rather than a van. If you get a vehicle that you can step through from the front seats into the rear then you can attend to the kids while still rolling along,slowly. This is really useful if the weather is bad, the kids can stay dry and warm. Eric.
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Reply By: The Bantam - Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 22:21

Friday, Aug 23, 2013 at 22:21
As for the dog...ummrealy...think about that one.

As for the kids....if both parents are comitted and of reasonable inteligence there is no reason why they can not thrive educationally.

I have a couple of friends that home school....on lady has 6 children, the eldest two now in employment.
I also have some friends and relatives with aspergers are aspergers children.

Do some research into home schooling and check out the home schooling association.

School of the air may be worth enquiring about as that is more or less an supported home schooling system.

You may even be able to incorpirate visiting other home school families in your travels....a great many remote children are home schooled.

The aspergers children in particular will benifit from the stimulation if you know your business and how to integrate learning outcomes with daily activities and travels.

It may be worth going to school yourself on teaching before you set off.

The lady with six children I knew when she was young.....she went to teachers trainimng colledge with the specific intention of teaching her own children when she had them.

A cert 4 on workplace training and assessment may be a good start and could be handy in your travels.

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Follow Up By: Member - eighty matey - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 13:40

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 13:40
I'm not sure why people hesitate to recommend travelling with the family dog.

They're usually as much a part of the family as one of the kids. Ours is and we take him wherever we go.

It doesn't take much to work out where you can and can't go. We get him boarded at a vets or kennels if we plan to go somewhere dogs are banned.

I still can't work out why there are so many blanket restrictions on dogs when most of them are more well behaved than most of the humans that are around.


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Follow Up By: The Bantam - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 21:59

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 21:59
Various members of my family have been and are dog breeders and dog competitors.
My brother and his wife have traveled extensivly with dogs.

But don't be of any illusion that it does not restrict what you can do and where you can go.
The presence of a dog in your party excludes you from all national parks, more than half of the caravan parks, most public parks and beaches, nearly every resort and an awfull lot of privately run rural retreats and 4wd parks.

There is a very good reason why dogs are excluded.....the vast majority of owners have no idea what it means to have a dog "under control".
AND the vast majority of dog owners have no appreciation of how intrusive people find other peoples dogs.

The last thing most non dog owners want to hear late at night, early in the morning or any other time while they are on holidays is...yap yap yap...LIE DOWN.

The last thing most park owners want, is to deal with a dog bite and all the litigation that comes with it on their property.

Lots of rural properties will have dogs of their own...the last thing they want are foreign dogs coming in upsetting the social balance in their community of working dogs.

AND there is the unpredictability of dogs, otherwise good tempered, well controlled and well socialised dogs can do unpredictable things when they encounter other dogs in a context other than they have become accustomed.

sorry but that is the way it is.

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Reply By: Mick@Liz - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 00:40

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 00:40
Hey Guys, Go forit. Liz and I packed our 4 kids aged 12 to 5 into our 80 series and a camper trailer and headed off for near on 4 months. Best time of our lives. We have done a lot of camping as a family,but this was a fantastic adventure.It was over way too quickly. Before setting off we found out what the kids would be missing at school and taught them ourselves. Worked well.Definitely work on some degree of schooling. As for muttley, the only restrictions will be at some national parks and caravan parks. IF she is part of your family you cant really leave her behind. We probably spent 20% (est) of our camping in caravan parks to get the dust out of everything,good showers, shopping, etc. You wont regret it. I wish I was again where you are now. Safe travels. PS. Mafe sure you do 1 to 2 week shake down trip, it will help heaps. Regards Mick
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Reply By: Lyn W3 - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 08:02

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 08:02
I think the first people to consult would be your ASD Specialist, Your 13 year old is already 3 years behind his class mates.
My nephew is HF ASD who is 10 years old and has made remarkable progress since he was diagnosed at 2 years old, but it is a lot of work as he attends special needs therapy 5 days a week.
I don't mean to be critical, and you know your kids, but could not having that therapy affect the needs of your kids long term.
Travelling is a lot of work for a family with four kids and I just wonder if it is realistic to expect to devote special " one on one time" to your two ASD kids.
Not an easy decision and one that needs a lot of thought.
Just my opinion.
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Reply By: Robyn R4 - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 14:38

