One of the advantages of starting school at the end of July is that our kids get a two week break in October. We were fortunate enough this year to plan a family vacation and get away for a few days (something that all of us really needed). It quickly became evident that “vacation” meant a lot of different things to each of us. My husband wanted to relax and not have to worry about work. My son, who’s 8, wanted to go go go, explore and know what are we doing next. My 12-year-old daughter was pretty happy anywhere as long as her iPad was nearby. And me, I just wanted to have fun and enjoy our time together.
It’s easy for me to forget that in my head I have things all planned out, yet I don’t always share all those details with everyone else. I’m sure I wasn’t the only one, we all had our ideas of how things were going to go and we just assumed that since we were all on vacation together, we all had the same ideas. Our vacation plans included a trip to the beach and a couple local amusement parks. It’s easy to forget as parents that each of these events are a big deal to a child who doesn’t get to do them often. I’ve been to the beach hundreds of times, but I consciously had to remind myself that my son had not, so when it was time to go, in spite of all the countdowns and warnings, he still was not ready to leave. I had to remember that amusement parks are big, with so many choices it can be overwhelming. And that once you get there, after so much hype and excitement that waiting in a line for a ride can seem like the worst thing in the world.
Fortunately, we had a great time and the meltdowns were few and far between. I saw other parents in the park dealing with similar disappointments over treasures that were not purchased and felt reassured I was not alone. What saved me was continuing to check in with myself and recognizing those moments my blood was starting to boil. I had to remind myself that the kids were overwhelmed. That they were out of their element and trying their best to go with the flow, even if they really didn’t understand what that meant. Most important it was letting it go after the moment happened, not holding on to the emotion and letting it ruin the rest of the day. It wasn’t always easy. But in releasing those tense moments, it created space for new moments of pure fun – the rush of a rollercoaster, the giddiness of playing in the waves and the unexpected hug. Simple reminders of why we were here in the first place.
Are meltdowns getting you down? Email me at balancedheartcoaching.com and we’ll set up a time to chat.
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.