With four young children to care for, I often shy away from ANY outing that requires me to take all the kids somewhere by myself. It is simply overwhelming to me to think about managing a nursing baby’s schedule (including diaper changes needed), a toddler with the propensity to find trouble anywhere (I mean, a toddler with an amazing sense of bravery and curiosity), a pre-schooler with a very small bladder, who still really needs naps and can get very insecure and whiny at times, and a kindergartener who is very helpful, but also has a life threatening food allergy, causing me to have to pack food with us everywhere just in case we may be gone longer than expected. It is just a lot of work to get them out for even simple errand running.
Yet, recently I took them all out for an all-day excursion, and had a great time through every step of it. On the drive home I was reflecting over the day and really enjoying how wonderful of day we had together. I tried to figure out what made the difference between this trip and so many others that have not gone so well. The difference was ALL in my attitude. I was determined to make this a great day for all of us. I had many stops we needed to make, but I made sure that each child and myself had something fun to look forward to. And one more important factor: I allowed plenty of extra time. When I was making plans, not only did I remember to plan for the amount of time it takes to get everyone buckled and unbuckled at every stop, but I also planned for extra time in each step of the day for those unexpected potty trips and so we could walk at a snail’s pace all day long and still be everywhere on time.
Since my attitude was ready to have a great day with my kids, it helped me to do a better job thinking ahead about all of their needs and be ready to meet them before we were in melt down mode. This meant that we made extra potty breaks, because I planned for them at times when I knew we would be near clean bathrooms. This meant that I packed extra snacks than I would normally let them eat. After all it was going to be a fun day, and we were going to be using more energy than we would if we had just stayed close to home. This meant that because I had planned to walk at a snail’s pace all day long, when we had extra time it was a joy! We sat and stared at the water fountain for 15 minutes. It made me feel great to let them just stare in wonder without rushing them past it, and it also gave me a little break too!
What do you do to help your outings with children go smoother?