We had to put a stop to our travels when I got pregnant with my first child because I was instructed to “Stay In Bed”. It was a tough adjustment. You see, my husband and I took four trips a year to explore this expansive world bit by bit before we became parents. So the moment we could get back onto a plane, we did! With a vengeance this time. Instead of the regular four trips a year, we are now clocking six with the kids! Yes, we had been deprived.
I am an Asian stay-at-home mom of two young children aged two and four. When you think Asian, you will probably assume a few traits of me – conservative, authoritative and patriarchal. I am not going to defend myself because I probably am all of these. However, we Asian moms can also be open-minded and adventurous.
Travel is never over after kids and women should always be given the opportunity to be empowered. As our children’s main caregiver, I am confident of caring for them at home in Singapore or all the way to snow-capped Swiss Alps. The difference would be, “No More House-Cleaning” because uh-hmmm hotels provide housekeeping services. Hurrah to less chores!
I decided to take a step forward and solo-tripped with the children without their daddy four months ago. I do not know where I took the courage from but I thought through our itinerary from departure to arrival and I saw no difficulties at all. The worst that could happen would be sheer exhaustion – but not without having a swell time with Ewan and Faye. I was really positive about the trip and told concerned friends, “Taking a plane is easier than taking a bus! We will be waited on by the stewardesses! No sweat man.”
That said, I have to be brutally honest. It wasn’t exactly a walk in the park. Take my word for it. It doesn’t matter if your son [Ewan in this case] peed in his pants at the boarding gate or your daughter [my daughter, Faye] tore up her brother’s boarding pass while I cleaned him up. Just remember, “A positive attitude wins all battles and do not miss your flight!”
I threw away his soaked underpants and apologised to the staff that the boarding pass was torn up quite unintentionally. Of course I was really mad and I thought what my husband might say, “Told You So! It’s going to be tough doing this alone!” Then, I changed my mindset and moved on.
Here are some how-to’s to ease your travels when you solo-parent a holiday:
1) Request for assistance from the airlines. Singapore Airlines provides a meet-and-greet service at disembarkation to whisk passengers-in-need [on a case by case basis] through immigration and luggage pick-up at no extra charge.
2) Reassure concerned family and friends that your group will be taken care of by arranging a pre-booked driver/guide from the hotel or a travel agency to pick you up from the airport. Who wouldn’t worry for a mom outnumbered on an overseas trip?
3) Book hotels that welcome children. An establishment that is family friendly and geared towards children will be very helpful.
4) Work on a kid-centric itinerary. Life has changed after children and I naturally skew my itineraries towards them on our travels just for our sanity. If it’s impossible for me to shop and sightsee in Singapore with the two of them, it’ll be equally impossible for me to do the same in a foreign country. It’s preferable that they be happy all the time rather than throwing tantrums while mommy goes about doing adult things.
5) Choose a country where you have friends you can catch up with and turn to in times of need.
6) Buy travel insurance. Placing it last on the list doesn’t mean it is least important. I would never travel without travel insurance on my own, let alone with kids. Besides claiming for lost baggages, you can claim for illnesses and accidents as well.
I’ve heard too many women questioning their abilities, saying, “Can I do this alone? I’m woman.” Of course you can! Women are alert, intuitive and are great multi-taskers! Especially when mommy duties call.
Did we have a great holiday in Taiwan? Yes! It was my most memorable trip as a woman, mother and wife. I know feel that there is nothing I cannot handle and that has been very important in building self-esteem, courage and confidence. And my husband is pretty proud of me for that.
This is a guest post by Liang May.
May is a Mom Blogger from Singapore. Join her adventures on A Million Little Echoes as she unfolds her family’s stories by bits and pieces. She’s a stay at home mom who enjoys photography, traveling, theatre and most importantly, believes in the phrase “The World is your Oyster”. Her blog encourages and inspires moms alike to believe in themselves – that they can do anything they want to, even after having kids.