7 Things to Look Forward to on a Trip With Just the Big Kid
I can't remember the last trip I took without at least one kiddo along for the ride. I mean, I had a same day turn around flight for work about 5 months ago without any kiddos, but I truly can't remember the last real trip without kids. I think it was about two years ago, but there have been a lot of practically sleepless nights between then and now, so I'm not sure. However, I can remember my last trip with just my oldest girl.
That last only child trip was to The Phoenician in Arizona, and it was taken about two months before Baby S entered our world. In other words, it has been roughly 645 days since the last trip where I was able to fully focus on my (not so) Little C. For families with multiple kids I am sure that many more days than that probably go by without taking a trip largely dedicated to just one child, but for her this has probably felt like a lifetime. Her sister's lifetime to be exact.
For the first 5.5 years of her life, my now seven year old oldest daughter was used to taking a trip with one or both of her parents roughly every couple of months, and while that is of course an insanely privileged life in many respects, it was also her normal. When her sister arrived, a new normal immediately began not just on the road, but at home. She's done amazingly well as a big sister, but after 645 days, it is her turn to have a few days of the spotlight without me having to peel off regularly to take care of her very active toddler sister.
If you can pull it off, I am a huge proponent of taking solo trips with each kid. We've actually already done that with our second daughter, but since her birth we hadn't been able to circle back to just taking our oldest. As Rafiki dramatically proclaims in The Lion King, "It is time".
As we are rapidly approaching the wheels-up time for our first "Mommy and C" adventure in many moons, here are the seven things I am most excited about for my trip with my very own seven year old.
1. Doing Big Girl Things
While C certainly does big girl things like riding the bus, having golf lessons, riding horses, and doing homework in her day to day life, our joint family activities are often brought down to the lowest common denominator, the toddler. It's rare that her and I get to do lots of big girl things together like go out to eat at a real restaurant, enjoy room service in bed, ski, talk for long periods of time, or just chill. I can barely imagine what it will be like to get on a plane with her and both just exhale and enjoy the journey...but I'm excited to find out. Of course, given what a high note our last ski trip ended on over a year ago, I also really can't wait to see what it is like to enjoy the slopes with a seven year old big kid!
2. Sleeping In
C has recently started to dabble in the art of sleeping-in. She hasn't perfected this art yet, but there are days when she will sleep past 7AM...and then sometimes she just wants to "chill in bed" for a bit with her iPad or a show even after she wakes up. Living the dream. Of course, since her toddler sister is not yet remotely familiar with the idea of sleeping past sun-up, I also am unfamiliar with the concept, but I look forward to at least exploring this possibility while on a trip with just my oldest.
3. Being Spontaneous
Other than skiing, eating and sleeping, I don't really know what we will do on our upcoming trip. I mean, maybe that's all we will do since that is a very solid agenda all by itself. However, I'm looking forward to the possibility of being spontaneous and doing something because we stumble upon it and it sounds fun. You can be spontaneous with a toddler, of course, but the window for spontaneity each day isn't very big given the absolute necessity of nap schedules, bedtime, snack availability, and of course the limitations that naturally come with being a squirmy, mobile, and impatient perfectly normal 1.5 year old.
Might C and I take a sleigh ride? Or go snow tubing? Or ice skating? Watch a movie? Jump in the hot tub? Who knows?! The possibilities are almost endless when you are dealing with a big 7 year old, at least comparatively speaking.
4. Packing Light
Already we bring less gear along on our family trips with a 1.5 year old than we did a year or so ago with a baby, but it's still quite the load. With C she can and will carry her own bag, and I will only have to deal with my own stuff. Let me repeat, I will only have to carry my own stuff! What a treat to mostly only be responsible for lugging your own bag and that's it! No stroller, no car seat, no 25 pound toddler, no diaper stuff, no toddler treats and toys...just. my. own. stuff. OMG.
5. Being Where My Seven Year Old Is
I've sort of already said this in a round about way, but it also is a stand-alone highlight I can't emphasize enough. I can't wait for a couple days of just fully being where my seven year old is in life right now. When you only have one child, this is pretty easy. However, when you have more than one kid, being able to fully immerse yourself in exactly where one child is sounds like such a treat. Each year and each phase goes so fast, and I hate to miss any more of this one because of the pace of daily life. While I will likely have a few "me" moments while she is with her ski instructor, for the most part this trip will be 24/7 all about life and fun with a 7 year old. I can't wait to see what that is like because it looks pretty fabulous.
6. Missing My Toddler
It may sound strange, but I'm looking forward to missing my little toddle while I am away with my oldest. The toddle is my shadow these days and she is a sweet, sassy, snuggle ball of little human who I enjoy immensely, but I haven't spent a single full day away from her since she was born over 19 months ago. This is a very stark difference to how we managed life with my first daughter who was doing sleepovers with Grandma and Grandpa starting at just 5 months old. While it will probably be a very big challenge for me (and her) to have a few days apart, I think that a few days of missing her will only make our time back together again sweeter.
7. Letting My Toddler Be a Big Girl
While it will be a huge adjustment, I am also looking forward to giving my toddler a chance to be the big girl at home without mom and her older sister. She will have five adult caregivers within a two block radius, so she will have plenty of attention and support, but she won't be nursing and dotted on by mom during those few days. She will, for better and worse, have the chance to be a big girl in her own right, and I think in the long run that will be a good thing for her and me.
In truth I am a bit nervous for this upcoming trip since it has been so long since I have left the nest without my littlest baby bird under my wing, but knowing how good it really will be for my oldest daughter to have this dedicated time is helping me focus more on the things I am looking forward to, and not obsessing over the other inherent challenges that will also come with such a sharp departure from our daily routine.
I am also looking forward to having more first-hand travel stories and tips to share with you guys. I mean, let's be real, there has been very little travel on this travel site in recent months. It was the right call for this phase of life, but I'm ready to peer over the hill and see what the next chapter has in store. I think it is full of "big kid" fun, and I can't wait to tell you all about it!