Heading out on an adventure with your children can bring some much needed play time into family life! But, don’t head out the door without some careful planning and thought. Your preparation can prevent meltdowns, help the outing run smoothly, and increase the fun.
Whether you are headed to the park, a beach, or a carnival – here are a few careful considerations that will help with any type of outing.
1. Participate. While sitting and watching your children may provide you with a much-needed break, it also changes the dynamics of the outing. Try to find that break somewhere else in the day. When you are out with your children, aim to be involved. Go down the slide with them, build a sandcastle, or ride the rides.
2. Leave your “to-do” list at home. If your mind is not present, your children will know. If you are sneaking in text messages between swings of the mini-golf club, you are sending a message of to your children. Focus on the game and your interactions with each other.
3. Prepare. Even as your children get older, it’s important to have a stash of snacks, drinks, and even an extra set of clothes. You never know when the hunger pains will strike or a drink will be spilled down the front of the shirt. Avert possible catastrophes by packing a few items before you leave.
4. Set realistic expectations. Even an action-packed adventure should be carefully thought out. Don’t expect your children to skip a meal or a snack. And, don’t assume children will be able to stay up later than normal due to their involvement in an engaging activity.
5. Be flexible. Your carefully thought out plan may not unfold as you anticipated it would. Be ready and willing to make changes and adjustments.
6. Think ahead. If an outing after school means arriving home right at dinnertime, make sure you prepare dinner earlier in the day. Plan on skipping baths or showers to save time with getting everyone ready for bed.
7. Practice prayer and meditation. Very rarely do adventures and outings go exactly as we planned, and – even more rare – might be the perfect behavior we hope for when we are in public with our children. Prayer or other relaxation techniques can help ease you through those moments.
8. Strategize. I can tell you which two of my children will butt heads some time during any given encounter, and I can tell you which child will not want to go – no matter how fun it is. That same child is the one who will not want to leave when it is time to go. With your “mom-can-predict-future” skills, anticipate what might go wrong, watch for the signs, and work to change or prevent habits from occurring.
9. Be in the moment. Help your children get the most out of being together by enjoying yourself. Allow yourself the treat of pleasure and adventure.
I know moms who are reluctant to take their children on outings by themselves. They are overwhelmed by the varying needs of their three or four (or two or one or more) children. With some careful thought, thorough organization, and willing adaptability – outings with your children can be a grand adventure for all.