Kathleen and Tom Crafton had what they call a “big house” lifestyle – a nurse and a psychiatrist respectively, they owned two homes in Alaska, vacation property and pretty much everything they, and their three kids, could want. But it left them feeling empty and wanting more. That’s when they decided to liquidate their assets, pack up their kids and hit the ocean.
They’ve been out there, in the blue, for the last seven years.
You might think that a family of five, including a teenager, packed into a space the size of a minivan for the majority of seven years might have driven each other to distraction. But that was never the case for the Craftons.
“We just seemed to get along better the longer we were out there,” Tom said in an interview with the Washington Post. “The day we moved onto the boat, the sibling rivalry stopped. I don’t think they ever complained, not once.”
In fact, the Craftons are reluctant even now to return to dry land. Even though eighteen year old Kalena admits that it’s nice to have some space and she’s excited to prepare for college, she already misses the boat. Her father is struggling even more with the hustle of American life.
“I went to a Wal-Mart the first week we were back, and I had to come home and take a nap,” says Tom. “It’s way too soon for that. Some of our cruising friends warned us about reentry. Baby steps, baby steps.”
But it was time. ”I would never trade the time we had to raise our kids out there, seeing the world through their eyes, being together 24/7,” Kathleen told the Post. “But now it’s time for them to come back and learn more about their own country. They need to start their own lives.”
While it may be impossible for most of us to give up everything and set out to literally explore the world with our children, the Craftons’ experience is an important reminder that taking time to enjoy our kids is incredibly important. Find a day, or even just a few hours, to step out of the hustle and bustle, pack the kids in the car and just go somewhere, anywhere, and enjoy all the things in life that don’t come on computer screens or out of credit cards. You’ll remember those days forever, and so will they.