Ever feel like you are the dysfunctional family on the block? Luckily we live in a subdivision, so we get to see and hear all kinds of dysfunction to keep our perspective.
Summer Facebook and Instagram feeds can be a happiness trap. It’s easy to see all the fun vacation pics, the smiling kids, the close families and feel like there must be something wrong with yours.
Recently I saw a post on a camping group I’m in ask what everyone’s camping traditions are as the questioner was new to trailer camping and super excited to get started. Everyone had sweet little tidbits of utopia to share; Yahtzee by lantern light, funny stories read by the campfire, journaling, silly quotes and inside jokes created on the trip. My answer? “Our tradition seems to be bitching and moaning and complaining the first night with lots of shouting and disorganization.”
We see this on the few occasions we take our travel trailer out and about. Lots of big families/friends gather around one campsite. Shared meals, laughing, feral children running wild with nary a red-faced, neck vein-bulging adult in site.
Is it just us?
I told my husband that my theory is not that we are bad campers, it’s that we just really aren’t campers. There are some families out there, God bless’em, whose sole purpose and happiness is togetherness. Together all.the.time. Meals, activities, thoughts, ideas, breathing, sleeping, cooking AAAAAALLL together.
Nope. Not me. Not me or my husband. I was raised pretty independently. I don’t like people all up in my business daily. I like my down time. My coffee time. My bathroom time. My DVR time with relatively low incident of interruption.
I love my kids. Lots. To pieces. They’re the coolest people i’ve ever made, actually. I love them lots when they are entertaining themselves with toys, food, sleep, whatever. I’m not picky. People always moan over those fleeting baby and toddler years. I get it .. i do. But you know what? This last vacation we took to a water park, it was a life-changer. We have a 13 year old and a nearly 9 year old (but if the park asks, she’s 7) and we had so much freedom on this water park adventure, y’all. So. Much. Freedom.
It’s been 13 years since I could take a relaxing breath on a vacation with my kids.
My husband and I were able to sit and wait nearly 25 minutes to have our drink orders taken at the swim up bar in the lazy river. Alone. No kids! Our kids were sent on laps together until my husband and I were able to cheers and sip on our frosty watered-down beverages.
Of course someone else promptly swam up with her FOUR BOYS in tow right behind us splashing and screaming and rough-housing. But you know what? It wasn’t me. Those were not my children and I felt for her. I nearly bought her a cocktail, but she was holding five inner tubes. I didn’t want to be cruel.
This place is great as they have active and aware lifeguards everywhere. Our kids had to stick together as Rule #1 and on the day it was super crowded, we didn’t go far. My husband and I were able to take off with the youngest and go on a big raft tube ride while the big kid just camped out at the wave pool near all of our drinks and snacks in the shade.
He survived without his phone the entire time. True story.
So while babies and toddlers are super cute and portable, there was no swim diaper mess, no breastfeeding drama, no cranky missed naps, no sleeplessness because someone forgot the pack n play.
Total game-changer, people.
In fact, when we got home and I was nursing a cold I caught from my daughter, my kids actually fought over who got to make and bring me toast in bed the next morning.
Babies can’t do that.
My kids were entertained by screens for 70% of their day without an epic brain meltdown.
Toddlers can’t do that.
So here we are in the home stretch. This is the perfect time of year where you wonder where the last month and a half of summer has gone to and nearly panic over “only” having one month left home with the kids. … but us seasoned in-the-trench parents know this is the deceptive month. Sure the calendar says 31 days in August, but that’s ‘August Time’. It really actually feels like three and a half months until school starts.
Revel in your dysfunction whether you’re an over-committer, an under-planner, a home-bound screen junkie or an outdoorsy hiking squad of DNA. Our job is to raise well-adjusted humans who have compassion and respect for others…. we can do that from all different parenting styles. .. and if you truly feel like you’re failing, just think: Someone did a complete shit job with our President, and he still managed to become President!