Monday, March 10, 2014

2 Key Travel Tips for Single Parents

Spring is almost here, and summer is finally right around the corner.  Now while most parents are busy making sure the kids have a nice home with all the basic necessities, great schools and fun summer camp plans, way too often they either overlook the importance of their own travel plans or they avoid trips with the kids because they think it's just too complicated.  This is a big mistake.  My two key points for single parents are: (1) with little kids, keep it simple and just have a good time; and (2) make some fun trip plans just for yourself, you not only deserve a break, you need it to maintain your own sanity!

My son was only 2 when I got divorced, and so to avoid a lot of complications, over the last 8 years I mainly traveled with him to destinations that were no more than 4 hours away either by plane, train or car.  Wherever we went, I tried to either meet up with friends or family for at least part of the trip so that it would not be so lonely-- but I have to warn you that whenever you go to a family-friendly destination like Disney or the beach, there will inevitably be a little bit of a sting when you see yourself surrounded by intact families.  Don't try to ignore the sting, just acknowledge that there is a loss as a result of your separation/divorce, but don't dwell on it.  Whatever sadness you may feel won't last long if instead you stay present and focus on having fun with your kids.

When you are on vacation with your kids, let your inner child come out and play.  Seriously, let some of the house rules slide, and don't be such a party pooper.  Think of this as a second chance at childhood.  Personally, I've had no problem letting my inner child come out simply because there is so much that I've experienced for the first-time with my son.  Together with him over the last decade, I have had the best time, which has not only been good for my soul, but more importantly has allowed me to teach him some important life lessons, including the importance of (1) planning ahead, (2) saving for special trips, and (3) making time to relax and enjoy life.   

Now seriously, what is the point of studying so much, working so hard, and being so responsible all the time if there isn't some great prize at the end?  If as parents we can utilize a reward system for our kids, why on Earth can't we implement one for ourselves as well?  Let's be honest, parenting is hard work-- in fact it is the hardest job I've ever had in my life, and as a result I feel absolutely zero guilt in taking some time for myself.  Sometimes I have traveled by myself to go visit my family or married friends, other times I have gone off on an adventure with a beau or single girlfriend, but no matter what each and every year I have gone on at least one trip purely for me.  It's simply not possible to stay sane while playing parent 100% of the time, always putting everyone else's needs before your own, and denying yourself a little R&R.
So, if you want some serenity as a parent, you need to (1) make some time for yourself and (2) keep it simple when you are traveling with little ones.  As they get older, you can become even more adventurous, and hopefully you will teach them that there is a whole world full of beauty out there.  How else will they know how far they can fly?  We need to lead the way for them, and one day soon way before we are ready, they will start to soar before our very own eyes.

For those of you that are still struggling with your new-found identity as a single parent, I know this can be a very trying time, but with time things do get easier, and in the meantime keep this quote from The Prophet in mind: 

You are the bows from which your children as living arrows are sent forth.
The archer sees the mark upon the path of the infinite, and He bends you with His might that His arrows may go swift and far.
Let your bending in the archer’s hand be for gladness;
For even as He loves the arrow that flies, so he loves also the bow that is stable.

Hope these travel tips can help my fellow single parents become stable bows, and one day may we all enjoy seeing our beautiful young arrows fly!

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