It took several years -- and myriad battles about who would sit next to mom -- for me to figure out the perfect way to fly: separate from my children.
I learned this the hard way on an overbooked flight in which we couldn't get seats together. I put the girls in the two seats that were side-by-side, and I perched in the row behind. As if by miracle, there was no fighting, no embarrassing insults tossed between my usually mature children and -- drumroll, please -- no complaints! Instead, I received compliments from my daughters' seatmates at flight's end about how sweet and well-behaved my girls were.
So now I make sure they each have their own carry-on with a book, writing materials and a snack. They also have a splitter so that they can both use headphones and watch a movie on one laptop.
My daughters have been traveling with me since infancy, and last year, when they were 14 and 11, I let them fly alone together. They were very proud of their ability to navigate through an airport, and I was proud of the way they took it in stride and texted me their whereabouts.
I will consider it a done deal when they can bankroll their own skinny caramel lattés.