The craziest thing happened this summer. We went places as a family — and we had fun! No. Really. I actually had fun taking all three of my kids to a fun place. Who knew it was even possible?!
Actual Family Fun
I know this seems silly to even write about. But you — my fellow moms of littles — you know. You know the work that goes into taking little kids, well, anywhere.
- You have to think ahead for every possible occasion with every possible item that might possibly be absolutely essential, should you not have it. (Anticipate is your middle name, mama!)
- You have to bring snacks. So. Many. Snacks. And then more snacks!
- And then there’s nap. Every day of their lives they fight taking a nap. And then, on the one day when you’re taking them somewhere fun and DON’T want them to nap…they do!
For the last 10 years, we’ve done all the “fun” kid things: the zoo and the children’s museums, the outdoor adventures, and the theme parks. And — can I be honest for a hot minute — it was far from fun for about 50% of the time. At least it was for me! I was hot and sweaty. I spent half of my time either nursing an infant or taking someone to the bathroom. And the meltdowns. Oh, the meltdowns! Someone was always hot. Someone was always thirsty. Someone always wanted something that either wasn’t happening (or wasn’t happening anymore) or he/she couldn’t have. Someone (maybe it was me…) was about two seconds from totally losing it. Not exactly my ideal vision of “family fun.”
Adventure and Surprise
We’ve had littles in our house for what seems like forever (can I get an amen?!). But our youngest is now three-and-a-half and we’ve finally made it over a few big milestones on the way to independence. So, for this summer, we decided to be adventurous. My husband had the great idea to do surprise day trips with the kids this summer where we jump in the car early in the morning and drive to a destination yet unknown to the little ones in the backseat.
Two years ago — or even last year — I would have nixed the idea outright. Us? Drive a few hours (ugh) and then hope to spend the whole day (ugh) somewhere new and exciting. With a baby and a toddler and a preschooler (ugh). No way, Jose.
But this year — this glorious summer — the kids are just a little bit older (3.5, almost 6 and almost 9). And what a difference it makes!
Our first surprise trip took us to the Texas State Aquarium in Corpus Christi, and it was so much fun! We were actually able to stay the entire day and enjoy every part of the aquarium. We watched two shows. We walked around the exhibits. We enjoyed the splash pad. We ate a civilized lunch and didn’t even have any snacks in between! I carried one backpack for all of us! Just one!
And I smiled. A lot.
Optimism, or Just a Better Parent
Maybe I’m a seasoned parent now. Or maybe my kids are just older. Or maybe I’ve lowered my expectations. Whatever the case, this summer has been great!
So much so, that we’re taking a 11-day road trip that will include Rocky Mountain National Park, Yellowstone National Park, Salt Lake City, and the Four Corners. (Yikes! Maybe we’ve been a little over-optimistic about our kids’ ability to handle travel and adventure…I’ll let you know…)
What are you doing with your kids this summer? If they’re under three and your answer is that you’re staying home, I salute you! Give them a year or two, and going places will be a thrill!
Or, are you brazer than me and taking an infant across the country? Let me know in the comments!