Every parent deals with meltdowns on the daily. And most of us follow our own personal "meltdown protocol" within our own homes. We know the drill, the kids know the consequences (they also understand what happens when mom gets that crazy look in her eyes). But what about meltdowns in the outdoors; the one place that their cries will echo from the lowest valley to the highest mountain top? Meltdowns are never easy, but being out of your comfort zone can escalate an already difficult moment.
Here's what you need to know about meltdowns in the outdoors:
Are you imagining a fun day
in the mountains with your cute family? Chances are you have played blissfully unrealistic scenarios of your adventure in your head about a thousand times already. While you buoyantly daydream, be realistic with yourself. Prepare yourself for difficult moments. Don't let yourself be taken off guard by a meltdown, tantrum or other common, unfortunate behavior. Tell yourself that you will enjoy the day even if your child(ren) acts up. Put your patience pants on, mamasita; that will be your saving grace.
Remember This is New For Your Child
While you have planned, organized and painstakingly stressed over every piece of gear, clothing, and food, your child has been toddling around, aloof in his own tiny world. He has no idea the voyage you are about to bring him along on. While you are making your final preparations, keep this important fact in your mind. He will need time to adjust during your adventure, so anticipate his anxiety and be prepared to help him understand the fun you will have!
Hit the shorter, easier trails with your family to start out with! There is no need to overdo it, especially with your kids involved. Starting small is the easiest way to get you and your family acclimated to spending more time outdoors (and also lessens the chances of major meltdowns). Taking your family on nature walks (meaning short, flat, sometimes paved trails) is a great starting point. Let your kiddos walk so they can take their time, touching, smelling and exploring on their level. Letting your children explore first lessens their fear. It is a primal instinct to be fearful of the unknown, especially for the little guys! So start small, go at their pace and let them learn!
Know Your Limits
Even the most experienced outdoorsmen
know when to call it quits. In fact, acknowledging your limit is incredibly smart. Remember that your child has limits too, and, as a parent, it is crucial that you understand their cues, bite the bullet and head home. Over time, your child will grow, learn and adjust, creating a broader space within his mind that is capable of understanding that adventure is fun!
The more adventures you take as a family, the better you and your children will do! It takes time to navigate your routine in the outdoors. Let time be your teacher, and don't let one bad outing ruin the outdoors for you and your family. If all else fails, try again later and don't be discouraged! Do whatever brings your family joy! Happy Adventuring!
Written by Lindsay Helm