One-on-one-travel, take two

Can't wait for one-on-one travel with this girl.

Can’t wait for one-on-one travel with this girl.

A few years ago, when L was the only child in our family, I made a big deal (privately and publicly, on the predecessor to this blog) about traveling solo with just her.

We took a number of trips just the two of us. The biggest of the bunch: An epic sojourn to Beverly Hills so she could gaze upon couture dresses at fancy boutiques and get inspired to sketch some fashion of her own (she was big into art even then).

In general, there are dozens of benefits to one-on-one travel with kids. The individualized attention. The unobstructed bonding time. The out-of-the-ordinary dynamic. Logistically, however, with two little humans running around (and two very different childcare schedules), this dream is a bit more difficult to attain. How will Powerwoman and I massage the wounded ego of the child who stays at home? How do we balance childcare when one parent and one child are out of the equation? These are the kinds of questions with which we grapple.

Not that the self-doubt slows me down. On the contrary, I just booked the first one-on-one trip for me and R—an early December escape to SoCal to visit family and report a story about Legoland California.

Our plan is simple. Fly down, check in to the Legoland hotel, and spend the day with family on Friday; while away the entire day in the park on Saturday; fly home Sunday. Considering how much R loves theme parks and LEGOs and meeting new people (and airplanes and Dum-Dum lollipops on airplanes), I’d say we’re in for a good time.

Not that the plan could have played out any other way; we couldn’t have taken L, even if we wanted to. For starters, she has school on Fridays, and we would have had to pull her out (which Powerwoman and I agree is not a good idea right now). More important, after this past summer’s back-to-back Hawaii and Disney World trips, L declared that she didn’t want to fly for a year, and Powerwoman and I don’t want to force the issue. (This is most definitely another blog post for another time, folks.)

Yes, it’s a bummer we all can’t travel together on this adventure. At the same time, it’s a treat to be able to bask in solo travel time with only one of my kids. I think one-on-one travel time with each child is an important part of life as a parent of multiple children.

Finally, after three years, I’m delighted to give R that chance.

To what extent do you prioritize one-on-one travel with your kids?

A perfect (and throwback) mid-flight diversion

Our Dum Dums bracelet. FTW.

Our Dum Dums bracelet. FTW.

Because our family spends so much time in the air (literally), we’re always looking for new diversions for the girls in mid-flight.

We discovered a new one on our flight home from Walt Disney World resort earlier this month. The technique mixes a take-off and landing treat with a “skill” that I learned as an 8-year-old, attending summer camp on Long Island, in New York.

I taught the kids how to make bracelets out of Dum Dums lollipop wrappers.

The Dum Dums part was a no-brainer; we’ve been feeding the kids lollipops during take-off and landing for the better part of the last 14 months or so in an attempt to mollify the effects of cabin pressure on their little ears. The bracelet part was a bit more of a stretch; I found myself sitting with six wrappers on the way out and started folding them into bracelet parts—a skill I learned 30 years ago this summer.

In terms of technique, the process of making these bracelets is similar to basket-weaving—you fold the wrappers down into tiny little rectangles, then you manipulate them so they interlock. Because the wrappers are coated in wax, the rectangles form a surprisingly sturdy chain.

At first the girls had no idea what I was doing. The bracelet wasn’t big enough for them to conceptualize what it would look like, and they couldn’t understand why I didn’t just throw the wrappers out.

Gradually, however, as we consumed more Dum Dums and the bracelet got longer and longer, it evolved into a really big deal. L became obsessed with my color patterning, R proclaimed herself the master of quality assurance and tried (unsuccessfully) to break the thing at every turn.

Our project didn’t only keep us busy; it also attracted the gazes of seat neighbors and flight attendants alike.

(One flight attendant said she hadn’t seen the craft in “at least 40 years.” She gave the girls free wings.)

By the time our flight home from MCO landed at SFO, the bracelet was long enough for the girls to wear. Since then, they’ve shared it nicely, and it has become their go-to jewelry of choice. The kids already are asking about whether we’ll make a second bracelet on our next flight. As of now we don’t have any family air trips on the books. The answer, however, always is yes.

What are your favorite artsy mid-flight diversions?

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