I recently saw a meme referencing if someone bringing their kids to vote with them would be seen as a burden to others. Personally, I couldn’t think of a more important place for your kids to escort you than voting, but it made me think about the larger message.
I don’t think of my kids as a burden.
I rarely worry if they are burdening others when we are out and about. My children are people too and have as much of a right to be in a space as I do. I do try to plan for their behavior as much as I can. I am thinking about what times of day are best for them and when a nap is needed. I don’t bring my kids to adult-only spaces, and I have a bag full of their favorite toys and snacks for when they get fussy. But, I’m all about experiences and exposure, so more than likely, my kids are coming with me.
Growing up, for most of my life, my mom was a single parent so I went most places with her. This was before the days of technology, so she armed me as best as she could with books and snacks, but for the most part, I learned to just “be” in these spaces. I dined at fancy restaurants and the chefs would scramble to make up a meal for me. I went to parties and banquets and the only thing I would eat was dinner rolls and drink lemonade. I accompanied her to work events where I would eagerly hope that one of her coworkers also brought their kid so we could play together in a corner. In 1994, I even attended a soft opening of the House of Blues with my mom and happily slept in a booth until it was time to go.
I didn’t know anything different. This was just our family’s pace, and I rolled with it. As I aged, I grew to be thankful for these experiences. I have fond memories, and I think it taught me so much about behavior, socializing, and ultimately what would become important to me as a parent.
Now that I have kids, they are often right with me just as I was with my mom. It’s important to me that they are exposed to a dynamic life full of a variety of experiences. I love seeing their eyes light up when they see something new and cool or watching their vocabulary and comfort expand as we encounter new people and places. I draw the line at adult social events because that’s mama’s break! But if I’m shopping, eating, or experiencing something…chances are my kids are right beside me fully immersed in the opportunity.
Regarding their behavior, they act like age-appropriate children. Sometimes they get tired and whine or cry and sometimes they get excited and talk too loudly. I address those moments and usually, it is brief and not interruptive to our outing. Sometimes we have to cut dinners short or decline an invitation because of a needed nap, and that is okay too. I try to remind myself that a lot of people are parents. When I’m out I always give an understanding “you’ve got this” to a mom managing a tantrum in public or help another parent with their hands full with their kids. Even though those moments can be tough, I know all too well that those kids may grow up to be thankful that their Mom took them places with her.