Copyright Rian Castillo (via Flickr)

I spent 12 hours alone at Epcot with a 3 year-old and a 6 year-old…someone give me a gold star.

True story. And the 6 year-old was under the weather too.

Why would I do such a thing? Well, the high school band was going to Disney for spring break, and there was room on the bus for extra people. Plus, a generous relative offered to cost the cost. So how could I say ‘no’ to this opportunity to finally experience the happiest place on earth?

The only problem with bus trips with the band is that you have to run on their schedule. Hence, the 12 hour stay in Epcot with a 3 year-old wilting in the heat and a 6 year-old who spent much of the day looking like this.

20160406_154722_resizedBut you know what? It was worth it.

The day in Epcot was long and the park didn’t necessarily appeal to the smaller set, but the 6 year-old bounced back the next day and the rest of the week looked something like this:

20160407_111004 1We had a blast, and even the 24 hour bus rides down and back weren’t so bad.

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3 reasons I like to travel alone with the kids

It’s the third big trip I’ve taken with the kids since Tom died – the other two were to Hawaii and to New York to visit my brother over the holidays. Last summer, I made a point to try to take the kids somewhere fun each week (an idea I stole from Jen Hatmaker). Travel, it seems, has become my newest form of personal therapy.

Inevitably, on these outings, someone comments about how I am brave for traveling solo with so many kids. I usually brush it off as no big deal, but between you and me, it’s really not a cake walk and I secretly love getting these little gold stars from others.

At a time in my life when I feel like I’m failing on so many different levels, I crave this affirmation and knowing that, at least in one person’s eyes, it looks like I have it all together. But beyond that, I find there are three reasons I keep looking for new opportunities to head out and see the world with my kids.

1. I’m a better mom when we travel.

It’s true.

At home, I can be reading to the kids, cooking dinner or watching a family movie, but I have itchy fingers and the nagging feeling that I could be more productive working on the computer.

However, when we travel, I am decidedly unplugged. Even when I bring my laptop to work, it stays in the hotel, and I rarely have time to play on my phone when I am wrangling five kids through airport security or a beach concession stand.

And when we’re on a bus or a plane? Well, then I morph from don’t-bother-me-‘cuz-I’m-on-my-phone Mom into super-engaged Mom. I wish I could say there was some deep benevolent reason for this, but the reality is my pride makes me do everything in my power to prevent my kids from turning into small monsters on public transit. I don’t want to be “that Mom” with “those kids.”

Whatever the motivation, the truth is that traveling makes me more like the Mom I want to be.

2. I like to think I’m crowding out the bad memories.

When my kids are in their 30s and 40s and begin reminiscing over Thanksgiving dinner, I hope the conversation will begin with something like, “Remember that time we went to Disney?” rather than “Remember that time Dad spent New Year’s Eve in the emergency room?”

To be clear: I am not trying to erase memories of their Dad. On the contrary, I make a point to talk regularly about the fun stuff I and they did with him.

However, I don’t want their childhood memories to be dominated by sadness and death. Maybe I’m overcompensating, but I feel like travel is a great way to cram in a lot of good stuff to balance out all the bad they’ve endured.

3. I feel better about our family when we travel.

When we’re at home, there is plenty of nagging and sibling squabbles, but when we hit the road, a lot of that seems to disappear. I’m not sure if it has to do with less screen time, the change of scenery or what. But it leaves me feeling good.

Traveling always provides me with plenty of opportunities to see the strength of our family bonds.

  • It made me smile when our 13 year-old voluntarily decided he wanted to hang out with me and the littles on the last two days of our Disney trip.
  • It warmed my heart to see our 15 year-old skip sitting with his friends for meals because he wanted to talk with us about our days in the park.
  • It thrilled me to get home and have our 17 year-old – who hates crowds and stayed home with Grandma – literally run out the door to give us hugs and say she missed us.

When we’re at home, I worry that I’m doing it all wrong.

But when we travel? When we travel, I look at the kids and think: We’re going to be all right.

What about you? Do you travel solo with your kids? If so, tell me why and the best place you’ve visited as a family.

(photo credit)

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2 Comments

    1. I think you are doing it all right, Maryalene! A million gold stars to you!

      Karin Waterbury

      1. Oh, thank you Karin! I think I’m all set now for the next year! 😉

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