- Dan Kois is an editor and writer for Slate, and a contributing writer for The New York Times Magazine. He and his wife — attorney Alia Smith — found themselves stressed and itching to get out of their “parenting bubble.”
- In 2017, they decided to uproot their lives in Arlington, Virginia, and take their two daughters to New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Kansas to experience how families lived and coexisted.
- During their travels, Kois wrote a memoir documenting their experiences: “How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together.”
- In an interview with Business Insider, Kois said he would recommend a similar experience to a family considering a change.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
Overburdened by the East Coast “parenting bubble,” Dan Kois and his wife uprooted their family’s lives for a year.
In 2017, they fled Arlington, Virginia for New Zealand, the Netherlands, Costa Rica, and Kansas. Their goal was to learn how local families lived, coexisted, and educated their children.
Kois wrote about his family’s experiences in his recently published memoir, “How to Be a Family: The Year I Dragged My Kids Around the World to Find a New Way to Be Together.“
Kois, a writer and editor at Slate, is married to attorney Alia Smith. In 2016, the two found themselves struggling to find a balance between demanding jobs, the tribulations of American daily life, and trying to parent their two pre-teen daughters, Lyra and Harper.
“Our family wasn’t broken or dysfunctional, but we were in an unhappy rut, one that seemed of our own making but was also tied to the busy, hyper-competent parenting culture that surrounded us in Arlington,” Kois wrote.
Kois and Smith felt “trapped” in this parenting bubble. So they took drastic action and charted a new course for the next year.
They would spend it traveling the world, settling down in four different places to get a taste of their parenting styles and overall lifestyle.
“The goal of the trip was to give our family an experience together in which we have no choice but to get together as a group, do the things that were hard for us, and and have an experience that could change us in some way,” Kois said in an interview with Business Insider.
First up was spending January through mid-April in Wellington, New Zealand — Kois’ favorite of the four destinations.
Next was the city of Delft, Netherlands, where they stayed until early July.
After that was what Kois and Smith decided was “summer vacation” — July through September in Sámara, Costa Rica.
They concluded their year back in the US, this time in Hays, Kansas. The town has an area of 8.4 square miles and has a population of a little less than 21,000 — a bit of an adjustment from the approximately 237,500 people in Arlington, Virginia’s 26 square miles.
Looking back on their travels, Kois said he would have gone about planning it differently.
“I mean, I wouldn’t recommend that you be quite so stupid about it,” Kois said.
Now, nearly two years after moving back to Arlington, Kois is on tour promoting his book and thinking about what impact the trip left on him and his family.