Stop Over-Complicating Your Family Experiences

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Inside: Your family experience isn’t going as planned. Now what?

Have you ever planned a family experience or outing with great excitement, only to have it fall flat?

What do you do when your family experience doesn’t stand up to your “perfect” expectations? How do you deal with frustration when your child isn’t interested in the plans?”

It was supposed to be a big day. It was the day we visited “The North Pole Experience.” Based on everyone’s Facebook check-ins and statuses, the event was supposed to be spectacular, with all the kids having a blast.

I had my doubts, but I thought I would give it a shot. I should have known. Because I really, really, do know my child.

But, as a mom, I thought I had to create the most magical family experiences ever. You know, keeping up with all of the other perfect moms.

Thirty-five minutes from start to finish is probably a new record for the shortest amount of time a six-year-old has spent at the North Pole.

Family Expectations vs. Family Experiences

Here’s the thing. My child marches to the beat of a different drummer. Always has. I can’t really explain why, but a lot of the things that other kids love….she just doesn’t.

The things that I think will be a big sparkly surprise end up falling flat:

The Aquatic Center, her first few movies, the State Fair, Andy Alligators, Orr Family Farm, just to name a few. You know those really fun family things that you start looking forward to when they are babies? These are the things that she loses interest in quickly.

Take today, for example. As other kids ran from station to station, excitedly talking to the elves, my Little B was disinterested.

She had a pretty good conversation with Mrs. Clause about her reindeer Gretel, and she shared several stories about her Elf, Ice Cube, and his antics around the house.

She watched two reindeer for about two minutes, and then she went and made a yo-yo in the toy-making station. She colored a picture of a reindeer in the Elf University Classroom, and then she was done.

And when she’s done, she’s done.

“Don’t you want some of Mrs. Clause’s chocolate chip cookies?” I asked.

“No. Let’s go.”

“But look. There’s Santa! Let’s go see him.”

“No. I wrote him a letter.”

“But now you can see him! Come on,” I pleaded, “let’s get in line.”

“No. I wrote him a letter.”

“But you can actually talk to him today.”

“No. I wrote him a letter!”

See what I mean?

Trying to Control our Family Experiences

Over the years I have learned to accept it. It hasn’t been easy. When I set my mind on something and have big expectations, it’s hard to hide my disappointment when it doesn’t go as I expected or wanted.

Over time, I’ve learned that it’s about her, not me. So while this not be my idea of how the “memory-making” should go….the fact is that she is making memories, and how I react and respond will be a part of that.

It’s Not About Me

My lesson from this particular family experience? It’s not about me. It’s about her.

So today, I made it about just being there with her. I had to remind myself it wasn’t about getting the pics or having the perfect family experience or “the best day ever.”

It’s about sitting by her side as she colors her picture. It’s about the real experience. Her true experience. It’s about being there, in the moment, with her.

Which is always the very best place to be.

PS – If you’re looking for more ways to practice gratitude – sign up for the Gratitude Journal pages below!

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