We had a fun day planned. Everyone was looking forward to getting out of the house as a family and enjoying our day. The plan was to head to our favorite farm in the morning for a kids program, then home for lunch, and round out the day at the park with our friends.
The night before had not gone as planned. Hailey had woken up an hour after falling asleep earlier than usual. She didn’t go back to sleep for a few hours, so I knew when I woke her up for the farm this morning, that she would be going on less sleep than she needed. Nonetheless, she woke up super happy and ready for our fun day. We ate homemade muffins, got ready and headed out the door. The kids had fun, Papa was happy to be able to watch them play, and I appreciated the sun.
Back at home, I warmed up some lunch. After about a two-hour respite, I told the kids it was about time to go. I noticed Hailey had not eaten her lunch. I encouraged her to eat something to give her energy to play at the park. She does not deal well when she is feeling hungry. She refused her lunch, so I suggested she grab something that was quick with protein. Papa offered his help in helping her to find something. She strongly resisted the idea of eating anything. I knew that she would be playing on less sleep, and not enough food. I knew it was the beginning of the recipe for a hard time. I shared my concerns. She told me she felt like she would be happily distracted with her friends, and I agreed we would try.
I pulled my husband, who would be staying home to catch up on some projects, aside and explained that she was very likely to have a meltdown, either at the park or when we got back. Just a heads up to be prepared for it and to love her through it. At this point, I thought we were going to make it to the park. I buckled the toddler up and Hailey was coming out right behind me when she shut the screen door on her finger. Now that would hurt anybody, and I would probably cry too. But that was the final straw. The tipping point for her to go over the edge. She screamed, she cried and cried. I knew when her tears had moved past the point of “ouch this hurts” into “I just can’t do this anymore”. I held her. I put some homeopathic cream on her thumb. Her Papa was trying to help her take some calm breaths, thinking if he could get her calm then maybe she could still go. She just couldn’t calm herself. I have seen her like this enough times to know, that if I tried to take her to the park, not only would she be miserable, but I would be stuck trying to help her through it, keep an eye on the toddler, and nurse the baby. It would be hard on everybody, and unfair to expect more of her than she could give and then set myself up for frustration with her when it went that way.
I kindly explained to my toddler that I had to unbuckle him because we weren’t going to make it to the park today. He was sad, but recovered quickly and played on the porch while I explained to Hailey. She cried harder, she yelled how sad she was, she promised that she would do better. I told her that I loved her, that she had done nothing wrong, and that it was okay for her to feel sad. I had to reassure her of these things multiple times. I did not want her to feel like she was in trouble for feeling sad or having a hard time. It took about 10 minutes before she agreed to come out of the van. She asked me to carry her in.
She has mostly played games on her computer since then. She came out to ask for a snack, and she was much more calm and relaxed. I know I made the right call for our day. I hate to see them sad and having a hard day, but I know that it is normal and okay. I know that it is so important to love them through those big feelings. To show them that you can stay calm in the midst of the storm. To be their anchor.