Traveling is stressful. Even on the best of days, with little or no problems, traveling is still stressful. It’s all the little things. Did I remember my passport? Do I have the tickets? Will the plane be on time so I don’t miss my connecting flight? What if I sit next to a stinky person? Will my car break down? Do I have enough batteries for my camera?
You know, the usual.
So add to this already stressful situation a pair of toddlers. A 17mo little girl and an almost 3yo little boy. Beasts that feed on the emotions around them. Beasts that sense your tension, sense your stress and feed on it.
“What? Mom and dad are already stressed? Must be time to act out!”
I don’t do well with new situations. I don’t do well with social situations. And vacation? That’s what vacation is, new, social situations. New places, new people, new things.
And how do my kids react? They push their limits. They are in a new place, so they re-establish their boundaries.
“I couldn’t do this at home, but maybe I can here.”
And since we aren’t at home, we aren’t in my comfort zone, in my domain, in my kingdom, I don’t always react the best. They get away with things they otherwise wouldn’t. I get flustered and react poorly. I over-react, under-react. Make empty threats. Lose parenting credibility. I get mad when I should just let it go. I get flustered when it really isn’t a big deal. I lose patience and struggle with my identity as a parent.
We are in the middle of a 7-day vacation. We spent 15 hours in a car over two days driving down, and will do it again in a few days as we drive back. To be completely honest, the kids did amazingly well in the car. I feel as though we were well prepared with our snacks, and rearranged the seating so that one of us always sat in the back with the kids. We swapped driving regularly, and the result was a fairly stressfree drive.
The stressful part has been dealing with the kids in these new social situations. The hotel, restraunts, public places. I’m trying hard, but it feels like I keep failing.
I feel like we are “that family.”
The ones with the noisy kids. The kids that don’t sit still, can’t eat quietly, and throw things around. The family with the shrieking toddler, the belligerent toddler. The exasperated parents. “Why don’t they just stay home?” You’re right, why don’t we just stay home? At that point. The point at which the entire restraunt has moved from stealing secretive glances to all-out glaring? I don’t want to be there either. I’m wishing I had just stayed home.
Vacationing with toddlers is stressful. My wife is absolutely amazing, and really, my kids are super awesome. It’s just a struggle, something I am sure others can relate to.
Parenting is a journey, and while I feel like I’m constantly learning, sometimes it feels like I’m taking two steps forward and one step back.