A Real Day In The Life Of A Digital Nomad Family With Kids

Meet Gregory, a writer and the brains behind Face Dragons. He's the go-to guy for getting things done. Gregory's been living the digital nomad life in Asia for as long as anyone can remember, helping clients smash their goals. He writes on topics like software, personal knowledge management (PKM), and personal development. When he's not writing, you'll catch him at the local MMA gym, nose buried in a book, or just chilling with the family.

Today is not exactly our average digital nomad family day but every day here is different, so I suppose it’s no more unusual than normal. We’ve been a digital nomad family since before my son was born (he’s 9 now) so we’ve gotten into a good rhythm that work for us. If you’re thinking about a nomadic life with your family and want to know what that looks like, this is the post you’re looking for! A day in the life of a digital nomad family with kids.

This morning we were half way through breakfast when the building almost began to shake. It wasn’t an earthquake, it was the people in an apartment a few floors down with a pneumatic drill. The noise was unbearable, there was no way we could stay in today.

My son slurped up his coco pops (imported from Thailand) and I gulped down my coffee. We packed a bag each and got ready to go.

Not half an hour later and we were sat in a cafe on the other side of town. My son is coloring in a Liberian flag for his history activity. And I’ve got my laptop out.

Below I’m going to go through the whole day we had today and I’ve included my tips that make for a great day for a digital nomad family with children.

Table of Contents

Pre-Morning – My Secret To Nomad Success Each Day

Where: Dining Table
When: 6.00-7.30am
Main Focus: Writing & Planning

For me, morning begins when everyone else wakes up. My nomadic lifestyle starts each day getting up first and spending the first hour or two working on whatever project I have at the time.

Today I woke up at 6.00am. I crept past my sons room and made coffee. I love the ritual of making a coffee every morning, then sitting and planning my day while I drink it. I have been using GTD for about 15 years now and credit it for all the real accomplishments of my life.

With my todos for the day all lined up, I pulled my laptop out and got to work. Usually in my pre-mornings that means writing. I find that the writing flows better early with a clear mind and less distractions from children.

The only time this pre-morning routine changes is when we’re traveling to another country.

Morning – Family Mornings Are The Only Way To Start The Day

Where: Cafe (today) Usually at home
When: 7.30-9.00am
Main Focus: Homeschooling and Work

Once everyone is up we sit and have breakfast together although today was much more rushed than usual.

Despite being in a cafe rather than at home this morning, our routine didn’t really change much. I took the books, sheets and various stationary my son needs for his homeschooling in a bag with my laptop.

Our nomadic family lifestyle homeschooling routine is structured in a way that he has large chunks of time where he doesn’t need any input from me. During that time I can get to work, either writing for this site or working on something else.

This is something I’d recommend anyone with digital nomad kids to do. It not only frees you up to work but also teaches children how to work independently.

In the cafe my son finished the following subjects

  • Math – 2 side of Math Mammoth
  • Latin – Reading a chapter of Lingua Latin Per Se Illustrata
  • Greek – 1 lesson from Elementary Greek
  • Penmanship – 1 Side of Copy-work
  • History – Reading 1 chapter of Story of the World and related activities
  • Grammar – 1 Lesson from Language Lessons for the Well Trained Mind
  • Composition – A Lesson from Classical Composition

Lunch – The Best Part Of The Digital Nomad Lifestyle

Where: Korean BBQ
When: 12.30pm

Most days we eat lunch at home. By the time homeschooling and my work is all done were hungry and don’t want to go out. But today were in Ao Cheng, The Magnetic City, which is an area of Tianjin with shopping and restaurants. A large community of Koreans live here and so there are quite a few Korean restaurants.

We’ve been here before (we’re creatures of habit) and so we know the food is good. Soon after ordering, the table is filled with the little side dishes that come free. The food is washed down with Korean barley tea.

Though we do love traveling to Korea and have done a few times, eating great Korean food without having to travel to the country is great.

I love putting pieces of BBQ’d steak into lettuce with kimchi and BBQ dipping sauce. My Korean friends tell me it’s rude to take a bite of it and so I can stuff it all into my mouth without feeling like a pig!

Kids love it too, my son really likes sitting on the floor on the traditional Korean mats and I did used to think it fun but now I prefer a regular table and chairs (perhaps a sign I’m getting old!)

A lunch of BBQ’d meat, kimchi and vegetables is fairly low carb (my son finished of a whole plate of kimbap, sushi rolls) so energy levels are still high. And they need to be, we’re meeting friends this afternoon.

Afternoon – A Time To Socialize With Other Nomadic Families

Where: Friends Place
When: 2.00-5.00pm
Main Focus: Socializing

The cafe we chose was a taxi ride away but it’s close to another homeschooling family we met at church here. They have 3 kids: 2 daughters and a son all around Brandon’s age, so we try to meet up for a play date at least once a week.

If we didn’t live a digital nomad lifestyle, this is something we would just never be able to do. We often go out to the cinema, ice skating, to the spa, or just to the park nearby with other digital nomad families and because it’s a weekday afternoon, there’s never a crowd. Here in China that’s a huge plus because when it gets busy here, it really gets busy!

Today we just go for a walk down by the river. The kids enjoy make-believe fishing by the waters edge and throwing stones to see who makes the biggest splash which gives the adults time to catch up.

Being a digital nomad family, it’s really important for me to have time to chat with other people with a similar lifestyle, It’s always comforting to know that you’re not the only one. Traveling can be stressful, of course, but the digital nomad lifestyle can also be lonely. Getting to know people that travel with their children is so easy because there is so much in common.

