I have two high-energy, very competitive boys. They are two years apart and while there are moments when they get along, well, brotherly, more often than not, they are competing, which inevitably leads to fighting — about, well, everything. Who got the bigger plate of pancakes, who got the best choice in desserts, who had the better seat on the plane, who got more pool time…and on and on. Of course, I’m not alone — when I travel I see this among other families. The non-stop bickering and fighting is a constant with siblings.
But here’s the thing, while I can somehow manage (or ignore) the fighting at home, it just seems wrong on a trip. Traveling is meant to be relaxing, a time to recharge and refuel. And yet the bickering leaves me drained and exhausted. So I started something a bit unconventional: I started traveling with just one child at time.
People often find this very strange. You left one child at home? On vacation? What kind of parent does that? But it turns out that in our family, it works beautifully. Not only do I get special time with the child I’m traveling with, but my husband gets to spend special time with the child that is left home (they can do a camping weekend, or go see a sports game, or simply do movie and pizza with dad). Each child feels special spending time with one parent and I feel more calm focusing on just one.
And the experts agree that this is a good thing. “There is nothing worth more than the time you invest one-on-one with your child,” says Dr. Lisa Long, a licensed clinical psychologist based in Charlotte, North Carolina. “This time is a direct message to your child that they matter to you.”
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