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Michelle Obama is right: Take kids on individual vacations

By TW for BlogHer.com

Michelle Obama added a "Mommy and me" trip to her summer vacation schedule: Sasha, 9, and her mother will travel to Spain. Vacations with the whole family have a place, but in my experience the trips a child makes alone with a parent really mean the world.

As I write this, my son is enjoying one-on-one time with his father -- in Japan. Every picture of him on Facebook shows a beaming 16-year-old -- which might surprise anyone with a 16-year-old son. I know it would surprise anyone who has been tortured with endless pictures of my children on vacation: in any one photo, one kid will smile, while one looks away and one looks bored. My son is having a blast without his younger sisters complaining about this destination or that restaurant. Those pictures show exactly why leaving the siblings at home makes for a special parent-child vacation.

My children have traveled quite a bit with their father -- all over the world, in fact. Their itineraries make even well-traveled adults sigh with envy. But if you ask my daughter about her favorite trip ever, she rambles about her special "mommy and me" birthday trip two hours from our home, to Disney World.

My daughter's birthday came at about the same time she became fixated with the Pirates of the Caribbean. She didn't remember the ride at all from a couple of years earlier, when we had season passes to Disney World. So I planned a one-night, two-day trip. She loved every minute of it, from the drizzling rain to the pit stop for doughnuts at the toll road oasis to the magic of Disney.

What she talks about, though, and what we both remember well about this trip: She had the undivided attention of her mother. Our days were directed by her whims, not her siblings' likes and dislikes. We wandered leisurely and lingered in the photo booth. We didn't talk about anything earthshaking. Instead, we focused on the fun. I reflect back on that trip and realize the thing that made it special truly was having alone time with someone you love. Those connections nurtured and special memories made with "just mom" last.

For my 20-year-old child's 16th birthday, we took her to the closest Ikea, 5 hours away. We left the other children behind and spent the night in a hotel. We ordered room service, and came home with the new bedroom furniture she had needed for some time. These trips nurture what can be lost in the hustle and bustle of our lives and trying to juggle the needs of all of the children.

Michelle Obama chose wisely when she decided to take Sasha on a "mommy and me" trip. Among the unforgettable experiences Sasha will have as a child, this one will no doubt rank very high on the list.

What do you think: Is it a good idea to take kids on solo vacations? Would you do it?

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