After two-thirds of a mommy-free, 3-day road-trip with my girls, I can tell you this: Solo-parent family travel is a LOT harder than I ever thought it would be.
In my abbreviated experience, challenges generally come in two main flavors: Kid-time and alone-time.
The ones during kid time should come as no surprise. Meals are tough because you’ve got no help to feed or discipline or disrobe crayons or put together a puzzle or cut grilled cheese or chase down that piece of fried fish one of the children just threw across the room. Bedtimes can be rough when the kids are on different schedules and there’s only one parent to wipe butts and brush teeth and read books and sing songs and snuggle.
Alone time presents its own obstacles. Because there’s nobody else to watch the kids for even a moment, you find yourself Instagramming and scribbling story notes while adjudicating a game of “Go Fish,” eating dinner (of unclaimed pasta with butter sauce, natch) at 5 p.m., and engaging in training “runs” of four miles (in circles) around the living room of your rental cabin.
(Yes, I really did that last one. I know: I am a complete and total freak.)
Months from now, I’ll look back on this experience with my girls as difficult but fun. Heck, next week I plan to write about some of the amazing stuff we have done over the last 48 hours.
Right now, however, crashed out on a couch while the gals snooze away in the other room, I see the takeaway as more visceral: nobody—I mean, nobody—deserves more credit in the world of parenting than single moms and dads who vacation with multiple children multiple times a year.
For these parents, solo-parent vacations aren’t a choice. For these parents, help rarely is even an option. For these parents, this rigmarole is reality, on every single trip.
In my book—especially tonight—that makes them rock stars; parents from whom I’ve got a ton to learn.