This year marks Pregnancy & Newborn’s fifth annual feature profiling five fascinating moms. The list is hardly comprehensive, but it’s a humble nod to the impressive talent, inspiring outlooks and important work of mothers. We hope you find their stories refreshing, encouraging and most of all relatable because, although the details may be different, our journeys all share a common thread.
After relocating from Los Angeles to London in 2003, Courtney Adamo and her husband, Michael, recently decided it was time for another change of scenery. And so, with their four children—Easton, Quin, Ivy and Marlow—in tow, they embarked on a family gap year.
“Taking a year off to travel with our kids has been something I’ve wanted to do since before I became a mother,” says Adamo. “It is a dream I’ve had since I was a young girl when the family living next to my grandparents did it. … I loved the idea of spending a year with just my family—the closeness it would bring and the lessons we would all learn together.” With their oldest turning 10 and their youngest nearly 3, the Adamos agreed this was the time to make their dream a reality.
When the children’s school year ended in July, the family of six sold their newly renovated Victorian in London, packed their suitcases (one per person; carry-on size for the kids, standard for the adults) and hopped on a plane to their first stop: America’s Pacific Northwest. There, they spent the summer visiting family before driving the California coast. In the months since, they’ve explored Chile, Brazil, New Zealand and Australia with plans to finish out their journey in Japan, Southeast Asia and continental Europe.
“We decided early on not to attempt to see and do everything in each country, but to settle in one place, establish a routine, and get to know the locals and the town,” explains Adamo.
Their days begin leisurely around 8 a.m. with a family breakfast. After getting dressed and ready, Michael takes charge of the homeschooling while she squeezes in a couple of hours of work, which can be a challenge with her youngest, Marlow, often vying for her attention. Adamo and her business partners run the online shopping portal Babyccino Kids, which offers instant access to a curated collection of independent boutiques around the world. Fortunately, Adamo can check in remotely to prep for the company’s new product launch and upcoming ShopUp shopping events.
After a productive morning, the crew spends their afternoons on a beach (nearly everyone has taken to surfing), hiking or taking a field trip to a local museum where they learn about geography, history and culture firsthand.
With less structure in their schedule, Adamo has found many of the everyday stresses have subsided. “Life has been much slower than our former city lives, and that has been so wonderful and welcome.” Free from the obligations of their routine, Adamo says the laid-back pace has allowed her to enjoy more one-on-one time with each child as well, which can be hard to come by with a big family.
Of course, the picturesque family adventure isn’t all happy kids and palm tree forests. “There is the occasional ‘grumpy day,’” admits Adamo, “when one of us is just … out of sorts.” And because they’re all together all the time, the bad mood can quickly become contagious if they’re not careful. “It’s not easy, even for a 3-year-old, to spend every waking second with five other people. I think we would all benefit from a few hours of alone time here and there, but it’s not always possible.”
Despite the occasional hiccups, traveling the world together is accomplishing exactly what she had hoped it would. “We’ve had our horizons broadened and our life views altered. We’ve learned to live more simply, more slowly,” says Adamo. “The trip has changed us fundamentally. It’s the best decision we’ve ever made.”
COURTNEY ADAMO, co-founder and editor of Babyccino Kids
Home: London, England
Ideal date night: A yoga class followed by a great dinner
Person she’d like to meet: Ina May Gaskin (aka “The Mother of Midwifery”)
Best thing about babies: Their little personalities, each as original as the adults they will become.