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 14:38
Go for it.
I am a teacher (of 7 year olds) and think that you will experience some special, wonderful quality time with your kids. Many working families that I see have little time each day to do homework before bed and spend such little time together.
See their schools. It's amazing what the teachers can supply if you give enough warning. What they don't know, they'll be able to find out for you!
Sight words, Spelling and Writing and Maths are your main priorities. A decent teacher will give you the best direction with these and clues on how to make the lessons come to life for a novice!
A Reading Recovery teacher would even be able to show you how to help with unknown words so you teach your kids to work it out for themselves and don't accidentally teach your kids to wait for the answer!
Learning sight words 1:1 under a tree in an exciting place would be rather an adventure in itself if there's the thrill of a promised walk down by the river when all lessons are done... Write them in the dust on the back of the car. Write them in the sand outside the van. Paint them with a wet paint brush on the path...how cool would that be?!
I teach a 7 year old who just did the "lap" with his family and he has the most amazing understanding of cultures, farming, the outback, how others live, fauna and flora... and that constitutes a lot of his Science/HSIE (aka social studies) through the rest of his education..!
And for goodness sake, if the dog is ok with this sort of travel, take her!! How big is she, does she travel well and wait inside for you to return..? Perhaps a bit of a practise run for everybody before the real run... who takes on what roles upon arrival at camp etc.
Even with the 2 of us and our small dog, we have roles. Hubby sets up while I walk the dog for a bit, then she's tied up in the shade while we finish and it's walkies for all 3 of us to see what's around the area.
Perhaps 2 children walk the dog upon arrival (must report back with info re toilets, a possible location for dinner, and where the taps are) and the third writes words in the sand while the little one gets set up with cups and a bowl of water to make a mess...
We've done about 12,000km over the past 2 years with our small dog and she restricts us in small ways. Where she totally rules us out of an experience, we experience something else. Simple. We even saw a sign for dog minding at the caravan park at Winton last time we were there. There are all sorts of ways around the issue.
A well trained dog can be a great asset and if the boys love her company, there's your answer.
And don't let it drive you to drink...chocolate's much better!!

:) Robyn
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Follow Up By: around we go - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:03

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 10:03
Thank you for your vote of confidence lovely to know that a teacher doesn't think we would be doing more harm than good I was afraid to mention it to the school in case we get looked on negatively...

Funny you say don't drink eat chocolate as I am not a drinker but chocolate on the other hand is my weakness lol
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Reply By: Member - John and Lynne - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 14:39

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 14:39
Yes you probably are mad but that is not necessarily a reason for abandoning the idea. You could all have a wonderful time. It is just that you need to be very clear about how you are going to manage all the issues. Education is a problem to be approached logically - by late primary or early secondary kids will not just absorb all they need to know out of the atmosphere as you go. If your plans include them re entering formal schooling when you return you will need to find out about appropriate curriculum and plan your weeks to allow some structured time for it - families we meet often do this by slowing down and setting aside a full day a week for formal lessons in the basics. When educating my three through Distance Ed I found that with one on one we got through tasks a lot quicker than happens in a class of 25. I found, and others have agreed, that if you take education seriously, so will your children. It does require serious effort and some structured time but is not impossible or even very difficult. As others have said a lot of valuable learning can take place quite informally as you travel if you take the time to involve the children in what is around them.
This situation may well suit your HF ASD kids but you should seek professional advice about this. Also you need to consider the two year old and how he is to be constructively occupied while you concentrate on the others when they are doing their formal lessons. I found this took some management! The other issue is how confident you are at balancing the two roles of parent and teacher - this act can have its tricky moments! That was one reason I was glad of the support from Distance Ed - the kids loved sending stuff (now days I suppose it is email!) to their teacher and getting her replies! It made a break from Mum!
I don't think the dog would seriously add to your problems at all. If you are in a place where you must stay in a National Park or other dog unfriendly place you should be able to find a kennel or Vet to take him for a few days or just for day care. We have never had problems travelling with our dog. Your two year old is more likely to get tired and fractious in the car or campground than your dog. Good luck! Lynne
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Reply By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 16:46

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 16:46
Shouldn't have any problems with the dog as long as you're aware of the restrictions and pick up their dirt. We always take ours and the more people ignore droppings or let them roam, that's when they put on the restrictions.

