First visit to the zoo, tantrums and all

by lisacng / 6 comments / Read comments or add one!

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!

In awe
Here’s J admiring the lionesses

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.

At the zoo
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…

So, what do you think?
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?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Lucinda April 30, 2012 at 2:01 am

I’m surprised you don’t have more comments. That’s a tough one. Especially when you are with someone else and you don’t want to ruin their trip. I think you are right on about snacks. I always packed tons of snacks whenever I went to the zoo with my kids when they were little. I also tried to time it around naps so they weren’t tired.

Here’s where we may differ. I was never one to keep my kids somewhere very long. As soon as they got tired and fussy, we left. I warned whoever was with us of my plans because I never wanted to deal with over tired children. But I know a lot of people who will keep there kids out until the parents feel they are done. Just different style.

I also didn’t really let me kids out of the stroller. My two are only 17 mos apart so I would rent a wagon and pull them around in that so they could stand to see the exhibit and then sit back down. If they did get out, we were clear before hand about how long they got to run around.

5 minute warning always helps but I think you know that. It gets easier. Good luck.


lisacng May 4, 2012 at 2:36 am

After I had posted this, I removed Disqus commenting system. Now I don’t know how to get them back into Blogger. Don’t even think I can! Yes, I agree with you on snacks and about setting limits to the children BEFORE things happen. And you’re right, most of the time if we explain to company that so and so might happen, I’m sure they’d understand.


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