My husband, children, and I spent a week in Ohio in July. He returned home to Mexico, while the kids and I stayed an additional week. While I hadn’t doubted I was capable, I didn’t know the amazing things that would happen. Here’s what I learned flying solo (and actually flying solo) with kids for a week.
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One: Kids Are Phenomenal (and Don’t Get Enough Credit)
My kids are phenomenal people. Of course, I already knew this, but I was reminded. I had to spend a few days helping my mom with various chores. My kids helped with what they could and entertained themselves (mostly with their tablets) when they weren’t able to help.
They helped with one of the most difficult things, which was to bury our cat who passed a mere one day before our trip. I was a sad mess when I realized that I wouldn’t be able to see him one last time, even though I know it was the best for him. We collected wildflowers for him and revered the time we had with him.
Two: Parents Are Also Capable
I can handle it. In theory, I already knew that I could. The kids are big enough for the ride safer travel vests, so I didn’t have to lug two car seats around. They’ve traveled a few times now. It’s a familiar route and they know what we need to do to travel between Mexico, the US, and back again.
We even had an unexpected delay in Houston. Our plane landed late and we practically ran through the airport to make the connection only to be grounded for 2 hours due to bad weather. We finally boarded the plane and waited another 45 minutes for jet fuel, along with every other delayed plane. We didn’t take off until after the time we were supposed to have landed in Queretero, Mexico.
Three: Connection with Friends and Family
It was awesome to see our friends again. The kids clicked again with their friends and the moms and I got to catch up on all the news. Being away for approximately 6 months at time has meant that people drop their big news on me when I visit and it sometimes comes as a surprise.
Even so, I don’t feel out of sync with them or with Ohio at all.
Four: A Freedom, Of Sorts
Being in Ohio in the summer with a rental car gave us a lot of freedom to see people. The kids and I elected to stay an additional night in my parents’ town. We still had time to make it back to the capital city and see other friends, too. The extra day with my parents gave my kids time to connect with their grandparents, since we hadn’t seen them as much during our winter trip.
I forgot how tiring it is to be the solo parent with two energetic kids, so I didn’t end up making some side trips I’d originally thought about taking. I also ran out of steam and didn’t connect with two of my best friends during this trip. Even so, it was a fantastic trip.
I walked into one of my hotel rooms to see beds on pedestals. I knew I’d need a solution so I wouldn’t be worried about the kids falling out of the unnecessarily high bed. First, I took the luggage rack and squeezed it in the crevice between the wall and the bed. I piled the pillows on top. This is an okay solution for older kids and will not necessarily be enough safety for a toddler. I wanted to create a physical boundary. It was something to indicate to their sleeping selves that they can’t roll anymore.
On the other side, I dragged over the arm chair. I’m happy to report this solution worked for my 5 and 6 year olds, as no one fell out of the bed at night. When you’re traveling as the solo parent, you have to be innovative as needed. Especially when faced with a random problem like a very tall bed.
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Six: Connection (Our Most Amazing Moment)
Traveling as the solo parent with my kids led to a wonderful moment of connection. It was the most amazing part of the trip, in fact. I’d asked my kids what was bothering them multiple times, but kids can’t always articulate their problems on the spot. We’d spent a few days in a hotel and played in the pool every evening. I’d been playing with them and not my phone.
“You don’t play with us anymore,” my 6 year old told me one night. “You always talk to your friends when we are at the park by our house and you don’t play with us.”
True statements, little one. It had been a rough first half of the year for me. My red blood cell count had been low and I had several annoying, exhausting symptoms of it. While I still haven’t been able to determine a cause of it, I had medication to control other symptoms I was having. I was finally starting to feel better, so life was improving. So was my mood. That sentence from my 6 year old was the kick in the pants I needed to show them I love them and appreciate their unique qualities.
And guess what? That moment of connection has lasted. My behaviour has improved and they have responded in kind. I’ve continued to play with them in an effort to keep that connection strong.
I won’t hesitate to travel solo with my kids. Of course, I had a huge advantage because I visiting my home state. I didn’t have to worry about getting lost and I also had support from my family. It was the first time it was just the three of us flying internationally and it went better than I’d even dared to hope.
Sometimes, it just takes baby steps to know you’re ready.
Have you been flying solo with your kids? What has been the most difficult part? What was the easiest part?