Evening – Some Solo Time Everyday For This Nomad

Where: Back Home
When: 5.00-7.00pm
Main Focus: Workout

One of the nice things about living in a city as large as Tianjin is taxis! When the sun starts to dip, I hold out my arm and in an instant we have a taxi. We bundle in and are soon back at our complex.

Our place is on the 6th floor and there’s no elevator but were used to it now so up we march.

Once back home Brandon settles on the couch with a book and I go straight into the gym. Having a good home gym makes staying consistent with working out so much easier. Of course, most places we stay don’t have a full gym in them but I always research local gyms ahead of time. That way we can stay somewhere close by.

If I don’t have a gym nearby I don’t fret too much, there are so many workouts I can do without a gym so I never have any excuses.

Dinner – The Daily Heart Of Our Digital Nomad Family

Where: Home
When: 7.00pm

After an hour or so in the gym I come down for dinner. My wife has cooked Chinese food (she’s Chinese) pork ribs, rice and stir fried vegetables. It’s exactly what I need after a good workout, plenty of protein and a bunch of carbs.

Dinner time is really important in Chinese culture so we like to make an effort. We always sit together, chopsticks in hand, and talk about the highlights of the day.

It doesn’t matter where we are in the world, when we sit around the dining table and start eating, we all know were home.

Late Evening – Time To Work At The End Of The Day

Where: Study
When: 9.00-11.00pm
Main Focus: Editing

Once the little one is in bed, I finally have some time to finish off my todo list! Today that just meant editing the post about digital nomads staying in each place that I wrote this morning and publishing it on this site.

All that’s left for the day is to get ready for bed so I can do it all over again tomorrow!

So, that’s the way this nomadic family spent the day today! You may have been expecting us to see the sights, to hit the tourist traps, go to museums or seek out historic buildings and we do do that too! But this gives a much more accurate view of what a digital nomad family’s day is really about.

We spend many more days getting work done and seeing friends than we do being tourists. Although we love the adventure of exploring new places, you can’t live everyday like that! Most days we just want to live our normal nomadic lives.

Below are some of the tips that help us have great days as a digital nomad family. We’ve learned these over the years and they have been key to having good days.

Digital Nomad Family Tips For Having a Great Day, Everyday

Over the years I’ve learned how to make the most of being a digital nomad family. You can’t have everything in life and there are only 24 hours in a day, so compromises have to made. I always try to find a good balance between spending time with my family, educating my son, seeing the world and working on my own projects.

I love the fact that we have the opportunity to do all these things everyday. If my son was in school, I would have more time to work but I wouldn’t see him as much. If we lived back home, we couldn’t see the world and If I worked a 9-5 job, I couldn’t do any of these things.

We’ve found that for us, living a digital nomad lifestyle has given us the freedom to pursue the things we want out of life and to live in a way that aligns with our values.

That being said, here are some tips for making the most out of your day as a digital nomad family.

Be Flexible

We didn’t wake up with the idea of spending the morning in a cafe or going out for Korean food today. And we could have easily just stayed at home and all been in terrible moods. My son wouldn’t have gotten half of his work done, I would have struggled to finish writing my article and it would have just soured our whole day.

Instead of fighting against it we just went around our obstacle, this is something you learn quickly as a digital nomad. Things wont always go your way and the simplest of activities will get derailed by the strangest occurrences.

Once in Lumbini our taxi didn’t show up to take us to the airport, rather than complain about it we managed to talk a couple of bikers into giving us a ride on the back of their motorbikes. Holding on for dear life, dodging water buffalo, chicken and goats that wandered all over the roads cutting through the South Nepalese countryside, we made it to the airport with time to spare.

Have Backup Plans

Going hand in hand with being flexible is having backup plans. If the cafe was too busy and loud to get any work done today, we were going to go to a little park nearby that has places to sit in the shade. We could take our coffee there and the day would continue as planned.

I have a list of places on my phone that I still want to visit here. If something goes wrong one day or the park is closed (which happens surprisingly often) we can just head to one of my backup plans.

If we can’t get a taxi, I note the nearest subway stations, if there isn’t one I’ll check the bus routes. Making a backup plan only take a minute but it can be the difference between a successful day and a flop.

Make Friends

You’re away from family, from friends and far from home. While that may sound like the chance for an amazing adventure (and it is!) it can also be daunting, exhausting and sometimes lonely too.

Making friends where ever you go, even if you’re only there for a week or two will keep you happy and ultimately mentally healthy.

I know that for me after a week of speaking mostly to a 9 year old, I really need unwind and talk to an adult! Finding someone in a similar situation is best because you’ll have more in common but sometimes a random person on the table next to you in a cafe can turn into an interesting conversation.

Find Time to Work

There have been many times when my life was completely out of balance. Which could mean that I’m working too much and just not putting in enough time with my family. I’m with them physically but all my focus is on the laptop. It also means times when I feel unable to work because I don’t have enough space from them.

Finding that pre-morning period to get my most important task of the day done has really been a game changer for me. By the time my family is awake I’m already ahead of the day. I can spend time on my son’s homeschooling, confident that I’ve already made progress on whatever project I’m working on that day.

The small amount of time I get in the evenings, I usually use for easy tasks that don’t require too much brain power as, by late evening I have little left.

I hope you enjoyed this post about our nomadic day today!