“It’s not fair!” The cry heard around the parenting world pretty much every day, for those of us who have more than one child. Playing the game of “Even Steven” happens from the smallest slight “He got to push the elevator button the last time!” to perhaps what could be your biggest dilemma, taking only one child on a trip with you, and leaving the other(s) behind.
But if you’re like me and have (four) kids of different ages, with different interests, and perhaps most importantly, different school schedules and demands, sometimes it not only makes sense to travel with one solo, it can make good “cents” as well.
A PD Day Getaway is what I had in mind when my youngest son had a day off school, and his older siblings did not. PD days often land in non-peak times (in this case the third week in September), so the travel savings can be substantial.
But where to go? Both my younger son and I like to read, swim, and chill by the pool. (Really though, who doesn’t?) Traveling to a hotter climate, and particularly seeking out an all-inclusive, at this less busy time of the year, you can find some great deals. It’s a really good idea, especially when traveling with children, to check the length of the transfer from the airport to the resort. Our choice (the Iberostar in Punta Cana, Dominica Republic) was an easy 25 minute drive.
Spending time with one child allows you to really connect with what they’re doing at school, the friends they’re hanging out with, and what they think about what’s going on in the world as well. We also became quite adept at picking out the accents and languages of fellow travellers — many British, German, and Eastern European dialects. Not forgetting about the kids at home, I was careful to call home but not dwell on what we were doing, but what they were still doing in their routines at home.
Other tips when traveling with one child:
1) Tell the child you’re taking on the trip about it, first, but have a plan to tell the other kids immediately afterwards. Tell the traveling child to be gracious and consider that others’ feelings may be hurt;
2) Explain why it makes sense to take the one child: school schedule, cost, interests in location, timing vs extracurricular activities, etc. On the same hand, be careful not to “blame” school or extra sports as a reason why others can’t go, just state it as facts;
3) Don’t promise that you will make it all even out eventually with other kids, other trips. This may be impossible to fulfill and you will feel like a failure when/if you let them down;
4) Bring back a small but meaningful gift that shows you were thinking about them while you were away, even though it’s not meant to be compensation for missing the trip;
5) Try not to bring back a big reminder of the trip with the traveling child;
6) Share your pictures on social media sparingly, not at all, or when you return, particularly if your other children follow you online. If they don’t, chances are your friends do, who might show them to their children (your kids’ friends!) so consider this when posting;
7) If you have “inside” jokes on your return, don’t flaunt them in front of the other kids, or be sensitive and share stories with the whole family at once;
8) Release the guilt and start planning the next trip with another child!
This article first appeared in Huffington Post and can be found at this link: http://www.huffingtonpost.ca/kathy-buckworth/vacation-with-kids_b_5944272.html