We recently returned from a vacation to Las Vegas. As the mother of kids with ADHD and Anxiety, Vegas is basically the very last place I would ever elect to take my kids on a vacation. However, the free hotel spoke loudly in favor of the trip, so off we went. We drove the six hours both directions. This isn’t our first (or longest) road trip. Thus, with summer in full swing, I thought I’d share some of my tips for successfully traveling with kids and their attention and emotional issues.
My first tip is simple to say, but can be complex in its application.
RESPECT THE NEEDS OF EACH MEMBER OF YOUR FAMILY.
Respecting another person’s needs requires that we pay attention in order to be aware of those needs. It further requires a certain amount of flexibility on our part. We may need to change our plans, stay longer, or leave earlier. We may need to pack in special food or accept that people are going to be looking at you because you’re doing things slightly differently.
On our recent trip, my ten year old became frustrated and angry with the rest of us. It was lunchtime and we were eating in a crowded food court. When my son got his food, he turned his chair away from the table and sat with his back toward our family. He stayed that way for the entire meal.
Anyone who glanced our way could tell we had an angry child. His behavior basically aired our dirty laundry for all to see. It shouted, “We are not a happy family!” I knew all of that.
However, I also know my son. He needed some space and was taking it in a harmless way. We let him. His protest was silent. He was safe. By the end of the meal he had some food in his stomach and some forgiveness in his heart. As we finished our meal, he was once again ready to participate in our vacation.
As for the hundreds of people who witnessed his protest? Well, I expect the vast majority understood our situation in an instant. As for those few who reacted with criticism? I just plain don’t care what they think. Our biggest critics aren’t living with our families. The critical rarely know that of which they speak. The critics aren’t raising my kids, I am. And as their mother I choose to respect the needs of my children. I also choose to use moments such as these to teach all of my children to recognize and respect the needs of others.
Mutual respect can change an awful, emotionally taxing experience into a joyful one.