In preparation for the July 4th holiday, I bought sparklers and funnel cake mix. The weekend turned out to be an incredible time, but we didn’t get the chance to use the sparklers or make the funnel cake that I had purchased. Some of our best friends had come in for a visit and we went to out with them to several places. A few days after our friends went back home, we were all a little down. I decided to pull out the sparklers and funnel cake as a way to cheer up everyone up and do something fun as a family.
Special Times With the Family Happen Infrequently
Now, don’t be deceived here, I don’t do exciting things like: pull out sparklers and make funnel cake on a regular basis. Most days, my family does the usual routine of boring things that involve cleaning, cooking, chores, and staying at home by ourselves. Oftentimes, we can have the perception that everyone around us is having so much more fun than we are because our Facebook feed and Pinterest pages are full of everyone showing off all the exciting things they have been doing. You can read about how Facebook was negatively affecting my relationships here.
I bring this up so that you do not think that I am just another parent that has it all together and does cool things with my kids every day. Every once in a while, I decide to do something out of the ordinary with them.
The Honest Reality of Doing Something Special With Your Family
There is an ugly reality of doing special things with our children that we all must face, and that is, that no one stays happy for long. Sometimes, in the midst of doing the special activity, you or your children can have a bad attitude. We have this unrealistic idea that if we put together something out of the ordinary for our children to do, that they will be overjoyed at our efforts.
I am not sure about everyone else, but there is a lot of disappointment in the midst of what I have designated as fun times with my kids. If we can manage to get through the exciting activity without complaints, the second we are done with the fun times, there is plenty of whining and crying that takes place.
Fireworks and Funnel Cakes
When we did fireworks and funnel cakes with the boys, they were excited about it for a few minutes. It didn’t take long for at least one of them to start getting frustrated with the situation. After each and every sparkler I handed out, they were racing to see who could have the most sparklers. The second their sparkler went out, they were running back to get another one. This of course makes them become dissatisfied because one of their brothers is ending up with more sparklers than they had.
After we were done with the sparklers, we went in and I made the funnel cakes. One of my boys complained about the funnel cake the entire time he ate it. Apparently, he wasn’t as excited about funnel cake as I was. That is ok that he didn’t care for it, but I do wish he hadn’t complained constantly about how it lacked flavor or how little he had been given. Not even 10 minutes after we were done with this special night, I had whining and crying kids on my hands. Talk about a letdown. This is often how things turn out.
How to Deal With the Disappointment of Fun Activities
It is only natural for us as parents to desire for our children to appreciate special events and activities that they get to be a part of. So often though, our children are less satisfied than what we had hoped. My children have been downright rude to Austin and I in the midst of exciting times, or as soon as we get home. So how do you handle this ingratitude from your children? Here are a few things that I try to remember when I’m planning something special.
1. Know ahead of time your enthusiasm may not be shared- just go ahead and accept that your children may not have as good of a time as you hope. Not all activities will be as exciting to them as it is to you. If you change your expectations before you head out, then you won’t be as disappointed.
2. Keep your cool when the meltdowns begin- try and stay calm when your children are having meltdowns in the midst of a situation. If you get worked up and start demanding that they find this activity as special as you want them to, you will just become more frustrated.
3. Understand the emotions- all of us face disappointment during occasions that we planned to be fun. As adults, when frustrating things happen or our attitude turns sour, normally we handle it better than our children. Be reminded that your children are people and experience the same emotions that you do, but they aren’t skilled in handling them.
4. Commit to teaching your children to be thankful- don’t wait to be in the midst of a situation to teach your children to be thankful. The training has to take place before or after the activity. This is ongoing teaching that will take place over many years.
While your children may not be thankful for the exciting activities that you have planned, it doesn’t mean it was a waste of time. Hindsight is always 20/20, and your children will likely look back at some of these times with fond memories. They probably won’t remember being absolute brats in the midst of the event, but instead, they will remember how you loved them.