What Is A Retired Toddler?
By Jake & Michelle Schomp
Have you noticed some American toddlers tinkering around town this year? You may be surprised to find out that they’re just like you: they’re RETIRED! Yes, Henley (4) & Jagger (2) Schomp, better known as the “Retired Toddlers” have joined your retired ranks here by the lake for a temporary stay. These world traveling toddlers are spending two months in Ajijic before venturing onward to spend time in Guatemala, Normandy, Tuscany, New England, and foreign parts unknown for the remainder of the year.
Why this stop in the Lake Chapala area? Jake’s mom Kate (Abuelita) and Grampa Tim bought a home in Riberas 15 years ago and have spent part of their year here ever since. You may run into Kate selling her handmade jewelry at Diane Pearl Collections in Ajijic while Dr. Tim Whiting volunteers much of his time with Democrats Abroad. It has been a dream come true to spend so much time with their grandkids right here in their slice of paradise. It’s also been nice that the Retired Toddlers rented their own place, because as we all know: it can be magical to have visitors here, but nothing beats having your own space!
Last year the Retired Toddlers visited 17 countries that included a seaplane soar from Victoria into Vancouver; a schooner sail in waterfall-wet Milford Sound; a cable car crossing above the Blue Mountains; a longboat journey into the jungles of Borneo; a spiritual cleanse in the Holy Spring Water Temple in Bali; an adventurous Bamboo Train and tuk-tuk trips throughout Cambodia; castle climbing across Wales; a monster mirador above Loch Ness; canal cruising through Copenhagen; port town passes along Norway’s North Cape into the Arctic Circle; sun searching across the ‘ABC’ island chains around Iberia; vineyard harvesting in the Douro River Valley; fossil finding among the Kerry Cliffs of the Wild Atlantic Way; ferrying out to Vineyard Haven; hunkering down for Hurricane Irma in St. Thomas; evacuating San Juan just before Hurricane Maria hit; snorkeling with sea turtles outside of Bridgetown; and midnight kayaking through the bio-luminescent bays of Rum Point.
Here in Ajijic, the Retired Toddlers have been perfectly content trying out a new adventure: going to school! Henley and Jagger have been enrolled at Kinder Tohui where they have loved wearing the yellow and navy blue uniforms to fit in with the local kids. The teachers there have been overly welcoming and extra accommodating to help the kids adjust as they learn the language and settle into the school routine.
Back in 2016, parents Michelle and Jake sold their Tampa, Florida, house along with most everything in it and took the kids to New England for the summer with plans to return in the fall to buy a bigger home. However, once they felt the freedom of nomadic living, they no longer wanted to fit back in next to the Joneses. Jake notes: “We suddenly felt free from the weight of the white picket fence. There is a lot of unspoken pressure in America to buy a bigger house, get a new car, enroll your kids in an expensive preschool, buy more of everything, and stay the course. As soon as we stepped off that train, this other path just instantly felt like a better fit for us.”
Michelle adds: “Things and stuff just aren’t that important to us. We find our true happiness spending time together as a family and exploring new places all over the world. This is what works for us right now.”
It was a big decision to stray off the usual course, but Jake says it helped to listen to his mom: “I had been traveling for work a lot and missing out on little moments here and there. My mom gave me some straight advice: she said ‘You know, Jacob, they’re only going to be this young once!’ That really stuck with me over time and I decided I didn’t want to miss this chance to soak up every last bit of their littleness while we can.”
Michelle and Jake have been so impressed with the rich culture, fantastic food, and kind people in the area that they are already considering another extended stay here next year. They both work online each day while the kids nap in the afternoon, so they are able to pick and choose where they go next. Eventually the Schomp family plans to settle down once the kids are ready for elementary school. They want to give their kids a childhood like they each had surrounded by a warm and supportive community. Don’t ask them for a specific timeframe, though, because they are still dreaming of destinations around the world.
You can see pictures from their travels and watch their trip videos in their social feeds on Facebook, Instagram, or YouTube by searching for Retired Toddlers, or on the website: www.RetiredToddlers.com