Wednesday, 1 July 2020
Is there a right time for France? Yes.
Is there a perfect time? No.
I'm not talking about a holiday, but the question of how one decides on the timing for that big French trip - family adventure, permanent move, year-long sabbatical...?
The thing is, most of us, given a little encouragement, will choose inertia; what we are familiar or comfortable with. It takes effort, commitment, and a real belief in what you are doing, to resist the urge to stay put.
It also takes clarity about why you are even thinking about going to France. Have you put pen to paper and debated the answers to questions such as:
Why France and not another country?
For how long do you want to go?
Where in France do you think you will be happy - be specific: city, village, seaside, mountains...?
Is it to run away from what is your current normal?
What if you don't like it when you get there?
What if you decide to stay longer than your original plan?
Do you have the finances to cover your time away?
How does work, present and future, fit into the plan to go to France?
How will you find accommodation, schools, doctors, dentists, information..?
How will you cope with being distant from family and friends?
Is learning the language important to you?
Each person's situation is different, but I want to focus specifically on planning your French adventure with children. Timing, then, is a subject of enormous consideration, and often great angst for parents. From talking to families planning their time away, doing our own French adventure and my years of working as Head of School, I would say this: we are very good at protecting our children, shielding them from difficulties, and not fully believing that they are (or can become) resilient and strong when things don't work out for them. More questions:
Is your trip principally for them, for you or for the family?
Is your trip so that your children can become bilingual?
Is it so that your children can see the world from a different perspective?
How will they cope with a change from what is familiar?
Only you know what your children are capable of, but I would guard against making decisions based on what you believe your children do and don't want. They don't yet know and unless you give them an opportunity to spread their wings, they may not know for longer...or ever. My experience is that more people regret not going than going, even when things are difficult for a period of time.
Gathering information and talking with others that have done, or are thinking of doing, their trip to France is useful, although, once again, the questions will never all be answered fully, and the timing will never be perfect for every member of your family. Don't be swayed, or side-tracked, by another family's decision making (including mine 😏).
All good luck to you. My personal perspective is that most things are surmountable, and that the positives do outweigh the negatives. If you need a sounding board, drop me a line at email@example.com.
To read about our French experience, 'But you are in France, Madame' can be purchased directly from me (email above) or by clicking on the link.