Whenever possible, the kids came with us; especially in the early days when we didn’t know anyone in India. We decided they wouldn’t determine our comings and goings. If we needed to go somewhere, they would have to fit in with our plans.
Right from the start, we established that days were for kids and evenings were for adults. We tried our best to have the kids in bed by 7.30 pm so Tony and I could have time together. The kids were full on and had the time of their lives from the moment the sun rose ‘til the time it set. They got lots of attention for at least twelve hours out of twenty-four. If left to them, they would have taken the other available twelve. That’s why we didn’t leave it to them. That was our time to catch up, talk without shouting above noise and spend uninterrupted time with friends who popped in. We fed, read and bed them and then enjoyed some peace and quiet. If they wandered out, they were sent back, if they called “MOMMMMY,” the answer was, “Nooo.”
Evening meetings were a challenge. It was tempting to skip them and stay home with the kids. Knowing we would come home late and have to walk the five-minute path in the pitch dark with three sleepy children didn’t help. We had to be extremely organised which went slightly against our organic tendency. They had to be in their pyjamas, fed and ready way ahead of time. When we got to our destination they went straight into a bedroom or quiet room to lie down. If they were allowed into the action they would get hyper and take ages to sleep.
Sunday mornings were always there to confirm the Law of Murphy. We would run out of water, gas or there would be a major traffic jam in the bazaar. Instead of coming out of our devotional times shining with God’s glory and ready for church, we were often stressed out and irritated with each other. A lot of it had to do with being unorganised. If I planned well the night before, things seemed to go well. The kids had to have snacks, water, something to do and a blanket to sit on in the hall.
We wanted them to learn to sleep anywhere. When we travelled with Ash to New Zealand, she was nine months old. We stayed in shady hotels where there wasn’t much space. We cleared out the bottom drawer of a chest of drawers and put her in there to sleep. Of course she had a blanket and we didn’t close the drawer. The halls in Mussoorie were really grubby and there wasn’t anywhere to put babies. During our services, Tony’s guitar case was a perfect bed for Jordan. On one of our trips, we emptied out a suitcase and made a bed for Zoë.
We figured that if they could sleep anywhere, we could take them anywhere. If they could only sleep in their cosy bed at home, we would have a problem. If they couldn’t sleep with noise, we would have to tip toe around the house so they could sleep. The best thing was for them to get used to sleeping in noisy environments.
India was rated as one of the noisiest countries in the world. If our kids could only sleep when it was quiet, they would hardly ever sleep. India was not going to change for our kids. They had to adjust to her.