Friday, January 6, 2012

Parenting and Being Prepared

Jackson and the boys decided to make a trip up the hill the other day to snow board.  I decided to tag along as usual.  I don't ski or snow board but I bring the snacks and hot chocolate, stay nice and warm in the lodge, knit, read, and when the boys come in to warm up and take a break I have everything ready for them, and sit and listen to them talk about how they are progressing.  Generally a nice relaxing day, especially after the public school children are back to school, it is generally nice and quiet.

Wow was I wrong, turns out after talking with a couple of other moms, in other states the children do not go back to school until this coming week, so many families were up in the mountains enjoying a vacation until that time.  So it was packed.  I read some and just watched the families coming and going, skiing and getting lunch, etc.

There were definitely two different sets of parents there.  One group was well prepared and one had higher expectations, with little preparation.  You could see families with children of all ages, some, like mine, with kids old enough to come and go as they saw fit, with a parent near by (on or off the slopes) to touch base with. And there were parents there with younger children, toddlers and slightly older.  The children that need almost constant direct supervision, with short attention spans and a high need for multiple snacks, drinks etc.

The prepared parents were so nice to watch.  They knew that the children would need more attention.  They brought games, toys, coloring books and crayons, snacks, lunch, drinks, cold clothing so the little ones could be taken out back for a few minutes of fresh air and play in the snow, and warm clothing so they would be comfy in the lodge, where it was warm with a nice roaring fire.  These parents were not expecting to spend all their time on the slopes, knew that wasn't possible.  They would tag team, with mom and dad switching off so the parents could ski and also be there for the young ones.  Some of the young ones went out of the slopes as well for a few minutes.  Just a joy to watch, they were prepared for all contingencies, enjoyed being with their children when not on the slopes, and were very flexible.  The kids and parents really seemed to enjoy the experience.

OK then there were the unprepared parents, couldn't watch them for long.  Their expectations of their young ones, in my opinion, was not reasonable.  They brought one toy, if that, and expected the toddler to sit and play with the one toy for hours.  You could see the stress on their faces as they were just waiting for the other parent to come off the slopes so their turn could start.  The toddlers were crying, the parents were unwilling to bend, trying to talk to their child when you could see they wanted to yell, but knew in a lodge full of people, yelling would attract attention and be judged poorly.  These parents would not let it go, wanted a day on the slopes no matter what, and were not going to go home until their time was up.  It was sad to watch, the children were not having fun, the parents were only marginally having fun, stress was building.

It just reminds me how important it is to be prepared.  Now sometimes things sneak up on you and you aren't prepared.  But in times like this, a trip to the ski slopes, some preparation could have changed the entire experience for everyone involved (including me, the innocent observer).  I remember always trying to think ahead in our day, what I could possibly need, and most times every contingency was handled.

So parents, when little ones are involved, please remember to think ahead.  I know it may seem like a lot to bring for a day of skiing, but when you see how wonderful it can go, you will wish you had.  It can be fun for everyone in the family, including those little ones.  Think ahead, plan with joy, be flexible, support each other.

What a day, but a great opportunity to people watch!

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