Last week, avid traveler and single mom Joumana Kidd shared her top 10 tips on preparing to hit the road with kids when you’re a single parent.
Now, she shares her advice on an even more complex topic: traveling with your kids and a significant other.
With these tips in mind, it may not be as hard as you think.
1. Communicate, communicate, communicate.
Your significant other needs to be well aware that your children are traveling with you; your children need to have met your partner and gotten along with him or her. I know that sounds like a no-brainer, but we all have those people in our life that aren’t the greatest communicators. They forget to mention those little details, such as … my three children are going to be on this trip and we can’t share a bedroom.
Also, what if this significant other didn’t get along with your kids? Don’t get any brilliant ideas about “bringing everyone together” on this vacation so they will start getting along. You’re asking for a nightmare of a situation.
2. Establish your personal boundaries.
You need common ground in any relationship, but when you travel with your kids and things are potentially complicated by the new potential significant other—or for him/her—you really need to be on the same page.
I personally will not allow my children to EVER see mom being intimate with someone with whom I am not married. This makes it a lot tougher for me, but I believe what I’m teaching them is valuable. I know and recognize that many people are a little more relaxed about this than I am. And while I acknowledge that every situation is different, the one non-negotiable for me is to make sure that your kids understand that it’s very special to get to the point of sharing a bed.
Get more tips in our Family Travel section.
It is so important to establish and maintain a strict behavior protocol with the new person in your life. Welcome to the world of the imaginary PDA, at least when your kids are around. And remember, we only want to walk where we want our kids to follow. Kids see, and remember everything. Never underestimate them, and at the end of the day we are teaching them by our actions.
If this significant other is OK with my rules of sleeping in separate beds/rooms (depending on sleeping situation) he’s already scored points with me for his understanding and patience as well as his valuing my children and me. (Or he is really smooth and knows how to play his cards right by playing the patience game)
4. Don’t try to fool the kids.
When necessary or appropriate, remind your significant other that your kids come first! Never make the children feel like they’re in the way. After all you took this trip as a group, and a group you should be. At the same time, it’s important to keep their feelings a priority. Kids are smart. Don’t think for one second you can pull a fast one on them.
My girlfriend once took her kids to Los Angeles to visit a guy she was dating. She figured that since he also had kids it would all work out. Well, when bedtime came around, his very independent boys went upstairs to their rooms and hit the sack. Her two kids were a little different. Even though they set up camp upstairs with the other kids, they kept coming downstairs for every reason under the sun.
Learn more: 10 Tips for Single Parents Traveling With Kids.
Finally, the next morning the kids asked her where she slept. She lied! She knew they could see the family room couch from upstairs, so she said she slept in Tony’s room and he slept on the couch in the living room.
Her daughter walked her over to the living room that still had the untouched vacuum strips in the carpet and perfectly fluffy and decorated sofa. “Nobody slept here Mom.” First of all, the kid is inquiring for a reason. Kids are smart, and they are always watching. Second, they want to know where their parent is at all times!
5. Consider a sitter.
If you are lucky enough to bring along a babysitter or older child who can baby-sit then you can tap into your inner teenager and sneak around. Let’s just say it’s bedtime and the kids are all snuggled up watching a movie, falling asleep and the babysitter is on duty. Well, here’s your chance to sneak off together.
Want to get away with just the two of you? Try our Romantic Travel section.
6. Use the opportunity to learn about your partner.
Look for some important behavioral signs on this trip. Does your significant other genuinely want to make the kids happy? Did he think of activities to do that he knows the children will love? Or did he plan things where you have to look at him with a puzzled face thinking, “What about the kids???”
Next step: Don’t ignore these signs! We tend to make excuses for people and let things slide. But when kids are involved, you need to communicate your feelings to your significant other as soon as you can.
An older women pulled me aside when I first got married and said in her crackly voice, “Honey, start the way you want to finish.” I had no clue what she was talking about at the time, but of course I smiled and agreed with her out of respect. Years later, I live by this saying. You can’t let a bunch of things slide at first, and then decide to point them out and expect change years later.
Get travel tips on Preparing Young Travelers for Long-Distance Vacations
7. Pay attention to the positive.
If things are going great, make sure to let your significant other know how awesome they are and how it’s not going unnoticed. This is a lot of sacrifice on their part and you should always give credit where credit is due. It also encourages them to keep your priorities as their priorities.
Don’t forget the recognition and appreciation. Now time to reward the significant other who has been such a trooper! Perhaps some relaxing spa services or a round of golf while you entertain the kids. It’s important to nurture your relationship too.
9. But don’t ignore the negative.
By the second day of any trip (at the latest) you’ll know if this person fits in your life and in your children’s life. If you’ve seen nothing but red flags, it’s time to end it. That very first trip will give you all the indications/clues you’ll need.
If it was all pretty much smooth sailing, and your kids wanted to hang out with them even more then they did with you … well you may want to hang on to that one!
By Joumana Kidd for PeterGreenberg.com. Visit Joumana on the Web at www.joumanakidd.com.
Related links on PeterGreenberg.com:
- 10 Tips for Single Parents Traveling With Kids
- Family Travel section
- Yosemite Rediscovered Through a Child’s Eyes
- Baby, Let’s Get Away: A Crib Sheet for Traveling With Tots
- Six Great Back-to-School Family Vacation Ideas
- China With Kids: Preparing Young Travelers for Long-Distance Vacations
- Tips for Finding Kid-Friendly Villas
- Family-Friendly Adventures in Orlando Beyond the Theme Parks
- Planning for Family-Friendly Adventures Abroad