When it comes to being a single dad, it can be tough to enjoy the time that you have with your kids when you know how limited it is. Whether you are an every weekend, every other weekend, or once a month visitor, you want to cherish each moment with your child. But when it starts to get old doing the same activities week after week you will start craving something fun and new to keep both you and your kid entertained:this is the perfect time to schedule a vacation for lots of one-on-one time in a new location. However it might be intimidated planning some time away when you aren’t used to, well, doing everything it requires to get the family ready. Don’t let this deter you! With a few simple trips you can start creating single dad vacations that are just as fun and chock-full of wonderful memories that you can cherish forever.
1) Collaborate with your child
While you might think that hiking a portion of the Appalachian Trail with your 12 year old daughter might be an awesome time, she is sitting there putting on her bright pink nail polish, looking at you like you should be committed. Sure, this is your vacation as well, but if you don’t ask your kids what they really want to do, rather than what you think would be fun, you will be in for a world of pain later on. Take the time to sit down with your kid and brainstorm a list of ideas that would be entertaining for all of you. If you have more than one kid it can be tough to make everyone happy, but after chatting for a while, it is possible to reach a happy medium where everyone can get a little of what they want from the next vacation.
2) Pay attention to the details
Okay, let’s admit it. You used to prefer being more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of guy, let someone else do the planning and worrying. Variety is the spice of life, right? Who cares if we get a little lost or don’t know where the next restroom is! When you are traveling alone with children, you will soon learn that planning well, don’t to the last little detail, will not only make your life easier, it will make the experience that much more enjoyable. Take a moment to think of what your kids normally ask for or want to do on a trip, and start researching these items well. You will realize that the small things, like giving your kid that Big Gulp he wants from 7-11 will mean that you have to take five potty breaks within the next fifty miles, really do make a difference.
3) Relax, take deep breaths, breathe
There will come a point where your child is tired, cranky, disappointed, or missing mom, and he or she might start to act up. Normally you have no problem handling this but, added to the extra stresses of traveling, it can become overwhelming not having the backup of a second parent to help out. Remember, this is a learning experience for both you and your child, and presents itself as a chance to reaffirm your role as a parent in his or her life, and build stronger bonds in the long run. Rather than telling Bobby or Sally to be quiet, get over it or else there will be no ice cream later, pull over the car and take a few minutes to talk. See what is the root cause of their frustration and discuss their feelings. Oftentimes this is all it takes to really get your kid to calm down; or it is another easily solved problem, like hunger or fatigue. Your child might just need a five minute phone call to mom to get back into a happy frame of mind!