Traveling with your children and family members is a unique way to build relationships and create bonds that last lifetimes. You can't have too many wonderful moments to look back upon in your life. So, why don't we create more?
Fear keeps us from taking the kids to restaurants and museums and wonderful historic sights. Fear keeps us at home after we have kids and not traveling, exploring and enjoying the world around us.
Kids can be noisy. Sometimes they are happy and noisy, sometimes they are angry and noisy or tired and noisy or perfectly content and noisy. Sometimes it is hard to even know why they are noisy! We worry we will be judged by the noise they make and we can't control.
Kids can be messy. Ok, usually messy. Ok, ok - always messy! We worry that we will be judged by the mess they create at the restaurant or hotel or destination.
Kids are work. Kids can be exhausting! We worry that we will be so tired from dealing with them we won't enjoy the outing or vacation.
Kids can be so all consuming that we fear wasting an opportunity when we take them along. Will it be a waste to spend so much money to take them to Disney/Europe/restaurant? Will it be a waste because we think (incorrectly) they won't remember what we want them to remember?
Even though kids are all different and do NOT come with instruction manuals, there are still 'those' people who judge you because "you aren't doing it right". Even though they don't know you or your story or your kid, they'll give you that look of judgement. You know that look - we've all been there and received it.
FACE YOUR FEAR.
When your child comes to you with a fear of the dark or a fear of a monster under the bed what do you do? Parents comfort and show they there is nothing to be afraid of.
But, sometimes there IS something to be afraid of, right? Kids really do make noise and messes like Pig Pen in the Snoopy cartoons and you might feel your fear is totally justified -not like imaginary monsters under the bed.
But...should we fear something normal? Natural? Designed by God himself? Should we fear something that has been happening for thousands of years before us and surely thousands of years after us?
Should we fear "them"? Who the hell are "they" anyway? That crabby woman who scowls at you because she comes from a time when kids were seen and not heard? Roll your eyes at her and move on. You don't know her and shouldn't care what she thinks. Don't give her the time of day. That young couple without kids looking at you - whispering about how their kids will never be noisy or messy? Chuckle because you know their time will come.
You can FACE YOUR FEAR by learning how to travel near or far with your kid and love it. You CAN go to nice restaurants. You CAN take long plane rides. You CAN explore the world and skip Chuck E Cheese.
Let's address each fear.
Kids are noisy. There is no getting around that. I remember with my first kiddo how shocked I was to learn she could be very noisy even when happy. Remember baby squeals? Baby raspberry noises when they learn how their lips work? When you read that sentence did you smile? So did I...people love babies. Happy babies can make all the noise they want and people smile, chuckle and remember.
Unhappy noise is another story altogether and the one we fear most. Baby crying. Toddler screaming. Preschooler yelling, "NO! I don't want milk. I want SODA!"
Before we get any further let me assure you that it happens to everyone. Every. Single. Person. Every single person on the entire planet has been that kid making unhappy noises. Even that horrible woman who scowls at you from across the room. AND she has forgotten that HER children made that noise, too. It is normal and natural and happens to everyone.
So, what do you do? Happy noises you just shush...they usually want attention so give them some and a toy for distraction.
Unhappy noises...you need to take them out of the room. Not forever, but for a minute for them to learn you can't make that much racket. There will be a dinner, very early on, I promise you that you go back and forth outside several times. You will feel like you have made a huge mistake, but you have not. Kids need to learn and that is the only way. Your choices are A) Teach them how to eat at restaurants B) Leave them at home with the nanny. (Yeah, right) or C) Stay inside your house until they are 18 (BORING!).
Bored noises - Give them something to think about! Bring a toy, a coloring book, and IPad, art supplies, stickers, or a puzzle. Have a bag full of stuff they see only at a restaurant.
Plan on leaving a really good tip. You'll clean up all the big pieces of whatever was flung all over the place but there will still be more cleaning necessary at your table than one where only civilized adults ate. Just tip more and move on. Your child isn't the only one that has eaten there and they won't be the last.
Firstly, parenting is exhausting. It just is. Exercise gives you energy, rest gives you energy, caffeine gives you energy, but you are going to be tired anyway. Why not be tired in some fabulous location instead of your own living room? Kids grow up and this difficult phase won't last forever. You will survive just like your own parents did and that horrible woman who is scowling at you from across the room. You have my permission to stick your tongue out at her, too. 😉
Kids learn - every single day and everything is interesting. You can hand your car keys to a baby and they are fascinated! Big trucks going down the street fascinate toddlers. Riding on a bus or a plane or a train is wonderful for a preschooler. Kids learn and remember. Why wouldn't they learn and remember something from a wonderful location? Maybe they won't learn the history of Rome or the dates a castle was built but that is OK. It isn't a 'waste' when they learn something at their level - rather than yours.
True story: My youngest was evaluated for speech services and I sat in to watch. The speech pathologist flipped cards and asked my son, who was 6, to choose the picture that matched her word. When she finally stopped she said to me, "I was done with the test 5 minutes ago, but wanted to keep going to see just how high he could go with vocabulary" She pointed to the last card where he had correctly identified the photo matching word 'inscription' and asked my son how he knew the answer. He simply said, "When we were in Italy last year we saw those on all the statues." The same explanation was used for how he knew several other words as well. I still smile at that moment of concrete proof that he learned while on vacation.
You'll have to be the bigger person here. As a culture we are too quick to judge - that person who parks in a handicap parking spot could have COPD or another invisible disability but we are quick to judge that they shouldn't park there. That child melting - could have autism or be heading to or from visiting someone who is very ill. That mom who appears to be ignoring her child acting up in the store might not have slept for days because her other child is ill or she is caring for her ill mother. YOU don't know anything about them and they don't know anything about you. So, be the bigger person and smile broadly at that horrible woman scowling at you from across the room and then IGNORE her. Who died and put her in charge anyway? How is it that she gets to dictate anything about you anyway? Why isn't she concerned about how rude SHE is acting at the moment? Ask yourself, "Why do I care what she thinks?" Just do the best you can and move on.
You CAN travel with the kids and love it. Face YOUR fears!