What is it about going out on excursions with my kids that brings my stress level way up? Whether it’s a day outing or a road trip for some reason the stress kicks in and the anxiety runs high. On a regular basis getting out of the house with kids is no easy task, but when it comes to going on a family outing it always seems that leaving the house becomes mission impossible. “This mission, should you choose to accept it, will involve children throwing tantrums, changing minds several times on what footwear to put on, requiring last-minute use of the bathroom facilities and packing everything but the kitchen sink.”
I know I bring a lot of the stress on myself. When we go on outings I always concern myself with little details. Do we have my daughter’s favourite bear that she never goes anywhere without? Do we have enough items to keep both kids occupied for the long drive? Should we bring extra snacks or food in case wherever we go to eat doesn’t have anything my picky eater will like? Should we time our departure around my daughter’s nap time in the hopes she’ll sleep in the car, or risk skipping her nap and dealing with a super cranky toddler as a result? It’s usually all of this plus the other countless checklists that run through my mind, depending on where we are going. To be honest, it makes going on these excursions exhausting for me, and often I just feel plain overwhelmed instead of excited for our family time together.
This was the case for me in the past few days. We went out of town to visit some relatives and I found myself having a hard time relaxing on our first day away because I kept dwelling on all of those details, plus the fact that my kids were extremely hyper as they were very excited for the sleepover and seeing my aunt’s pets (as we don’t have any pets and my kids love animals). My anxiousness coupled with their hyper behaviour led to me having a less enjoyable day, which I knew I was bringing on myself.
By the end of the day, I was wondering “why can’t I just let it go?” I found myself reflecting and thinking about it most of the night and hardly slept. In my slumber I realized something. I am always putting pressure on myself to create these perfect moments for my family. I plan things meticulously, or at least try to, and then feel let down when things don’t go a certain way. But when it comes right down to it, I am the one setting these crazy expectations. My kids don’t expect me to be perfect, and neither does my husband. So why do I feel like these moments have to be perfect and that I, in turn, should be as well?
I need to stop dwelling on the details and start letting go. I have to stop always needing a plan and start living in the moment. I fear if I don’t that I will miss out on those unplanned perfect moments that happen when you least expect it. But most importantly, I have to stop feeling the need to be a perfect mom and start focusing on being a good one.