As I’ve been writing these blogs, telling about all the adventures we go on, I’ve focused on the fun we have, the adventures we take. BUT, now let’s get real. Yes, we have fun. Yes, we love each other. Yes, we enjoy going on these adventures. No, not every minute of the day is fun. No, we are not always smiling. No, our kids do not like everything we do. Yes, our kids’ fight. Yes, we both lose our tempers. Yes, things get stressful. This is real life and this is what makes it all worth it.
Traveling is fun but it is also stressful. Our preferred way to travel is pulling our RV, yours may be different but these same concepts still apply. I wanted to list a few expectations, dispel myths and talk about how we deal.
First, don’t expect everyone to get along all the time. Our kids fight like cats & dogs. When they are forced into small spaces together for any length of time that only intensifies the fighting. Now, for the most part, they do great crammed into the backseat of our truck. They’ve done this enough that they know what to expect. They know “their seats” and what to bring in the truck to occupy their time. The only time the fighting picks up when we are in the truck is when one gets bored and decides to pick at one of the others. These are the times I’m grateful for tablets. They spend a lot of the long drives watching movies/shows they have downloaded. However, once we get into a town we are there to see we don’t let them have the tablets or phones out, which does cause a few fights.
The fighting is probably the worst when we are in the camper. All 3 of our kids sleep in the bunk room of our rig. That means that they are constantly tripping over each other’s stuff or annoying each other with random sounds or just moving around. One thing I’ve discovered is that if I can keep their bunk room organized to the point that they each have a place for “their stuff” it helps with the aggravating. There is nothing I can do though about Macy getting mad at her brother for “breathing too loud”. We are constantly telling all 3 of them that one day they will be best friends. They don’t yet believe us.
Of course, Johnny and I can also get aggravated with them and each other. Anytime you are going into a new situation the tensions rise. “What are we going to do here?” “What should we eat for breakfast/lunch/dinner?” “I want to see this…I don’t really care to see that.” It could go on and on. In the end, compromise always works. We both know what is important to the other and a little give and take goes a long way. Also, knowing each other’s tendencies helps. I am the forever optimist, no matter what comes up I’m always thinking “how can I make the best of this situation?”. Johnny, on the other hand, is the forever pessimist. When something happens he immediately goes to doom and gloom and thinking of how much worse it’s going to get. I guess that’s why we make a good match. He sometimes has to bring me back to reality and I do the same for him.
Second, things will go wrong. Anytime you are pulling a camper thousands of miles across country, it is likely something will break. You just have to go with the flow and deal with the issue if it’s important at the time. We’ve had tire blow outs, cabinets falling off their hinges, inflatable beds getting holes, lose faucets, trouble finding a campground on the road etc, etc. Some issues are emergencies that you have to deal with right then, such as a tire issue. But some can wait. We’ve gone a whole trip missing a cabinet door in the bathroom because, quite honestly, it didn’t matter. We’ll fix it when we get home. Just keep your priorities in mind and don’t let minor issues mess up your trip.
Third, some places will not live up to your expectations. Honestly, some places we’ve been we had hyped up in our minds, then were a bit disappointed by what they actually were. Also, on the flip side, there are some places we didn’t expect much out of but they ended up being the highlights of trips. Our philosophy at that point, enjoy what it is, check it off the list, and move on.
Fourth, at some point, everyone has their turn at being in a bad mood. Deal with it. However, most of the time you can trace those bad moods to either being hungry, hot or tired. We try to prepare for this. In most places we go we try to make sure to have snacks with us. On some day outings, we’ll even go ahead and pack lunch in our cooler. The last thing you want is to have 3 hungry kids while out in the middle of nowhere with no place to find food. Also, we have discovered that it’s good to schedule some downtime. Nothing refreshes everyone more than after a few days of go, go, go to have an evening of just hanging out at the campground and getting to bed early. Being hot, well, most of our trips take place in the summer, this is when I say “suck it up buttercup!”.
Fifth, no matter how much “fun” you think you’re having, someone will complain. We like to do a lot of hiking when we travel to national parks. Johnny & I love it, most times our kids do too but they have their days when they have had enough. Noah almost always asks us before every hike, “how long is this one?”. However, at the end of most days, at least one of the kids will tell us it was the best day yet. I take that as success, no matter how much they may have complained during the day.
Overall, we all go into life wanting things to be perfect but that is an impossible expectation. All we can do is make the best out of whatever comes our way. (There is my optimistic attitude coming out again)