Hey friends! So, summer showed up! (insert laughing emoji) This dress was my momiform last summer, and I wasn’t disappointed at all when I found it while pulling out all of our summer clothes last week before we took a long weekend trip to San Antonio.
We had the sweetest time there visiting with our family and celebrating my great-grandmother who turned 100 this past Sunday.
We decided to try a couple new things this trip; one being we stayed at a VRBO instead of hotel. My parents generously rented a house for them, our little crew, and my two siblings to stay in (so 6 adults total + 2 toddlers) just around the corner from my grandparents’ (where all of the festivities would be). David and I are completely sold on using VRBO or Air BNB for long weekends going forward- no more hotels. Having a fenced in back yard to stick the kids in was such a blessing (for all affected parties) after our 9 hour car ride. Plus we didn’t have to worry about kids waking up at all hours of the night or coming back to the hotel for naps right when house keeping was in the middle of changing bed sheets.
We also explored the San Antonio Aquarium, which was something none of us had ever done before. It was a great little spot for toddlers since they have so many hands-on exhibits. I would highly recommend it IF you have an hour that you need to fill, and you don’t really want to be outside. I was able to get a Groupon for our tickets, which significantly reduced the price, so check them out before you buy tickets, and don’t plan on spending a whole day there (it only takes 1-2 hours to experience everything) or go on a Friday like we did (aka field trip day aka lots of little crowds).
The kids have talked about the exhibits with the birds and alpacas since we got home as well as a fiesty little tortoise who almost crawled out of his exhibit.
But what’s been really special is all the talking they’ve done about their cousins and family members who they got to spend time with while we were at my great-grandma’s birthday party. My brother (pictured above) mentioned how special, and rare, it was to have a day where everyone (except for two family members who were down with a stomach bug) could come together and genuinely enjoy each others company for an entire day. Not to mention how rare it is to celebrate someone becoming 100 years old!
On our drive home, I kept thinking about his comment. The truth is family gatherings with toddlers are a little overwhelming for us right now. We enjoy seeing family and being with them, but we’re never able to 100% focus on a conversation or even stay the whole time. We usually have to skip out for a bit for naps and most places aren’t 100% toddler proof. (Am I the only one who is terrified someone is going to give my two year old a grape while I’m not looking?) And you’re going to have toddler meltdowns at some point on a trip, so odds are one could very well go down right smack dab in the middle of the family gathering.
So, I wanted to encourage the other mamas (and dads) who know the feeling. I know you’re out there, because many of my friends fall into our boat too. “Is it really even worth it?” is a question I hear posed a lot when it comes to bringing toddlers to social gatherings.
We’re super privileged to have family who GETS IT. Aunts and uncles and cousins who help, grandparents who say when we have to leave early, “It’s ok! Go. Take care of your family.” But that still doesn’t remove all the overwhelmingness that manages to creep in before and during the gathering.
My dad encouraged me a couple months ago to tackle social gatherings (and trips in general) with a man-to-man offensive strategy. I take one kid; David takes another. Sometimes, we have to switch, and sometimes we have to tag another family member to cover for us for a minute. But, we’re still on the same team with the same goal. We usually remind each other what the goal is too before we walk into the gathering. (e.g. We’re here to celebrate Mammaw.) It helps me stay focused and not get so overwhelmed, AND it helps limit directing our frustrations towards each other.
We’re not perfect parents. We don’t have this parenting thing down pat, but this strategy (along with respectful communication) did help a lot at my great-grandma’s birthday party, and we plan to use it from now on while we’re in this stage of life with littles who need so much of our attention.
Some social situations aren’t going to be conducive with toddlers. They’re just not, and it’s 100% ok to skip out. But other things, like great-grandma’s 100th birthday party, are non-negotiable. We’re going to be there no matter what, and I’m grateful for a new tool in the toolbox to limit my anxiety while we’re there. That way, when it’s over, my kids aren’t the only one with fond memories of the occasion.
Do you have a strategy you implement in large social gatherings with your little kids? I’d love to hear about it in the comments.
Until next time,