Parenting while traveling is hard. And solo parenting while traveling is even more so!
Last week, my husband had to take a business trip to Madison, WI, leaving me solo with our kids in Spokane, WA. Fortunately, we were staying at my parents’ house during our time in Spokane, so I had a little bit of help since I didn’t have to do any cooking. But for the most part, it was me taking care of the kids, doing activities with them around Spokane, driving them to swim lessons, giving them their school lessons, putting them to bed, and trying to squeeze in some blogging in between.
It’s not the first time I’ve done solo parenting, but it is the first time I’ve done solo parenting while traveling. All I can say is, kudos to all the parents who do this on a regular basis. This week was certainly challenging.
My daughter is at the age where sass is her default mood, and my son often succumbs to whining when he’s tired. And while the kids love each other, they are certainly not immune to sibling bickering.
After this week, I can empathize with parents who travel solo with their kids often, or full time. Solo parenting while traveling take a lot of patience!
For parents who are also working and solo parenting while traveling, it also takes a lot late nights and early mornings. I was quite thankful for my cup of coffee each morning, and the little bit of quiet time at the end of the day when I could be someone other than “Mommy.”
Looking back on my experience this week, I learned a few lessons about solo parenting while traveling. Hopefully, we’ll remember these the next time one of us has to take a business trip.
I’m not always a patient person. My family can attest to that. But when you’re solo parenting while traveling, you really do need a lot of patience. More importantly, you need a lot of compassion.
Your kids are going through a lot of uncertainty when they travel – in their environment and in their routines – and being so young, they may not always be able to cope with the uncertainty. Nor do they have the vocabulary to fully verbalize what they are feeling. So often, their stress manifests itself in temper tantrums, crankiness, or even sass.
Show a little compassion to your kids, and let them know that you understand that these changes may be hard for them.
Build in some structure
With so many changes and unpredictability on the road, it helps to build in a little structure into your day. For our family. writing out a schedule for the day helps my kids anticipate what we will be doing for the day. That in turn helps make the day feel less stressful for them, which also means less stress for me.
We have the kids pick out one or two things that they want to do (free choice, or even iPad time), and then we block out the rest of the time with school work, meals, field trips, errands, chores, or even a family activity. Having some structure during the day helps make solo parenting while traveling less unpredictable and more manageable.
Save some time for yourself
When you’re solo parenting while traveling, it’s important to also save some time for yourself. In my opinion, this is so crucial for your mental well-being. You need to be able to develop who you are as a person, outside of just being a parent.
There are a variety of ways to buy some time for yourself. You can put the kids to bed a little earlier than usual, or give them some screen time (an hour is not going to hurt them!), or even hire a babysitter. I was fortunate to have my parents around while I was in Spokane, so they could at least supervise the kids while I snuck in a bit of blogging time. Asking for help is absolutely okay!
Nobody is perfect
Parents can be so hard on themselves sometimes. We expect ourselves to be perfect, and beat ourselves up when we lose our temper at the kids, or give in to their whining.
It’s time we step back and say to ourselves, “hey, you’re doing a great job!”
For parents who are solo parenting while traveling, remember that every parent is different, just as every kid is different. Nobody is perfect. We are all doing our best to raise our kids and not screw them up!
Cherish the little moments
The most important lesson I learned from solo parenting while traveling is to cherish the little moments.
Every morning, my kids would come into bed with me, and we would spend about thirty minutes snuggling. This was my favorite part of the day, before the coffee, before the crankiness, before the inevitable argument over who gets what Lego. For thirty minutes every morning, we were a peaceful family, enjoying our moment together.
Parenting is full of ups and downs. And that fact doesn’t change when you’re on the road and traveling. My week of solo parenting was tough, but I’m glad I made it through.
Are you a someone who is solo parenting while traveling? Tell me the biggest lesson you’ve learned in the comments below.
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