12 July 2013, by Darren Lim
We set off to Australia earlier this month for our long awaited month -long holiday. Australia had always held a special place in our hearts, with Cairns being our honeymoon destination (and the place where Kristen was presumably conceived, her being our honeymoon baby). Also, I had promised Evelyn since a long time ago that I would bring her and the children to experience farm- stays in Australia, so it naturally became our choice destination before number 4 comes along and we will become Singapore -bound for a while. The last time we were there was when the family size was still small as there was only Kristen and us. With 6-month-old Kristen and with mother in tow, it was really quite a breeze. This time round it is quite a different story…….
Those of you who have traveled with kids would probably be aware of the challenges of doing so, such as the upsets in routine. For example tonight it’ll be bedtime at 8 pm then tomorrow night 11pm, the differences in expectations for activities: the kids want to play at playgrounds and visit amusement parks versus us adults wanting to try new experiences we CANNOT experience at home, etc.
Now, adding into the equation: ‘ Travelling with Friends’ especially those who are sans kids, and trust me the pressure mounts 100 folds! Understandably, everybody on a holiday hopes to have a good time, but when adults expect children to enjoy their holidays the same way adults do, then that’s where the problem will arise! Especially for the parents who on one hand understand their children’s ‘uninhibited ways’ (which often include noise and loads of excitement) but on the other hand notices the frowns on their travelling companions’ foreheads!
In short, I just keep finding myself getting cross with the children everyday on this trip and trying to quell ‘ tricky situations’ by giving them ‘the look’ or even scolding them (when I know under non-stress conditions I might have held on better and taken a different approach).
Then one day my friend’s wife asked me, “How do you manage to do this every day!” (referring to our tireless responses to the children’s ‘misbehaviour’). With a sudden flash of ingenuity but in all humility, I found myself answering as matter of fact, “It is certainly hard work to get them to behave to our requirements especially when they are so excitable since they are on a holiday, but at the same time haven’t we all been like that at some point in our lives? What they are missing now is self-control and that takes time to cultivate. We are all working on it now and I trust that they will come round it, just like how we all did ultimately…” And it became all clear to me — my children are still ‘work in progress’ and their behaviours, especially during times like these, will be ‘testy’. But being a parent in tune with your kids’ disposition and personality, you are the best person to know when to be empathetic and how to mete the right corrections (not necessarily all punitive) in response to their misbehaviours.
It doesn’t mean that they can get away with wrong behaviour just because they are exhausted from too much sight-seeing or throwing tantrums because they missed their afternoon naps! It just means that parents should expect these things to happen and have even MORE patience to deal with these occurrences when they happen (preferably not under the influence of stress associated with traveling with others). This means — there is no holidays for us really! At least not on the discipline part and guidance work we need to do!
Well, next week we would be moving on to the next leg of our holidays in Australia — with our friends flying back to Singapore and us just touring the Great Ocean Road in Melbourne on a campervan, let’s see if things improve! Till the next entry then, good day mate!