Family vacations are a long and glorious tradition! Our family of five loves our trips together and we always look forward to the next one. Sometimes, though, a kid needs some one-on-one time with Mom or Dad. It’s been my great pleasure to have taken each of my three boys on a one-on-one trip of their own over the last several years! Here’s what I learned about how an individual trip with your child can pay off in invaluable memories.
One-on-one trip

Left photo credit: Amy Albers. Right photo credit: Disney’s Photopass

It started with my oldest when he was about to turn 12. He had spent his sixth birthday at Walt Disney World, so I thought that bringing him back for his 12th birthday would be an outstanding idea! Disclosure: This girl thinks that going to Walt Disney World for absolutely any reason is an outstanding idea.

My son had been diagnosed with ADHD and on medication for just over a year. We were still going through the ups and downs of making sure he had the right medication and dosage, so we knew a trip of this magnitude with the whole family could be bumpy. This birthed the idea of a trip just for him and Mom, because, let’s face it, if anyone was going to Walt Disney World it was going to be me. We threw in a day at Legoland Florida, just to be thorough.

Of course, this one-on-one trip set a precedent. My middle son, now 12, got his trip during Christmas 2015. My baby, almost 8, got a teaser one-on-one trip while we were on fall break in Cocoa Beach. I brought him up to spend one night in a Disney Parks Resort hotel and we spent seven hours in the Magic Kingdom at Mickey’s Not So Scary Halloween Party. The boy is already talking about turning 12 and his trip that will include all rights and benefits.

One-on-one trip

His first Magic Kingdom selfie!
Photo credit: Amy Albers

There are so many reasons why carving out some one-on-one travel with your kids is beneficial, but here are my top five:

1.You can cater to their personalities.

My 14 year old and my 12 year old are polar opposites when it comes to temperament and interests. There are five years between my youngest child and his closest older brother. These are challenges when choosing activities on a family vacation. Constantly trying to make everyone happy often results in nobody being happy.

On a one-on-one trip, I don’t have that problem. My nature loving teen was happy to wander for hours in Disney’s Animal Kingdom. My daredevil tween wanted to race from park to park, making sure we hit every thrill ride they had. I spent most of the night with my youngest, predictably, in Fantasyland riding attractions that his brothers would have wanted to blow off.

2.You can Fire the Referee.

As previously stated, my older two children are a study in contrasts. Both of them have ADHD which lends itself to impulse control issues. This can lead to moments of them bickering like little old ladies periodically, especially if they have spent a bit too much time in close quarters. When you take just one of your children on their trip, you can retire the whistle. I didn’t once have to utter my trademark warning, “Oh. My. Word.,” drawled out in an attempt to regain any shred of patience. “Y’all better get right” took a vacation, too. It was fairly astounding for my kids and me to rediscover what a nice person I am.

One-on-one trip

My oldest and I reconnecting on the river. Photo credit: Amy Albers

3.You can assure the appearance of FUN MOM.

My kids LOVE going places with me solo, be it Walt Disney World or the grocery store. After years of having to keep the wants and needs of three children in mind, having only one child to consider is like a holiday! I think they know that I’m much more likely to say yes to something when I’m saying yes to only one child. My teenager is a pin collector. He came away from that trip with waaaay more pins than I would have bought if I needed to purchase for three children. I indulged my middle child’s sweet tooth in restaurants because I only had to buy ONE dessert and not three. My youngest can outlast anyone else in the family and stayed in the Magic Kingdom until midnight. Mom let him stay up that late because there was nobody else there to complain about it.

4.You can sincerely focus on your child.

It’s an amazing feeling, being able to give one child your full and complete attention. I noticed interesting results from that. Without someone trying to horn in on the telling of a story and without the usual interruptions that they battle, my normally verbose kids actually spoke less. They didn’t need to work as hard to feel heard.

My teen and I sat on a bench in Animal Kingdom for about 20 minutes in companionable silence, just watching two birds take turns flying back and forth to build their nest. I treasure this memory that was not interrupted by someone else telling me they are bored and CAN WE GO NOW?

Avoid the temptation to invite the outside world in on your trip. I did my share of posting to social media but that was mostly so my husband could get updates. This is your time with your kid. Don’t squander it with your face in a screen!

5.You can see facets to your child’s personality you didn’t even know were there.

My oldest is my least affectionate child, but at the end of every day of our one-on-one trip, regardless of what park we were leaving, he would spontaneously hug me and say, Thanks, Mom! Every day. My tween surprised me by his focus and tenacity when playing the Sorcerers of the Magic Kingdom interactive game. My 8 year old exhibited patience and flexibility well beyond his age since his brothers weren’t there to try to impose their will upon him.

One-on-one trip

Bonding over dessert.
Photo credit: Amy Albers

Even though we went to Walt Disney World, I don’t live in Fantasyland. I know that it’s not possible for everyone to take each child on an elaborate vacation. The trips I took with my kids spanned several years and there was plenty of saving up for them in between. When it comes down to it, though, your child could be wildly happy spending a weekend with you in a tent an hour from home. I’ve done things as simple as taking just one child to our local Six Flags park for the day and he was incredibly excited about it. Taking time out from your busy lives to simply BE with each of your children will create memories they won’t forget.