How to Take a Road Trip With One Child (When You Have Three)

by June Blogger of the Month Rhonda Franz


A June wedding out of state, 48 hours at our disposal, and three children: this is what we I had to work with. Sometimes, these kinds of experiences make for fun family memories. Sometimes family peace (and survival) means splitting everyone up.

Turns out, there’s a bit of an art to leaving for a weekend with one child when you have three. Before the road trip journey began, I had to get past the days leading up to the trip.

1. Put the road trip on the calendar. Write your name and your oldest child’s name along with it, establishing the authority of the family calendar above all else. If there are any gripes about everyone not getting to go, simply point to the wedding date, and remind the complainers that what is on the calendar remains on the calendar. Never mind that there are multiple previous events crossed out on the calendar.

2. Make sure someone stays with the children. With such limited time available, my husband and I decided he would remain at home with the younger two. No matter how much you might want to embrace Free Range parenting, you can’t leave a six-year old and a four-year old at home without supervision.

roadtripkidsRoad trip drama: I regret to inform you that two of you boys will be staying behind.

3. Inform the children who are being left behind. Despite the fact that “no” is a complete sentence, it might be helpful to explain to the littles that older brother is going and they are getting to stay at home. This should probably be done a few days ahead of time, and not right before you dash out the door—leaving tantrums in your wake.

4. Remember who you are. You are a mom of multiple children. You banished guilt a long time ago. The word “guilt” shouldn’t even be part of your vocabulary. Make the decision and don’t look back. Do not entertain any guilty thoughts. Stop thinking about how guilty you might be feeling. Remember, you’re the mom of multiple children. You banished guilt a long time ago…

5. Be careful about what you say. It’s not like you can appease the younger kids by convincing them that weddings are totally boring—informing them they would have to: sit for a really long time without talking or wiggling or moving in any way or making faces or swinging their feet or clapping their hands or crossing their eyes or looking behind them or laughing or hanging upside in their chair like monkeys or making any noise whatsoever…because then the oldest child will overhear you (or surely be told by his siblings) and will have second thoughts about going.

6. Play up the whole “getting to stay with Daddy” experience for the younger ones. Daddy is the one they love best, anyway. When the oldest child isn’t around, remind them that Daddy doles out Lucky Charms for breakfast, licorice for snack, and other fun things they never get to do when Mommy is around.

7. Play up the whole “you’re getting to come with Mommy!” experience for the oldest. When his younger brothers are not around, remind him that he will get to see his Mama and Papa, have undivided attention from family, and get to eat wedding food. Wedding food!

8. Relax. You’ve done your job. The younger children know what’s going on and are fine with it. The oldest child is excited about the trip. All is good. #success

9. Do not mess up the success of your plan. Make a mental note that next time, putting the one mobile device shared by all the children in the car while the younger two are watching is a terrible mistake.


10. Drive away. Do not look back at the tantrums in your wake. #parentingfail


  1. Jenny Marrs says:

    This post made me laugh out loud! I hear you, momma! I am actually heading to my niece’s first birthday party in Florida with only my youngest (because her plane ticket is FREE… Sorry older kids) so I’m about to face this dilemma too. The older three have been assured that going to Florida is not going to be nearly as fun as a weekend with daddy (insert fake enthusiasm)!!:) let go of the guilt… Good advice:)

  2. Deb says:

    laughed out loud!! So glad for the memories made for everyone!! There may be sabotage prior to next road trip for the ones left behind with Daddy. True words of wisdom!

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