The first thing that occurs to me is to make your pack-up and set-up as easy as poss - and for me, that means a caravan or at least a camper with a very easy setup. If you do go with a camper, I'd favour a flipover hard floor than a soft floor or a wind-up but a caravan/pop-top even better for taking the gang around with repeated setup/pack-up.

Regarding the kids, I think some one-on-one could do wonders. Just make sure they get it and I'm sure you'll see some improvement. If you think it's major concern or not working out you can always cut the trip short.

Go for it and enjoy.
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Follow Up By: Steve M1 (NSW) - Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 16:55

Saturday, Aug 24, 2013 at 16:55
As somebody posted above; a camper/motorhome/bus is another option but I would definitely try to keep your setup/down to a minimum as you'll have enough on your hands as it is. Even consider something like a tvan if you can chuck em all in the flipover part to sleep. Other tvanners might know better???????????
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Reply By: disco driver - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 00:02

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 00:02
I don't wish to discourage you about taking your dog with you BUT be aware that a lot of the rural areas especially in WA but also elsewhere are baited for feral dog and fox control and in some areas for rabbits as well. The poison used is generally 1080 which is very effective on dogs. It works in only a few minutes and is extremely traumatic to watch your pet die in front of you.
There is NO effective antidote to 1080 poisoning.
I would suggest that whenever you have the dog out in rural or pastoral areas make sure that it is wearing a muzzle and preferably on a leash as well to limit the chance of it taking a bait.

Having said all that, take your pet with you but be aware of the risks involved.


(who in a previous life did a lot of work on feral animal control.)
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Reply By: Geoff H18 - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 08:27

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 08:27
Take the dog,just watch for the baits.We take our lab with us and we love it as much as she does.They are wonderful company,security and conversation starters.We get great joy at watching her being an idiot
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Reply By: The Landy - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 08:53

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 08:53
Four kids and a dog and you ask are you crazy - absolutely!

But, hey, I reckon you'll have the ball of your life, just live to the motto;

"Those that don't think it can be done shouldn't bother the person doing it"

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Reply By: around we go - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 09:58

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 09:58
Once again thank you all for your kind words of wisdom you make me feel like we might really be able to do this... we are taking a few dry runs between now and when we go ( still not sure if or when that will be ) we will do some with and some without our fur baby ( a not so small German shepherd who looks like a dingo ) and see how we cope.

has anyone worked around Australia? Hubby is a heavy diesel fitter and sparky so is hoping to be able to pick up some work along the way..
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Reply By: mikehzz - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 11:03

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 11:03
Are you sure you aren't trying to be talked out of this? While the other posters are generally positive, and rightly so, there are two red flags staring at me. HFASD is a social disorder where children have difficulty with friendships and social interactions that the rest of us take for granted. You will be taking them out of the situation of daily social contact with school mates and putting them in relative isolation except for family and strangers met on the road. I would be seeking professional advice to see if this is in those children's best interest. The second red flag is that one of the children is already 3 years behind in his schooling. I have no doubt that a normal well adjusted child that is current with his schooling can take a year on the road and benefit from the experience, but to take children with social difficulties and a deficit in learning progress away from school is a completely different kettle of fish.
You do say that "unfortunately change is nothing new to them". If it's unfortunate, then why are you forcing it on them other than your itchy feet?
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Follow Up By: Lyn W3 - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 16:50

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 16:50
Well said Mike, could not agree more.

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Reply By: Member - flashcher - Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 15:35

Sunday, Aug 25, 2013 at 15:35
Four kids and a dog - are you crazy? Leave the kids at home and just take the dog.
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