Sunday, 2 February 2014

DIRTY LAUNDRY AND YOUR HEADSPACE

A cheesy old one-liner of mine is that if you're going to have baggage it may as well be Gucci. Well, wouldn't you agree it has never applied more than when you're travelling with the little ones?
Is this what your 'baggage' looks like?
Because let's face it, they have a way of making our personal 'baggage' resurface more than anyone else on earth can do... and for us parents, it can be the nastiest, most offensive conveyor-belt-covered-in-dirty-laundry style baggage imaginable. The type you take one look at and pretend you've never seen before in your life. Yes, whether we like it or not, we have the potential to lose it on the road with the kids mores than at home... we are stretched to breaking point, without our usual aids and necessities that get us through. (insert bottle of red here)

So, How do we take a trip with the kids and maintain our dignity... keep our baggage intact? IS it even possible to achieve such a weighty task? And more importantly, how do we make it home, without a broken back and scar tissue that prevents us from wanting to pack that baggage and haul it off again with us for yet another trip down the track?

Let's break it down. The top parenting experts advise us to be mindful of the extra pressure kids are under when out of their comfort zones. Their levels of anxiety from unfamiliar surrounds can
Look Mum, I found your favourite lipgloss
and rubbed it all over my eyes!
skyrocket (visualise hideous tantrum here), causing panic attacks or public freak-outs at the most untimely moments (visualise running for the final boarding call of a flight while your names are being called). All because they are experiencing several things for the first time and often don't have a point of reference to help familiarise and calm themselves with. (e.g, This plane isn't the same as Mummy's car... if you're late for it, it's not going to sit patiently in idle until you've finished playing with your lego)

We're also fully aware that kids don't have a level of shame when it comes to public displays of bad behaviour. In fact, the greater the audience, the greater their cause can be when getting what they want. We also often forget to inform our kids of every detail of our itinerary, so when they fail to comply with Mummy's daily agenda broken down into pockets of scheduled time specifically chosen with such precision so as to manage a trip to Sea World along with a morning nap - we feel that it's them pushing our buttons - instead of realising it's just them being on happy little kid-time, existing in the moment even when screaming defiantly "But I'm not tired!!!" at the top of their lungs while we carry them to the car because their arms and legs have begun to stop working. They often don't know any better.
We survived our recent trip to SeaWorld - and so did the dolphin

So back to the original question - how do we keep our dignity and baggage intact? Perhaps it's easier than we think. You know that moment, when we see the path laid out before us, the two options - where we either turn left and drop our bundle, lose our dignity, behave like a screaming five year old and spontaneously self combust. Or, we turn right and we take a deep breath, we remember that these little ones are doing their best to cope with a challenging situation, away from home, away from security, with different physiological demands, not knowing what unexpected hurdle will be thrown at them next, how much waiting time, hot, hungry, bored, tired...

And that's when it clicks. That compassion that we find for our kids - we need to also apply to ourselves. Because we are all stuck on that tarmac together. We are all cramped into that tiny hire car with a flat tyre on the side of the highway. And even more so, you're the one who is expected to calmly change that tyre while they get to sit in the back sucking on lollypops saying "are we there yet?!" No wonder we lose it. No wonder we end a holiday exhausted. No wonder we secretly sometimes look forward to the holiday ending so we can get home to do the laundry. Since when did being a parent mean we became super human?

So, the next time you see a parent's baggage on show, or you feel like yours is about to spill all over the zebra crossing as you race for the only taxi with a child seat, cut yourself some slack. Your baggage is more than likely far from Gucci and you're doing a bloody good job carrying it everywhere. I also find that it can help to explain to your little ones, no matter how little, that Mummy and Daddy are feeling very tired, sad, hungry etc too, just like them and that it would be really wonderful if they could do their very best to hang in there just a little bit longer until you can all stop and have an ice-cream together at the same time. Even if your little one is too little to understand, just saying those compassionate words out loud can feel like a weight (of heavy Gucci baggage) off your shoulders. And every now and again, your little ones might just surprise you.
You sit down Mum, i'll do the groceries today.








2 comments:

  1. Great advice no matter how old your children are.
    This is how I survived my girls teenage years !
    I dug deep for the compassion and yes sometimes she truly did surprise me :)

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  2. Thank you again Deby|1 for your awesome feedback! Do you mean to tell me I've got more of this to come when they're teenagers??!!! x

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