Everyone has a story. Some of us come to worldschooling through intention, others through accident. Most believe that one has to have a great deal of money to make this lifestyle choice. Kristie so graciously offered to share her story with us that disproves that idea. Although her road to worldschooling was a difficult one, her story is filled with inspiration. I am so grateful that Kristie, a dedicated worldschooling Mom, decided to share with our readers how she and her family came to experience all that the world has to offer. I hope you find inspiration this holiday season and see that it’s possible to enjoy life on a limited budget and overcome many obstacles on the way. Kristieblogs at www.budgetfamilytreks.com
Our family started off worldschooling rather by accident. We were having tough times financially. My partner had lost his job and we were living on just my income, which wasn’t a lot. The utilities were getting shut off, we weren’t sure if we would have enough money to buy food. We struggled for a few months, it was so hard on the entire family. That year, I had to sit my then four children down and tell them there would be no Christmas because we just couldn’t afford it. I wasn’t even sure I could afford to get food for them everyday, never mind Christmas gifts and all that goes with Christmas. The kids were sad, but understanding. We said we do Christmas in the new year if money was better. Secretly though, I didn´t the chances were high that my kids would get a Christmas celebration of any size or anytime soon.
After the Christmas holidays the kids went back to school. We had homeschooled before and this was the first year that the kids were in school. When they returned to school, one of the teachers asked on of my older son’s how his Christmas was. He responded with ¨We haven’t had ours yet because are waiting until my mom can afford it¨. He was just being honest. He didn´t understand that not everyone did this and that being poor wasn´t socially accepted.
Later that afternoon at home, I got a call from a woman stating that she would like me to come to her office in town. We lived in the country just outside of a small town. Her office was in this small town. I was so terrified that she was with Children’s Services and wanted to talk to me before they took my children away! I drove to her office so afraid. What was I going to tell this woman? I was doing the best I could with what we had. My children always came first for me! I was too embarrassed to go apply for welfare and I was hoping that things would get better and we wouldn’t need to use welfare.
Once I got to the office, I was met by a sweet smiling woman. She led me into her personal office and offered me a seat. She then asked if I wanted a hot drink as it was cold outside. She explained that someone from the school had called and let her know that our family hadn’t had Christmas because we couldn’t afford. I was afraid now. Could they apprehend children from a parent´s care for not providing Christmas? While my mind was racing, trying to think of how to explain to this woman, who looked as though she had never been without anything a day in her life, she was explaining why she had asked me to come in. I had to ask her to repeat herself. She smiled and repeated herself, ¨We help families that need a little help at Christmas. I´m sorry your family slipped through the cracks. I´d like to offer you some gifts for your children and yourself, if you are all right with that?¨. Tears filled my eyes, I was so relieved! No one was taking my kids away, because I couldn´t afford to buy them gifts! Someone, wanted to help!
She took me into a very large room that had large cupboards all along the walls. She started to unlock the cupboards and they were filled with toys, lego kits, craft kits and games of all sorts. She said ¨Our stock is very low because Christmas just passed and I hope you will be able to find something for each of your kids¨. She told me to take 3 things per child. She also gave each child a backpack, socks, mittens, hat, scarf, and toiletries. She had a special parents package pre-wrapped for me. I had been depressed for months, because of our bleak situation. This brought me relief and the thoughts that maybe things could get better for us. I left the office and went home with a car load of gifts for my kids. When they got home from school they were so happy to see that they did get Christmas after all! The older boys were so thrilled with their hockey sticks! My daughter was excited about her craft kits and my younger son loved his Lego sets!
After the craziness of the holiday season, things slowed down. I found out unexpectedly that I was pregnant again. My youngest at the time was nine years old. I was devastated. We could barely afford to feed the kids we had, and now another one was coming! How was I going to be able to take care of a baby on top of everything else. I cried and cried. For a time that should have been happy and exciting for us, it was a very sad time for us. We fought a lot about the situation. I considered abortion at one time, thinking that it would be the best thing for our family. I couldn’t do it though.
Shortly after the discovery of the pregnancy, I called my mother, I went out to visit her and look for a house. We could buy a house there for under $15,000. She lives in an area that is mostly farming community and in the towns there are a lot of abandoned, older houses. You can buy one for very cheap. I found a house in a nice little town and we made arrangements to pay per month (it was cheaper than what we had been paying for rent) and in 10 months the house was OURS!. This was the solution to our very desperate situation.
When we moved, my oldest son made the decision to live with his aunt and uncle. He loves horses and didn’t want to move away from what he was used to. So we moved with three kids. It was tough at the start but it got a lot better really fast. We were able to afford the basics now that we finally had affordable housing. After a while I made the decision to allow my second oldest son to live with his grandparents. We were having major behavior issues with him. This was nothing new, he has always been a high need child. I had to make the toughest decision at that time. Was it better to send him to live with the grandparents or to have my other two kids in danger daily because of his aggressive outbursts?
That winter, we bought a school bus with the intention of converting it into a motor home. I put an ad online on a buy and sell site, and I was blatantly honest. Stating that we didn’t have a lot of money but we wanted to buy a school bus to convert into a motor home. A very generous family emailed and offered us a great bus for a great price! We could even make payments on it! In the spring we started our conversion of the bus. This was a fun family project. In late spring we moved into our partially finished bus and hit the road! We traveled around our province for the summer, camping and spending time together. It was a wonderful experience. We all enjoyed our time in the bus so much. The children learned so much from our travels!
While we were sitting around the fire one evening, we were chatting as usual. The topic of what we were going to do when winter came, came up. None of us really wanted to return to our house and live there. Mostly because it was in the middle of no where and far from everything. No one wanted to go back to the bleak impoverished life we had come from and the house just reminded us of that. We talked about all kinds of options for us. We even considered driving the bus south and heading for Central America. However doing that would mean a lot of gas money. We already knew it was $700 to fill the bus at the gas station. Somehow we came to the decision to head for the Caribbean and live there. We had vacationed there before without the kids and thought that would be a wonderful idea. I also had a friend that lived there and would be able to help us find housing and such before we left.
I researched online and found us cheap tickets. We knew that once we got to the Caribbean, we wouldn’t have a lot of money for two weeks until we got money again. We packed our bags. Put everything we needed to keep in our bus and parked it on a friend´s land. Then we left for the Caribbean. We have never looked back! That was the start of our worldschooling adventures! It sure isn´t a very glamorous story but it is our story.
We have been worldschooling now for almost 4 years. I wouldn’t change it for the world! My children have learned so many amazing things! They have swam with dolphins, learned a second language fluently without ever setting foot in a classroom and so many other amazing experiences that they would not have gotten had we not made this leap of faith.