The blog post “The Sweet Spot” by Julianna W. Miner made the rounds on the Internet early this summer. It was about suddenly finding oneself in a “sweet spot” as a family. You discover you’re finally in that period of child-raising where all is generally good and you’re enjoying all the hard work that came earlier. There still might be chaos at times, or a “goat rodeo” as Julianna Miner wrote, but you have moments of sanity and enjoyment.
I had that same a-ha moment on this year’s annual trip to Norway. Every summer I head across the globe on my own with the kids. My husband joins us later. I’ve traveled alone since our first child was a baby. We only skipped one year when Doobie was 1 ½ years old and Sonny was four years old. The thought of me flying alone with our two young active boys even made my mom stressed and anxious for me. She had lots of experience traveling alone with my sister and me throughout our childhood and totally understood us taking that year off.
I’ve never dreaded these long journeys with the kids. But it has been stressful getting ready for them—thinking of everything I might possibly need and then how to pack it so I could handle the carry-on and the kids. And the flights were never relaxing because I was always handling and/or entertaining one child or another or both. What has made me be able to do it is knowing that at the end of the trip my parents would be waiting at the airport with open arms and big smiles and a welcome eagerness to entertain and help with the kids.
After nine years of international travel, occasionally twice a year, my kids now know what to expect and don’t complain. Same with me. They actually look forward to the flights for the non-stop screen time. I have learned to accept that they do not sleep at all on the long-haul flight. I don’t even try to make them. Somehow they manage to stay awake all ten+ hours. Luckily, they crash on the second flight, sometimes even before we’ve taken off.
For me, every year seems to have gotten a little easier with each of them becoming more independent.
On this trip, I realized I had hit the “sweet spot”, or at least am very close to it, when it comes to traveling with my kids.
My carry-on only had my stuff in it (besides a small snack bag and the family ipad).
The snack bag was small and manageable.
The surprise Lego mini figures I had inadvertently left at home weren’t missed at all. They didn’t even ask if I had a surprise for them which I’ve always had in the past.
Sonny (9yo) handled the fact that the airline didn’t have a child’s meal for him without a single complaint.
Sonny figured out and maneuvered through the in-seat entertainment system totally on his own.
Doobie (6yo) actually watched some tv shows all the way through and he figured out how to play a game on his own.
I could send them off to the airplane bathrooms on their own.
I could send them off on walks to stretch their legs, telling them to take even longer walks.
I knew they wouldn’t kick the seatback in front of them.
Most significantly, I was able to read my book! And watch some tv shows! And even write the draft of this blog entry!
It used to be that I only looked forward to red-eye flights I booked for girlfriend weekends—packing only for myself, sitting in a window seat and able to totally ignore the person next to me if I wished, able to read, watch whole shows, and sleep. On this trip, I discovered I’m pretty much at that point with my flights with the kids. Now it seems I can look forward to them knowing that I’ll be able to read and catch up on movies. Sleep may be in the near future as well.
Follow-up: We have now completed the return portion of our travel as well. This stretch we traveled together as a family. We may have discovered a new solution to sibling quarreling which is bound to happen when confined to a small space for an extended period of time. We split up and sat 2 and 2 instead of 4 together in the middle section. The “sweet spot” feeling continued and may actually have become sweeter. Unbelievably, Doobie watched a whole movie in addition to some cartoons, and I was able to watch a whole movie too (but of course with the occasional interruptions and wandering eyes from my curious neighbor). He even slept an hour on his own volition, but of course it was the very last hour and I had to forcibly wake him upon touchdown.
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A great milestone!
Det er veldig bra at det går rett vei med så lange flyturer…… Tipper om noen år at guttene kommer til sove mer enn deg…..
I loved that article about the Sweet Spot. We have a long way to go until we hit that but we’ll make it (I think)! So glad you have hit it with your travels. That’s a tough journey even though I know it’s worth it!
Hi, Carrie! Yes, it is certainly worth it! I’m also lucky to have kids who have learned to handle the flying well. Thanks for reading!