Monday, August 8, 2016

Parenthood: Week 164 - Toddler Outings

Taking a toddler out on an outing is an act of faith.

It’s a risk/benefit calculation that is often balanced heavier on the risk side. It is an act that is rarely easy and leaves parents drained, demanding recovering time after the outing that is often never available.

Let’s say that your child is exciting about the outing. That’s fantastic and a big help. However it is very likely that in the time pack the diaper bag and make sure everything you need for the outing is in the car, your child has started playing with a toy and no longer wants to on the outing. This only makes the struggle to get your kid to go to the bathroom, and put shoes on even more difficult.

A lot can go wrong during an outing. Tantrum can happen at any time. Meltdowns can still occur with the best managed outings. Things sometimes go as planned, but often do not. As an adult little differences and adjustments in plans aren’t a big deal but in a toddler’s mind, these changes can be earth-shattering.

If you tell a three year-old that you are going to a certain exhibit in a museum two weeks before going, they will remember and ask you about it every day. If you go to that museum and the exhibit is closed, things can get bad fast, REALLY bad. Sometimes experiences really click with kids and sometimes things don’t. It’s really hard to know what will work and what will not. Even activities that work five times in a row are no guarantees for success because of how quickly children’s brains develop.

You almost have to go on an outing being prepared for a train-wreck and be okay with the fact that things might not go well.  There’s a really good chance with a toddler that you will come home asking yourself, why you bothered trying to get your kid out of the house.

There’s a couple things that keep parents going and pushes out of the house. First off, you can always try again. If you got to an art museum and your child pees in his pants and asks to go home repeatedly, this doesn’t mean that the next trip to the same museum will be as bad.

People playing slot machines know they are going to lose most of the time but the possibility that they will hit the jackpot will keep them going. The same is true for outings with toddlers. A lot of stuff can go wrong, but a lot of things can go right and as difficult as toddlers can be, when things click (which is the case for most of the time), it’s worth it.

The most important thing to remember when your child is throwing a tantrum in a public park is that your children will eventually appreciate your efforts.  They will understand at some point how hard you worked to expose them to new and exciting experiences. This will inspire your children to make the same effort with their children.

It’s hard and sometimes, I just give up and stay in the house with my son, instead of taking him out of the house. That’s okay too. There’s value in quiet time at home. You got to pace yourself and not overdo outings for your own sake as a parent and a human being.

It is brave to take your child out on an outing.  So be proud of your efforts.  The possibility of a tantrum is hard to face, but the world is pretty amazing.  Get out there.  It'll be worth it.  It may not feel that way in the moment, but it will later and for the rest of your life.

No comments:

Post a Comment