HEART-TO-HEART WITH ALI ABOUT PARENTING ON THE ROAD
HEART-TO-HEART WITH ALI ABOUT PARENTING ON THE ROAD
Probably one of the questions we get the most in Q&A’s on tour, or in our social media DMs is what it’s like parenting on the road. We get it why people are curious, because, as every parent knows, raising kids is hard and beautiful work, and people wonder what it's like raising kids in a less typical environment! We interviewed Ali and asked all the most commonly asked questions about raising kids on the road and what that's like. At the end of the day, we're just all parents trying our best to love our kids and raise them to love God and others-- no matter what the context.
Maybe just start off briefly letting us know what your children’s names are and how old they are?
I have three kids:
Arthur is 6 and loves community more than anything
Lochlainn is 3 and loves running wild
Sullivan our girl is 2 and is basically perfect (just kidding but seriously, she’s perfect)
What does a normal day on the road look like for your family? From getting up, to the bedtime routine at the end fo the day?
Gosh a “normal” day can start at 4am, 6am or 9am depending on if we changed time zone or if the bus stopped in the night and woke the kids. But generally I get up with whoever is up and keep them entertained in the small front lounge of the bus until everyone else wakes. Then we work our way into catering, mostly still in pajamas with no make up… it can be embarrassing. In the morning I love to allow my kids time to chat with people on the tour. It’s important for them and actually I feel its really healthy for our tour community to remember this is a family.
From there we spend our day exploring the church or venue creating games from thin air or playing endless rounds of hide and seek. Homeschooling Arthur takes place at some point everyday. If there is somewhere fun like a kids museum or trampoline park nearby we try and take the kids there to get them out of the parking lot for a while. A lot of the time churches will be very kind and open up a kids room for us to camp in for the day. While they play I will try to fit in a work out or do much needed laundry.
The kids then stay with their nanny while Gareth and I do meet and greets (although Arthur loves to tag along and meet everyone), we do dinner together and then we make sure we get some good play time before we head on stage.
I like to have the kids in bed by the time we’re on stage but it doesn’t always work out……in fact that rarely works out, haha!
We come off stage and prepare ourselves for what the night could hold in terms of sleep!
You toured the world for several years as a musician before having kids on the road, what was one of the biggest changes in yourself you noticed that first year?
Lack of sleep had to be the big one. Or maybe even the inability to recover from the travel. I remember before kids, after an international flight you could always take a nap to help with jet lag but once kids came along you were always “on.” And Gareth and I didn’t have extended family to call on and couldn’t afford help.
Once I came to terms with the fact that due to our lifestyle sleep was not going to be apart of our lives then I coped a lot better. I stopped striving for the impossible. Don’t get me wrong, I believe babies and kids can be great sleepers but when your traveling and changing international times zones eight times a year, you gotta let it go.
When you're not being "mum" what do you get up to during the work day?
All I really have time for is a work out and a shower - if I’m lucky. Sometimes Gareth and I will sneak away for a morning coffee or breakfast date but thats rare.
What’s your favourite way to unwind at the end of the day?
I’m a social being, I can’t help it! My favourite way to unwind is to head on to the other bus and hang out with the rest of the band and crew. Because I spend most of my day with the kids I crave adult chat and a good bit of banter.
What’s the most challenging part of parenting on the road?
Honestly it’s probably silencing the tiny voice in my brain that is telling me I’m failing as a parent because of the lifestyle we have been called to. Quieting the voice that tells me it’s unhealthy the lack of sleep my kids get, or how risky the dirty venues they are playing in are, or how they’re missing out on peer relationships and friendships, or how they have to constantly deal with change. The practical things like laundry, bathing, schedules and diet can be managed but the mental battle is probably the hardest.
Alternatively, what’s something that you like about traveling and ministering as a family?
I love that my kids are growing up living in a literal community. They learn what it is to be considerate of others and that the world does not revolve around them. That sometimes to have to go with the decision that is best for the whole community. I love that they get to see what God is doing all over the world. They get to live out dependence on God and His provision. They witness their parents not compromising on what God has called them to. They see first hand that worship can be reimagined, it doesn’t have to “fit” into the four walls of a church.
Top three things you never leave for tour without when traveling with kids?
Wipes - usually the best bath the kids are gonna get!
A travel potty with potty bags - the bus has certain limitations so this is essential (GROSS)
What’s one food that’s always in your family's fridge?
Ice lollies (popsicles for you Americans!) - wish I could say kale or something but that would be a lie!