So my question is how do you decide which kiddies to take on trips -- obviously the youngest, but then what?I really don't leave my kids very often. I've only been away overnight from my kids four times in the last twelve years, and almost always, we've taken a child or two with us:
1. We spent one night in a nearby hotel for our 5th anniversary. I was three weeks away from delivering Michael, Lillian was 3 and Joey was 18 months. My in-laws stayed with them.
2. We had an amazing, wonderful, memory-filled trip to Armenia in 2007, where we visited my husband's parents, serving a three-year mission for our Church. On the way back, we enjoyed four lovely days in Paris, which lives up to its hype as a gorgeous city.
At a 2nd-century Roman site in Armenia:
Rulon Gardner, of gold medal (and more recently, Biggest Loser) fame sat behind us on the plane ride home and was gracious enough to take a photo with Joey:
We left Lillian (8), Michael (5), and Allison and Sarah (2.75) behind with my brother and sister-in-law and some helpful neighbors (thanks, Justin, Gina, Val and Kirsten. I still owe you big time!). We brought Joey, age 6, and Eliza, age 6 months with us. Bringing Eliza was an easy choice -- she was free to fly and still nursing.
Lillian was frightened of flying, and honestly, we didn't think the twins could handle being away from both their mother and their favorite sister who knew all their routines (that girl has always been amazing!). We chose to take Joey because of his adventurous nature -- he's a born explorer and a delight to travel with. We also brought him because, well, at that time, if there were problems or fighting at home, he was always in the middle of it. He may not always have been the cause of the problems, but he was certainly involved. We knew it would make for an easier group at home if we brought him along, though with two-year-old twins in the mix, easier is relative.
3. Last summer, my husband and I spent six beautiful days in Boston, with three-month-old Katie along (a much easier age to travel with). My mother-in-law stayed home with the other seven, ages 11 down to 2 -- a brave woman!
4. Last week, Joey, Katie and I tagged along to Chicago with DH. My husband was busy all day for three days straight and it wouldn't have been much fun for me to explore alone. It was great to have Joey along.
While I haven't left my kids much, my husband does take some of them along sometimes on business trips and at other times for Daddy Trips. We choose who to take based on these criteria:
* Age. The kids who go on the long daddy trips have to be over three. Those that go on business trips need to be at least nine or ten. Lillian and Joey are the only ones old enough so far to be left alone while my husband attends conferences. They both like to read and can do that for several hours at a time while DH is in classes and presentations (though he also stays an extra day or so when he brings kids along so they can have more concentrated time to explore). Lillian's been to New York and Chicago, and Joey's been to San Francisco, Denver, and Chicago on these tag-along trips. Michael is old enough to enjoy the sights but hates to be alone so it will probably be several years before he goes.
* Interest level. Lillian's stayed home from several trips (like last October's San Diego trip and January's Arizona one) because she likes the quiet and peace at home.
* (Roughly) Equal turns. Lillian went to Chicago two years ago with my husband, so it was Joey's turn last week. We try to be somewhat fair, although I know it will be a little trickier when we have more older kids.
* Willingness to Work for it. Big trips like last week's aren't free for the taking; we charge our kids work hours for their part. For Lillian's first trip to Chicago, she actually earned half of the cost of it, saving up her money for nine long months, but since then we've switched to work hours. Our older kids earn work hours by doing extra jobs like babysitting, yard work, or whatever else we can devise. Joey earned fifty hours for this last trip to Chicago. A lot of that was spent taking Harmony outside to play, but some of it was moving boxes around our storage area, banging off the remaining rebar and concrete from our cold storage area, and really working hard. Michael even worked a couple hours and donated them to Joey's total -- I love it when my kids help each other!