My mom visited us for a few days, so we planned several activities, including a trip to the National Zoo. It was Spring Break so everyone else was also there! I kinda hate crowds…Anyways, it was going to be our 20-month’s (J) first time to the zoo. Since J’s been learning all the animals and their sounds, we were excited!
Things were going great. He was calling alpacas “baaaas” and saying bye to all the animals once he was done looking at them. Our favorite exhibit was the sea otters because there was no one there (remember, I kinda hate crowds). But after that, things went downhill…I need advice. I need reassurance. I need an Advil.
First, J wanted out of the stroller. Then he wanted to run around. Away from us. Did I mention it was crowded? He was not happy when we finally wrangled him.
Then he wanted to get back in the stroller. We went into the primate house. He wanted to get out. When we got outside, we let him out of the stroller, and then he wanted to play with the doors. I had to carry him away, and he screamed and cried a lot.
We got to the elephants and he calmed down. Kinda looks like Daddy is carrying a blonde-headed boy, LOL. Couldn’t edit that out.
Then it was lunch time. It must have taken 30 min to get food because as I said, it was crowded. Lesson 1, bring own snacks and perhaps also food. At least my sister and mom helped to keep J busy — thanks! He was content pushing around the stroller but did not want any help. In other words, he did not like it when anyone helped to navigate the stroller so as not to run into the crowds. Finally, I had to take him away from the stroller. He.Threw.A.Fit.
I took him to the parking lot to try to calm him down. He rolled around on the ground. He got leaves all over himself. He cried so hard he did that head-twitch gasping kind of cry. I headed back to the eating area, where Daddy took over. I was upset at the situation.
Ten minutes later, I see Daddy and J coming back. J was tenderly holding the panda Daddy had bought him. Great. Daddy said he bought the panda because J was eyeing some other kid’s panda, and Daddy didn’t want J becoming upset again…Fine. I didn’t want to argue.
After visiting the rest of the exhibits, because we didn’t want my mom to be shortchanged on her visit, we headed back to the car. J was in his stroller. We were going to make it…then…he saw a crowd of kids running up this giant hill…Daddy let him out to play. When it was time to go home, we had to carry him away. He.Was.Not.Happy. Cried all the way to the car. Cried in the car. The only thing that calmed him down was panda.
I was mentally exhausted. What did we do wrong? Should we have fed him more snacks, instead of relying on a “formal” meal, to keep him satisfied and prevent all the meltdowns? Should we have let him run around? Should we have let him push around the stroller by himself? Should we have left him in the stroller (even when he wanted out and would throw a tantrum) and maybe avoided an even larger tantrum? What did we do wrong?
Two things maybe we should do next time. First, keep baby hydrated and full. Second, don’t pull him away from activities suddenly. Give warning, give explanation, give reason…
How could we have prevented meltdown after meltdown?
What is the balance between letting him do what he wants and doing what we want?
How do you have a tantrum-free outing?