I’ve been doing the solo parenting gig for a few years now so when planning an interstate holiday with my 3 kids, I figured we’d all cope ok.
After all, I wrangle them through life everyday, how hard could it be with a few suitcases in tow?
Well it turns out I was up for a lesson or two!
Travelling solo with 3 kids across 3 states, via planes, buses, cars and a cruise ship, actually taught me quite a lot.
For example, I learnt:
1. The best laid plans…
I can be a pretty organised person when heading into the unknown. Possibly too organised, but with kids it’s always good to be prepared and to know what’s coming up next, for everyone’s sake!
However, when you are travelling there so many things that can go awry; delays, bad weather, illness, just to name a few. Sometimes you have to accept you can’t plan for the unexpected and have to roll with the punches. This is a great lesson for kids to learn too and it’s the perfect opportunity to show them how to be calm, cool and collected in the face of uncertainty.
2. Keep expectations realistic
This one follows closely on the heels of the above point. I headed off on this holiday in a little bit of a fantasy world, thinking it was going to be filled with wonderful, memory-making moments and a whole lot of relaxation. I can hear you snorting at your computer screens from here. What sort of lunatic takes 3 kids under 12 away on an interstate holiday and thinks it’s going to be relaxing? Which leads nicely into the next point…
3. Holidaying with children isn’t a holiday from parenting
Unless you have a 24 hour nanny or round the clock kids’ club, you still have bottoms to wipe, fights to referee, booboos to kiss and a lot of broken sleep. I love my kids and a family holiday is all about time spent together, but I didn’t really factor in the amount of energy required for parenting 3 kids in my fantasy holiday plans. Just like life at home, travelling with kids can be pretty darn exhausting, especially if they are anxious travellers.
4. Kids have a way of finding joy in the simplest of things
This holiday was pretty extravagant for us. The kids experienced many “firsts” and I thought they would be bitten by the travel bug for sure. However, it’s quite funny to ask them what their favourite parts of the trip were and it helps put things into perspective when planning our next holiday. Judging by their responses we don’t need to travel far – just as long as we have ready access to a buffet, movie theatre and a water slide!
5. There are some really good people in this world
It sounds cliché but, above all, this holiday restored my faith in humanity. The people who smiled sympathetic smiles, the men who chatted to my boys on the plane, the driver who returned my five year old’s lost headband, not to mention the lady who helped entertain her when our flight was delayed for hours and she was beside herself with exhaustion. These people and many others who did simple but considerate things made me feel less like a sole parent and more like part of a village.
Travelling solo with 3 kids was definitely a lot harder than I thought it would be. I came back exhausted and in desperate need of a (child-free) holiday! However, in the process I learnt a lot about myself, about my kids and about other people.
So tell me, have you ever travelled solo with kids? What were the take home lessons for you?