A budget traveller’s best friend is volunteering. Volunteering as a family whilst travelling Europe in a campervan was a super daunting idea at first!
We considered it…then found a reason not to just yet. We pondered about how great it could be… but then couldn’t imagine the details of how it could possibly work with young children to take care of at the same time?
Then one day our money ran out…we had to act fast to be able to actually put some food on the table for the rest of the month.
We searched online to see if there was a way of volunteering with children…and luckily we found the ‘workaway’ website.
We were thrilled to see that lots of people, particularly other off-grid families were more than happy to accept our whole family, providing accomodation and food in return for 5 hours work a day, 5 days a week.
If anyone else is pondering taking the same leap but still trying to figure out the details of how a workaway works with children we want to share what our average work day as a family looks like at a farm in Normandy.
8.30am – Wake Up, wash, have showers & get dressed.
9.30am – We prepare and eat breakfast as a family in our cottage (French baguette, pastries, jam, cereal, milk, orange juice, hot chocolate & fresh coffee have been provided by the host).
10.30am – One of us leaves the cottage to feed the horses and fill up their water.
The other parent stays with the children in the cottage to do some arts and crafts or literacy and numeracy learning.
Our friend Carl might pop in for a cup of tea and a catch up…one day he showed the children how to paint dragons.
11.30am – The whole family moves outside. We empty old sleepers and doors from the barn ready to build new stables and a tack room for the horses.
We set up a basket of outdoor toys for the children to explore and run around with while we are busy working.
12.30pm – We fill up a few buckets of water for the children to keep them entertained, they promptly set up a toy car wash. This gives us the time we need to finish off moving the huge collection of items out of the barn.
1.30pm – Our host invites us up to her house for lunch with her family (serving up a Quinoa dish with lamb and peppers, and a selection of local cheese with bread).
One of the children isn’t keen on lunch, so we supplement the meal with some kiwi and melon from our own food supply. We always make sure we buy extra snacks and fruit for the children to keep them going through the day, in addition to any food they are offered by our host.
After lunch we have a pot of tea and make a plan of action, discussing what jobs to tackle next on the farm.
2.30pm – One of us goes to work building furniture and storage for the new store room using pallets and scrap wood found in the barn. The other one gives old pieces of furniture a fresh new look with a tin of paint, with two helpful mini-assistants.
3.00pm – The children want to help build furniture for the tack room next so get to work measuring and bashing nails into a piece of wood with a hammer.
3.30pm – One of us takes the children back to the cottage to warm up and make hot chocolate and toast.
4.00pm – The children help tidy up toys and do a bit of light housework around the cottage. Then play on the piano in the cottage, get out some other instruments to play with, making sounds, singing made up songs.
If the weather is good we are able to take the horses out for a ride.
4.30pm – Everyone finishes work for the day.
5.00pm – We chop some firewood for the evening, before going out to say goodnight to the animal before it gets dark.
5.30pm – We cook and eat dinner as a family in our cottage with food provided for us by our host (Noodle & Veggie Soup).
We negotiated cooking our own evening meal as a family as we usually tend to eat earlier than people without young ones and also the children are often starting to get tired around this time and it’s helpful to be able to settle them in their own space.
7.00pm – We light the fire, sit around reading books, chatting about our day and ideas for what we want to do tomorrow.
10.00pm – Tumble into bed all sleepy and cosy, ready for new family adventures when the sun comes up.
We usually work five days out of seven, although we have complete flexibility as long as we work 25 hours over a week
On our days off we have taken the children to visit a tank museum, bargain hunting at brocantes, chateaus, built snowmen, gone sledging, out for drinks at the local bistro, buying pastries at the boulangerie and to the local play park to hang out and have a giggle.
It is a great work-life balance and would highly recommend it to other travelling families who are up for exploring new places and learning new things.
If you are interested in signing up for Workaway opportunities please consider using our link below as Workaway will extend our membership by three months if you use our invite link.